NomadList shows why Croatia is the most popular remote work destination in Europe
July 3, 2022 – Croatia is emerging as one of the top remote work destinations. The latest NomadList 2022 survey gives some clues as to why.
It’s high season in Croatia, and most of the country’s tourism focuses on traditional sun and sea tourism on the Adriatic. But away from the coast and the beach, newer, more sustainable tourism is hitting the road in a country that desperately needs to diversify its tourism strategy away from overtourism during the summer beach months.
It’s been about three years since I wrote an op-ed called Branding Croatia for the Future: 5 Gifts and Trends to Focus On. For a country so dependent on one form of tourism, I was shocked at the untapped potential of Croatian tourism throughout the country, 365 days a year. Three years later, largely through private sector efforts that have been embraced by the public sector and – belatedly – by the official tourist board, one of these five giveaways and trends is not only realized, but shows outstanding potential to take Croatia in a new and exciting direction – digital nomad tourism. And I’m sure the other four gifts will find their moment in the sun at some point.
This week The NomadList 2022 survey gives great insights into the lifestyle of digital nomads and shows how well positioned Croatia is to thrive in this growing tourism niche. Finding reliable data on digital nomads is notoriously difficult because they don’t register as such when they travel, so it’s hard to capture the data. NomadList data is captured through its paying members and their actual movements, and is therefore one of the few good indicators available of trends within the digital nomad community. And for those willing to spend more than 10 minutes watching the headlines, there are some rather interesting findings, most of which are very good news for Croatia.
Before looking at what attracts nomads to Croatia, it is worth reflecting on some of the survey data to dispel some myths and also to see how Croatia’s approach to visas – or permits – reflected the needs of the nomads for whom it was intended. to serve. I remember at the time there was a lot of criticism about Croatia’s requirement to have an income of around 25,000 euros per year to be eligible for the permit, as that would disqualify many applicants on the basis revenues. Personally, I thought that number was about right – the whole point of creating this opportunity was to bring in people who would spend.
And it seems that the vast majority of nomads would have no problem meeting this requirement, with 77% of nomads earning more than $50,000 a year and an average salary of just under $120,000. It is a very good purchasing power for visitors coming for an extended period in a country.
Another criticism after the introduction of the permit was the few nomads applying for it. I have to admit I expected a lot more than applied, but again the data is a good guide. With only 15% of nomads staying more than 3 months in a country, the number of applications for an entire year is bound to be low. And with 82% spending between a week and 3 months, most do not need to apply for any additional permits other than any normal entry visa.
High net worth individuals spending about two months in a country on average – and not necessarily the summer on the beach – is a niche to cultivate. So what motivates nomads, and does Croatia have anything to offer them? Oh yes…indeed, it almost seems like the spec was written with Croatia in mind. The big concept that I took away from this investigation was the search for a lifestyle.
Here’s how male and female nomads describe themselves by interests. Do you think any of them could fit into the Croatian lifestyle?
High on the list for nomadic men and women is the epicenter of Croatian culture – coffee.
I’ve never lived in a country where the coffee culture was as culturally ingrained in society as it is in Croatia, and I constantly marvel at how my fellow Croatians can make an espresso last for an hour while I pours four beers at the same time. Comparing life in a Starbucks in the United States to the laid-back cafe culture in Croatia must be one of the great cultural divides, and I’ve lost count of how many American nomads marvel at the beauty and friendliness of the Croatian coffee scene, where new friendships are made daily over a cup of coffee.
Two of Croatia’s great natural strengths are also highly valued: hiking and the outdoors. With more than 10% of the whole country devoted to national and nature parks, Croatia’s attractiveness as a great outdoor destination is indisputable. Outstanding hiking opportunities such as Sljeme in Zagreb, Marjan in Split and Stari Grad Paklenica in Zadar are all very accessible from popular nomadic towns, while Zagreb’s many parks are also very popular.
Beer and Wine. Welcome to Croatia, birthplace of Zinfandel, one of 130 indigenous varieties in an increasingly homogeneous world. And for a country with a better emerging craft beer (and gin) scene, you’d have to search a bit. Many Croatian wine experiences are authentic and unique, with small family winemakers only now discovering international markets. They are a pleasure to discover.
One of the other giveaways and trends to work on from that editorial three years ago was Croatia’s potential as a sports tourism destination. And looking at what makes nomads active, it seems like a heavenly marriage. Croatia has exceptional options in almost all of these sports activities. It almost feels like Croatia is a country made by a digital nomad wishlist.
Add to all this, of course, the many other attractive aspects of the Croatian offer – its security, excellent English, excellent WiFi, affordability, accessibility, culture, natural beauty – and it is not amazing that Croatia is starting to feature more and more as a remote work hotspot in Europe. And let’s not forget the huge potential of Croatia’s excellent medical tourism industry (yes, also one of the five giveaways in this 2019 editorial). If remote workers realized the quality and price of dentistry, cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, and a host of other medical procedures, they could incorporate that into their Croatian experience, save a lot of dollars, and discover one more reason why the future of sustainable away-from-the-beach tourism in Croatia looks brighter than ever.
Learn more about medical tourism, the hidden gem of Croatia’s remote working revolution.
For more news and articles about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.