As Slavonia Empties, a Canadian Osijek Resident Highlights the Positives

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

There has been plenty of reaction to yesterday’s article on the depopulation of Slavonia, as the region’s youth heads to Germany in search of a better life. One man heading in the opposite direction is Canadian resident of Osijek, James B. Macdonald, who balances the bleak overall situation with a string of positives about Osijek and Slavonia on May 22, 2016. 

Writing for Total-Croatian-News for a while I felt frustrated by this article of people moving in mass exodus. In contrast I have read so many positive things that are happening in Osijek. One has to believe and be part of the positive change, ignoring all the negativity. To compare my first visit to Osijek 8 years ago to now, returning in 2015, I found it a better place to live…

This is what I saw in the last year:

  • NEW Businesses are starting to be built by entrepreneurs.

  • This past week new investments in existing operating companies that are experiencing growth for the first time.

  • Most of the buildings that were not fit to live in have been replaced with new homes or apartments.

  • Portanova Shopping Mall and Rebuilding of the Market in Freedom square

  • New renovations in Schools bringing them into the modern world

  • New Universities are currently under construction as attendance is growing.

  • New infrastructure and growing transportation routes, for example: Tram tracks have been extended to Višnjevac in the last 2 years.

  • Maintenance crews of the city are always working to keep things up and running smoothly. The roads are not full of pot holes and the sewage is never backed up.

  • More German plates on the road and people buying new homes being built or upgraded.


25 reasons to Stay and make Osijek better.

It remains a mystery as to why people think they will have a better life, without looking at all the options and resources that may be first available in Croatia

1. Osijek has next to no crime rate and is among the safest cities to live in compared to the rest of Europe and the world. When you look at a big city like Toronto, the chief of Police announces in the newspapers an ad about how unsafe Toronto is becoming. Ask yourself – this is important question – “how safe is the city I am thinking about going to, to work and live?”

2. To make Osijek a place for all people to live a better standard of life. The community has to start talking and making things work. The global job market has shifted massively with new technology, causing shrinking jobs in large companies. It is through careful brainstorming of the things that we have that we can help create and stand out globally. It is not about leaving because someone else has. There is an expression “if your friend jumped in the lake would you?” (This only works in winter when saying it)

3. The University of Osijek is one of the many Croatian Universities experiencing growth of enrollment. With the addition of some students from various parts of the world coming to learn and not just the Croatian language.

4. Tour of Croatia: the cycling event was held here this year as Osijek gets recognized for its cultural heritage and architecture. Placing Osijek as a destination place for Cycling.

5. Prince Charles arrived last year as part of his tour. If Osijek was not important why would he come to visit?


6. Tourism is playing an important role in Osijek. Take for example the River Boat tours docking downtown. The number of tours being held with bus loads arriving at the old city of Tvrđa – not only are they sight-seeing but also shopping.


7. “Find a need build a need.” Best example: Maja Korovljević and Sanja Đurić from Osijek build their own toys made out of wood and ship them all over the world. The toys are so good even the Chinese want to make copies. See article: Toys from Osijek Conquering the World

8. The envy of Osijek is
Jelka Kujundžić a wonderful lady of 64 years who was bored staying at home and started her own bakery with legendary Krempitas. People flock to her store that is busy enough to support another 2 ladies to help out. While other people travel to the coast in search of jobs, her bakery remains open all year round. Called Sunčana, ironically on the same quiet pedestrian street called Sunčana. (English Sunny)
for full article see:


9. Road construction building: better highways to strengthen Osijek as it is in the centre of a transportation hub.


10. Osijek Airport starts Airline Ryanair from London to Osijek all year long. Plus it will be transporting over 30 000 passengers and in 2016 has expectations of 50 000 passengers. To see full article check out:
Osijek Becoming First Croatian Airport With Year-round Ryanair Flights


11. Four million euros have been invested into Ricard, increasing their fleet by 30 new Mercedes-Benz semi-trailers. Currently Ricard employs 315 workers and with the increase will soon be hiring 50 more employees. This is from the article posted in: Ricardo got thirty new unit opens fifty jobs by


12. Beer: the birth place of the Osijek Bewery, otherwise known as Osječko pivo. The oldest, still totally owned by Croatia, no third party yet.


13. Black Hat Brewery opens in Osijek. Who could leave or resist when a new beer company opens in Osijek?


14. Lega Lega based in Osijek, that is world renowned. From the google search” Lega-Lega was created rather casually, as a result of mental exercises and brainstorming in the Osijek-based design studio MIT.”


15. Portanova Shopping Center is always busy, don’t even try to find a parking spot on Saturday or Sunday, as the mall is packed. The place is a one-stop shopping centre and fun. With bowling, movies, and more…. It’s great that business is business and we have the luxury of things. This was not even here or thought of 8 years ago.


16. Jasmina Krkić Poznić’s situation: she started a hotel business and made Croatian headlines building it in Tvrđa. This building was over 150 years old, and she fixed it up with her own money. With every success story, people will laugh and say it’s not possible. The best is when you prove them wrong by doing it.To see the full article: Meet Probably the Best Small Hotel in Slavonia


17. One can commute to work without being stuck in 2 hours of traffic and without having to travel more than 35km one way to get to work. The schools are safe to walk to, being not far from home. Doctors’ surgeries are in close proximity without the need for a car.


18. It is everyone’s dream to get a job in the field they studied. When they can’t get it, they believe that it exists in the next country. (But at what cost) Sometimes it takes more than one core path of studies to make things happen and we may not always get the job. However it is something more, it’s a career. So never give up.


19. The number of free events and festivals that one can attend and meet up with old friends is priceless. Osijek has surpassed my expectations and it is the city that gets people returning year after year.


20. There is a growing number of IT incubators, innovation and programs that are happening with brilliant people in Croatia that are leading the way to global headlines around the world. Be a part of it and ask questions.


21. Affordable Art, Theatre, Sports events and fellow Croatians to cheer on the team during the Euro Cup or Olympics. (Imagine cheering for Croatia in the wrong pub filled with the opposition losing, not a pretty sight)


22. Affordable cost of living. What are the real essentials – food, shelter and water? If it was everyone’s dream to drive a Mercedes, the world would be in trouble. The price of a cup of coffee is anywhere between 10kn to 15kn, in some places a combo a coffee and a small bottle of coke costs 15kn. Try going to a major coffee chain for example Starbucks and you will be paying much more, served in a paper cup. (Maybe this is why they failed in Croatia.)


23. We have young entrepreneurs building up new ideas taken from other parts of the world, the best example being the ESCAPE ROOM. A place where a group of people try to figure in an hour how to escape the room by solving puzzles. Maybe designed for people escaping boredom with positive creativity rather than escaping Osijek.


24. If you are complaining about buildings up for sale, take a look around: they are mostly ones that have had their day, being too old and in need of repair, therefore costly to fix. Young and old are taking advantage of the price, working hard to tear down the old houses crumbling down. You can actually start to see up-to-date modern homes replacing them. It’s good to see revitalization of communities, coming back to life with new owners with fresh ideas.

25. If everyone left Osijek and wanted to see what it would really look like, look no further than Hamilton Ontario Canada, an area of very high unemployment. With a staggering huge number of different health issues caused by the lack of infrastructure and health care. If Osijek was really all that bad, one would not see Mercedes, Audi, BMW or other European cars.


Additional information to ponder

Hair stylist Canada:
“A Hair Stylist earns an average wage of C$11.79 per hour. (2016 stats) Round up the dollar amount
12x 40= $480 before tax a week or $1920 and after tax another story.

The average salary in Osijek is about 6,300 kn based on these three categories:”
Engineering 5,000 Kn
Hair/Beauty 6000 kn
Technology 8000 Kn
If you are looking at the cost of living it’s not that bad for living in Osijek. I dare one to compare the cost of living in Toronto or other Metropolitan cities in North America. Let’s just say you landed in Canada for example your first job would most likely be working at Wal-mart or Tim Hortons average starting pay for full time. This would be until you got all of your paper proved and after you go to University again as this is often the standard as Canada does not accept credentials from other countries that are not part of the Commonwealth. So if you’re lucky to find a job minimum wage starts at $11.00 CDN. For many and most Croatians we cannot live without a cell phone your monthly bill starts at $70 CDN. a month this is not unlimited, rent starts at $1500 CDN. for a bachelor if lucky to find one at this price. So add the bills up and then find money for clothes or food.

Note: North Americans have turned shopping into a hobby (almost a sport) the debt ratio of house hold income is devastating if they missed a paycheck what would happen. 


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment