On September 28, 2021, I was interviewed by Ivana Buljan, reporter for Slobodna Dalmacija. We discussed my love of Split, how Expat in Croatia came to be and our goal of supporting the local community.
You can read the original article in Croatian online here.
You may read the English translation of the article below.
Sara moved to Split unplanned, and her love for the city under Marjan turned into a successful business: a thousand foreigners turned to her for help, revealing the best inquiries; ‘Tourism is fragile, but more people have been hired …’
By IVANA BULJAN October 12, 2021 – 12:44
Split is the most beautiful and craziest city in the world. But we wouldn’t be us if we didn’t grind, chew and even find flaws in our city. Then something happens or we meet someone who reminds us why we really like Split. Someone who reminds us of all the beautiful things we sometimes forget.
One of them is Sara Dyson (38), she was born in Texas, and in 2012, somewhat unplanned, she moved to the city under Marjan. Before then, she lived in New York, Amsterdam, Florida and California:
– My visa expired in Amsterdam and my plan was to visit Italy. However, I found a blog on the Internet about Croatia, a smaller country, with a lot of natural beauty and praise for local people – Sara tells us.
She visited Split then and here she still lis, nine years later. A true lover of the city under Marjan, who will tell you that her favorite place in the city is the market on weekends, and that she can’t imagine her life anywhere else.
When she moved in 2012, there were no groups on ‘Facebook’ or many pages in English that would help the newcomers from Split, but also everyone who moved to Lijepa Naša to find their way in the country they started calling their home. Especially when it comes to bureaucracy.
And we all know what bureaucracy can be like in Croatia …
– I relied on the advice and help of good people. Then I started recording my experiences so that it would be easier for every person who came after me – Sara tells us.
That is how her blog ‘Expat in Croatia‘ was created. It all started as a hobby, and three years ago it grew into a very successful business. We would call it a kind of consulate with first-hand information.
– I realized that I like to talk about Croatia all day and thought about whether I can turn my love into a business and hire more people – Sara told us.
I first wrote about what I was going through myself. Later posts became about what I don’t know, but I’d love to learn.
Thousands of foreigners turn to her for help, the page is read in as many as 185 countries around the world where there are curious people who are considering moving, or have already moved to Lijepa Naša. It has everything from information on residence permits, health insurance to what to give to Croats depending on the occasion. There are locals, old and young.
– We also received a message from a 12-year-old Croatian boy who wanted to dye his hair, but his mother told him that it was illegal in Croatia. He asked us to check if that was really the case – Sara says with a laugh about one of the nice questions.
Without Marija, Teri, Lucija and Mirela, nothing would be possible, she tells us. These are employees who, together with her, help those who want to call Croatia their home. They are, she explains, the wheels that allow the whole machine to rotate.
– Whatever we do, it is very important for us that the state also benefits from it. In addition to helping foreigners assimilate through language and culture, we are extremely proud to support local experts – says Sara.
Most often, she points out, they work with lawyers, real estate agents, tax advisors and translators.
– Given the amount of work they have because of our clients, the lawyers have hired six additional staff. I am very proud of that. Tourism is extremely fragile and we want to support the other side of the economy – says Sara.
She thinks, this native of Texas, as a real native. In the conversation with us, she also inserted a few Croatian words. Although, she admits, language is not simple:
– It is very demanding, but I like to learn it. I remember the first time I talked to a lady in Croatian for about 20 minutes at the bus station. She was so patient with me and I was very proud. The ladies from the market also helped me. If it weren’t for their support, who knows if I would have made so much progress – she is honest.
Sara is on her way to Croatian citizenship. What she has left is to prove to the institutions that she contributes to Lijepa Naša. They certainly won’t have a problem with that. And the most important thing is already there anyway. Love for Split and Croatia.
And finally, we can’t help but notice that Split is becoming a safe haven and home for foreigners more and more often, from a stopover while waiting for ferries to the island.
While many of us dream of distant lands and seek happiness across the ocean, there are many who dream of everything we have. Thus, Sara’s story reminded us of the verses of Tonči Petrasov Marović carved on a stand on the Pjaca: ‘You don’t have to go anywhere. Nowhere else to look. What is and is there ‘.
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.