My name is Tony (Ante) Lucic; I was born in Dubrovnik in 1953, I was a motor mechanic by trade. In 1974, when I was 21, I left my hometown of Dubrovnik and moved to London and worked as a waiter in the Savoy Hotel, to get a work permit, I had to work in catering. I was only planning to stay short-term to improve my English… I met my wife, and we had 2 children and made the UK my home for 46 years. I owned and ran our restaurant for 30 years.
1. You made the switch to Croatia. Tell us a little about the decision process and how long it took for you to get on the plane.
I moved back to Croatia with my wife in 2020, just as Covid hit. I always said that when, and only when I retire, I would return back to my hometown of Dubrovnik, so that was an instant decision, albeit my English wife was hesitant.
2. What did your family and community back home think of your decision at the time?
My family and friends in the UK were pleased but sad to see us go, but they all love coming out to Dubrovnik for holidays.
3. Where did you get your information about the realities of Croatia prior to coming?
We holidayed every year in Croatia, so we kept up to date with friends, family, and on social media. We also attended the Croatian Catholic mission on a Sunday, where we met up with other Croatian people living in London.
4. What were you most nervous about making the switch? What was your biggest fear, and what was the reality of what you found?
For me, the switch was easy, as I did not need anything from the state, as I already had a house here and did not need employment as I was retired, and that was one of the reasons I always said I would only move back when I retired. Because I had my English wife with me, we did have a few hurdles regarding paperwork and going from office to office, apostille stamps trying to avoid the office coffee breaks, and all this during Covid made it a bit stressful.
5. Think back to the time before you arrived. What were your perceptions about Croatia, and how were they different from the reality you encountered?
From my perceptions of reality, things have improved a lot over the years, notably the healthcare service, they don’t lock you in the ward anymore, haha, but there is still a long way to go. People like to moan here, but most of them seem to live well, I do wonder if anybody does any work as they all seem to be drinking coffee.
6. You are still here, so obviously, the pros outweigh the cons. Tell us about some of the things that you love about being in Croatia, as well as some of the things you don’t like.
Being a laid-back person, I enjoy the slower pace of life, sunshine, beach, and the coffee culture, people make you feel welcome, and their hospitality is first class. Drivers are very impatient; no one likes to queue, bureaucracy is a nightmare, tradesmen, i.e., plumbers and electricians, never turn up as promised, and everyone knows everyone’s business. And living in a small town is a case of who you know, not what you know!
7. What advice do you have for others thinking about making a move from the diaspora?
My Advice would be, only come if you are financially secure, otherwise, good luck!
8. How do you think Croatia can better assist those who are looking to return to the Homeland?
They need to simplify bureaucracy; the politics need to change, and not to mention the corruption.. otherwise, I love it here.
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