Prior to the Covid attack in March of last year, I was earning a respectable $4,000 a month in the capacity of a freelance video producer. However, as the epidemic spread, those freelance earnings soon fell to $700.
Due to the insecurity about the future, I ended up sleeping on a quilted mattress at my sister’s home in New Jersey. I was restless and missed travelling for business that I used to do.
However, my wishes were answered a few months later when Croatia announced that it would begin providing a one-year residency permit to digital nomads (those working remotely from outside the European Union) in January 2021.
I had already visited Croatia and was really taken with the place, so I decided to apply for it.
Getting a digital nomad residence permit in Croatia
Between April and December, I spent a lot of time preparing for the permit approval.
The application processing cost was $100, and I needed to earn at least $2,750 per month to qualify. As a result, over the next several months, I aggressively established a regular revenue stream via Upwork freelancing jobs (video production and copywriting).
By December, I had returned to a monthly income of approximately $4,000 per month. Additionally, I was a compulsive saver who seldom spent my money. As a result, I felt financially comfortable enough to live overseas with the $76,000 in my savings account.
Along with the income criterion, I had to give evidence of foreign health insurance (which I obtained via a United States-based travel insurance business called Seven Corners), submit to an FBI background check, and identify the location where I would be staying.
Spending in Croatia is less than in the US.
I now reside in Split, Croatia’s second biggest city, which is situated on the Adriatic Sea’s eastern coast.
The vistas are breathtaking, and the living costs are much lower than in most major U.S. cities. According to rental listing website RentCafe, the one-bedroom apartment’s average rent in Jersey City is $2,779, which does include utilities.
I live alone in an apartment with a 650-square-foot area, which I discovered via a Croatian expat Facebook group. I’m renting straight from the owner for $540 per month (including utilities).
How do I spend my days?
The alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and I brew Turkish coffee and have a basic breakfast of eggs, veggies, toasted bread and cheese.
Then I immediately began working on freelancing jobs. On weekdays, I attempt to put in about 8 hours of work. Due to the fact that the majority of my customers are located in the United States, I would arrange work calls on Pacific or Eastern Standard Time.
If I’m in the mood for lunch ($10 to $14, with tip), many options are within walking distance. I like visits to the bakery for a delectable burek ($2 to $3), a savoury pastry usually stuffed with meat or cheese.
A pleasant meal along the shore will include a variety of seafood delicacies such as squid ink risotto, octopus, and tuna ($18 to $30, with beverages and tip).
I’m a very sociable person, and in Split, I’ve met a lot of wonderful individuals-both locals and expats. On weekends, I can easily spend hours conversing with friends over $2 espressos.
I’m a three-minute walk from my flat to the famous remains of Diocletian’s Palace. Built in the fourth century and regarded as the city’s centre, these UNESCO World Heritage Sites streets have been worn smooth by footfall.
Additionally, I am 6 minutes from the Riva, a seaside promenade lined with cafés, bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
Travel has always been an integral part of my life as a 35-year-old. I’ve made a lot of excursions since moving to Croatia to explore more of this wonderfully gorgeous nation.
I’ve visited the following places: Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka, and the islands of Brac and Hvar. I just took a two-hour bus journey to Zaton ($28 round trip).
Life in Croatia moves at a considerably faster pace — and is much more my speed — than it does in New Jersey. When you add affordability, nice people, interesting activities, and a lower crime rate, there is nothing to complain about.
Continuing the nomadic life
Among the disadvantages of working and living overseas are missing and being apart from family and friends, which is why I’m hoping to return home at some time.
While Croatia will always have a special place in my heart, many other countries, like Georgia and Portugal, also provide visas for digital nomads. When in March 2022, my visa expires, I want to seize such a chance and continue living a nomadic lifestyle for as long as possible.
The ability to work from anywhere and design your own path is rather addicting, and the spontaneity of it contributes significantly to my pleasure.