(CNN) — While most European Union nations have saved their borders sealed in opposition to non-European guests in the course of the pandemic, Croatia has been welcoming arrivals from the United States and lots of different international locations.
Summer noticed it enable nearly anybody to trip on its lovely Adriatic shoreline and revel in its beautiful islands and the “Game of Thrones” metropolis of Dubrovnik. Even now, non-EU guests are welcome, offered they check or quarantine.
Now Croatia is making it simpler for people who need to keep longer — tweaking its immigration legal guidelines to grant one-year residency permits to distant digital staff from exterior the European Union, offered they do not require vacationer visas to enter.
While different locations comparable to Dubai have paid a worth for conserving their borders vast open, Croatia is satisfied encouraging long-term tourism is a winner.
The new guidelines started on January 1, and the primary candidates have already arrived.
On January 15, American Melissa Paul had the sudden honor of changing into Croatia’s first official digital nomad beneath the brand new regulation. Since then, she has been caught up in a flurry of media interviews by nationwide dailies and tv networks.
“I’ve actually been a remote worker for 15 years now, owning my own company, but contracting with companies all over the US, UK, and Mexico,” she tells CNN.
Paul, a advertising advisor who produces web sites, weblog articles, newsletters and manages social media for artwork and design, occasions, marriage ceremony and hospitality companies, had already skilled life in Croatia prior to receiving her one-year allow.
Soulful high quality
Melissa Paul is Croatia’s first official digital nomad.
Courtesy Melissa Paul
“When I moved to Croatia, being a digital entrepreneur allowed me to continue to make a living while living and traveling around the country and Europe,” she says.
Paul initially moved to Croatia together with her American-Croatian husband, whose mother and father hail from the island of Krk. When the couple divorced, she realized she did not have many choices to proceed dwelling in Croatia as a resident. But the brand new regulation opened a window of alternative.
She is now operating her enterprise from her kitchen desk in a home within the walled hilltop city of Labin on the Adriatic peninsula of Istria, in northwestern Croatia.
“Labin has a soulful quality,” she stated of her new house. “From the friendly people, the large number of working artists here, as well as the mix of history, culture and modern industry. All in a beautiful, central location. It’s perfect for me and I love it more every day.”
European-style forms was one thing Paul was already acquainted with, however the software course of nonetheless concerned a paper chase.
“I knew that the more prepared I was, the better,” she says. “But there were many documents I had to provide detailing the work I do, where my clients are, and proving my company is active, I have the financial means to work independently, health insurance and a place to live. Since I have been a location-independent worker for years, this was all easy for me to provide.”
Paul sees her prolonged keep in Croatia as a chance to get to know the nation higher and expertise it firsthand, “not in a rush of days but slowly savored over months or years.”
A lift for the vacationer business
Croatia gives a Mediterranean way of life with greater than 1,000 islands.
STR/AFP through Getty Images
The thought to introduce a residence allow for digital nomads was the brainchild of Jan de Jong, a Dutch entrepreneur and investor dwelling in Croatia since 2006.
In July, he posted an open letter to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on LinkedIn, declaring the potential financial perks of welcoming distant staff.
Plenković received the message and, after consultations with De Jong, related adjustments to immigration regulation had been adopted in December 2020.
For de Jong, welcoming digital nomads as long-term tourists is a win-win.
“Croatia is a safe country with a Mediterranean lifestyle many digital nomads will find attractive,” he says. “It’s a very warm and welcoming country and the hospitality of the people is great.
“Then there’s the local weather, wonderful nature and over 1,000 islands. People communicate nice English. Also there’s good Internet and straightforward journey connections with the remainder of Europe. Lastly, life is reasonably priced right here.”
At the same time, this new potential for year-round tourism could boost struggling local economies and Croatia’s tourist industry, which has been hit by the pandemic despite the open-door policy.
Locals renting out tourist accommodation and new businesses catering to digital nomads are set to cash in.
“Well-paid digital nomads will spend their earnings right here which will likely be nice for the providers business,” says de Jong. “Also, via the VAT they pay on all the pieces they purchase, they will be offering extra income.”
History and resources
Split, on the Dalmatian coastline, is a popular destination for travelers.
Croatian National Tourist Board/ Ivan Coric
Mexicans Ariel Medel and Claudia Sau have been living in Split since November 2020. Soon after settling into this historical seaside city on the Dalmatian coast, they heard of the government’s digital nomad plans.
Medel has been a freelance comic book artist, illustrator and graphic designer for the past 15 years. The appeal of working as a digital nomad grew as the couple made extended visits to Europe twice a year.
Mexican couple Ariel Medel and Claudia Sau says changing into digital nomads was a pure selection.
Ariel Medel and Claudia Sau
“I feel changing into a digital nomad was a pure step to take, given that I like to journey and find out about different international locations’ tradition and historical past, an curiosity that my spouse shares with me,” he says of their decision to apply for the permit.
The couple has already explored the capital Zagreb, where they first arrived. They then moved on to the seaside towns of Zadar, Šibenik and Pula. As for many long-term travelers, the ancient port of Split held the highest appeal.
“We determined to keep in Split as a result of apart from being a stupendous metropolis on the coast, and having a number of historical past, it is large enough to have all of the assets we want with out it being too huge,” says Medel.
From Singapore to Zagreb
Jane Tor plans to move to Croatia from Singapore after touring with her parents.
Courtesy Jane Tor
After making an extended stop in Croatia this past fall, long-term traveler Jane Tor from Singapore has hatched a plan to return in March 2021. This time, with her laptop in tow, she’ll apply to stay long-term as a digital nomad.
Tor works for a tech company leading and managing projects with startups working in the education, fintech, digital marketing and travel industries.
“I arrived in Croatia the primary week of October, solely as a result of I had been in Albania earlier than that, and could not fly into any EU international locations with out going via Croatia,” says Tor. “My preliminary plan was to keep for 2 weeks, which stretched out into 84 days.”
She was drawn by the Croatian coastline and the opportunities for windsurfing, diving and hiking. Her enthusiasm attracted her parents, who joined her on a five-week vacation.
Together they explored the turquoise lakes and waterfalls of the national parks of Krka and Plitvice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The coastal city of Zadar was a highlight.
“Coming from Singapore, a sunny island that’s additionally a metropolis state, I’m drawn to being shut to the ocean,” she says. “I take pleasure in strolling rather a lot, so strolling alongside the ocean in Zadar was superior. You can stroll for a couple of hours from one port to the opposite, ending at a sundown bar.”
Though Zadar would be her preferred place to live out her digital nomad experience, Tor is scoping out a move to Zagreb.
“I favored strolling round its previous city within the fall and watching the colours change,” she says. “And I like the native markets in each city. Going there on daily basis to purchase native produce was a pleasant routine. Croatia can also be sufficiently small that I could be on a quiet island inside two or three hours of driving from Zagreb.
“I definitely want to explore the islands around Zadar and Split, take up kitesurfing and do more hiking.”
Compared to Singapore, Tor finds Croatia much less crowded and less expensive to reside in. She was additionally in a position to join with expat communities that encourage new companies.
“I’ve only met great people in Croatia, especially from the tech industry, which I’m from,” she says of her first expertise there.
Pros and cons
Jane Tor says she finds Croatia cheaper and fewer crowded than Singapore.
Courtesy Jane Tor
The execs and cons of every nation trying to appeal to digital nomads is a scorching matter on on-line boards.
Croatia has loads of pluses — it doesn’t require nomads to pay earnings tax and the residence allow is legitimate for one yr, though extensions require one to go away the nation for six months.
Some, nevertheless, discover the police test requirement to be an additional trouble.
Sara Dyson of Expat in Croatia gives one-on-one consulting to anybody contemplating a move and has seen an uptick in inquiries from digital nomads.
“The only grumble so far is that the digital nomad permit does not put people on a path to permanent residence or citizenship,” she says. “But this permit is currently the best option for a third-country national to apply for residence.
“If somebody nonetheless needs to come to Croatia, this drawback would not dissuade them. If somebody is contemplating another nation, then it’s giving them pause on whether or not Croatia is the best selection.”