Two idyllic weeks on a Croatian beach is very different from the realities of full-time living. So what is it really like to live in Croatia as an expat? In a new series on TCN, we meet expats who have lived here for 5 years or more, to find out from them the good, the bad, and the ugly of 12-month living in Croatia. Next up, Marko Gómez Karadza from Lima, Peru.
1. Tell us firstly how you came to Croatia? What motivated you to choose this slice of paradise and how long have you now been here?
I came to Croatia being driven by the need to get connected to my roots, as I’m a Croatian descendant (my grandpa was Croatian). Initially, my idea was to spend 1 year here to enjoy the place, see my relatives and get more in touch with the culture. For that, I joined the program called “Croaticum” to also learn the language while I was sorting my Croatian documents, which also was part of my initial goal. Once I arrived in Croatia, it didn’t take me more than 1 month to realize I would stay for way longer than planned. Currently, I have almost 6 years living in Split.
2. Looking back, what were your perceptions and expectations?
In terms of my expectations, I already knew how beautiful it was because of some pictures I saw beforehand, but once there I can say that reality surpassed my expectations! Also once here, I got to dive deeper into the historical heritage and culture which is impressive for someone that loves that kind of stuff and knew just a small portion of it. The food was also above my expectations in a very positive way.
3. After 5+ years here, how have those perceptions changed. Do you now view Croatia differently?
After 6 years living here, I have to say that my perceptions didn’t change so much. It is true that I have a wider idea of how all works and happens in this country and I’m more aware of the pros and cons of living here, but I would say that your perception will change depending on where you are coming from. I see a lot of things that work way better here compared to my home country, other things are interestingly working in the same way and maybe some others could happen in a better way, but that is some encouragement to eventually help make a positive change on them.
4. After your time here, the 3 things you love most about Croatia?
After 6 years I can say that the 3 things I love most about Croatia are: The beautiful nature and perfect geographic location, the safeness all around the country with a very little delinquency rate compared to other countries; and the beautiful and kind-hearted people I met and shared life with.
5. And the 3 things you would like to change.
3 things I would change would be: the long, slow and tedious bureaucracy, the lack of support to entrepreneurs and small new companies which are being killed with high taxes mostly; and the focus on building more industries rather than just focusing on tourism.
6. Given your experiences, what advice would you give to any would-be expat thinking of making the move?
I would advise you to learn a bit about the culture and the language beforehand. You are always gonna be welcomed here but it really changes if you are seen as somebody who puts some effort in trying to learn a bit, at least, about their culture and language. People will appreciate it a lot. Also, analyze the industries and business/job opportunities well in advance for a year-round living, normally things tend to change with the seasons so it is good to be some steps ahead in that field.
7. The most beautiful place in Croatia, and why?
As a sailor by profession, I dedicated a lot of time to sailing around the Croatian coastline and islands and I have to say that my favorite place is Korčula. It is such a beautiful island full of green all around, amazing lovely bays and impressive historical heritage. Also, since it is very close to the Pelješac peninsula, it is a great place to enjoy some good wines too!
8. Your favourite moment of your time in Croatia?
My favorite moment here I would say was when my mom came to visit me and we went to visit the old house where my grandpa was born and lived as a child.
I live in Split and I am a professional skipper. My Instagram account is @gkmarko where people can see beautiful places around the Croatian coast and can reach me if interested in sailing here!
Are you an expat who would like to be featured in this series? If yes, please contact [email protected] Subject Expat
For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.