In our feature ‘Foreigners who made Croatia home’ – we meet people who have decided to move and make a new life in Croatia.
We find out why they came and stayed, what they enjoy about their ‘new’ home, how they getting on with the language, and what tips they have for those contemplating a move.
Today we meet Dave Roosen, who moved with his wife to live in Opatija from Belgium.
How long have you been based in Croatia?
I started visiting very first time in early 2000 , but I am here permanently 4 years now.
What brought you to Opatija?
Business in the first place but love for the country utmost, the beauty, the pureness.
What was the most difficult thing about the shift?
The underestimation of social life falling back a lot when leaving the country you were born.
What are the main differences between Croatia and Belgium?
Croatia is far more relaxed, Mediterranean climate, Belgium is going ‘over the top’ with daily life costs, and better coffee in Croatia.
What do you do for a living?
I have my own company doing transport mainly overseas.
What are the biggest challenges with doing business in Croatia?
The local language (dialects), making ‘correct’ agreements with business people without them changing it afterwards to ‘their hand’, and getting your agreed funds upfront in my particular business industry, but I like the challenge!
3 favourite things about Opatija?
The sea is walking distance away, the calm daily life, the picturesque corners.
3 things you would like to change about Opatija?
Actually nothing really, I like it perfect the way it is….Opatija has made strong improvements in the last 2 years, only maybe the people in HORECA, shops etc …they should start accepting euros from the tourists instead of only the local currency, for the locals its easy to run to the bank afterwards and change in local kunas, but by not accepting euros in most places, I think they miss some income of some stubborn tourists that only have euros in their pocket.
Favourite Croatian food?
The local fresh fish which is mostly not older then a few hours before ending in a ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ way on your plate.
Favourite place to eat?
Restaurant Villa Ariston Opatija, Konoba Valle Losca Opatija.
Coffee bar Mimoza Opatija (my friends will say “really….we didn’t know that yet after million coffees on Facebook!
Favourite place to chill out?
Lungomare Opatija (12 km long walking path along the sea)
Favourite place outside of Opatija to visit in Croatia?
Zagreb for city trip, Peljesac for relaxation, Istria for gastronomy.
How well do you speak the language?
Few basic words only, but my daring approach brings me everywhere also by using hands and feet ….odlično!
The biggest cultural difference between Croatia and Belgium?
Croatia is like “why do today if we can do it tomorrow, lets have a coffee first”
What makes you homesick?
Nothing, as your features stipulates we made Croatia our home so we are home so not homesick. I am only homesick when I travel to Belgium I miss the more relaxed life in Croatia!
What advice would you give those from abroad moving to Croatia?
Patience, tolerance, relax, no stress.
Croatians should keep realizing how beautiful their country is, and how pure the people still are, but at the same time they should not be too afraid to work hard to reach something.