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Moving To Zagreb: A Guide For New Expats

The capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, is located in the northwest of the country, along the Sava River and the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountain. Approximately a quarter of the population of Croatia live in Zagreb and its surrounding areas; as of 2018, this number is in the region of 1.1 million.If you are thinking about making a move to Zagreb, here are a few tips to help you on your way.


You can remain in the county for 90 days without any paperwork, after which you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit at the local Ministry of the Interior Affairs (Ministartsvo Unutarnjih Poslova or MUP).

You will need the following documents: a valid passport, two ID photos, birth certificate, proof of health insurance and housing, sufficient funding and a report on your criminal history.

You are also required to provide a reason for moving to Croatia. This could be family matters, employment, study, purchase of property or business/investment. You will only qualify for permanent residency after five years of temporary residence, although your temporary visa can be easily renewed on a yearly basis.


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Everyone arriving in Croatia must pass through customs. It is up to you to decide if you have any items to declare or not. Random spot checks can happen even if you pass through the “nothing to declare” corridor. If you are caught with prohibited items, the penalties can be severe. For a full list of restricted foods, refer to Croatia’s customs information website.


Even though Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, its main currency is still the Croatian Kuna. Whilst there are no confirmed plans for Croatia to adopt the Euro as the official currency, you will still be able to use Euros in some instances.


The job market in Zagreb is improving, and unemployment rates have fallen in the last few years. However, strict regulations regarding the hire of foreign nationals makes finding legal work in Croatia challenging for expats.


There is a public healthcare system in Croatia, but a large number of expats choose to go to private doctors. Private healthcare is a good option for expats who are not eligible for national healthcare and for patients who want easier access to specialists.

However, expats may not qualify for private health insurance unless they’ve obtained permanent residency in Croatia. Waiting times can be shorter in private clinics, although this is not always the case.

For many expats, private healthcare costs in Croatia are much lower than they would have to pay in their home countries. Generally, you pay a monthly fee for a package that includes a set number of annual doctor’s visits and routine health services. It’s also possible to supplement your national healthcare with private health insurance.


You are allowed to set up a non-resident account in most major banks in Croatia. Though basic services will be similar in most banks, each one offers slightly different account options and charges different fees. It always pays to do a little research and decide what it is you want from your bank. It’s not difficult to set up an account, but you do need to bring documentation with you.

Along with your passport, you may be asked to supply your personal identification number (OIB) and proof of address (your visa paperwork should have all this information). Its normal practice for banks to issue a debit card to each new account holder.

Most banks offer online banking that allows you to check your balance, transfer money and make payments online.


Before you start your research on the advantages and disadvantages of differing neighbourhoods in Zagreb, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of your priorities.

Knowing where your perfect location would be, what you need from transport links, whether you need furnished or unfurnished and your price range will help you sift through your options. Websites such as Realitica are great for location apartments and have an English language option.

If you fancy saving some cash to at the start of your life in Zagreb, then flat sharing is a great way to achieve this. This also gives you an opportunity to meet new people. Classifieds websites, such as Oglasnik, are great resources for finding roommates.

A rented apartment in Zagreb is likely to have utilities already connected in your landlord’s name. In some cases, you won’t even have to change the name on the account. However, it is still your responsibility to pay the bills. Most of the utilities can be paid online, direct debit or at the local post office (novcano poslovanje). Please read your rental agreement carefully as all the terms and conditions of your rental should be outlined there.

Shopping Areas

Ilica is Zagreb’s major shopping street. It boasts a mixture of small local shops and international retailers, such as Zara, H&M and United Colors of Benetton. Sprinkled amongst the shops are cafes, bakeries and sweet shops.

The more popular shopping centres include City Centre One (which has multiple locations), Avenue Mall and Arena Centar. There is also a multitude of open-air markets that sell fresh produce daily.

There are international and national supermarket chains in Croatia, including some you may recognise, such as Lidl and Spar. Most large supermarkets are located outside of the city centre, often near or inside shopping centres.

Public Holidays

1 January: New Year’s Day
6 January: Holy Trinity or Epiphany
1 May: International Labour Day or May Day
22 June: Anti-Fascism Day
25 June: National State Day
5 August: Homeland/National Thanksgiving Day
15 August: Assumption
8 October: Independence Day
1 November: All Saints’ day
25 December: Christmas
26 December: St Stephen’s Day

Have you lived in Zagreb? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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