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.

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.

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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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