Croatia - 10 Best Places To Retire

If you’re typical, you probably don’t know much about Croatia. In fact, you may have barely heard of the country. But believe it or not, many consider it one of the 10 best places to retire in the world.



After World War II, Croatia was a member of the Second Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia broke up, Croatia became an independent sovereign state on June 25, 1991. It is now a member of the United Nationals, NATO, the World Trade Organization and CEFTA.


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People who know Croatia will tell you that it’s the closest thing to the Mediterranean of the past years – relaxed, safe, beautiful and unspoiled. It is truly one of Europe’s loveliest treasures.

Croatia is 21,83 sq. miles (or slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia) and has a population of 4,489,500 (estimated). It’s capital is Zagreb and its currency the Kuna.

Croatia is home to crystal-clear seas, timeless fishing villages, unspoiled beaches, secret coves, little harbors and turquoise waters. It has 1,185 islands. Jacques Cousteau once described Croatia’ waters as the cleanest and clearest in the world

The cost of living

While the cost of living in Croatia is not as low as Central American countries such as Panama, it is about 30% to 40% less than other European countries.

Household costs in Croatia are sometimes as much as 50% lower than those of other European countries and transport costs are up to 30% cheaper.

 The cost of eating out in a good restaurant also tends to be about half of what you’d pay in EU (European Union) countries. For example, a good meal, including starter course, main course and dessert will be about $25. If you need dental work or plastic surgery, you will pay about 50% what a EU doctor or dentist would charge.

Here are some other typical Croatian costs in U.S. dollars:

Electricity                    $27.60 a month

Water                          $18.40 a month

Milk                             $1.61

Cheese (kilo)               $7.63

10 large eggs               $2.35

Beer (33cl cans)          $1.10

While chicken             $4.59

Pork Cutlets (kilo)       $8.16

 

Taxes in Croatia

Taxes in Croatia are quite high unless your income comes from outside the country or you become a tax resident.

If you do maintain a home in Croatia, you are a tax resident if the house is at your exclusive and continuous disposal for at least 183 days and you indicate you intend to keep and use that accommodation.

If you do not receive a salary, consultancy fees or similar income in Croatia, taxes are much more favorable, especially if you are retired.

For example, you would not pay taxes on any pension received from abroad, interest payments on loans, investments, securities and deposits with financial institutions and capital gains from trading securities and other financial assets. Inheritance and gifts are also normally except from taxation.

The food

Croatian cuisine is divided into coastal (Dalmatian and Instrian) and dishes that can be found in the interior that are mostly from Zagorje, which includes Zagreb and northwestern Croatia. However, there are dishes that can be found just about everywhere in Croatia.

As examples of this, Burek, is a heavy cheese, meat or apple pastry that you will find in the windows of pastry shops and fast food restaurants throughout the country. Cevapcici is made of spicy beef or pork and is Croatia’s answer to the hamburger. Another quick dish is Raznijici, which is a sort of shish kabab. Palacinke is a crepe-like dessert stuffed with walnuts or chocolate. Blitva is Swiss chard that is boiled and served with olive oil, potatoes and garlic – a delicious side dish served throughout the country. And finally, there is pizza which may not have been invented in Croatia but that is usually thick and bread-like and quite excellent.

Wine has a long history in Croatia and the country now has as many as 700 wines, some of which are of very high quality.

Real estate in Croatia

Croatia has more coastline than any other European country. Coastal real estate is some of the world’s best and at some of the lowest prices. However, tourists have been returning to Croatia and property prices are increasing.

The largest peninsula in the Adriatic region is Croatia’s Istria with its vineyards, olive groves, stone houses, watermills and blossoming myrtle. It does not yet get the same number of summer visitors as Tuscany. German real estate buyers are there but the real estate market hasn’t seen the same growth as further south, around Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik is amazingly beautiful though it’s remarkable that there is any of it left standing. The Yugoslavian Army shelled it relentlessly in seven months from 1991 to 1992. This caused immeasurable damage. However, the city has been meticulously restored under a UNESCO reconstructions plan. Real estate prices in Dubrovnik have grown considerably but there is still an opportunity for worthwhile investments.

Croatian beachfront real estate in Hvar and similar destinations is still some of the best in Europe.

The city of Split has its Old Town where there are a combination of properties for sale in old (but not ancient) buildings along pleasant streets that are just a short distance from the beach. Not many foreigners are buying beachfront properties in Split but this could change if resort prices keep increasing.

There are also plenty of coastal building sites in villages that lie close to Dubrovnik that are still available at reasonable prices. For example, Plat, which is just eight miles from Dubrovnik is a tiny oasis of tranquility with pine and cypress trees lining its lovely beaches and enchanting bay.

The climate

Croatia’s best-known region is its Dalmatian Coast and its islands that are in the Adriatic Sea.

This region has mild winters and warm, sometimes even hot, sunny summers – much like the Mediterranean climate.

In the winter, coastal Croatia often has a cold and brisk wind called the Bura that lasts for a few days at a time. However, in the summer, there is an average of 12 hours a day of sunshine.

Much of inland Croatia is mountainous and hilly. Winters are cold and have abundant amounts of snow that may stand for long periods of time.

Retiring to Croatia

If you plan on retiring to Croatia you must have a visa.

Visas can be obtained at the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Washington, D.C. and at the country’s Consulate General in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

You will also need to apply for a temporary residency permit. To get one of these you will need various documents and must have a stated reason for wanting to live in Croatia. This could be related to family, employment, study, an investment or real estate rental or purchase. You can also get a residency permit if you have a yacht moored in a Croatian marina.

If you are not a retiree, you may want to eventually apply for a permanent residency permit. To obtain this permit, you must have stayed in Croatia with a temporary residence/work permit for more than five years continuously, be married to a Croatian citizen for at least three years, or have a temporary residence/work permit and be married to a foreigner who has had a permanent residence permit at least three years.

The language

Croatia’s main language is Croatian, a South Slavic language that is used also by Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most common second languages are German and English. French, Czech, Hungarian and Italian are also spoken.

The economy

Croatia’s economy is service based with its service sector accounting for 67% of the country’s total GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Its GDP is about $15,700 U.S. per capital, which puts it ahead of EU member states, Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland.

Croatia’s industrial sector is dominated by shipbuilding with exports of more than 1 billion Euros annually. The chemical industry and food processing also play a significant part in the country’s exported goods.

The country’s agricultural sector is mostly made up of exports of blue water fish. It is also a large producer of organic foods, wines, olive oils and lavender.

Tourism is also a big source of Croatia’s income, especially during the summer months.

Health care

Croatia has been dismantling its socialist health care system and replacing it with a market-based approach. However, this has resulted in limited access to care in some cases, high costs, and a de-emphasis of preventative and proactive care in favor of expensive therapeutic medicine.

However, in general, Croatians enjoy good health care and a life expectancy about equal to that of the U.S. All of the country’s major cities have decent hospitals, first aid clinics and pharmacies. Zagreb has a large, general hospital, Sveti Duh. The country’s standard of health care is on a par with that of many European countries.

If you retire to Croatia, you will need to buy private health insurance. There are many U.S.- and British-based companies that will sell health insurance to retirees living in Croatia.

Cultural activities

Croatia has a long, well documented history as the Croats have inhabited the area for more than 13 centuries. Many monuments and sculptures have been preserved for1200 years and longer.

For many centuries, Croatia’s most important buildings were churches, built of stone with basilicas with naves, apses, columns, arches, arcades and wooden roofs. Superstarska Draga on the island or Rab (11th Century) is the best-preserved church of that type in Croatia. The island of Rab is also the home of the Cathedral of Rab from the 12th Century. 

The Franciscan Church in Pula (1285) is the most representative example of early Gothic architecture.

In general, the arts are well supported in Croatia, including graphic arts, fine arts, literature and performance arts. An important part of the Croatian national identity is folk art, music and dance.

There are numerous festivals held in Croatia annually including music festivals such as Zadarfest and Etnofest Neum. There are movie festivals such as the Split Film Festival, and the Pula Film Festival. 320x240 is an annual visual arts festival and ?akovac(ki vezovi is a big traditional festival in ?akovo, Croatia.

Three cities in Croatia that are good for retirees – Where to Retire in Croatia

If you think you might like to retire to Croatia, there are three cities you ought to explore. They are Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.

Dubrovnik. This Croatian city was built in the 13th Century and remains almost untouched to today. It is centrally located at the country’s south end and has its own airport and a ferry terminal so it can be reached by air from most of Europe and by ferry from Croatian cities, towns and islands, and from Italy.

Dubrovnik offers a rich cultural life that includes theater, several cinemas and the Dubrovnik Film Festival.

Most of the real estate available in Dubrovnik is apartments which are not surprising, considering the city’s rich, cultural history.

For example, a fully furnished apartment on the fourth floor of its building with a view of the harbor of Dubrovnik was recently listed at $232,135 U.S. (negotiable). It has one bedroom, a bathroom and a gallery. A luxury property above the Hotel Excelsior was listed recently at an asking price of $541,648 (negotiable). It consisted of two apartments and there was a ½ house for sale at $85,000 U.S.

Split.  This is the largest city on the Croatian Adriatic coast. It was first settled at the end of the third century by the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his palace is still there, well preserved, in the very heart of Split.

Split has an airport that connects it with Zagreb and other international cities. It is the home of Summer in Split (Split Festival), a well known cultural event, as well as such new events as the Busker Festival, the Nights of Diocletian and many more.

Property prices in Split are very reasonable. A 4-bedroom villa/house on Hvar Island was recently listed at $77,378 U.S. and a waterside apartment with two bedrooms was advertised for $112,450. There was also a 2-bedroom apartment on the Markarska Riviera at $203,118 (again U.S.).

Zadar. Zadar is well known as the home of the first Croatian university (1386), the first Croatian novel (1536) and the first Croatian newspaper.

The Zadar peninsula still has a very old network of charming city streets, as well as a Roman forum from the first century A.D. It also has the Romanesque Cathedral of St. Anastasia from the 13th century and the church tower of St. Mary that dates back to the 12th century as well.

In terms of property for sale in Zadar, there was recently listed a villa-house with two floors, plus an attic space for $509,407. A new apartment that is five individual villa blocks near the sea in Petracane place was listed at 208,000 Euros.

Croatia might be one of the last places you’d think about retiring to but with its reasonable real estate prices, a rich cultural heritage, a burgeoning economy, a great climate and delicious food – Croatia should definitely be on your list of top 10 places to retire.

 





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