My life has always been random, and if someone had told me a few years ago that I would be a 53-year-old YouTuber (how sad does that sound) on the cover of a successful business magazine, in a custom made suit as part of my role of the first international male model in the 100-year history of Varteks writing an editorial about why I am no longer interested in Croatian tourism, but something much more interesting and inspiring, the only surprise would have been that I made it to 53.
Jobs, the New Attraction for Foreigners in Croatia
I have had the most incredible summer in Croatia and, for the first time in 20 years, apart from 2 nights for the opening of the Peljesac Bridge, I haven’t seen the sea at all.
And it has been fantastic.
I am trying an experiment, to live in an imaginary Croatia where there is no coast or tourism, just focusing on what remains. And what remains is quite exceptional. And full of foreign languages.
But these are not the voices solely of tourists on the streets of Zagreb, but of expats, new arrivals for our unicorns, Rimac and Infobip (and others), and a steady stream of digital nomads. In fact, take tourism away and look at what is left, and things get interesting.
Two years ago, nobody knew what a digital nomad was in Croatia. The pandemic, digital nomad visa, and award-winning Zagreb Digital Nomad Week changed all that.
The respected NomadList global survey placed Zagreb as the 5th most-liked city for nomads in the world, as well as the 5th fastest-growing remote work hub in the world. Co-working spaces are EVERYWHERE in the city, and arriving nomads are struck by the choice and diversity of workspaces.
They are struck too by the safety, the level of English, the parks, the nature, the authentic experiences, the lifestyle, the food, the wine, the people. The list goes on.
“The only thing missing in Zagreb for digital nomads,” said Israeli Dean Kuchel, “is more digital nomads. This place has everything.”
To mark my 20 years in Croatia, I recently wrote a series called 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years. It was intended to showcase the magic of Croatian with the right mindset, as well as a thank you to Croatia and its people. Doing business in Dalmatia, the olive harvest, bureaucracy and mindset, safety, raising children, getting sued, the Mighty State of Uhlljebistan.
The reaction was huge. SO many expats and diaspora. After part 7, safety, a Croat in Amsterdam messaged to say she was sending each article to the FORTY international colleagues at their new office in Zagreb. There was no book that explains Croatia to foreigners. We chatted a little – what if I turned this into a book?
“Then I will order 40 copies.”
And so Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners was born. An affectionate but honest overview of the good, the bad, and the ugly through a foreign eye which has seen more of the country that most locals, failed at business, fought with bureaucracy, and revelled in the lifestyle. It took me 15 years to explain the secret of success in living and doing business in Dalmatia. Fifteen years and one sentence in the book.
Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you.
TCN editor Lauren Simmonds is co-writing the book, with a practical guide for new arrivals; getting an OIB, finding a dentist, residence permits, and opening a bank account. Pre-sales have been extraordinary, with one Croatian company ordering 1,000 copies for a branded edition.
And they are not alone. Working in Croatia is ‘in’, your safe, authentic lifestyle destination – and with mindset and wealth generation in the package. Tourism? What tourism?
Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out in October. For pre-orders, including branded corporate copies, contact [email protected].
Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.