Monday, July 16, 2007

Croatia Online - Update On The Cost of Living in Croatia

"How Much?!" - A Confused Shopper in Trogir Market

Our earlier posting on the cost of living in Croatia is a little out of date so we felt it was time to do a new one for this year’s holiday makers. In fact, with a few notable exceptions, prices have not risen substantially during the four year’s we’ve been here and the kuna’s exchange rate with the pound has remained very stable. If you want to compare – here’s the direct link to our earlier posting on a similar theme:

Croatia Online - Cost of Living August 2006

1. Currency
The Croatian currency is the “Kuna” which is subdivided into Lipa.
1 Kuna = 100 Lipa.

£1 sterling is worth about 10.4 kunas
€1 is worth about 7 kunas
I’m not making any guesses about the dollar at the moment but if you work out the Euro exchange rate to the dollar and use that, you want be far out.

2. Cash points/ATM’s
There are cashpoints/ATM’s everywhere – far more widely distributed that I can recall in England. In the unlikely event that you can’t find a cash point, the post office is your last resort. If you can’t find a post office then you really are in the back of beyond as there’s normally a post office for even the tiniest settlement. Check out the post office website for the wide range of services they offer and the astounding geographical coverage of their branches. You'l find the English pages by clicking on "English" in the top left corner. Remember there are just 4.5 million people in Croatia and I’d bet that there are many more Croatian post offices, per capita, than there are English ones. An interesting statistic for a future posting maybe?!

3. Banks
There also seem to be a lot more banks around than in England though no doubt “rationialisation” of the branches in remote locations will take place eventually as Croatia becomes more aligned with western Europe. Be prepared for long queues, non existent queues and occasional queue jumping. Going to the bank has become so frustrating and time consuming for us that we’ll do almost anything to avoid it. The one queue system, that is widespread in England, is rare here so you have to pick which assistant you think will get to you quickest which leads to a fair bit of jostling. Have your passport ready whatever type of transaction you want to make. If you want to learn more about the banking system the direct link is Croatia Online - The Banking System though this posting was written well over a year ago and we’ll be revisiting the subject in the Autumn.

4. Tipping
10% is the norm though most locals just leave loose change at cafes and bars. We haven’t ever seen a service charge added to the bill but perhaps that happens in posher eateries than the ones we normally use. There’s normally a nominal charge made for bread in restaurants which, I suppose, acts as a sort of cover charge.

5. Eating Out
We normally pay around 100 kunas a head for a main course, wine and coffee. We drink tap water not bottled water – you know you’re in a tourist joint when they insist they don’t do tap water. It’s lovely and perfectly drinkable except on some very remote islands that don’t have a mains water supply.

House wine is about 60 kunas a litre but you can pay up to 1000 kunas a bottle for good Croatian wine, Zlatan Plavac being just one of them. Normally the house wine is perfectly acceptable but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask to try it first. The best steaks (bifstek) are typically 80 to 100 kunas, normally served with chips and perhaps a little greenery. Vegetable and salad side dishes are between 10 and 20 kunas. All sounds very reasonable so far? Watch out for fish! The mark up on fish is out of proportion to everything else in many places. It’s usually priced by the kilo, with a good sized sea bream (orada) or sea bass weighing about half a kilo, and can be anything from 250 to 350 kunas a kilo for a class I fish. Class I is supposed to mean that it has been fished locally on the same day, the alternative being frozen or farmed fish. However interpretations do tend to vary in some restaurants.

The choice of deserts is normally limited to pancakes or ice cream – about 20 to 50 kunas depending on how exotic your choice is.

Other drinks – the local brandy or firewater comes in various guises depending on what it’s made from – travarica, ohorovac (walnuts), etc – and costs about 10 kunas a shot. A coffee will be a little less.

6. Drinking
Expect to pay 10 kunas for a half pint in most places. Split Airport charges roughly double on all drinks, Hvar town seems to have a general cost of living 50% more expensive than anywhere else.

7. Petrol
Around 7.6 kunas a litre for normal unleaded

8. Shopping
The bread is lovely and very cheap – you can get half loaves if it’s a standard white or brown baton type loaf. Fruit and vegetables aren’t always that much cheaper than in UK but if you stick with seasonally available produce and pick your market lady wisely, you’ll pay much less. You’ll certainly notice the difference in taste. Meat is a little cheaper and fish, compared to what you’ll pay in a restaurant, is a bargain. Clothes, shoes, etc are similar in price unless you find a bargain in the market. Furniture and white goods are good value.

9. Entertainment
Most of the entertainment during the summer festivals is free. There’s not an awful lot else around to spend your money on in this respect. The price of excursions, boat trips, etc, unless organised by major travel agents, can sometimes be down to your negotiating skills.

10. Taxis
A bit of a tourist trap and similar prices to England so ask for the price first.

11. Hiring a Car
Not a lot of difference in prices compared with England

12. Getting a Hair Cut
A bargain unless you’re a dog! I still pay 70 kunas for what I think is a great cut, wash and blow dry throne in. I suspect I’m on local prices and tourists may pay just that little bit more. See our earlier postings, direct links as below:
Croatia Online - Getting A Hair Cut
Croatia Online - A Dog's Life in Croatia

13. Cigarettes
Possibly politically and socially incorrect to mention this, given the recent smoking ban in the UK, but cigarettes are around 15 kunas a packet.

Finally, just to put this all in perspective, an article in this week’s Slobodna Dalmacia, a national daily newspaper, reports that the Croatian cost of living is 89% of the European average - lower than Switzerland and Denmark, both at 142%, but higher than Holland at 88%. Slovenia was 87%, Montenegro 74% and Bulgaria 56%. England did not feature in the article.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jane: I spent much of March and April 2007 in Croatia in Dubrovnik, Hvar and Korcula. I never saw anyone tip, local or tourist unless you were in a hotel restaruant. The norm is to leave the change, as you mentioned. First I've heard of this 10% rule, but maybe that's because Dubrovnik is as expensive as where I live in the States. The tap water is fine. Beers were closer to 20 or 25 kuna a pint whether local or imported. At this time of year, fish is likely to be frozen no matter what they tell you. The Croatian fishery is being overharvested by the Italians and in order to feed the hordes of tourist in summer they must resort to freezing the catch from the winter. Other than that you're on. The US Dollar to Kuna value is about 5 Huna to the dollar and has dropped since April. The US dollar is tanking against the Euro so it costs Americans more to travel. I love Croatia but it is definitely the "bargain basement" cost wise that many people tout. At least from an American perspective of someone who never stays in a hotel and only stays in private acomodation. I figure it's $100 US per day for a very modest vacation, no frills. That isn't cheap in my view. Meals and lodging will take most of your cash flow. But it's a great country and much varied from coastal to inland and north to south.

12:34 am  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Many thanks for the comment - great to have some insight from a representative of the growing number of US visitors. I agree with nearly all of it. Dubrovnik, Hvar and, to a lesser extent, Korcula, have to be the most "discovered" and therefore expensive parts of Croatia. I hadn't realised they had got quite that expensive, especially out of the high season. Just to be clear on beer measurement - 1/3 of a litre is very roughly half a pint and 1/2 a litre is around a pint. In the Split area 1/3 of a pint costs about 10 kunas. You're right on the tipping as far as locals go and many tourists. The owners and waiters in our regular haunts frequently try and make up for our ongoing generosity by providing coffees and brandies on the house so we feel it works out ok in the end. The "country advice" is 10% and the Brits tend to follow this which makes them (most of the time!)very popular visitors. No, it's not bargain basement anymore in some places, and Croatia is at something of a crossroads at the moment. It hasn't quite got the infrastructure in place to attract the volumes of 5 star visitors it would like, and the risk is that it will no longer meet the expectations of the value for money travellers that have stood by it for so many years. Interesting times and i wouldn't like to predict what next year's cost of living update will be reporting!

4:31 am  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

And just to be even clearer...when I said a third of a pint costs around 10 kunas in the Split area, please read 1/3 of a litre. Old habits/imperial measurements die hard!

4:34 am  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Readers, please note that we have posted an update to this article on the cost of living in June 2009. In fact prices remain relatively unchanged though the current kuna exchange rate against the pound makes Croatia considerably more expensive for Brits. However that's the case for most European destinations that Brits travel to at the moment!

1:42 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

in july and august a kilo of grapes cost 45-55 kunas - that's more than $10 a kilo - 2.4 kilo to the pound...this was on the island of krk - food was very expensive - and one learns to definitely not eat fish which is costly unless you've caught it yourself (we have a boat)...

12:29 am  
Blogger Kristína said...

I've been to Croatia 8 times.
It's simply great :)
but everything has become more expensive there

5:11 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home