CROMADS: Why You Should Move to Croatia, With or Without Uhljebistan

Total Croatia News

May 20, 2020 – With thousands emigrating, why you should move to Croatia – yes really! Forget Uhljebistan, forget tourism, meet CROMADS.

These last few months will be remembered forever by us all. So much uncertainty, so much change, so much time for reflection on the past and the future. I think most of us changed a little thanks to corona. Or maybe changed a lot. 

For me, the last few months have been a blur. I have never worked harder in my life, and that precious hour alone by the Adriatic after reporting on death all day helped keep me sane. And gave me clarity. 

I now see the world very differently than I did a year ago, especially when it comes to Croatia. And nothing was clearer to me than how this seismic change in our daily lives has positioned Croatia perfectly to reverse its population decline, generate wealth, and move this country forward.

With or without Uhljebistan.

I used to think it was possible to reform the system here, and my Croatian friends would laugh at my naivety. And they were right. But this last year has made me realise that all that effort in trying to improve Uhljebistan and bring reform is wasted effort. Effort which can be better directed into new, positive directions such as my new CROMADS concept. 

The complete ineptitude of the Ministry of Tourism, led by our heroic minister with his corona-era slogans such as Croatia Breathes Tourism, while being completely incapable of publishing any useful travel advice whatsoever, shows – once again – that there really is no hope. Rather than try and improve the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, it is better to mock it and ignore it, then to render it meaningless and irrelevant. 


We launched a Viber Community called Total Croatia Travel INFO less than 48 hours ago (you can learn more and join here). It is now 8 days since the Deputy Minister of Tourism invited me to send questions to the ministry which they would answer so that a helpful information page could be created to help the people who generate 20% of Croatia’s GDP – the tourists. Eight days later – silence. I realised that if they are not replying to the media, then there is not much hope for tourists, and so we started the Viber community as a way to put information into one place (bookmark this link to our master article if interested), We are allowing questions (and there have been MANY), and we are answering what we can and directing people to the correct email address where we do not have the information. Feedback has been broadly very positive, and I really liked this comment from Bonaca Experience – thank you! Join us (you will need to download the Viber app).

One of the keys to enjoying a better life in Croatia is something so simple, and yet so hard to get right. 



A couple of years ago, in the above feature for the British Embassy in Zagreb, I explained everything a foreign investor needed to know about Dalmatia in a sentence, a sentence that had taken me 12 years to figure out, but if one can understand and embrace its meaning, life in Dalmatia is close to perfect. And if you can’t embrace it initially, you either will at some point in the future or face a life of frustration. And the sentence is…

Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you. 

And mindset is also important when one approaches the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. Rather than get frustrated by it as I did for years, I approach it these days as a Norwegian resident of Oslo who drinks and smokes a lot approaches life in Norway. It is a great country to live in, but man, the fags and booze are expensive. But, he reasons over a 10 euro beer, the cigarette and alcohol tax is worth paying to live in Norway. 

I feel the same way about Uhljebistan. Rather than being depressed and frustrated, I accept that one of the downsides of life here – as with expensive beer and cigarettes in Norway – is that I have to pay an ‘Uhljeb tax’ in order to live in the most beautiful country in Europe, and one with the very best lifestyle. 

And you know what? As soon as you get into that mindset – a little like Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you – all the negativity goes away. Surround yourself with the many positive and dynamic people here and focus on creating Croatia 2.0 and a better future for our children. The fax machines of Uhljebistan 2.0 are on borrowed time and increasingly irrelevant. 

Now let’s talk CROMADS, and why this is the future of Croatia – and a very bright future indeed. 

It is a concept I presented first with Business Cafe Online last week, where I was a guest with the legend that is Jan de Jong. There is nothing terribly complicated about CROMADS, nor does it cost much to implement. In fact, it requires only one thing to change. 


Let’s begin with CROMADS. 

In order to explain it best, I need you to forget that Croatia is a  tourism country with 20% of its GDP slowly destroying its coast. And I need you to forget about Uhljebistan for now. We will bring in the Mighty State of Uhljebistan later, with three scenarios – CROMADS with, without and coexisting with our uhljebby friends. 

Let’s focus on what Croatia is without Uhljebistan: a safe, naturally beautiful country in the EU, affordable and accessible, with great local food and wine, things to do and see, good infrastructure and Internet. And a a lifestyle that is the envy of the world. A great place to live. Hold that thought. 

We live in an increasingly digitalised world, and it is a fact of life that a large minority (and possibly soon to be the majority) of us all work in the same office. 

It is called the Internet. 

There are only two real variables to our global office  – connectivity (3G, 4G or 5G) and time zones. Apart from that we are free to roam our office and choose a seat and view that suits us. 

When we leave the office, we go home. 

I first spoke at Business Cafe a year ago in Zagreb. In order to get there, I drove from Varazdin, 90km each way. Round trip of 180km. 

Last week I got my monthly report from Google Maps to tell me how many countries I had visited in April 2020, and how many kilomotres I had travelled. 

I had walked 100 kilometres and driven just 65 km. So that drive to Business Cafe last year was three times the distance I drove for the entire month of April.

And here I was, sitting in bed in Jelsa with a glass of wine, making my second appearance at Business Cafe, but this time with a lot more people than could fit in the room in Zagreb. 

BC owner Kristina could have been in Dublin, Dubai or Durban. Last year, she had to physically be in Zagreb, but no longer. And with online schooling looking increasingly likely sooner rather than later, suddenly the pillars which chain ourselves to our locations are removed. Sure, some will want to stay in the place where they grew up, close to family. But there will be many who would love to leave the office and go home to an amazing lifestyle destination. 

Somewhere like Croatia. 

Imagine a long day in the office and you close down and look to de-stress. A swim in the Adriatic before dinner perhaps?  A little stroll through a UNESCO World Heritage Site such as the old towns of Split, Trogir and Dubrovnik? Or perhaps a hike in a stunning country which has 10% of its surface given over to national and nature parks?

The choice is yours. The destination is safe, affordable, accessible, English is widely-spoken, great food and wine, lots to see and do. Did I mention the lifestyle?

Before the corona pandemic, the prediction was one BILLION digital nomads by 2035. The events of the last few months has probably accelerated that number’s arrival. 

Unlike a tourist, a digital nomad usually comes for the lifestyle.  Which means a longer stay, more integration in the community, a chance to engage, inspire and put something back. When I talk digital nomads here, local eyes glaze over, as they falsely assume that I am talking exclusively about bloggers and influencers in Split and Dubrovnik. 

And then when I tell them about Julie from Denver, they are shocked. In an age of mass emigration from Slavonia, here was a woman who not only moved to Osijek for several months, but absolutely loved it. Safe, affordable, beautiful, great locals and nature, English spoken. What was not to like?

Doesn’t it make you think? What if?

Why not work all day in the office, then come home to your lifestyle paradise – pretty much anywhere in Croatia. 

I haven’t told you about the food.

Or the wine. 

Great locally produced food, with ingredients which are not available all year in some bland format, but only in season. And the taste and freshness is magnificent. As are the 130 indigenous grape varieties of Croatia, including the original Zinfandel. 

What if my food also travelled about as much as I did? Great fresh local produce. A local economy. 

A job in the global office, a home in the lifestyle capital of Europe, where do I sign up? It is time to talk to the elephant in the room. 

There are three scenarios with CROMADS:

Scenario 1: Uhljebistan ignores the digital nomad opportunity completely.

Life goes on before. Some clever marketing brings in more digital nomads than are currently coming. And they ARE coming. Without reform of the immigration rules, stays will be limited to three months in many cases. But digital nomads are a mobile bunch. They will come for 3 months, spend in the bars, restaurants, shops. Those indirect taxes will be a little taster of what might have been. A good solid income. 

Scenario 2: Uhljebistan decides to engage. 

With its usual cashflow channels drying up, Uhljebistan decides to engage. Let’s make it easier for digital nomads to stay longer, and there is more money for us. Some love the lifestyle so much that they start businesses, employ locals, all of whom pay a hefty tribute to the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. 

Scenario 3:  Vive La Revolution!

Things are bad enough in Croatia that the people rise up. The nation that can get 550,000 people on the streets of Zagreb to celebrate its World Cup heroes and send off beloved singer Oliver in style to Vela Luka starts to protest with similar passion. And Uhljebistan is overthrown. 

What are we left with? A global office, employees from all over the globe contributing to the local economy, inspiring the mindset of the local next generation. And with no more Uhljebistan, a progressive tax incentive to bring those businesses closer to their employees. 

And while we hope for Scenario 3, the reality is probably Scenario 1, which is still ok. 

Work in the office, relax in the lifestyle capital of Europe, with or without Uhljebistan. 

Forget trying to find those 20 million tourists which are slowly devastating the coast.

Buy local, go digital, change mindset. Croatia really is the most amazing place to live. A place where the locals would be able to enjoy their coast at an affordable price. 


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