Australian Expat Living in Croatia - Interview with SJ BEGONJA

Published: 16 Jun at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Croatia
SJ is a Mum & wife, now Australian expat. She packed up her very typical life in 2013 and shifted it along with her Croatian Husband and Son to rebuild the old house they inherited in Croatia & make it their home. She is your local guide to Croatia. Guiding you to the best of Croatian travel, food and culture. Plus she share stories about her life in rural Croatia. SJ BEGONJA's expat blog is called Chasing the Donkey! (see listing here)

The trip that set the wheels in motion
The trip that set the wheels in motion

Here's the interview with SJ BEGONJA...

Where are you originally from?
Sydney, Australia

In which country and city are you living now?
Croatia, in a small village outside of Zadar

How long have you lived in Croatia and how long are you planning to stay?
We've been here almost a year, and have zero plans to return from where we came. We are here for the long haul.

Our marina
Our marina
Why did you move to Croatia and what do you do?
My husband is Croatian. He was born in Australia, but his family are here. I first came in 2000 and spent 6 weeks here, and came again in 2010. We had inherited some land before we decided to move to Croatia, but once here we realised just how much we loved the lifestyle and decided to come and make it home. Once back from our vacation it took us 2 and a half years to save and get things in order to make our dreams come true.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, my husband and our 9 month old baby - who now is a toddler.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The biggest struggle for us so far has been adjusting to the system. Things can be slow and more paperwork and stamps are needed for any document than I thought possible. The other issue I face is being alone, being in a small town there are no expat services or groups to help make friends.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
No, I do not have a single expat friend - which I like and also loathe at the sametime.

Baby chicks
Baby chicks
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Here there are great beaches and an old city that you can wander in all day long. If you plan to move to Zadar, you need to know that that its very small, and services are limited.

What do you enjoy most about living in Croatia?
My favorite the slow pace,and the fact we eat from the garden. We have no much fresh produce available it still blows my mind.

How does the cost of living in Croatia compare to home?
If you have a foreign income you can live like a king - if not, the cost of living is high. Much higher than we thought it would be.

Our rooster
Our rooster
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Croatia?
The biggest struggle for us so far has been adjusting to the system. Things can be slow and more paperwork and stamps are needed for any document than I thought possible.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Croatia, what would it be?
Talk to people living where you want to live. You need to know the status of what the town has or does not have – and if that suits you. For example my area of Zadar is not a big expat community, so we do not have social gatherings or international playgroups like they do in Zagreb.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Missing family and friends. I miss having good buddies pop over for a Sunday lunch and just hanging with my best friends.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I have zero idea, from what I read and hear, that will be very hard. Because it's not on the cards or now, I try not to think about it to often.

Us enjoying Croatia
Us enjoying Croatia
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Also, save, save and save. Although things in Croatia are not as expensive on some EU countries the cost of living here if you are on a local salary is very high.
  2. Bring your patience. Things here take a lot longer than you are used you.
  3. Stay connected. Skpye, call and text your family back home, you'll need it. Do not isolate yourself.
  4. Just remember why you came when things seem rough.
  5. Enjoy every second, you never know when it will end, and you don';t want any regrets.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
We are Australian expats in Croatia. Bringing travel loads to bring you the very best of Croatian travel.
Plus stories about our life in rural Croatia as we build our dream home.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?

About the author

Expat Blog ListingSJ BEGONJA is an Australian expat living in Croatia. Blog description: I am a Mum & wife, now expatriate. I packed up my very typical Australian life and shifted it along with my Husband and Son to rebuild the old house we inherited in Croatia & make it our home.
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