The cost of living in Croatia has grown steadily over the past few years, mainly influenced by the country’s economic growth, boosted mainly by tourism and good usage of European funds.
And in today’s article, I will help you understand what is the cost of living in Croatia in 2020 – from larger cities like Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb and such to smaller ones. You will see that the differences are not huge – just accommodation costs are higher in bigger cities.
Now, I have to specify that today we are going to talk about living in Croatia, as opposed to traveling here for a shorter period of time. Going on vacation has different costs (usually higher) and I’ve tried to talk more in depth about these in my prices in Croatia article. I cover travel-related costs and prices there, so make sure to check it out if you’re only visiting for a vacation.
This article, on the other hand, is intended to help those who are planning to live in Croatia longer term (or for at least 3 months) to better understand the cost of living and prepare for their move here.
Your monthly expenses in Croatia will be slightly influenced by the city or town you choose as your home base: larger cities like Zagreb or Split are more expensive than smaller ones, while popular touristic destinations (like Dubrovnink, for example) are still usually priced for tourists, which means that it costs more to live there even as a local.
Also, you should know that each person has different expectations and expenses will vary from individual to individual.
So for some, my anticipated monthly costs will be higher and for others, lower. But even so, it’s still good to have something to look at in order to prepare for your longer term move to Croatia.
What’s the estimated cost of living in Croatia?
As I said in the intro, Croatia’s prices kept going up over the past few years. Part of that was the increase in the salaries people earn here, and part of it was a natural effect of the tourism boost.
When living longer term here, you will have two major costs: rent (or mortgage if you buy) and food costs. Afterwards, we have smaller amounts that can still add up, like entertainment, health-related costs, generic house-related things and other unexpected or miscellaneous expenses. I will try to cover them all below.
Finally, have in mind that the official currency in Croatia is the Kuna and all prices will be listed in HRK. There are some places where you could pay directly with Euros, but I would advice against it since the rates are generally horrible. However, to keep things easier to follow, the prices below will be listed in Euros.
Accommodation / rental prices in Croatia
Rent is still pretty much affordable in all cities here, even though prices have increased a bit over the years. It depends a lot when you come here to rent and for how long.
If you try to rent a place for a shorter period, and come here during the season, you’re most likely going to spend a lot more than otherwise. But if you’re looking to rent for a longer period of time (12 months, for example), your monthly costs will be much lower.
This means that, no matter what city you choose to live in, you can expect rental prices that will go as low as the ones listed below. Note that these are the lower end of the spectrum. From there, they can only go up!
IMPORTANT: When looking at apartments for rent in Croatia, have in mind that people here usually refer to the total number of rooms in their listing and not the number of bedrooms!
So a 1 room apartment would be a studio, while a 3-room apartment would be a 2 bedroom. This is not always the rule, but make sure you keep an eye out for this important thing.
Monthly rent for a studio in a good area: as low as 300 Euros per month. Decent size, good area, available in most cities. Can find even cheaper deals farther away from the center or in smaller towns.
1 Bedroom Apartment: there are some decent deals available for as low as 400 Euros per month, although I would recommend to actually budget 450 Euros for something better.
2 Bedroom Apartment: you can usually get the best deals in this category. There’s plenty to choose from for around 500 Euros per month, and if you have 600 Euros to spend monthly, then you should have no problem finding a nice apartment in a good area.
Bottom line: when renting or searching for a palce to rent, make sure that you look at local agencies that are aimed at Croatians, and not the fancy ones for foreigners.
The latter are more expensive and have far less properties to offer. Check out a website like njuskalo.hr for local prices (the website, however, is in Croatian only – use Google Translate with it to make it easier to navigate).
Also, I have to repeat: the prices above are the minimum prices you should expect to pay, or towards the bottom. While I am confident that you will be able to find something good in those price ranges, I also know that the average prices are a bit higher than what I listed above especially if you plan to rent for less than 3 months.
Finally, it all depends on where you want to live: larger, better known cities are more expensive (Zagreb being the most expensive, for example), while smaller towns and villages are obviously less expensive in this category.
Monthly food budget in Croatia
This is always one of the most difficult categories to estimate, because people can spend here anything from pennies to little fortunes. So I have to say that I am basing the estimations below on my own experience and way of eating.
I am talking, therefore, about a family of three: my wife, my 6 years old son and myself. We cook a lot at home and eat out only a few times per month. We do get fresh products, some organic food and try to eat as healthy as possible, but also pre-cooked foods and other silly stuff.
In other words, we’re somewhere in the middle by my standards: not as thrifty as possible, but not spending randomly and eating out a lot either.
Based on that, I would say that your monthly food budget should be of around 450 Euros.
If you’re single, don’t expect to pay much less: maybe around 300 Euros per month if you don’t eat out a lot. For a couple under the same circumstances, expect to pay 350-400 Euros a month for your food.
I repeat: these costs can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. If you eat out a lot, expenses will go up really fast. But if you cook a lot of food at home from base ingredients, you will spend much less as food is generally cheap here.
Even though restaurant prices in Croatia are still low compared to other Western countries (or any expensive country, actually), you should still expect to pay around 6 Euros per meal at a lower range restaurant, although prices are usually around 8-10 Euros.
If you’re looking to compare some costs – or at least know what to expect, here is a list of products that you can find in the stores and their prices (all listed in Euros):
Tomatoes (1 kg): 1.30 (depending on the season, cheaper during summer/autumn)
Potatoes (1 kg): 0.65
Lettuce (1 head): 0.7
Apples (1 kg): 0.80 – 1.30
Oranges (1 Kg): around 1 Euro (you can find them as low as 0.7 Euro, but they can go up to 1.3 as well)
Cheese (1 Kg): 6.8
Eggs (1 egg): 0.20
Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless (1 kg): 5.50
Fresh fish, local (1 kg): 2.7
Loaf of Bread (300 grams): 0.65
Milk (1 Liter – no name brands): 0.70
Bottle of cheap local wine: 2.50
Bottle of better local wine: 4.50
Beer (0.5 liter): 0.90 (in stores)
Sparkling water (1.5 l): 0.65
Bottled water (7 l): 1.5
Bottle of natural juice (1 liter): 2.4
Restaurant prices in Croatia
Meal for two, inexpensive restaurant, Three-course (tip included): 30 – 35 Euros
Meal for two, better restaurant, Three course (tip included): 50 – 60 Euros
Beer (0.5 l): 1.80
Coke (0.25 l): 1.50
Wine (0.75 l): 15 Euros (but can easily go way up)
Fresh lemonade: 2.90
Croatia: Utilities cost
In most cases, your monthly rent won’t include any utilities or common expenses for the building. These will have to be paid monthly, but they’re not very expensive, compared to other regions of the world.
Here is what you are normally expected to pay on utilities each month, on average:
Internet & TV Package: Expect to pay around 35 Euros/month for it
Mobile Phone: Prices vary here depending on what kind of deal you get, but let’s say that on average you would pay around 20 Euros per month for plan that offers 5GB of mobile internet, unlimited text and calls in the same network and around 1,000 minutes in other networks.
Communal building expenses (elevators, cleaning etc): 15 Euros
Electricity, heating, garbage disposal, and water: 150 Euros (can go up quite a bit if you use the air conditioning a lot during the summer and keep the heating high during the winter).
This is the category where you can spend a lot more than my estimated amount – heating is very expensive and most of the houses in Croatia are still not properly insulated, but things are getting better and fortunately (or not, depending how you look at it), the climate has became warmer during the winters, so heating costs are lower than ever.
All in all, the prices for utilities in Croatia have grown a lot in the past several years and they keep growing, although not at an alarming rate. But for electricity, heating and water, it might be safer to budget 200 Euros per month (although your average will probably be lower).
These are very difficult to estimate, as they vary from person to person. You’ll have to spend money on getting new clothes, various consumables for your home, you’ll have health related-costs, car or transportation costs and all sorts of unexpected expenses (or at least those that can’t really fit in any category).
Have in mind that a monthly travel pass in Croatia is around 50 Euros, with single tickets selling for around 1.4 euros. The good thing is that most cities in Croatia (except for maybe Zagreb) are very walkable – or at least a bike will do.
Everything else depends on your lifestyle and it’s very difficult to make any estimations, but here are some other expenses you might have:
– 1 month at the gym: 30 Euros
– gas price: 1.3 Euros / Month
– cinema ticket price: 5 Euros
Can you live in Croatia on 1,000 Euros per month?
This is a nice, round, amount that I like to use when thinking about how expensive (or cheap) living in a country really is.
For many people coming from richer countries, 1,000 per month for one person is not much and this is why I will use this amount to estimate the actual living monthly expenses in the country, after adding everything above up.
And the answer, as it usually happens, is not very simple. But yes, I would say that it is possible for somebody to live a decent life in Croatia for 1,000 Euros per month, with some limitations and things to consider.
So, for a budget of 1,000 Euros, we’d have the following expenses below:
300 Euros for rent
300 Euros for food and eating out
225 Euros for utilities and phone/internet
TOTAL: 825 Euros per month
This would leave us with around 175 Euros for everything else. And while this is definitely not a huge amount, as long as you have the “basics” covered, it should prove to be enough to allow you to leave a decent life.
Of course, you won’t be living like a king with this money, but it won’t be very difficult to enjoy life either. Remember that the average salary that a Croat earns is around 820 Euros per month, so if you had 1,000, you’d already be over the average.
There are local families that actually live on a lot less – there are families of three that can make ends meed on a budget of 1,000 Euros per month, so I would say that if you have this amount, it will could enough for one person.
Of course, you will have limitations because as a foreigner – and especially in the first few months, you will probably spend more than the average. Also, if you want a larger (or better place) and better food, as well as party a bit, you will have a tougher time making ends meed on 1,000 Euros per month.
If it’s two of you, things will look better as you won’t need to double the amount of money needed in order to live a decent life. I would say that a budget starting at 1,500 Euros per month for a couple would be decent, while 2,000 Euros (so 1k per person) would be really good. Ah, the advantages of not being single!
When kids come into play, things get a bit more complicated because there might be additional costs related to their education. While public schools in Croatia are free, your kids must speak (or learn) the Croatian language in order to study there.
Private schools are expensive, and private kindergartens are relatively expensive too, both of which can have a massive impact over the monthly budget.
For example, private education in Croatia can cost anything between 335 Euros per month (for private kindergartens) to 1,000 Euros per month for Primary or Seconday Education.
This means that for each kid, if education costs will be involved, you should add at least 600 Euros more per month.
I have tried to paint a picture that’s as clear and accurate as possible. I have to repeat, though, that as it is the case of any situation when personal preferences and different lifestyles are involved, your reality could vary greatly from mine – or the one presented in this article.
However, I am confident that for most people, the cost estimates above – and especially the monthly budget – will be pretty much spot on. Knowing all that data will surely help you make a more educated choice and better plan your finances if a move to Croatia is starting to look like a possibility.
As you can see above, this country is still pretty cheap to live in if you compare it to other parts of the world – from Western Europe to North America or Australia and the quality of life is really good.
Prices have been going up lately, but I don’t expect them to increase at an alarming rate in the next few years.
If you have additional questions or comments, don’t hesitate to post them below in the comment section.
If you have personal insights regarding the monthly living costs in Croatia, I would love to hear them: the more people we have sharing their personal expenses, the easier it will be for those interested in moving here to estimate their costs.