In a few days time, we go on holiday. Our holiday this year will be a bit different, as we’re flying back into Manchester to visit family and friends. Returning to the city that has been our home for so many years, has made us reflect a little bit on the last five months – and although we are still (and will be for a long time to come) grappling with many of the nuances of Croatian life, we reckon we’ve made a pretty good job of settling in…

We’re onto unpacking the very last boxes of everything we brought over from Manchester. On 2nd March, we were a little bit overwhelmed when every last thing we owned, arrived on a lorry and was deposited in front of the house. Five months later and everything seems to have a found a home – most temporary as we renovate, but at least we’re rid of packing boxes and bubble wrap…

Chaos on 2nd March 2017

Chaos on 2nd March 2017

We’ve negotiated the complexities of car buying in Croatia. I’ve blogged about this before, as it’s just not as obvious here, as it is back in the UK, how to actually buy a car. Although there are plenty of new car garages, here’s no obvious second hand dealerships, no obvious Exchange & Mart publications, internet searches throw up confusing results. As with most things we’ve discovered here, it’s not what you know here, it’s who you know. (Top tip – make it your business to get to know good people!)

The buying of the car is the least confusing thing – you’ve then got to negotiate the paying for it. We now live in a land where cash (or cash transfers) is king and so you need to factor in numerous trips to the bank. And work out which branch has the best English speakers – very important for key financial transactions. Insurance is another thing that we’d have fallen foul of, had we not had the advce from the garage owners. Our years of no-claims in England would have counted for nothing out here, if we’d taken out our own insurance. A way around this, thanks again to our garage owners (remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know!), was for them to initially insure in their business name and for us then to transfer into our names. We are now fully insured and the owners of two Croatian registered cars 🙂 Handy if you come to visit, as we have a nippy little Fiat Punto ready and waiting for guests to use.

Sorting utilities and transferring into our names has made me yearn for the headmash of the UK utilities companies. Although there only seems to be one electricity company – the national HEP – and one water company, we’re sure that there must be more providers. It’s just that we couldn’t find them – and it just seemed easier to transfer the accounts from the previous owners. It took about three months to finally sort it all out – but again, we are now legitimate in the eyes of the utilities companies. And paying way, way, way less than we were in the UK.

We’ve now got residency status in Croatia, again making us more legitimate. This was a fairly simple process, involving visiting the local police station with our documents, answering a few questions and proving that we had bought the house. (Although another blog post will explain the issue of BOUNDARIES – oh, yes. Boundaries are a major issue out here, and could scupper potential property purchases if you’re not aware of the complexities…)

We’re getting used to crossing borders and remembering what we need to do at each one and always having our documents with us. We now understand that if we go over into Slovenia we need to buy a vignette to display on the windscreen – necessary if you’re going to be driving on the motorway, as you’ll get a hefty fine if you’ve not purchased one. We’ve made some fab friends already, who have greatly eased our transition into a whole new way of life – and who have recommended brilliant people to work with us on the renovation of the house. People have been extrememly kind, too – a very common trait here – bringing us gifts to welcome us into our new home. We even had a recent delivery of wild boar steaks & locally produced wine from our builder 😉

It’s been a roller-coaster five months, and looking back, we cn’t quite believe the progress we’ve made. We’ve still a LONG way to go – fixed line internet is still to be resolved, the Croatian language (beyond “hello” and “thank you”) needs to be tackled, the renovation of certain parts of the house needs to begin – but we feel at home. And when you can easily get to places like this, we feel very, very, very lucky in our new Croatian home…

Mošćenička Draga

Mošćenička Draga