Welcome to Croatia – a land with beautiful nature, crystal clear seawater, great food, high-quality wine, friendly people & cheap living costs! A somewhat under the radar, the country is gaining more attention thanks to a lot of pros of living in Croatia & the new digital nomad visa. If you are or want to become a digital nomad – Croatia is a great place if you want to stay within the European borders.
In this article, we will cover everything there is to know about being a digital nomad in Croatia – for why & how to become one through the hidden gems of life in Croatia.
Digital nomad usually defines people that use their knowledge & technology to work remotely – meaning they live in different places across the globe, travel freely, and are not bound to a place or desk/office. That way they explore the world but still earn money.
The blooming of the internet, new technologies (especially apps like Skype, Zoom, etc) & flexible workplaces allowed for the culture of digital nomads to flourish even more than before – turning it into a lifestyle many young people are craving. One of the most famous places for freelancers used to be Thailand & Mexico – because of the cheap living cost and fascinating cultures and nature.
Because of the coronavirus, many jobs that used to be fixed now can be carried out remotely – and many more jobs from a variety of fields are becoming remote ones too. From graphic designers, digital marketers, accountants, developers, e-commerce industry to personal trainers, travel agents, and many more to come. Each industry has a range of tasks that can be carried out by workers located pretty much anywhere on the planet.
Concerning Croatia, the usual definition of a digital nomad would be a third-country resident that works for a company that is not based in Croatia. But more on the definition of digital nomads in Croatia and all that you need to know about it a bit later.
Even though Thailand, Mexico, Spain, and Estonia have been for many years the most popular destinations for digital nomads – Croatia has recently been in the spotlight as a hidden gem that is ideal for digital nomads. Why?
Well, Croatia has in 2021 introduced a digital nomad visa – a one-year visa for foreign (non-EU) workers. The digital nomad visa relates to people outside the EU that don’t give services to Croatian businesses and don’t pay income tax, but we’ll go into detail about the digital nomad visa in Croatia a little bit later.
Next to the easy paperwork for all foreign remote workers, there are one (or many) advantages Croatia has – amazing nature, beautiful coastline, rich history (many Roman ruins to explore!). We assure you - Croatia has so much to offer for digital nomads!
In your free time as a digital nomad in Croatia, you can explore many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, visit the gorgeous national parks (especially Plitvice!), check out the many islands off the coast, and relax by the sea during the warmer months.
Besides that, there is a large digital nomad community here and you can easily fit into the culture – many Croatians also speak English very well and are known for their friendliness and willingness to meet new people!
In all of these places there are plenty of cafes and workspaces to work in (we’ll cover that a bit later too) – and you don’t have to worry about the internet speed in Croatia – the Wi-Fi is excellent!
Okay, so we’ve said many pluses of living in Croatia but there are some downsides too – the best is to put it in a list of pros & cons for your convenience:
Pros & cons of working remotely in Croatia Pros:
Keep in mind this is just our recommendation – you should try it out based on your personal preference and make your own conclusion.
Croatia's coastline is pitch-perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the sun and sea almost all year round plus the islands (1000+) are easily accessible. On the other hand, all the inland of Croatia is ideal for nature lovers while it is full of national and nature parks, but it is still close to urban centers. Also, Croatia is not that big so both options can be (maybe seasonally!) played out!
This is our detailed list of best places for digital nomads in Croatia:
The city of Split has many advantages – it is big enough, so you have a feeling of life happening, there are plenty of places to stay, work and visit in the city.
But it is also not too big – you can easily get away, hop on an island and work from there or find a hidden beach in the vicinity of the town.
Basically, you can enjoy all the perks of living in a city but have options to enjoy also the quiet and relaxed time. There are many cafes & places to work from, also coworking spaces are a great option in Split.
Some would say Dubrovnik is the best Croatian digital nomad destination mainly because of its outstanding beauty. The walls of the old town of Dubrovnik are one of the most impressive things you can see in this part of Europe and in combination with the bluest Adriatic Sea it makes it one of the most majestic places in Europe.
But, our advice would be to visit Dubrovnik any time but not at the peak of the season – the streets and city center can be flooded with tourists (especially before corona).
Besides the outstanding beauty, Dubrovnik is a good starting point if you wish to explore other countries in the region like Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia, etc.
If you are searching for a Mediterranean vibe but a bit cooler, more urban city – Rijeka is the city for you! Located in the Kvarner bay, with vicinity to the Kvarner island, in the ideal geolocation – next to Slovenia and Italy, well known for its rock music & alternative culture, Rijeka could easily be named the coolest city in Croatia.
Rijeka is well known for its pubs, art & festival but also some of the best sea views in the country. In recent years there started to be a growing co-working community with a few coworking spaces in the city center.
Zadar is another city on the coastline of Croatia – situated between Rijeka and Split. Known worldwide by its sea organs, reportedly the best sunset in the world and near many beautiful islands. Also, there is a first Croatian digital nomad village where you can live and work together with other digital nomads!
Zagreb – the capital, the most populated Croatian city, and a vibrant place where the coworking spaces are growing nonstop. It’s not located on the coast (that’s a shocker!) but there is a big digital nomad community with lots of areas and a digital nomad community.
It is a community that does pay attention to the fact that many entrepreneurs, freelancers, and professionals come to the country to work. if you want to be at the center of the events – Zagreb is the city for you!
Slavonia and Baranja is an undiscovered destination at the very east of the country that offers altogether a very different experience of Croatia! Osijek is the center of Slavonia and Baranja and a very special town. Osijek is not too big or too small it has a rich social and cultural scene and best of all – it is surrounded with natural beauties.
We would say Osijek is an ideal place for a digital nomad – offering co-working hubs, accommodation and an extra plus is that Budapest, Zagreb, and Belgrade airports are a 2-hour drive from Osijek!
This is a list of our recommendations for co-working spaces but bear in mind that there are many more spaces & places in which you can work from, have fun & meet new people!
Although HUB385 tends to attract developers you don’t need to worry – there are many digital nomads from many different industries.
HUB385 is home to developers, creatives, innovators, and entrepreneurs that promote innovation & collaboration. HUB 385 is well known by its conferences, workshops, meetups, hackathons, panels, and promotions.
ZIP Factory is perfect for those who one to focus more on doing business in Zagreb! ZIP Factory is centered on start-ups, their success and the atmosphere are more business-driven than in the other co-working places.
BIZ koshnica provides an inspiring place to collaborate with other location-independent professionals, whether it is over coffee in the common area, or while participating in a special yoga session.
Heading to Split – Amosfera is a perfect place for digital nomads that want the mix of business & fun – and with a view of the blue Adriatic Sea the inspiration for doing business won’t be will not be missed.
COIN Zadar is a co-working space that is operating since 2015 and is focused on local entrepreneurs and digital nomads so it has a local and global atmosphere in one place.
Changing the direction – going to Rijeka and in the co-working space called KIWI – Creative Space. Open to all digital workers but focused on arts, from fine arts to graphic designers, KIWI – Creative Space is a great point for finding creative souls from all over the world.
With events that include art exhibitions, cultured nomads will want to spend some time hanging out here during their tour of Croatia.
RiHub is a place for contact, exchange, and joint action in the center of Rijeka, excellent for local and foreign professionals, start-ups, and existing businesses. RiHub is an open-space coworking zone, a cultural and participatory center, and it also served as an info point for Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture.
Last, but not least we are heading to the far east of the country! If you happen to be in Osijek and are looking for a co-working place – check Cowork Osijek - pleasant atmosphere, plenty of opportunities to meet local & foreign entrepreneurs. Cowork Osijek is a space and community of proactive individuals, teams, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
Besides working, you are wondering what to do in Croatia besides the obvious – enjoy sun & beach? Croatia is a small and safe country, and you can easily wander in your free time and even change the locations of your working place without any fuss.
Whatever you want – lay on the beach or hike with the most beautiful views – Croatia has it! But we must warn you - it is a place to fall in love with, which is why it is a popular destination for digital nomads.
If you want to fly higher than the clouds, dive into the deep sea or practice any activity you can imagine in between, Croatia is a true paradise for lovers of active tourism, nature, and adrenaline.
If you are more into exploring nature you can go wrong with choosing any part of Croatia. From the shores in the South Dalmatian islands bathed by the gentle sun of the Adriatic Sea to the top of Dinara, the highest peak in the country, through swamps filled with wildlife in Posavina or the Mediterranean richness of the forests in Mljet…
In the meantime, explore the diversity of Croatian cuisine and discover its wonderful specialties – wine, cheese, ham, oysters, mussels, grilled fish, turkey with mlinci, famous pašticada from Split to desserts like krošture and fritule – Croatia has an unforgettable menu.
You don’t have to worry about finding a suitable place to stay in Croatia – since it is mostly a touristic country there are plenty of hotels, Airbnb’s, camps, villas, and all forms of accommodation you can imagine. The only problem is to choose from many options the best one for you!
How to book accommodation?
There are two most popular options when booking your accommodation in Croatia – booking.com as a secure website or Airbnb app. On both sites, you can find a wide variety of deals and explore all your options, checking reviews and photos.
Hotels in Croatia
Hotels in Croatia range from 2-star to 5-star, so you can find the best deal situated for your needs. The hotels in Croatia have many positive attributes, such as they almost always include breakfast, they are safe, and they offer many on-site activities.
Hostels in Croatia
Hostels are a popular, cheap, and fun option if you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation where you can meet young people from all over the world. You can find comfortable, relaxed, and dorm-style hostels in every city in Croatia. Hostels are a great option if you spend most of your time outside – working or enjoying the landscapes of Croatia.
If you are not the type for hotels or hostels Croatia offers plenty of apartments that can be your work-from-home environment. This is the cheapest option for accommodation in Croatia and it brings you the most freedom and silence. It is also highly beneficial if you are working because you have the option to be in a quiet location with no distractions when you need to concentrate.
Resorts or camps
Booking accommodation at a resort may not seem ideal for a digital nomad but camps and resorts are often situated in lovely locations as they are in the town or within walking distance from the city. This means that you are not going to get cut off from everyday life, which is a bonus.
You can still interact with locals and explore the cultural aspects of the country. There are also various types of rooms, which means you can find something to suit your preferences.
Now that we’ve convinced you to come to Croatia and you have all the important information there is one thing left. What about the paperwork? What do you need to do and whom to turn to if you want to work as a digital nomad in Croatia?
Well, we got good news! Croatia introduced a digital nomad visa in January 2021. Croatia’s digital nomad visa is a visa that allows digital nomads to stay in Croatia in the period visa from six months to a year. Once your digital nomad visa has expired you have 90 days to leave the country – and after this period you can reapply for a new digital nomad visa.
A digital nomad visa is ideal for remote workers, business owners, and freelancers who wish to live in Croatia for a longer period.
Some basic rules for applying for a digital nomad visa are that you must work for a foreign company (not one in the country where you’re living) or own a business or work as a freelancer with foreign clients.
Digital nomad visa in Croatia is great for digital nomads that want a longer period of security and being in one place without worrying about overstaying their tourist visas.
This is what requirements you need for the Croatia digital nomad visa:
First, you need to gather all the documents and submit an application, and for that, you will need:
You can complete the application for a digital nomad visa online and submit it to a Croatian embassy or consulate abroad or apply for it in person at the local police station near your temporary residence in Croatia.
Next, you need to wait for the approval of your digital nomad visa. Once approved, you will need to register your temporary Croatian address within 30 days of the temporary stay being granted. To do this, you will go to the police station closest to your residence and submit a bring Form 8a and your residential lease agreement or hotel/Airbnb/booking confirmation.
Also, you will need the police station again to obtain your biometric residence card – for that you need passport size photos and biometric data (fingerprint and signature). The police will then issue you a temporary residence card.
After that you will need to wait approximately 3 weeks before your digital nomad visa is ready – when you get the call or e-mail you just bring your passport and the temporary residence card. And voila! You have completed the Croatia digital nomad visa process!
The rules regarding the type of work allowed with a digital nomad visa in Croatia are quite straightforward.
You are allowed to perform any type of work remotely for your home market or other, so long as this work is not for the Croatian market and/or for a Croatian employee.
Your own company or your employee should not be registered in Croatia and should not perform work or provide services to employers (legal or natural persons) in Croatia.
The simple answer here – no! The Croatian Government has created special tax-exempt legislation for Digital Nomads with regards to taxation and updated its tax code in December 2020.
Digital Nomads that have a digital nomad visa are not subject to Croatian income taxes so long as the work they are performing is not for the Croatian market and non-Croatian companies. This is valid for the whole duration of the permit.
Keep in mind that if you would like to work locally, this permit does not enable local employment. Additional information on taxation in Croatia may be found on the Ministry of Finance’s Tax Administration website here
One of the conditions for getting a digital nomad residence permit/visa is proof of health insurance (for third-country nationals, private health or travel insurance is recognized). All digital nomads are not required to opt-in to the normal mandatory healthcare coverage provided by the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance (HZZO) but are obliged to bear the costs of using health care in a health institution, i.e. at a private practice or other health care provider in the Republic of Croatia.
To sum it up – being a digital nomad in Croatia is easy since January 2021 when Croatia introduced a digital nomad visa. We’ve covered all the essential information for you and hope that we managed to persuade you that Croatia is the place to be!