What are retirees looking for in Croatia?

people on the beach
Retirees chilling at the beach in Korčula, Croatia

UPDATED: 25.9.2023.

Croatia’s tourism industry has exploded in the last 10 years, booming exponentially and somewhat uncontrollably. Of course, the unspoiled beauty of Croatia’s coast and islands plays a role in the country’s popularity, but there is more to it than that.

Croatia has been promoted on a global stage in the last few years, which has put it on the radar of travelers across the world of all ages who either didn’t know Croatia existed or thought it was war-torn and dangerous.

Now that those incorrect assumptions have been dispelled, everyone wants to come to Croatia. The European Union’s 2021 tourist statistics show that Croatia had 114 million nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, and was the third most common tourism destination in the EU/EEA for international tourists (people traveling outside their country) after Spain and Italy.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Things retired people are looking for in Croatia

Rise in Croatia’s retiree tourism

Senior travel dropped significantly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but older travelers are resuming their travel habits, and they make up a significant proportion of tourists heading to Croatia. The Croatian Bureau of Statistics notes that in 2021, the total number of nights stayed in Croatia for the 65+ age group approached 5 million. Many choose to visit in the spring and autumn months, before and after the hottest weather and the crowds, giving senior travelers an important role in extending the country’s tourist season.

What we have yet to see is if the rising costs in Croatia will become a deterrent to retiree travelers. Croatia was once a budget destination. However, that is quickly fading as restaurants, tour agencies, and other tourism businesses hike their prices due to inflation pressures – and to squeeze as much money out of tourists as possible.

[Read: How to be a licensed tour guide in Croatia and open a tourist agency business]

With the expensive bureaucratic chokehold that the government has on small businesses, one can hardly blame them. However, jacking up prices so that your business can survive in winter is a short-term solution, and will end up harming this tourism-focused country in the long run.

Rise in seniors moving to Croatia

Alongside the increase of retirees traveling to Croatia for vacation, there has also been an increase in senior people interested in settling in Croatia to live out their retirement.

In 2018, nearly 17.000 EU/EEA people older than 65 moved to Croatia, which is an 80% jump since 2014. The top countries for EU/EEA retirees are now Croatia and France (previously Spain and Portugal).

As a retiree, there are many advantages to living in Croatia.

  • It has a very temperate Mediterranean climate, especially on the coast
  • There is a low cost of living, when in comparison to the Western nations they are coming from
  • There is a low cost of real estate when compared to their home country; perhaps in their home country, they could only afford an apartment, but in Croatia, they can afford a house with a garden, for example
  • It’s quiet, easygoing, and laid back

Unfortunately, not everyone can take advantage of this retirement paradise. Specifically, non-EU/EEA retirees are only eligible for temporary residence permits that limit stays to one year. These permits are not renewable and actually require you to leave the country for a period of time when the permit ends.

Also, Croatia also does not have a “golden visa” program like Spain, Greece, Malta, and Italy, which allows residency for longer periods based on property purchase and/or national investment.

[Read: Does Croatia have a “golden visa”?]

On the other hand, Croatia is an EU/EEA member nation, so seniors with EU/EEA citizenship will have a much easier time retiring here.

[Read: How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization if you are an EU/EEA citizen]

Also, if you are of Croatian descent, can provide sufficient evidence to prove that you are of the Croatian people, and plan to move to Croatia with the intent to apply for citizenship, you are eligible to apply for a renewable temporary residence permit under the humanitarian umbrella.

View our guides:

The lack of residency options for non-EU/EEA retirees may be a short-sighted policy that only harms the country.

Croatia has been making incremental changes across the board lately, so we hope that this is a sign that they will eventually get around to creating a longer-term residency option for non-EU/EEA retirees. There would only be benefits to doing so.

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia]

With VAT called PDV in Croatian of 25%, anyone who pays for anything is automatically contributing significantly to the tax base. It is especially beneficial to the country if these retirees purchase homes.

Some have expressed concern that they may be a burden on the healthcare system, however, requiring private health insurance is one quick and easy way to get around that.

View our Croatian health insurance guides:

Croatia’s population has been in decline for years now, so anyone who chooses to move here would be offsetting this trend. We should welcome them with open arms!

Skip the research! Save time and talk to EIC.

We crafted this post to be as detailed as possible, but sometimes questions still arise because everyone’s situation is different. If you’d like personalized guidance on your situation, we can help.

Save yourself the time and uncertainty of trying to navigate the ever-changing rules for living in Croatia by scheduling a private chat with us.

How does it work?

All first-time clients get 30 minutes with an Expat in Croatia consultant PLUS 30 minutes with a vetted English-speaking lawyer from our network.

Repeat clients can book a 30-minute session with an EIC consultant as a stand-alone appointment.

During your chat with us, we will answer all of your questions about Croatia. You can tap into our expertise on anything you want; whether it be residency, citizenship, healthcare, buying property, letting accommodation, operating a business, what it’s like to live here, personal experiences with bureaucracy, or cultural nuance. It’s all tailored to you.

In addition, you’ll receive a follow up with additional resources based on your situation, Sara’s Croatia Restaurant Guide as well as introductions to vetted professionals like insurance, law, real estate, translation and tax.

All legal advice will be handled by our vetted lawyer network. We can help you with everything else.

Appointments will be scheduled over Zoom.

We have an extensive Frequently Asked Questions about this service here.

Who will I speak with?

Expat in Croatia has two experienced consultants, Sara Dyson and Carol Anne Škorvaga. You may choose your consultant.

Carol Anne Škorvaga, known to us as “CAM”, is a first-generation Croatian-Canadian living in Jastrebarsko with her family. She grew up entrenched in the Croatian community surrounded by culture and folklore, attended Croatian school in Canada and then returned to Zagreb to attend Filozofski Fakultet. CAM is fluent in Croatian and has firsthand knowledge of being both a Canadian expat and a Croatian returnee, building a home in Croatia and being a parent with children in local schools.

Meet CAM in this quick 2-minute video here.

Sara Dyson is the founder of Expat in Croatia. She has lived in Split, Croatia as a US citizen since 2012 and experienced first-hand applying for temporary residence, long-term residence and Croatian citizenship. She’s also operated 2 companies, purchased a home, and written about Croatia and its bureaucracy extensively since 2013. Her application is citizenship is based on her work through Expat in Croatia. Read Sara’s full bio here.

Meet Sara in this quick 2-minute video here.

What is the cost?

The below costs are per 30 minutes and include VAT (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government). If additional time is requested, it is billed in ¼ hour increments.

First-time clients automatically get an extra 30 minutes with an English-speaking lawyer from our vetted network.

Carol Anne Škorvaga

  • First-time clients  |  150 euros (includes session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  75 euros

Sara Dyson

  • First-time clients  |  250 euros (includes session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  150 euros

It takes a tremendous amount of hands-on, human work to research and vet our information that we provide during sessions. This process includes extensive web research, phone calls to the government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government offices.

It’s not something that ChatGPT can do. We must employ skilled, full-time employees who live in Croatia and that comes with a cost.

Reviews from our clients

“Sara’s knowledge of Croatia is nothing short of encyclopaedic. I achieved so much more clarity in just a single session, and I would not hesitate to another if needed. Invaluable.” – Todd, United Kingdom

“During our call, Sara patiently answered all of my questions and provided me with invaluable information that would have taken hours to sort through elsewhere. She was thorough, professional, and incredibly helpful throughout our entire conversation.” – LeAnn, United States

You can view our last few reviews here or all of our reviews here.

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View our other related articles


Tourist Statistics by EuroStat

Tourism 2021 by Croatian Bureau of Statistics, Tourism 2021

Umirovljeni stranci sve više sele u Hrvatsku by mirovina.hr

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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