Is Croatia an Expensive Place to Live? Croatia Cost of Living

A picture of Cres City food market in Croatia.

Croatia is quickly becoming a popular spot for people to go outside of their own countries to live. It is located on the sea with stunning coastlines while offering a much lower cost of living than other Mediterranean countries.

It is one of the youngest countries in Eastern Europe and gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Croatia is geographically diverse with mountains, dense forests, hills, and beaches.

Close to Paris, London, Berlin, and Venice, Croatia has 1100 islands off the Dalmatian Coast, which are incredibly popular for retirees. It also has many historical sites throughout the country.

With all of these things and the beautiful Mediterranean weather, it is no surprise that many people want to move here. Of course, one of the most prevalent questions about moving here happens to be – is Croatia expensive to live?

To really understand the cost of living in Croatia, you need to look at several key areas in which you may spend your money. It also helps to get an idea of taxation and learn more about the healthcare and immigration systems. Keep reading for a well-rounded look at what you can expect it to cost to live in this country and make your life here. 

Croatia Cost of Living

While it is part of the European Union, Croatia has its own currency, the kuna. One kuna (sign: HRK) is worth $0.16 in U.S. dollars or 0.13 euros. In other words, $1.00 USD becomes 6.36 HRK. Of course, currency exchange rates change often, so this is subject to change at any time.

Knowing the exchange rate is only the beginning of learning more about the cost of living in Croatia. If you talk to locals, they will tell you it is expensive to live here. However, due to the exchange rates, it is actually quite cheaper to live in Croatia if you are coming from the U.S.

Croatia is the 4th most expensive country to live in Eastern Europe. However, it is cheaper than 51% of the countries in the world when it comes to the cost of living.  

The cost of living index can allow you to see where the more expensive places are in the country. The cost of living index compares the cities in the country and determines the average, which is on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the number, the costlier is the place to live.

If a city gets a  lower number, then you can expect it to be a lower-cost place to live. Similarly, a higher number indicates the expensiveness of the place. Here are some examples:

  • Zagreb 107
  • Zadar 103
  • Split 106
  • Dubrovnik 99
  • Rijeka 98
  • Pula 90
  • Slavonski Brod 83
  • Osijek 85

To put things more in perspective, here are some figures that show you how much more expensive certain things are in the U.S. compared to Croatia:

  • Consumer prices are 24.07% higher in the U.S.
  • Rent prices are 181.49% higher in the U.S.
  • Restaurant prices are 42.83% higher in the U.S.
  • Groceries are 36.31 % higher in the U.S.

The Cost of Living in Croatia in USD

If you want to move to this country from the U.S., it will be helpful to find out exactly how much things will cost you in terms you can understand. Let’s look at different expenses you will have and how much they cost in U.S. dollars to give you a better idea of what it costs to live in Croatia.

Croatia Food Costs

Groceries are something you will definitely need if you move here. A quick tip if you want to save money is to shop in local markets for fresh local food items. This can save you a considerable amount of money over shopping in the grocery stores. However, the cost of food in Croatia is one of the lowest expenses you will have, thanks to incredibly reasonable pricing.

Here are some examples:

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts: $4.79
  • 1 quart of milk: $1.03
  • 1 Dozen eggs: $2.50
  • 2 lbs tomatoes: $1.70
  • 16 oz cheese: $7.00
  • 2 lbs apples: $1.64
  • 2 lbs potatoes: $0.98
  • 16 oz beer: $1.37
  • One bottle of red table wine: $8.00

For those who love a sweet treat, you may wonder, “how much is a Coke in Croatia?” You can pick up a 2-liter of Coca Cola for $2.04.

You may not always feel like eating at home. Sometimes, you want someone else to cook for you, so you’ll need to know the price of dining out.

If you are at work and want to take a lunch break at a restaurant in the business district, you’ll spend about $9 on your meal. When you are in a hurry and in the mood for fast food, you can expect to spend about $6 for a combo meal.

Related: Best Places to Live in Croatia

Croatia Internet and Utility Expenses

The cost for utilities will vary widely depending on various factors, such as how big your living space is and how many people you have living there. Utility prices often include costs for electricity, garbage, gas, and water.

The utility costs for a studio apartment shared by two people for one month will run about $133. Costs for a larger, 900 sq. ft. apartment with two people living in it would be about $187 a month.

Utility costs will often be cheaper in the summer. In addition, costs have doubled over the last decade, so prices may differ from what we’ve given you here.

Internet service is also an important expense you will have if you want to stay connected. For 8 Mbps per month, the charge is about $17.

Cost of Transportation in Croatia

Aerial shoot of Rovinj, Croatia

Most people travel by bus to commute to and from work in Croatia because the country has a well-developed public transportation system. You can buy a monthly pass for about $54. Taxis are also quite easy to come by, with meters starting at $3.93. Rates are higher on Sundays, holidays, and after 10 pm.

While public transportation is popular, many people who move here own their own vehicles. A brand new Volkswagen Golf with the basic package will cost about $24,000. Gasoline runs about $1.53 for a 1/4 gallon.

Cost of Clothing in Croatia

Clothing costs are quite similar to those in the U.S. You can get a pair of name brand jeans for about $81.00, and a summer dress will cost about $35.00 from a high street store. You can pick up a pair of top brand athletic shoes for around $82.00.

Formal clothing is rather expensive in Croatia. For example, men’s leather dress shoes cost about $97.00.

Childcare Cost in Croatia

Childcare prices can vary greatly depending on factors such as location and how often you need services. Full-time care for one month will cost around $314.00. That figure is for public daycares. If you want private care, expect to pay more. Some private daycares can charge as much as $550 a month for full-time services.

How Much is Rent in Croatia?

It is not easy to find a rental in Croatia, especially in the cities where real estate is at a premium. Leasing a room is a popular option in the city. The closer you are to the city center, the more you can expect to pay and the smaller living space you will get. If you do find what seems like a great deal with a low price tag, the chances will be good that the rental will lack renovations.

Here are a couple of examples of housing costs on average and high-priced areas:

900 square feet

High-priced area: $849/month

Average area: $628/month

480 square feet

High-priced area: $721/month

Average area: $526/month

Entertainment Costs

Life would be boring without a little entertainment, and perhaps the most common source of fun is watching television. A 40-inch flat-screen TV in Croatia will cost about $325.00.

If you’d much rather go out than stay home, just make sure you watch out for tourist traps. These places will set you back a lot of money and are hardly ever worth the price.

Want to watch a movie out with a friend? You can expect to pay about $11.00 for two movie tickets. Would you prefer to see a show? The cost of one theater ticket is about $37.00.

Other options include hitting the clubs. A cocktail in the club will run about $8.00, but trendier places and those along the coast will have higher prices for everything.

What is the Cost of Healthcare in Croatia?

Locals in Croatia have universal healthcare, but you are not eligible for it until you live here for more than three months. At that time, you will also have to start paying into the system.

In the meantime, a visit to the doctor will cost you about $44.00. A prescription for 12 doses of antibiotic costs about $8.00. If you need over-the-counter medication for a cold, you can expect to pay about $7.00 for a six-day course.

For those who want to stay away from the doctor and want to stay in good physical health, a one-month membership to a gym is about $43.00.

Croatia Sample Budget

A sample budget for living in Croatia with common expenses and income.

It may help you to see a sample budget that will enable you to figure up the potential monthly cost of living in Croatia. Here is a look at how you might budget your money and what you can expect to spend:

  • Food: $300.00
  • Internet/Utilities: $160.00
  • Transportation (bus): $54.00
  • Clothing: $100.00
  • Rent: $526.00
  • Entertainment: $150.00
  • Healthcare: $52.00
  • Total expenses: $1,342.00

Let’s look over this budget a little to see how it would compare to your real expenses if you were to live in Croatia. First, the food figure used is a pure estimate that assumes you will mostly shop at the grocery store and only eat outside a couple of times a month. If you eat out every day for work, then you would need to add on $120 to $180.

The internet and utilities costs are loosely based on the cost of utilities for a studio apartment shared by two people with a slight discount since it is just you living there. Plus, the monthly internet cost is included.

Transportation in the budget assumes you will ride the bus. If you want to buy a car, then you may need to figure in payments, along with gas and maintenance expenses.

Clothing may be a little high in this estimate. It assumes you will buy an outfit each month, which is probably not accurate. However, spreading out this expense over the year, $100.00 may not be too far off.

The rent figure is a studio apartment in an average-priced area. If you want to live in a bigger place or have your heart set on living in the city, then expect to pay quite a bit more for rent expenses. Don’t forget that this will also impact your utility expenses.

Entertainment may be on the low side. The estimate in this budget assumes that you will only go out a couple of times a month and probably not spend that time drinking too much. If you go out more or you like to stop by the pub often, then you may have to double or even triple this amount. This is especially true if you will date while in the country as you will need to account for the costs of another person.

Finally, healthcare assumes you do not have universal coverage yet. The figure comes from one doctor’s visit with one short antibiotic prescription. If you need more healthcare or other prescriptions, then you can expect this figure to at least triple.

This budget also does not account for the cost of a child. If you have children, then you will need to add on expenses for child care, which can make the budget total jump by $300 to $500.

While not a perfect fit for everyone, this basic budget should at least give you a low-end look at how much it will cost for you to live in Croatia.

Real Estate Prices in Croatia

While rent is fairly reasonable in Croatia, even in the more expensive areas. However, If you want to call this place home and plan to settle down here and buy some real estate, you will need to know how much a house costs in Croatia.

You can expect to pay about $200 per square feet of space in the city. The price comes down to about $135 outside of the city.

To buy a property in Croatia, you will also need to obtain permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One thing to note about Croatia is the bureaucratic red tape is rampant. Do not expect permission to come quickly or without a lot of hassle.

Croatia Taxes

If you will work here or earn any income while in the country, you will become a tax resident after 183 days of living here. Income taxes in this country are a flat-tax based on how much you earn:

  • 15%: $0 to $5653.44
  • 25%: $5653.44 to $12,720.25
  • 35%: $12720.25 to $39,574.11
  • 45%: Over $39,574.11

You also will have to pay a Social Security tax of 20%. To help put this in perspective, the average income in Croatia is about $4965.

International Living states that local areas may also charge you surtaxes. How much it can charge depends on its size:

  • Communes: up to 10%
  • Population up to 30,000: up to 12%
  • Population over 30,000: up to 15%

The capital city of Zagreb has the authority to charge up to 30% for a surtax. Most places will stay well below the maximum allowed percentage when charging a surtax.

The value-added tax is for consumer goods and services. According to KPMG, the standard VAT is 25%. The reduced VAT is 13% and applies to certain services, such as meal preparation. This good and service tax is an important revenue stream for the country.

Property taxes in Croatia is also a flat tax like income taxes. The rate is 5% of the property value.

Related: Risks of Buying Property in Croatia

Immigration Costs

At this point, Croatia is probably looking quite nice to you. It is an inexpensive paradise with so much to offer. So, the only thing left to figure out is how much it would cost to immigrate here.

To begin with, coming to Croatia is a snap. The U.S. Department of State explains that you do not need a visa to enter the country if you stay for less than 90 days. You will need a passport, though. If you already have your passport, then you won’t have to pay anything to enter the country.

If you plan to stay longer than 90 days and are not a European Union national, then you will have to apply for a visa and a temporary residence permit or a temporary stay permit. You will need to do this at the Croatian Embassy or Consulate closest to you. The permit will allow you to live in the country for one year, at which time you must reapply.

It is important to note that the permit will not automatically grant you the right to work in the country. If you want to work and you have a job lined up, then you need to get a work permit. Self-employment requires a business permit.

The costs for the permits could be up to $1571. The visa fee cost is $113.  

If you enter Croatia without a visa but decide to stay longer, then you need to go to the local police and secure a residence permit. You will have to do this before you are in the country for 82 days. Costs are similar to the other permits.

Do note all costs are for one person. If you are immigrating with your whole family, then you will need to multiply the numbers to get your full cost.

If you want to become a permanent resident of Croatia, you will need to live in the country for at least five years. Once you live here long enough, you need to provide documentation about your income and other personal details. You also must have the ability to speak and understand basic Croatian.

A note of caution about becoming a permanent resident: you will have to give up your U.S. citizenship. Unlike the U.S., which does not require people to give up other citizenships, Croatia will not allow you to be a dual citizen.

Here are a few questions that you may have about immigrating to Croatia related to money:

Can I use USD in Croatia? 

Yes, you can. Many banks allow you to open up accounts using foreign currency, too.

How much cash can I bring into Croatia?

You are allowed to bring up to $11,878 into Croatia if you are a foreigner.

How much to live comfortably in Croatia? 

The answer to this question depends on your personal circumstances. If you are single, then see our sample budget above. Otherwise, you would need to adjust the figures based on your personal preferences. 

For example, you would need way more than budgeted if you have additional family members because they would raise the cost of everything. Also, that budget has minimal amounts for many categories, so if you want to live a more extravagant life, then you need to account for that. 

Croatia: Your New Home

It is pretty clear what many Americans find Croatia charming. It is one of the safest countries in the world and ranked by the U.S. Department of State at a Level One – the safest category.

Beyond those things, it is also affordable. You get a beautiful Mediterranean climate with pleasant weather all year for a fraction of what you would pay anywhere in the U.S., including areas with harsh winters. It simply makes a lot of sense to choose a place like Croatia if you are thinking of leaving the U.S. to live somewhere in Europe.

Affordable, friendly, and amazingly stunning, Croatia is a top choice for very good reasons. Now that you know the answer to the question, “is Croatia expensive to live ” is a resounding no for American expats, you can start making plans to fly over and settle down once everything is back to normal.

Related: Croatia Facts