Each story is so very different from the other, why some expats decided to make a new life for themselves in Croatia, or why (like us) they bought a house or an apartment as a holiday home or as a more long-term life decision.
Today we introduce Sheila and Dennis, a young and very active couple who have come all the way from the USA to settle in the coastal town of Split.
Split is the largest city on the Dalmatian coast, and is centred around the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and its bay and port.
Hello Sheila and welcome to Our Adventure in Croatia.
Where are you originally from and how did you end up living in Croatia?
I am originally from Minnesota, USA and Dennis is from Ohio, USA. We met in Minnesota, where he was attending graduate school for his Masters in Exercise Physiology.
Dennis and I have a little different story in regards to how we came to Croatia. Most people come because they visited this country and fell in love with it.
Dennis was offered a position in Split at the Medical School, which is part of a research network throughout Europe studying scuba diving and decompression sickness.
I must admit that when we planned to move to Split-Croatia, we both had to look at where Croatia even WAS on a map.
So I can say that Croatia chose us. Split was specifically looking for someone with a background that Dennis could offer.
Dennis came for work, I came for love.
Can you tell us about a funny (or not so funny) episode during your search for suitable accommodation in Split?
Looking for apartments was interesting, and something Dennis had to go through alone since I was still tying up loose ends in the States. Rental properties are less common and websites are not updated frequently, so often places were unavailable or had been long rented.
One apartment was listed three times on the same website. Dennis went initially and decided it was not right for us. A few days later, Dennis scheduled another viewing of (what he thought) a different apartment. They pulled up to the same building, saw the same guy and he told him it was the same apartment. Two days later, another scheduled viewing. They drove up, realized it was the same apartment, and just kept driving! In the end, we found an apartment that was just right for us. Small, close to shops, walking distance to work and as close to the sea as we will likely ever live!
What do you like about Croatia and specifically your area and your neighbourhood? what is there to see and do in your area?
Our area has everything we need. We can walk just a block to the grocery store, chemist/pharmacy, restaurant, beach, and even work! In addition, it is a short bike ride or bus trip down to the center. On a nice Spring or Fall day, we love walking along the sea to the center and stopping along the way for a beer! Living in Split quickly taught us that wherever we end up, we always want to live in a place that is easily accessible by walking, biking or public transport.
Have you managed to integrate into your local community? what do you do in your spare time?
Dennis and I are very active people as you can see in these photos! Through this, we have enjoyed developing relationships in this community with like minded individuals. We have a great group of friends through the local Crossfit gym that we work out at.
Being outside and being active is the foundation of our lives in Croatia and we have shared this both with our Croatian friends and our ex-pat friends. The weather allows for year round activities.
We enjoy swimming, mountain biking, running at Marjan, hiking at Mosor mountain, lifting weights at the local gym… the list goes on! I think a great lesson is to find the things you enjoy, DO THEM, and you will find your group of friends!
Do you have any tips for travellers to Croatia?
I feel like often, people rush through their vacations, eager to cross things off their travel list. Take time to truly enjoy locations, not just to see “as many islands” as you can but to really embrace each location. In addition, travel off the traditional path. If you enjoy adventure try Vis instead of Hvar. If you like history, but not crowds try Trogir instead of Split. Create a vacation that embraces your personality.
Summarize in a short sentence why you recommend Croatia as a holiday destination
A place where you can hike to the top of a mountain, relax on the beach, and enjoy an amazing amount of historical past… all in the same day!
You can read More Adventures in Croatia in our previous posts: