Life in Croatia | American Habits I Lost After Moving Abroad

Last updated on July 29th, 2021 at 01:25 pm

When you live somewhere long enough, the culture begins to rub off on you.

During my seven years of living abroad, I’ve come to realize that life in Croatia has changed me. When I look back at some of my American habits, I sometimes find it hard to believe that some of the things I felt like I couldn’t live without are not even part of my life anymore.

I’ve picked up several new habits while living in Croatia, and a few of them are actually for the best!

If you are interested in learning more about life in Croatia, then keep reading to discover the 5 American habits I lost after moving abroad.

View out of an airplane window featuring clouds and an airplane wing.

Life in Croatia | 5 American Habits I Lost After Moving Abroad

Buying Unnecessary Things

Growing up in the USA, I never realized how much of a consumer-driven society I lived in. Everywhere I turned, there was always an incentive to buy something. Black Friday, Holiday Sales, Memorial Day Sales, Fourth of July Sales, you name it, there were endless reasons to spend more money.

Living in the states, it seemed like everyone always had to have the latest iPhone and the newest Kindle, even though they already had a tablet and a laptop. Mindlessly buying random (but cool) products on Amazon was also a favorite hobby among my friends and family.

While there is nothing wrong with shopping, moving to Croatia really opened my eyes to the fact that I, personally, do not really need all of the items society tells me I need.

One of the biggest surprises after moving was discovering the fact that Croatian people are not typically big spenders. Croatians do like to shop, however, I noticed that many people prefer to invest in one quality item as opposed to buying five different products just because they were on sale.

In the US it was so common to mindlessly go shopping at places like TJ Maxx and Target (still miss those stores!) and purchase things I didn’t necessarily need just cuz’. After living in Croatia, my previous habit of impulse-buying has severely decreased. Now when I do buy something, I try to make sure it is a product that will either last me a long time or that I can’t live without.

Additionally, Croatians give very modest gifts when it comes to birthdays and even Christmas presents. In the US, it seemed so typical to see mountains of presents under Christmas trees and birthdays filled with gifts galore. In Croatia, that is simply not the case. Small, but thoughtful gifts, are much more common.

Fast-Paced Lifestyle

In the United States, it seems as though everyone is always busy or in a rush.

Plans are made weeks in advance and everyone’s schedules are filled with work, fitness classes, get-togethers, errands, etc. Rarely can you call up a friend in the middle of the workweek and ask them if they want to grab coffee that afternoon. Their response would most likely be that they are busy.

In Croatia, the pace of life is much more relaxed.

High value is placed on socializing with friends and family. People make an effort to carve out time in their day to spend quality time with others, which is why it’s not uncommon to see cafes full of people at all times of the day.

Even in the middle of the workday, cafes will be buzzing with friends chatting over their latest life updates, coworkers taking a break from the office, and couples enjoying time together.

Life in Croatia | woman's hand holding a coffee cup over a stone terrace

Paying With Credit Cards

While paying with credit cards is becoming increasingly more common in Croatia, there are still many places that do not take credit cards or prefer cash instead.

This is especially true when it comes to cafes. It is rare to find a cafe that accepts credit cards, and if you do find one, it will likely be located in Zagreb (the nation’s capital).

Cash is king when you are out grabbing drinks or going for a coffee in Croatia. If you like to shop for local food at the daily farmer’s markets, you will also need to have cash on hand. In this case, it is best to have smaller bills as the vendors cannot always break large banknotes.

Many larger stores and supermarkets do take credit cards, and some are even beginning to accept contactless mobile payments (although these are few and far between).

Life in Croatia | a charming windowsill decorated with pots, pans and flowers

Relying on Lots of Home Appliances

In the US we had everything from a toaster and a waffle maker to a garbage disposal and even a bread maker. In Croatia, it is pretty uncommon to have these items.

Living here has made me realize that people in Croatia rely much less on modern-day appliances to help them with household chores.

Most homes do not even have microwaves, and warming up leftovers is done on the stove or in the oven, as is toasting bread.

It is also very uncommon for families to have dryers, and clothes are often dried outside or on a clothes rack indoors. This means clothes take longer to dry in the winter and on rainy days, so it is best to plan your washing ahead of time. And while drying clothes on a rack is more economical, nothing beats the softness and fluffiness of a warm towel right out of the dryer.

Clothes line hanging on a stone house in Labin, Croatia

Service Expectations

In the US, we are so used to excellent service everywhere we go. Whether it has to do with service at a restaurant or customer service at a store, the United States is a shining example of what good service is.

In Croatia, it is quite the opposite.

Will you get service? Yes.

Will it be good service? It depends.

Good service in Croatia is entirely based on your situation. If you are in a high end restaurant, you can probably expect excellent service. If you are in a mid-range restaurant, it depends on your waiter and what kind of day they are having. If you are at a cafe, service can be hit or miss.

If you are trying to get any official paperwork done at a government institution, I can almost guarantee your service will be sub-par. That’s just how it is here. You either learn to live with it or not.

Final Thoughts: Life in Croatia Has Changed Me

Life in Croatia has not only made me lose some of my American habits, but it has also changed my outlook on life and my pace of life.

It’s true that living abroad changes you in ways you never would expect it to. It teaches you lessons you simply cannot learn in a classroom, and for that reason, I will always be grateful for this experience.

Do you live, or have you lived abroad? What are some ways it has changed you? Comment down below, I’d love to hear your stories!

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A collage of three photos all during sunset, picturing the process of moving abroad from the United States to Croatia.

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