Before I moved to Costa Rica (sight unseen), one of the area’s I was considering was Limon on the Caribbean coast. My Internet research suggested the Pacific side would be better. Once here, I learned that my decision was correct. Of course, if I had been wrong, picking up and moving to Limon would not have been difficult. Just pack two suitcases and a backpack and go.
Internet research is again playing a huge role in my selection process for my next home. I will not visit my next destination first to judge whether I made the right choice, so my research needs to be as thorough as possible. The tricky part, once a country is chosen, is what town or city to live in – at least at the start.
Surprisingly, that research is also leading me to strongly consider what was once a distinct longshot – Croatia. This relatively small country is the result of the breakup of Yugoslavia. It has a long coastline along the Adriantic Sea, with Italy on the other side of the water. The coastline is dotted with small islands, inlets, beachs and old European-style towns.
Croatian weather is warm in the summer (80s) to mild in the winter (50s). Tourism is a major industry, so expect lots of Europeans and even Americans to visit. There is an American expat community there but I’m still trying to tap into that group through several online forums. Restaurant and grocery store prices are considerably below what they are in Costa Rica. Most of Europe is a train ride away. Venice is directly across the Adriantic via ferry.
I can enter and stay in Croatia with just my passport for 90 days. I can get a one-year visa through the Croatian embassy in the U.S. before I leave in order to extend my stay after the 90 days.
The one area I haven’t been able to get concrete information on is apartment rentals. Most of what I’ve found have been vacation rentals; these are much higher than what you would expect to pay if you live there. It does look like, however, that I will be able to find what I have now, maybe even a larger apartment, for about the same as I’m currently paying, or perhaps even lower; the cost-of-living info I’ve gathered says rental prices are even cheaper than in Costa Rica. In the towns I am considering (Sibenik and Trogir), I may even be able to get a place in one of the homes or apartment complexes made from stone.
I still have much research to do on Croatia, as well as on Thailand, Bulgaria and Malaysia, before making a final decision. Thailand was at the top of my list previously, but since I’ve already been there three times, and since Croatia would allow me to travel around Europe for a year, I’m having a change of heart.