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Things to know before moving to Croatia – an expat’s view


After living in the most southeastern part of Croatia for 14 years, including two years in Dubrovnik and currently near the Sokol grad fort in Konavle, Devika Primic from South Africa shares some expat advice.

Don’t ignore learning about a foreign country before you decide to move away from your hometown. 

The idea of moving to a foreign country sounds exciting but you need to read more about the place of interest. You don’t think of how everything else will affect you until you move there. At the time, it all feels happy and like an adventure.

Home is far and where the heart is, but you can make your home where ever you are comfortable. I didn’t know much when I picked up and moved away from my country and am not sorry, I made the decision and it didn’t feel right not knowing about Croatia first.

The two weeks spent at a family home was a nice experience. At that time nothing felt permanent. The holiday feelings were full-on and I went with the flow daily. Enjoying each day and the peace of the countryside made me feel happy.

The beautiful views and different environment improved my thoughts in the daily activities that I witnessed. People in Croatia were friendly and every day felt like a new adventure.

The moment we stepped out of that comfort zone reality sunk in when we had to search for an apartment, and everything just felt difficult.

Most apartments are rented out on the coast in the summer and in the winter there are a few apartments that are not in use. We had a good offer to stay for a week at a local friend’s place and staying with family didn’t make the moment feel difficult.

Searching for an apartment was easy the first time. An apartment in Cavtat, 15 kilometres south of Dubrovnik, for a week was a good idea to live close to the pebble beaches, and it was a new adventure again. If you don’t know anyone in a foreign country, then finding an apartment can in some cases be a rip off.

Cavtat in Konavle (Photo: Cavtat Tourist Board)

I had no idea where to start not knowing the Croatian language. Communication was most difficult, as back then, there weren’t many people speaking English. I should have learned the language before my move to Croatia.

To make new friends in a foreign country you need to be open-minded. To be able to communicate in that foreign language and enjoy the moment.

Show your strengths and less of your weaknesses. You don’t have to forget about your life back home keep that in your focus. It is easy to get lonely and feel depressed. Be patient and develop new friendships. Make time for chats with your family back home.

I don’t want to be arrogant and don’t advise anyone to be that way, and I learned to be part of a new culture and to meet the different people. Culture brought on a new me in my new experience.

It is expensive to live in Croatia and something you should know about any country before you decide to pack your bags and leave home.

How do you adapt and how do you live in a foreign country?

Meet people and be financially secure. Learn about opening your own business. Be able to connect with each other. Life may not be easy in both countries, but you have a choice and your decisions made shows for that.


I immersed myself in a different culture and learned lots about the local people in Croatia. The learning experience allowed me to be more positive and confident. Meeting the many different people showed me how important it is to embrace each day.

I didn’t pay attention to anything but my own life in South Africa. It is normal to be that way. When you decide to move away that is the hardest part, and to accept another life and to feel as if you have lost your own along the way is another chapter to be re-opened.

Surviving in a foreign country has improved my communication in the Croatian language and this can be in any foreign country. To learn the language is most important and everything else will work out once you figured out how to communicate.

Become familiar with laws in the new country, where to eat, make note of the local restaurants, and to know where to shop and where to stay. People leave their hometowns and feel the need to live elsewhere for new job opportunities or for better medical care. I moved to Croatia because of marriage. No matter what the reason for you leaving home, you should do thorough research of that country.


The things I should have known of before moving to Croatia shocked me and slowed the learning process in the language and in my communication. The choice I made did affect me for a while I got over that after speaking the language.

It is important to be able to communicate and void isolation. Expressions are different in a foreign country. The simple conversation can feel most difficult if you don’t know how to communicate in the basic words of a foreign language. Learn about taxes, health insurance and of government issues. Get familiar with the local people and their habits.

What works best for you?

Self-employment or working for a valuable company. Sometimes your finances can run out fast because what you anticipated about the cost of living did not go as planned. Don’t live beyond your means learn the ropes of how to earn and save cash.

You shouldn’t expect everything to be the same as it is or was at home. In a foreign country you must learn how to adjust. Think about costs of visas and residency permits.

I learned how to live in Croatia and don’t have a problem now with the language. Living far away from home for different reasons is not the same for everyone.

The reality of life is what I tried to make for me and can’t change how I came to Croatia..

The disadvantages shouldn’t bother you in a foreign country because you have the same back home. I know I am no longer a stranger in the small community, but I will always be a foreigner.

Sokol Grad

Discover Sightseeing in Croatia

In Konvale, in the most southeastern part of Croatia, the extraordinary views of the countryside is drawing many tourists. It has such breathtaking views one can’t resist seeing this green side view. The many trees and surrounding views make it all so spectacular.

A beautiful country ruined by the war and now has many changes to adapt to. My life here has taught me to enjoy what I see and observe daily. The lovely places have brought on greater challenges.

The many ruined buildings have been renovated and rebuilt. Strangely enough, I recently stumbled upon another ruined sight. I was quite surprised to see such ruins not touched further for better improvement.

I have been told this site will be sold soon and thereafter will be rebuilt. The old hotels all in ruin have fantastic sea views. Once rebuilt they will certainly be another tourist resort.

What have I discovered about Croatia?

Dubrovnik is one of the greater attractions of Croatia. The population is under forty thousand. A well-known spot for its rich history. The marbled street is called Stradun in the Croatian language, meaning the main street of the Old City or Old Town.


Dubrovnik is a city that in the past equalled Venice in wealth and stood strong against Venice. The city improved on the Renaissance style during the fifteenth century. Due to the earthquake in the sixteen hundreds, all went down very fast.

The destruction caused Dubrovnik to decline its power against Venice. Since the twentieth-century tourism increased. The old City or Old Town was sunk during the war time. The history of Dubrovnik is most fascinating. If I told you everything about this beautiful place, you won’t visit to find out more for yourself. Certain information is better left untold. Mysteries are often left alone. There is lots to see if you prefer orchestra and architecture heritage.

You can explore the side streets and nightlife. The night clubs are there for your great entertainment and the many different bars for a laid-back lifestyle.

Hvar is an island with a lovely harbour view. You will notice Venetian townhouses. Many backpackers find this island a haven to visit. A beautiful place to find yourself and to learn more about life.


Hvar is the longest island in beautiful Croatia going for at least sixty-eight kilometres. There too are olive trees, figs, lemons and oranges. Fruit trees are planted throughout Croatia.

The island can be explored through the Old city or Stari Grad as is said in the Croatian language. Trips to all Islands are available from Dubrovnik and all have an Old City.

I also discovered Rovinj as another attraction, a town in Istria.

Rovinj is noted as one of the most romantic spots in Croatia. A Venetian bell tower is on top of the short winding streets of Rovinj. Fishermen are daily at work catching fresh fish.

Rovinj (photo: Rovinj Tourist Board)

A lovely stroll in view of restaurants and of the harbour can be a good idea. These are only some of what you can experience when visiting Croatia.

I have enjoyed the beautiful sights and still planning on more visits.

It has been a wonderful time visiting great places. You can walk freely and not care of who will rob you of your valuables. It is normal for you to still be very cautious. From my personal experiences, I feel most safe here. I feel I am blessed with beauty in this foreign country.

My life has changed but for the best. My new way of life has made me stronger and free. The daily learning experiences have taken me further into my new footsteps. Everything changed for and went its own paths as I have in mine. The language was a barrier and is no longer that barrier. I know my great achievements have shown great power for myself.

Exploring the surrounding places of Croatia has brought me closer to another life. Have you visited Croatia or planning to visit?

Life in Croatia (on the coast) is largely dependent on tourism. Tourists who visit Croatia year after year know what they are in for here. A place of peace and tranquillity for all individuals. I was surprised to see that people don’t lock their doors during siesta time. I did not expect it. Now I do the same. What a great life.

Don’t expect too much or too little. Croatia has a large stretch of coastline. The beaches are clean, and the water is sparkling clean. You will be impressed by the beaches and of the description of the water. I am also satisfied drinking the tap water here.

There are some pebbled beaches and some sandy beaches. I prefer sandy beaches. The sea is calm and beautiful. I also visited Zaton and Ston, these are such great places to visit. Lovely restaurants and close to the beaches. If you love swimming and water sports this is the place to be. Holiday apartments are close by and a walk away to the beach. A place to relax and enjoy at your leisure.

I learned that Croatia was part of the Roman province. The Croats settled in during the seventh century. A very interesting history. I like the way I have adapted to a new life. I felt at times disappointed, but took it with a pinch of salt. I don’t sweat on the small stuff. I have been through far too much to take everything to heart. It is time to just let go and let be. It is a wonderful place to raise a family.

Croatia is a small and independent country and has its ups and downs then again, which country is running to its perfection?


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