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, Carla Nemet from the US.
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?
My Croatian husband Ivan (Ivica was birth name) & I had left the USA for Central America in 2015. We had some “bumps” in the road of life, and we left all and went there first. HINDSITE: we should have just come here to Croatia, his country of birth. By 2017 we were totally over 90-degree heat & humidity (32.0+C) and the politics in this third world country, were going south for ex-pats.
Ivan wanted to come here, FIRST ALWAYS. BUT, my total lack of learning by hearing, put me off from trying to tackle learning Croatian. I had previous experience with my lack of learning a language! The good new is that we both just were over the moon, once we did get here in May of 2017.
2. Looking back, what were your perceptions and expectations?
Ivan had travelled here when he was 17 or 18 years old with his parents & sis. So, he was totally on board with getting to Croatia. Where we differed was in deciding which city! He wanted Osijek (born in Tanja, outside of it) and the Slavonian region was his first pick. HOWEVER, I wanted the same weather range that I was used to in the Northwest Florida area, where we lived for 18 years prior to leaving the US. So, three seasons, MINUS SNOW! I did win out because I felt being by the sea and having the mountain range behind Split, was the best geography & weather you could ask for, in Croatia! He caved!
3. After 5 years here, how have those perceptions changed. Do you now view Croatia differently?
So, after 5 years, my perceptions have changed most in my COMFORT of Knowledge, about living in Split and feeling part of the daily pulse, of Split. I was very nervous for the two years, the language was part of it, but I was always afraid of offending someone who was born here. Part, was my husband, always stressing this was NOT AMERICA, so don’t expect that. NOW, I have to say, I am so thankful that Split, offers very little of the culture, I left behind. It is so safe, friendly 85% of the time. You just have to make a small effort to greet others & the genuine warmth & sometimes curiosity of me, saves the day!
4. After your time year, the 3 things you love most about Croatia?
3 things I love most: your WATER! Your local grown food & clean raised meats, eggs! Your weather!
5. And the 3 things you would like to change.
Change…maybe you’re driving and parking issues. I don’t have a vehicle; I love to walk or take your great bus system. HOWEVER, the way most drivers view the roads, is scary!!!! Also, since I am a health-focused individual…I am worried that I see so much processed food in the younger folks shopping carts. That dwindling effort in the kitchen, is what has led to the decline in the average person’s health in the US. Your raw materials are soooooo good, I consider it a crime to not cook from scratch, here.
Also, folks with the dogs, NOT PICKING UP THE POOP! Total health hazard!!!
6. Given your experiences, what advice would you give to any would-be expat thinking of making the move?
Patience! Most of the elderly have only one speed. Polako!!!!
Also, folks stop, dead in the middle of the walking path, so never assume the person in front of you, won’t stop dead in their tracks, for some reason.
I have to say, my husband was on the computer to fb “ex-Pats meet Split” and other government sites, for 6 months, daily doing all the research we needed to get here. Since he was born here, things went fast with paperwork. So, if you don’t have a “Cro-Connection”, I am not up on what the options are. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, and double & triple check your information.
7. The most beautiful place in Croatia, and why?
I personally feel Split has the most to offer. I have been to Osijek, Rijeka also. So, while I haven’t been everywhere, I feel the weather here is the friendliest to outside use, year-round. I totally need to see the sun, almost daily. And I get the grumps, just like the locals, when we reach that third day of rain/clouds in a row! So, I am so right there, with that issue!
8. Your favourite moment of your time in Croatia?
My most favorite moment, still is the trip Ivan & I took to Omiš and the castle in 2018. When we got to the top and surveyed all the mountains, sea around us…I truly felt like I could fly. I took some killer pics, and to this day, it brings back that wonderful day, with my husband of 45 years.
He left for a head start on a new journey, after a sudden health event. We had 3 stupendous years together & his deepest wish was for me to become a “Splitska” (sp?) I will apply for my permanent residency later this year, and will continue on my journey to fulfill that wish, God Willing. Carla M. Nemet
Are you an expat who would like to be featured in this series? If yes, please contact [email protected] Subject Expat
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