aerial shot of bay port city of Dubrovnik

Best Places to Live in Croatia

Located in the Balkans, the Republic of Croatia is at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe. Croatians place great value in spending quality time with family and friends. This is made more accessible by the beautiful, diverse geography of the country that demands you take time to enjoy it.

Tip: Check out these other great places to live in the Balkans.

Best Places to Live in Croatia for…

  1. Expats: Zagreb
  2. English Speakers: Split
  3. Digital Nomads: Osijek
  4. Solo Travelers: Pula
  5. Couples: Rovinj
  6. Groups: Rijeka

Top 10 Places to Live in Croatia

1. Split

Best place to live for English Speakers

city in forest by sea

Cost of Living: $$$

Split is the second-largest city in Croatia and the largest city on the Croatian coast. Located on a peninsula, Split is a mix of ancient life dating back to the Roman Empire and modernity with beautiful architecture, a bustling waterfront, and exquisite cuisine,

Tip: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Trogir, a small city on an island that’s an hour by ferry and can be explored in 2 hours.

Who Would Like to Live There: English Speakers

Pros:

  • It is an affordable way to live your Mediterranean dreams
  • Locals can speak basic English
  • It mixes central European experiences with Mediterranean living.

Cons:

  • Getting residency is next to impossible.
  • There’s a lot of bureaucracy, nepotism, and corruption
  • There are not a lot of career opportunities

2. Zagreb

Best place to live for Expats

art pavilion in overcast setting

Cost of Living: $$$

The capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, is located along the Sava river on the Southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb is a city rich with history dating back to the Romans and is distinguished by its 18th and 19th-century Austro-Hungarian architecture. Zagreb feels like an actual city, without all the “touristy” things that afflict many European capitals.

Tip: Make sure to visit the Archeological Museum, which hosts ancient artifacts from the host of different civilizations and cultures that set up home in Croatia over the millennia.

Who Would Like to Live There: Expats

Pros:

  • Zagreb is a “forest city,” filled with greenery and an airy feel to it
  • It has good public facilities like schools and hospitals.
  • It is easy to do business.

Cons:

  • The busses are often late so you must plan accordingly
  • The city developed with little to no urban planning. It feels cramped at times.
  • It isn’t LGBTQ+ friendly.

3. Korcula

Best place to live for Couples

city overlooking water

Cost of Living: $$

Known for its dense forests, Korcula is an island in the Adriatic sea off the Dalmatian coast. Though not as popular as other Croatian islands like Brac and Hvar, Korcula is one of Croatia’s most treasured islands.

Tip: Visit the House of Marco Polo, a small stone house thought to be the birthplace of the legendary explorer.

Who Would Like to Live There: Couples

Pros:

  • Its relative obscurity means that it’s never crowded
  • The island has multiple resort towns to cater to whatever you would prefer
  • There are many medieval landmarks to explore, like churches and palaces.

Cons:

  • The ferries to Korchula are mainly operational in summer only
  • There is not much of an economy
  • The language barrier is substantial

4. Rijeka

Best places to live for Groups

boats in port

Cost of Living: $$$

Rijeka is a port city on Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic Sea and is a gateway to Croatia’s Islands. Rijeka is a lively city that doesn’t die down in winter when the tourists are gone.

Tip: Make sure not to miss the Rijeka carnival that happens every February on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday

Who Would Like to Live There: Groups

Pros:

  • It’s a great home base from which to explore the surrounding areas and town
  • The internet speeds are excellent
  • Family-friendly city

Cons:

  • There is a shortage of entertainment places, like cafes, etc.
  • It isn’t easy to make new friends and connections
  • The internet speeds are slow

5. Pula

Best place to live for Solo Travelers

roman amphitheater in pula

Cost of Living: $$

Pula is a laidback cosmopolitan city on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula known for its Roman ruins, beach-lined coast, and protected harbor

Tip: Make sure to visit the Pula Arena, a historical monument built between 27 BC and 68 AD. It has now been turned into a modern event space. It is also the 6th largest amphitheater in the world.

Who Would Like to Live There: Solo Travelers

Pros:

  • It isn’t a traditional tourist town, so it has more “identity” to explore.
  • There are plenty of historical ruins with unique stories to explore
  • There are vast national parks too for nature lovers.

Cons:

  • It has a high crime rate for a Croatian city.
  • It is rough around the edges compared to other more popular tourist destinations.
  • You need to learn the local language to get by.

6. Zadar

Best place to live for Couples

church and square

Cost of Living: $$

Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Zadar is the oldest continually inhabited community in Croatia. Though lowkey compared to other more popular destinations, Zadar has a vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and incredible islands.

Tip: Visit the Museum of Ancient Glass to explore the collection of historical artifacts and have the opportunity to try your hand at glassblowing.

Who Would Like to Live There: Couples/Groups

Pros:

  • The best national parks in Croatia are bear Zadar
  • The streets are rich with history and heritage
  • The city is exceptionally crowd-free for a Croatian town.

Cons:

  • It’s tough to do business in Croatia
  • There is a lot of bureaucracy
  • The city isn’t very tolerant

7. Rovinj

Best places to live for Couples

city looming over a waterwaay in croatia

Cost of Living: $$

Rovinj is a small fishing port town with a population of only 14 000 people. The city looks more Italian than Croatian and has a bustling harbor with some of the best seafood restaurants in the Balkans.

Tip: Visit St Andrews and St Catherines islands which are the largest islands in the region and have plenty of activities and places to explore.

Who Would Like to Live There: Couples

Pros:

  • It’s a family-friendly town
  • Serves as a great base from which to travel to the rest of the Istria region and its cities.
  • The town has a market to find fresh produce

Cons:

  • There aren’t many economic opportunities
  • You need a car to explore the surrounding cities in Istria
  • It is relatively expensive

8. Osijek

Best place to live for Digital Nomads

city on coast

Cost of Living: $$$

As the fourth largest city in Croatia, with a population of over 100 000 people, Osijek is the economic and cultural hub of the region of Slavonia in eastern Croatia. Due to its history as a former Habsburg military base and its Hungarian heritage, Osijek is known for its pastries and cakes.

Tip: Pay a visit to the Kopacki rit nature reserve; it’s a bird watchers’ paradise.

Who Would Like to Live There: Digital Nomads

Pros:

  • The desserts in Osijek are second to none in the Balkans
  • There are several museums with incredible artifacts from yesteryear
  • Great healthcare facilities

Cons:

  • The people smoke a lot.
  • The winters are cold and damp.
  • It’s not a family-friendly environment.

9. Hvar

Best place to live for Couples

small harbour in Hvar croatia

Cost of Living: $$$

A port and resort town on the island of Hvar, Hvar is a beautiful town with ferries connecting the city with several Pakleni Islands nearby. The beautiful historic town isn’t even the island’s highlight; the pristine beaches are easily the main attraction on a star-studded “roster.”

Tip: Visit Spanjola Fortress, which was initially built in the Byzantine era during the 6th century, for the best views of Hvar.

Who Would Like to Live There: Couples

Pros:

  • There are small boats that operate as taxis
  • Its near split, and that increases the things you can do there
  • The island turns purple with lavender in early summer

Cons:

  • There is a rule that you have to be clothed at all times
  • Hvar is NOT cheap
  • It gets loud and overcrowded

10. Sibenik

Best place to live for Groups

cathedral entrance siberia

Cost of Living: $$$

With its Old Town as the oldest city town in Croatia, Sibenik is rich in history and heritage. 4 fortresses surround the beautiful medieval town to remind you of its ancient roots and history.

Tip: Visit the Sibenik Cathedral St Jacob, an architectural masterpiece that took over 100 years to complete. 

Who Would Like to Live There: Groups

Pros:

  • Sibenik has 2 Unesco monuments
  • There are two national parks and a 75-meter canyon for nature lovers
  • Sibenik is known as the city of festivals, with at least six happening annually

Cons:

  • The winters are extremely quiet and possibly boring
  • It is difficult to find a good job there
  • You need to learn the local tongue to get by

Next Read: Excited for a trip to Croatia? Why not stay in some of the best hotels Croatia has to offer.

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