In our new feature ‘Word on the Street…Foreigners who made Croatia home’ – we will be meeting those people who have decided to move and make a new life in Croatia…
We will find out from them 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 a couple from America who ditched the rat race to live on a Croatian island…
Name: John and Katie Lines
Age: John: 68, Katie: younger
Country of origin: USA
How long have you been living in Smokvica?
We bought our house eight years ago and spent three years going back and forth doing renovation. We have lived here now for 5 1/2 years.
What bought you to Smokvica?
We came to Dalmatia for a kayaking holiday. The kayaking plan fell through so we just roamed around Korčula Island for a couple of weeks where we met an American who was selling real estate on the island. Next thing we knew, we owned a house in Smokvica!
Was was the most difficult thing about the shift?
Finding the supplies for the remodeling on the Island. Rather than having megastores where one can obtain any construction materials, we got our paint in one store, building supplies in another, and plumbing in yet another. Not knowing who sold what was a challenge, but the people here who did most of the craft work were very helpful in showing us where it was. We have since found a truck driver on the Island who makes regular trips to Split and Zagreb and can pick up the things we cannot carry back with us. He also is our mechanic and performed magic keeping the Zastava we bought here running like new. And don’t forget the difficulty in convincing people back there that we were not moving to a war zone!
How do you make your living in Smokvica?
We are both on pension, and operate a small bed and breakfast during the summer, (www.smokvicabandb.com). This was our first full year and we did well and met a lot of very nice people.
3 Favourite things about Smokvica?
The view from our patio
The pace of life
3 Things you would like to change about Smokvica?
Would like to see more of the houses occupied and renovated.
More activity in the winter time. It is very quiet here from December through March.
Otherwise we like it here
Favourite ‘Croatian’ food?
Grilled meat and fish.
Plavac mali wine, from Smokvica of course
Favourite place to eat?
Mala Kapja agrotourism restaurant, between Smokvica and Blato. Everything is grown there on site and the family that runs it are very helpful and friendly. We recommend it to our B&B guests and they also have given it positive reviews.
We are not bar/club people, but enjoy Casablanca in Vela Luka.
Favourite place to chill out/relax?
Any beach on the island. Each one has its own personality and we choose based on our mood. I also enjoy bicycling on the vineyard roads on the island.
Favourite place outside of Smokvica to visit in Croatia?
We enjoy taking the ferry to Split when we need some big city time. There is plenty to do there without being overwhelming.
How are you going with the language?
I am doing better than my wife as my mother was of Croatian descent. I have been told “your accent is very good, but your grammar is horrible.”
Biggest cultural difference between Croatia and America?
The pace of life on the Island and the focus on things other than who is winning on “Survivor”.
Is there anything that makes you ‘homesick’?
I miss the convenience of visiting my kids and grandkids. One daughter visited last summer and did not want to leave. I expect the others will visit soon. My wife misses the ability to chat spontaneously with anybody.
Do you see yourself staying in Croatia?
Any tips for anyone looking at making a move?
Take a trip or two over here and get a feel for the lifestyle. It is so different from anyplace in the US or UK that one needs to prepare before making the jump. Also check with at least two different officials about the legal requirements you must meet to make the move, as advice tends to differ from person to person.