4 September 2017

Sarah-Jane - Expat in Zadar, Croatia

Sarah-Jane - Expat in Zadar, Croatia

We’ve had the chance to talk to Sarah-Jane, 38, an Australian expat who has moved to Croatia with her family. Mrs. Sarah-Jane who has been living there for four years, now works as an online entrepreneur. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Australia.


Q: What made you move out of Australia?

A: After my husband’s Father and Grandfather passed away we inherited land in Croatia, which included a small house that his Grandfather built. My husband’s Father had always dreamed of one day returning to Croatia to fix up the little old house – but sadly time and cancer beat him to his wish.  So, in his absence, we took on the challenge. 


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Zadar, Croatia.


Q: How long have you been living in Croatia?

A: We just clicked over four years this week, seems so much longer, but time did seem to go so fast also.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I moved with my then 9-month-old son, and husband. We all adjusted just fine, there were some (and still are) issues that weigh on us, but the move has been a blessing.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Home no, family, every day. Life without them is very hard - missing major milestones and events often brings tears to my eyes. But I cope knowing that the quality of my life here is greater than if I was there, and that helps somewhat. We Skype with close family often and Facebook is the best way to stay in touch with our friends.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: There are some who don’t care for us, but we have made a wonderful group of friends. Which includes a mix of locals and expats and we all get along wonderfully.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Croatia? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: No, meeting and making friends here is much harder than in Sydney where I grew up. The language is a barrier as is the fact we are foreign. That said we have a great network now after 4 years and I love them all. We found friends via expat Facebook groups and also via common friends.


Q: How does the cost of living in Croatia compare to your home?

A: It’s mixed. Some things are much cheaper and others are the same (though our wages are MUCH less here)

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 9-15 kuna.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 50 kuna.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 200 kuna.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: 20-200 kuna and cigarettes I don’t know as we do not smoke.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Croatia?

A: Bring every paper you can think of. All must be less than 6 months old and you’ll be asked for so much detail and proof of who you are, so just bring every paper you can think of.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: The paperwork in Croatia is a nightmare. No clear rules, no reliable information online and clerks will each interpret things how they want, so no two experiences for anyone are the same.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Croatia is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: It’s mixed. If you have money you are okay, as you can see many wonderful doctors privately. If you are relying on the state health care, there are long waits, below average service and not all doctors care to speak English with you so take a local to help out.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in Australia or Croatia?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: It’s a law to have local insurance here, you must pay it. The process was long and expensive, but it's the cost you must pay so add it to your budget before you come.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Trying to learn the language. Croatian is very hard, but luckily I now have a great teacher! We have mastered it that we even try to help others learn. https://www.chasingthedonkey.com/learn-croatian-phrases-for-your-holiday/


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Croatia?

A: Positives are the relaxed easy nature of the culture, but on the flipside being so relaxed often means long waits and things that are not done to a standard that we are accustomed to.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: So much! We love Croatia, that is why we blog about it so much. Just in Zadar where we live, we have this post-https://www.chasingthedonkey.com/things-to-do-in-zadar-travel-blog/ and that is not even the half of what there is to do and see! We also list our fave things to do in Croatia here https://www.chasingthedonkey.com/what-to-do-on-holidays-in-croatia/ but we really are now loving to explore our close Balkan neighbours to and have started to write about what to see and where to stay here https://www.chasingthedonkey.com/category/balkans-travel-guide/


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Nope, we built a house and plan to stay in Croatia for a long time.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Be aware that things are not like they are at home, especially if you are from Australia / USA / UK or similar. But that’s the beauty of it.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Croatia?

A: Of course, I’d say mine - Chasing the Donkey - https://www.chasingthedonkey.com for all round advice, but also we have loved to read the off the beaten path stories and facts from Secret Croatia, like this example: https://secretcroatia.blog/2017/03/12/megaliths-and-secrets-of-stolac/