Digital Nomad Life in Croatia: Barbara Barrett, from Pennsylvania to Split

Total Croatia News

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July 5, 2019 – As the number of digital nomads rises globally, some are choosing to spend some of their time in Croatia. A new TCN series meeting international digital nomads calling Croatia their temporary home. Meet Barbara Barrett from Pennsylvania.

As recently featured on TCN, the world is projected to have a billion digital nomads by 2035, people from all over the world doing all manner of jobs and business with one thing in common – a flexible, mobile workplace connected to the Internet. If even a fracture of that number becomes a reality, the economic opportunity for countries which can attract these wealth-generating individuals has the potential to dwarf Croatia’s current tourism revenues. And there are few countries better placed than Croatia to take advantage. Safe, beautiful, great gourmet scene, top tourist destination, English widely spoken, well connected to other destinations, and a superb lifestyle. 

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In order to look at the issue in more detail, we have decided to look at some of the digital nomads who have Croatia in their lifestyle plan, and to find out why Croatia, what Croatia offers, and what are the things that countries should be looking out for to take advantage of this economic opportunity. I am very grateful to Tanja Polegubic from Split’s waterfront co-working space, Saltwater in Split (see location below) for her help in connecting me to various digital nomads using her space. 

Our next digital nomad in Croatia is Barbara Barrett, who enjoyed Dalmatian sunshine after arriving from Pennsylvania. 

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You are one of a growing number of digital nomads. Tell us briefly who you are and what you do. 

 Hi, I’m Barbara Barrett from the U.S. I’m a dynamic woman looking for everything I can squeeze out of life including meeting new people, learning new cultures and seeing new things that inspire me. After living abroad in England and Germany early in my career, I found that visiting a new country for 1 or 2 weeks wasn’t enough for me. So, I got creative with work travel and personal travel making sure that I leveraged opportunities to explore new places where I was going for work, stay the weekend after in Paris or tag on a week’s holiday to it. I started seeing all these new options for flexible work arrangements and digital nomads. I literally lit up. It was perfect for me. After a couple of years researching and planning, I finally moved out of my apartment in North Carolina, put my belongings in storage and have been “nomading” for nearly 4 months. For work, I do strategy and competitive intelligence and volunteer with The HBA (Healthcare Business Women’s Association) who are committed to building women leaders and achieving gender parity.    

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Working from your laptop rather than in an office seems like the dream lifestyle. What are the main pros and cons? 

For me the pros of working from my laptop from anywhere is a general sense of freedom to work when and where I feel inspired. Whether, that’s checking my email over some really great coffee, or plugging into some great WiFi at Saltwater co-working space and getting a project done, or taking some marathon calls from my home, I’m completely aware that it’s the people that I work with each day that energize me not the office. b. The cons are spending too much time alone, which is why co-working spaces are great or even a coffee or lunch spot. Originally, I tried to work within set hours. But I’ve found that in order to get the work done. I need to go with the flow. At the end of the day, my team needs to feel confident they can depend on me. Being flexible means being reasonably available for instant messages, calls and being proactive and following up on my end. Also important is communicating any schedule preferences in advance to my manager or teammates I’m working with at the moment.   

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Laptop living gives you the freedom to travel and choose your place to live. Where are the global hot spots currently for digital nomads?

I think the hot spots are big cities and seaside towns. I chose to work through Be Here to help organize my flexible work arrangement. Bali and Lisbon are some of the most popular locations.    

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You chose Croatia and specifically Split – why?

Croatia has been on my wish list for many years. I was curious about Croatia meeting a community of Croatians when I lived in Germany. While researching Croatia, it looked so beautiful and I wondered why I had never heard much about it in the U.S. In January this year, I decided to wipe out all excuses and make it happen. I made the decision to come here, booked it, paid in full to hold myself accountable.  I chose Split because it was one of the locations that Be Here offered. And I haven’t been disappointed one day… even when it was unusually cold and rainy the first week I arrived. I walked down the stretch of beaches from my hotel to old town and didn’t even mind the rain on me with no umbrella because it was still so beautiful.    

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What are the most important things a destination should offer to be most compatible for the digital nomad lifestyle, apart from that all-important good WiFi?

A welcoming community is the most important for a destination. Getting connected to someone with local knowledge of places to go and culture can accelerate your navigation of the day to day and make it easier to integrate. Even better is a local host to show you around live, introduce you to other people, share knowledge that encourages you to find the new or unique local things that get you out of your comfort zone, learn something new and grow as a person.    

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What are the competitive advantages that Croatia has to attract more digital nomads?

The change of pace in work cultures is the biggest advantage Croatia has to offer to me. Coming from the U.S. a mindset change that I don’t have to be working every moment of the day to be productive and get my work done. Success can look like and should include a 2-hour coffee with new acquaintances, heading out of the office early for a Croatian wine tasting or an evening dip at Bacvice beach are enjoyable and recharging. Doing anything near the Adriatic is the best thing I can think of for attracting nomads. My friends and family keep asking me if the water is really that color. I have to keep reminding them that there are no filters on my photos!

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To learn more about Croatia for the digital nomad, check out the Total Croatia Digital Nomad guide

Are you a digital nomad in Croatia who would like to be featured in this series? Please contact us on [email protected] 

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