Slightly smaller than West Virginia, Croatia is probably one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It connects the Balkan Peninsula with Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea via its long and indented coastline that is made up of 1185 islands. Its geography ranges from the rocky plains of Dalmatia to the high mountains of the Velebit and Gorski Kotar, to the flat fields of Slavonia.
Croatia is a peculiar cultural amalgam. Anyone who values experiencing the sights and sounds of the ages long gone will certainly have their interests fulfilled if they visit Croatia. Croatia’s rich history is expressed in its architecture and customs – from Baroque architecture of Zagreb, to the Roman Arena in Pula, and the walled city of Dubrovnik. As a former Yugoslavian republic previously enduring Roman, Venetian, Italian, and Austro-Hungarian rule, Croatia’s history contains a diverse array of influences.
People who enjoy the pleasures of a modern life style amidst an exotic locale, from jet setters to party goers, will not be disappointed either.
Croatia has two distinct climatic zones that are separated by the mountain region of Gorski Kotar and Velebit. The inner region of the country has a continental climate and four seasons. The summers are hot and dry, while the winters are cold and snowy. Continental winter temperatures average at 34°F (1°C) and the average summer temperature is 68°F (20°C). The end of May typically gets very hot very quickly, with temperatures of 80°F (30°C) or more.
The Mediterranean climate spans throughout the coastal area, but is increasingly more distinct and warmer towards the extreme south where Dubrovnik is located. It has hot, dry summers with the highest daytime temperatures ranging between 73°F (23°C) and 89°F (32°C), and relatively warm and rainy winters, with average daytime highs around 52°F (11°C).
Croatia became an independent, sovereign country when it broke off from Yugoslavia in 1990. This incident sparked a war that lasted from 1991 to 1995 with the last territories being reclaimed from the Serbs in 1998. Between 1991 and 2000 it had a semi-presidential system and has been a parliamentary democracy since 2000.
Corruption is still a significant problem and issues regarding freedom of the press still remain. The media is sometimes exposed to various pressures pertaining to investigations of war crimes and criminal gangs. Violent crime rates are relatively low, so Croatia is certainly one of Europe’s safer destinations.
Croatia’s tax rates range from moderate to high. There is a sales tax (VAT) of 23% that is applied to most products, a corporate income tax of 20%, and a progressive income tax starting from 15% for sole proprietorships. There is a rental income tax of 15% and local surtaxes ranging between a maximum of 10% for rural communities and 30% for the capital city, Zagreb. There is also a flat withholding capital gains tax of 25% levied on the sale of immovable property.
Property taxes are levied on the useful area of the property. This tax ranges from $1 to $3 per square meter (at current exchange rate of 5 HRK [Croatian Kuna, the national currency] to 1$).
Croatia also offers tax advantages for yacht owners including the possibility of establishing a tax-free residence.
Hospitals and clinics are available in all large cities. First aid clinics are available everywhere else and usually have at least one English speaking person around to help.
Croatia has a national healthcare system that is paid for by a compulsory health insurance contribution. Hospitals are owned by the states, and medical centres by the county governments. Private clinics and doctors are also available. Some medical care expenses for tourists who are EU residents are waived.
Growing popularity as a tourist destination, infrastructural projects, and its prospective entry into the European Union have contributed to the rise of Croatia’s real estate prices, especially in the coastal area. Nevertheless, real estate in Croatia is still cheaper than other Mediterranean and some European countries.
Land on Croatia’s small islands can be purchased for 5 EUR to 30 EUR per square meter.
Large shopping malls, most of which are foreign, are quite common in the capital and other large cities. Even the small towns and islands have stores that carry most basic necessities. Even if a buyer is unable to find something in a particular city, the item will likely be available not too far away.
Summer times in coastal towns such as Vodice and Zr?e probably offer the best night life. Zr?e is sometimes called the Ibiza of the Adriatic. Ibiza is a popular clubbing destination in the Mediterranean sea. Larger cities and tourist towns on the coast also have a variety of hotels and restaurants to choose from.
Cost of Living
Living standards in Croatia are generally considered lower than that of Europe and the US. However, compared to other Eastern European countries, Croatia’s cost of living is a little high.
Prices tend to vary between regions. Dubrovnik and Zagreb are generally more expensive than northern Dalmatia and outlying islands. A Croatian’s average salary is around US$1000. Water, electricity, TV, and telecommunications cost around $300 to $400 per month combined.
Websites for Expats in Croatia
Detailed Map of Croatia