Zagreb, Croatia Report of what it's like to live there - 12/16/11

Personal Experiences from Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia 12/16/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Spain.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

D.C-same connection time as anywhere coming in from the U.S.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Expat.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is ok, we lived in the center, about 2 blocks away from the main square.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Relatively cheap.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Perhpas more food. There are not many options. Everything is very limited, and I really didn't enjoy that there was no variety, and all they sell is just pizza and pasta.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

None, forget it! there is only a MacDonald's in the center, and a few bakery places that only sell bread.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There is some dolac market, which some say it's fresh. But to me there is not much of a variety.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They are everywhere and are safe to use.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A lot! So you don't feel you are a "stranger." Although young people speak English and you can get by with it. To me, it was important to know the basics of language especially with customer service, since it's not that great and many cashiers don't speak English well.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. very safe. Trams are on every corner in the center of town.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

There are no carjackings, it's unheard of. Small typical European cars are best for parking around the city.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, very reliable. Fast connection.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

None.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Very safe place, one of the MOST safe places in the world.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Okay.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's awful, especially winter can be very depressing, very grey, foggy and cold.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

I would say 1%. This place lacks the international aspect of other cities, perhaps becuase of the lack of immigration (it's nearly 100% Croatians). It's very rare to see someone from other places, unless you get out of your bubble.

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2. Morale among expats:

I would say very low.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It's ok. I am not a party animal, but I think zagreb lacks character. It's definitely not a lively city.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I say mostly for families for the tranquility of the place. However, if you are single, recently married or just arriving alone, it is not the best place. Not much going on in the city, it's kind of boring place.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None, but that is because there is not too much immigration from other parts of the world and Europe. If you are a foreigner you are seen as something weird. Croatians are NOT open at all, or at least they don't seem to mind you or care.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The Croatian Coast, it's really the only thing that this place is worth coming for.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Only the Coast. Zagreb is not a fantastic place per say. But since it is well located, it's great to just travel around Europe.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

None. There isn't much in the way of crafts or handmade stuff. Perhaps all they sell is just their lavender stuff...but it gets boring after a while.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The ONLY advantage of living here is that you have an amazing coast. However, it's a bit far away-about a 3-hour drive.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, things are cheaper here (relatively) more than in other euro countries.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. I don't plan to come back to Eastern Europe.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

smile. Croatians don't smile. haha!

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is definitely not a place for someone who enjoys food. It's really bad in that sense. But good luck!

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