Retiring in Croatia: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated May 31, 2024by Unbiased team

Explore the process of applying for retirement in Croatia and what motivates so many seniors to move there for their later years.

Summary

  • Retiring in Croatia is two to three times cheaper than retiring in the US. 

  • Croatia is one of the safest places in the world, and it has a temperate climate. 

  • Applying for residence in Croatia can be a bureaucratically challenging experience.  

  • Planning for your retirement is far easier if you have the help of an expert financial advisor

What are the pros and cons of retiring in Croatia? 

Safe, beautiful, and unspoiled, spending your retirement in Croatia can be idyllic, but there’s plenty of red tape you need to get through in order to do so. Look through these pros and cons to learn more about what to expect when emigrating to Croatia:  

Pros 

  • Beautiful environment: Croatia is regarded as one of the most natural and visually stunning countries in the world. Sandy beaches, pristine lakes and waterfalls, and breathtaking forests make retiring in Croatia a delightful and serene experience.  

  • Excellent healthcare: Croatia’s hospitals are described as calm, organized, and efficient. Healthcare programs are robust, well-funded, and more than capable of meeting senior needs.  

  • Friendly and safe: Croatia is one of the safest countries in the world. Even pickpocketing and petty crimes are rare. The people are also known to be very kind and friendly.  

Cons 

  • Bureaucratic red tape: When applying for a Croatian visa or opening a Croatian bank account, you can expect a fair amount of bureaucratic hurdles and red tape. 

  • Language barrier: Although around 60% of people living in Croatia speak Croatian, very few of them are fluent, and the language is not easy to learn. This can cause communication issues.  

  • Quiet during the off-season: This may be more of a pro than a con to some, but the Adriatic coastline can get very quiet during the winter months. If you are hoping for a more sociable retirement in Croatia, you may struggle with the lack of engagement during this time.  

What are the best places to retire in Croatia? 

With its stunning beaches and lush forests, this Southeast European country has many beautiful places to settle down. But where are the best places to retire in Croatia that come equipped with everything you need in terms of amenities and public services? Here are three:  

  • Zagreb: As the capital of Croatia, Zagreb boasts luxury accommodations, world-class shopping, gourmet wining and dining, and a thriving arts and culture scene – and it’s still cheaper to live there than most major cities in the US.  

  • Dubrovnik: Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic," it is a peaceful and beautiful town that has become a popular destination for retirees. It has great healthcare and social opportunities.  

  • Zagar: Zagar is a small town in Croatia known for its peaceful environment, high quality of life, and close proximity to cultural attractions such as St. Anastasia's Cathedral and the Sea Organ, an architectural sculpture that plays music from the movement of ocean waves.  

At what age can you retire in Croatia? 

The average age of retirement in Croatia is 65, regardless of gender. To retire in Croatia as a foreign expat, you will also need to be 65.  

What is the average cost of retirement in Croatia? 

The cost of living in Croatia is relatively low, especially in comparison to most US cities.  

The average cost is between $900 and $1,500 per month, depending on where you settle down and how luxurious you want your lifestyle to be.  

Do you pay taxes after retirement in Croatia? 

As an expat, you will not need to pay taxes in Croatia unless your retirement income comes from Croatia itself. Any funds sourced from the US or another international bank or government will not be taxed, making retirement in Croatia a tax-efficient destination for expats.  

What programs are there for emigrating to Croatia? 

There are no official programs for emigrating to Croatia. It is a small country, and it can be difficult to move permanently there without investing in property or applying to moor your boat at an official port. You will need to get a 90-day tourist visa and can then apply for a temporary residence visa while visiting.  

What visas do I need to retire in Croatia? 

You will first need a 90-day tourist visa, which is easy to apply for at any US consulate. Once in Croatia, you can apply for a temporary residence visa (no permanent residency visas are available), which would then need to be renewed every year. 

Investing in Croatian property or applying to moor your boat in a local harbor can increase your chances of being granted a temporary residence visa.  

What are my healthcare options in Croatia? 

The healthcare system in Croatia is robust and well-suited to meeting specialized needs.  

When you apply for your residence permit, you will also be required to register with the state healthcare system, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund. This will allow you access to public medical care at little to no cost.  

Is Croatia a good place to retire? 

The visa application process in Croatia might not be ideal, but the rest of the country could certainly be described as such.  

With its low crime rate, beautiful scenery, great healthcare program, and simultaneously peaceful and dynamic cities, retiring in Croatia appeals to many seniors.  

Get expert retirement advice 

Emigrating to Croatia in your golden years is a complex process; however, it is possible. 

If you wish to live there permanently, you will have to adhere to the strict visa rules and may have to invest in property or local moorings.  

When it comes to retiring abroad to red-taped countries like Croatia, an expert financial advisor's guidance is recommended. Get matched with a financial advisor at Unbiased to plan your retirement in Croatia as efficiently and smoothly as possible.  

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.