The land of sunshine, islands, and the glittering Adriatic Sea. An enchanting country where millions of visitors flock to each summer to take in the breathtaking landscapes, ancient history, and impressive architecture. It is also a place that digital nomads are beginning to recognize as an excellent base for exploring the rest of Europe.
But what’s it like to actually live in Croatia and how much will it cost you?
I’ve been living in Croatia as an American for the last six years, and have gotten a pretty good grip on Croatia living costs. In this article, I provide detailed information on the standard of living, cost of rent and utilities, food prices in Croatia, healthcare costs, and more.
Cost of Living in Croatia
Croatia Standard of Living
Life moves at a much more relaxed pace in Croatia than it does in the rest of the world. Croatians really value their free time, and always make sure to set aside time to enjoy life. You could say that Croatians prefer the “work-to-live” mentality as opposed to the “live-to-work” one.
The standard of living in Croatia is comparable to other Central and Eastern European nations, and slightly lower than that of Western Europe. Croatia’s standard of living has gone up in the last several years, especially after the country entered the European Union in 2013.
Being one of the safest countries in the world and boasting relatively low living costs, Croatia is an excellent choice for living a high-quality life.
Historic cities with modern amenities, affordable transportation, and easy access to the rest of Europe add to the reasons why Croatia is becoming a popular destination for expats.
The average salary in Croatia is about $1,000 per month, although many families get by on much less. Living in Croatia and earning a foreign, or western income, will allow you to stretch your hard-earned money much further.
Where to Live in Croatia
Croatia’s largest and most populated cities are Zagreb, Split, Zadar, and Osijek. The capital, Zagreb, offers the most cosmopolitan lifestyle with a continental climate. Here, you can be sure to find plenty of activities and events taking place throughout the entire year.
Depending on the type of lifestyle you’re after, you might choose to live on the coast, or even in the countryside. Living on the coast in cities like Dubrovnik and Split can be great during the summer months, but keep in mind that when the tourist season ends, many coastal towns are left empty.
For those seeking island vibes, there are over 1,000 islands to choose from, only a small number of which are inhabited. Though destinations like Hvar, Korcula, and Brac are bursting with life in the summer, these islands can be especially quiet in the wintertime.
When the tourist season ends for the year, many residents return to the mainland and visitors to their respective home countries. Some of the larger island communities do have a year-round ferry connection to the rest of Croatia, making it easier to travel back and forth.
Cost of Rent in Croatia
Rent in Croatia is actually not as affordable as one might imagine.
In recent years, prices have gone up quite a bit thanks to the tourism boom and the country’s economic growth. The price of rent in Croatia depends on several factors including your location, what time of the year you come, and for how long you plan on staying.
For example, if you arrive during the summer and plan on living in Croatia for a month, you will likely spend quite a bit. However, if you’re looking to rent for a longer period of time (12 months or more), your monthly costs will be more affordable.
Cost of Rent in Zagreb
Renting an apartment in downtown Zagreb will typically set you back $600 per month. For this price, you can expect a one-bedroom apartment in an older building with no elevator. Larger and nicer apartments go for anywhere between $800 and $1,200 a month.
There are a number of neighborhoods just outside the city center that offer more affordable options, yet are still well-connected to the downtown area by tram or bus. In these neighborhoods, you can find a decent two-bedroom apartment for about $500 a month.
Cost of Rent in Other Croatian Cities
You can expect the cost of rent in other big Croatian cities like Split, Zadar, and Dubrovnik to be similar to the prices in Zagreb. It is possible to find a decent studio apartment for as low as $360 a month in areas that are further away from the city center, or in smaller towns. Keep in mind that this is probably the lowest rental price you will find.
The cost of rent in Croatia will depend on where you want to live. Bigger cities are more expensive (like Zagreb and Split), while smaller cities and villages will, of course, be more affordable.
When searching for a place to rent in Croatia, be sure to use the local agency websites that are aimed at Croatians. You can also use a site like Njuskalo or Index Oglasi to find what you are looking for. Do not use agencies or websites that are specifically designed for foreigners looking to rent.
Important note: When apartment-hunting in Croatia, bear in mind that the number of rooms listed typically refers to the total number of rooms in the apartment (not the number of bedrooms). For example, a “one-room” apartment would be a studio, while a “two-room” apartment would actually have only one bedroom.
Cost of Utilities in Croatia
The cost of utilities in Croatia can vary depending on your usage and the size of your home. For two people living in a 65m2, you can expect to pay roughly around $110 per month.
This amount includes the cost of gas, electricity, water, and additional garbage and recycling fees.
In this category, it is very easy to spend more than your estimated amount. This is because heating can be quite expensive, and many older buildings and houses still do not have proper insulation. Also, if you like to have the air conditioning running a lot in the summer, it will obviously be reflected in your electricity bill.
Again, the cost of monthly utilities will greatly depend on your individual usage and how many members are living in your household. It is always safer to budget a little bit more for utilities, say $150 per month, though you will likely spend less.
Cost of Internet in Croatia
The cost of internet in Croatia is around 250 HRK ($40) per month for internet and television. There are a number of service providers that offer various bundles that include a landline, TV, internet, and cell phone plans.
Cost of Food in Croatia
How much does food cost in Croatia?
This is a category that can be difficult to estimate as it really depends on your eating habits. The cost of eating and drinking in Croatia can run you anywhere from pennies to a fortune.
Generally speaking, food in Croatia is relatively affordable. Most cities will have a local market in addition to your regular supermarkets, which is a great place to get seasonal and organic produce. The food prices in Croatia do not differ too much between local markets and grocery stores, but food from the farmer’s market is exceptionally higher in quality.
If you shop for foods that are not in season, say strawberries in winter, be prepared to pay a pretty penny. Specialty foods and imported goods can be costly as well (think $7.25 for a box of Pop-Tarts at the American Store), as can items from health food stores.
Being somewhat in the middle by standards, meaning not blowing all of your money on food but not being super stingy either, will run you around $400 per month for two adults.
This cost, however, can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. If you like to eat out a lot and prefer buying oat milk, your food budget will increase. Even if you are single and like to cook at home, don’t expect the cost of food in Croatia to be much less. In this case, you will probably end up spending around $300 per month for mainly cooking at home.
Cost of Groceries in Croatia
To get a general idea of how much groceries cost, here is a list of pantry staples and their average prices in Croatia:
- 1 Liter of milk – $0.95
- Eggs (10) – $1.93
- Cheese (1 kg) – $5.29
- Bananas (1 kg) – $1.61
- Apples (1 kg) – $1.61
- Lettuce (1 head) – $1.12
- Flour (1 kg) – $0.80
- Fresh loaf of bread – $1.12
- Pasta – $1.29
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (0.5 kg) – $4.82
- 1 bottle average local wine – $7.07
- Beer (0.5 L) – $1.16
Cost of Eating Out in Croatia
How much is a meal in Croatia?
The average Croatia restaurant prices are pretty low when you compare them to other Western countries. The cost of a meal in Croatia will run you around $6.00 at a fast-food restaurant, and around $15 at an average restaurant.
A meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant that includes one appetizer, two entrees, and drinks, will come out to be around $35 including tip.
Croatia Drink Prices
The beer price in Croatia is around $3.21 for 0.5 L at most cafes in Zagreb, while a glass of wine starts at around $4.00. If you’re just going to grab a coffee, $2.25 is the average price for a standard coffee with milk.
Of course, along the Dalmatian Coast, you will notice these prices rising especially in major tourist destinations like Split, Dubrovnik, and Hvar Island.
Cocktails at a trendy bar in Hvar Town go for around $12.00, while a 0.5 L beer costs $7.00. Even having a coffee at a cafe on Dubrovnik’s main strip could leave your wallet $6.00 lighter.
These are some things you should be aware of when traveling in general. Just make sure that you are familiar with the differences in prices so that you don’t end up overpaying for something (if you don’t want to).
Cost of Transportation in Croatia
The good news is that most cities in Croatia are very walkable and you can easily get around on foot or by bike. Having a car is really not necessary, especially if you live in a city, and navigating the public transportation is easy once you get your bearings.
The public transportation system in most big cities like Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and Osijek are well-connected by trams, buses, or both. The price of a tram or bus ticket in Zagreb is $0.64 for a 30-minute ride, while an all-day pass costs $4.82.
Most cities in Croatia are fairly easy to get to by long-distance buses if you do not have your own vehicle. The bus system is much more comfortable and advanced than the railway system.
Getting from one location to another is pretty inexpensive as well. For example, a bus ticket from Zagreb to Split is around $20 one way.
Gas prices in Croatia are definitely more expensive when compared to the US. In Croatia, you can expect to spend around $1.50 per liter for regular gasoline.
Cost of Healthcare in Croatia
Expats and digital nomads do not have the luxury of free public healthcare like the Croatian locals do. However, when compared to the United States, healthcare turns out to be very affordable for foreigners in Croatia.
Booking a private doctor visit with a general physician can be as low as $25, or $50 and up for a visit with a specialist.
Antibiotics or other medications at the pharmacy will be around $8.00 to $15.00.
Cost of Entertainment in Croatia
The average cost of movie tickets in Croatia is $6.27 per person, while tickets to theater performances can run from $15.00 and upwards, depending on the show.
During the summer, you can also find many festivals and concerts going on throughout the country. When the tourist season is over, Zagreb is the place to be if you want to enjoy even more fun (and often free) outdoor entertainment.
Shopping in Croatia
This category will vary greatly depending on your earnings and your lifestyle. Generally speaking, shopping in Croatia will be more expensive than in the United States.
Croatia does not have good options for outlet shopping or discount stores like TJ Maxx. The prices for clothing here, no matter where you are shopping, will almost always be more expensive.
In addition to clothing, electronics are at least 30% more expensive than they are in the US. I would recommend purchasing things like iPhones, laptops, tablets, or other smaller electronic devices in the US if you can, and bringing them to Croatia with you.
Average Cost of Living in Croatia
The average cost of living in Croatia can vary dramatically based on your location and your lifestyle. The numbers below are based on personal experiences and can fluctuate depending on individual spending habits.
To conclude, the average cost of living in Croatia is around $1,000 per month for one person.
If you are living on a budget, you could scrape by with about $800 per month, assuming you have no debt or loans. If you prefer a more comfortable lifestyle, you should budget for around $1,200 per month to cover the cost of living in Croatia. This should provide you with enough money to cover your basic needs, plus extra for having fun and traveling around the country.
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