Expat life: awesome things about living in Istria

Being an expat in a foreign country can be pretty challenging at times. And certainly not everything is roses and unicorns. I’ll not lie to you, there are days when I just want to pick up my things and head back home. However, today is not one of those days.

Living in Istria Croatia | Croatia Travel Guide
Living in Istria Croatia | Croatia Travel Guide

So here is the list of things I love about living in Istria.

Travel works best when you’re forced to come to terms with the place you’re in. – Paul Theroux

What I love about living in Istria

#1: In a town where the parking costs 1 euro per hour, as residents we pay it 20 euros for the whole year. Pretty cool!

Things I love about living in Istria
Can you spot the Alps in the back?

#2: On a clear day when the north wind (Bura) blows, you can actually see the Alps from Istria. The first time I’ve seen them, I was sure they were clouds. It’s freaking awesome!

#3: From May to October, we have a picnic by the beach every day. Hammock, beach chairs, and lots of delicious food.

Things I love about living in Istria: Picnic by the beach
Things I love about living in Istria: Picnic by the beach

#4: Even with 9-5 schedule, living in a small seaside town gives us a plenty time to enjoy the beach every day after the work.

#5: My office has an amazing sea view.

#6: People actually pay big money to spend a week at OUR beach. This always reminds us to be grateful.

#7: We can visit three countries within an hour drive: Croatia, Italy and Slovenia.

#8: Living so close to Italy gives us an opportunity to get the best quality dried tomatoes for a fraction of the price. This is like really important for us. The same goes for burrata, coffee, cima di rapa, and artichokes.

Things I love about living in Istria: after work beach
Living in Istria: Beach time

#9: Anytime we feel, we can just hop in the car and enjoy an aperitif in Italy.

#10: Truffles, squids, crabs, sole fish, tenderloin in winter. Wild asparagus in spring. Wild mushrooms in fall. Food is so delicious, local and seasonal in Istria.

#11: Malvasia, a local white wine is so tasty, and it helps me see my life here through the pink glasses. For as little as 2-6 euros per liter. Wine aficionados will understand it.

Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water. – W. C. Fields

#12: From our house, we can cycle many kilometers through the fields, vineyards and by the beach. Without ever going on the main road.

#13: We have some pretty interesting wine and dine events in Istria throughout the year: Wine fair, Open cellar day, Open taverns day, Young olive oil fair, Truffle fair, Prosciutto fair, etc. And, yes we attend each of them. It’s like a Disneyland for foodies.

#14: Istrian olive oil is seriously one of the best I’ve tasted in my life. And I don’t traveler anywhere without my olive oil (and my rubber boots; but that’s like a whole other story!).

#15: We can eat at the restaurant a 7-course meal for 50 euros per person. Seems like a good deal to me.

What do you like the most of the place you call home? Share your favorite things about home in the comments below.


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56 thoughts on “Expat life: awesome things about living in Istria”

  1. Hi Frank,
    Great post(s) … no surprise there’s considerable motivation to spend our retirement well away from Brexit Britain, or indeed Germany. We’re planning to visit Istria for the second time this September – maybe we can connect for a coffee and chat.

  2. Hello Karen,
    thanks for reaching out to us. Not sure if there is an Italian immersion course in Istria. You might try to contact Pucko Otvoreno Uciliste in Porec, and inquire further. Their email is obrazovanje@poup.hr. Hope this helps. If you decide to come to Istria, do get in touch.

  3. Hello, Frank. I heard about you from Tony (from IstriaGourmet.com) when I met him today at the Croatian Embassy here in Washington, DC. I am passionate about studying the Italian language but I really enjoyed the brief time I spent in Croatia on business a few years ago. I would like to continue my (intermediate level) study of Italian language; but, instead of studying Italian conversation in Italy, I am toying with idea of studying Italian a month or two in Croatia, specifically in Istria. Tony told me that there were Italian conversation classes in Istria but I have not been able to find such schools there. Admittedly, as an old lady, my Google skills are not that great. Can you perhaps advise which schools in Istria offer Italian instruction for adults? Thank you in advance.

  4. Hi Frank
    We really like your blog. We’d be interested to meet up for a chat sometime to compare notes. We have a house and apartment in Novigrad – have been going there every year for 10 years now. We also called Vancouver home for a few years, and California too. We live in Scotland now, but will be back in lovely Croatia in a few weeks. It would be great to have a coffee in Porec – we’ll be coming there to see our accountant. Hope you can meet my wife & I.

  5. Hi, Loved the pictures. My husband and I are on sabbatical next year and want to spend January to May in Istria in an area where I might get to practice my Italian. He needs good internet and I need to be in the center of a town where I can walk to everything. We also think that Croatia may be more affordable than Slovenia. Any suggestions for towns with some Italian speakers, great internet and good walkability? Also, any suggestions how I can find an apt for 3-5 months fully furnished? I have been looking on Airbnb and VRBO but they are daily rates and quite expensive. We are visiting from Fairbanks, Alaska. Thanks!

  6. Hey Ian, great to hear that you are moving here. It’s a great place to live. Winter is pretty snow-less, although lots of rain, and we get some morning frost inland. Please contact me through e-mail – info(at)frankaboutcroatia.com and I might help with rental and to connect you to good real estate agency (we’ve bought one house, and two apartments, and sold a house since we are her. so I have some experience in the field, and I’ll be happy to help with an advice).

  7. Frank: We’re moving to Istria next year and coming over for a visit this September to look for a place to rent for about a year, while we look for a place to buy. We would prefer a place with a couple of acres (we love horses), maybe a small farm.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    PS: What’s the snow like in the winter?

  8. Great town that has it all IMO is Split. It’s the largest town in Dalmatia, and the second largest in Croatia. Has lots of bars, cafes, restaurants, beaches, and a good vibe. It’s also a good base to visit Trogir, islands Brac, Hvar, Vis, Krka Waterfalls, etc. May is still sleepy in Croatia, so better hit the bigger town than the small one. Another good option can be Rovinj in Istria.

  9. Frank, coming to Croatia in May. Want to look for a great town near and overlooking the coast that has it all. What towns or areas do you recommend?

    Thank you………Greg

  10. I live in Enkhuizen in the Netherlands, very old city with lots of history, oldest house in my street is from 1616, i live in the middle of the old town and love the fact that i can walk to everything i need, Enkhuizen was one of the birth places of the VOC east indisch company, trading herbs and slaves and everything they could trade so it was very very rich back in the day. full of old buildings, monuments and musea.
    i like to relax, say goodmorning to everyone you see on the street etc. what i dont like is the weather and the water temperature. i love traveling and have been many places around the planet, i create dream, make plans and live them. done Tuscany Italy on a 1953 lambretta scooter, Did australia in a landcruiser, i own a 1969 plymouth in LA, oh and i love croatia, love the possip wine, the open friendly people that go out of there way to make you feel at home. the weather, the water, perfect for cruising and wakeboarding, been to Trogir 2 times, dubrovnic, and this year going to Rovinj. nect year its back to Long beach LA, one day i will live in LA, next dream!
    Hope you all dream and make it happen.

  11. Between you and Sarah-Jane posting such great things about Croatia all the time, I’ve decided I don’t want to visit anymore, I just want to be an expat there too :) I’m very jealous that you can go to 3 countries in an hour and one of them is Italy. Love that top picture! I live in San Diego and its easy to take the great weather and beach for granted and forget that people spends a lot of money to visit “home”. Great post!

  12. You keep posting stuff like this and I just might be your new next door neighbor :) Gahh Croatia is beautiful!

  13. Thanks, Caitlyn! It’s so true about Europe. Almost anywhere you live, you can visit few other countries within few hours drive.

  14. Thanks, Istria Outside My Window! Good point for the Alps. They are definitely more impressive (and easier to spot from Istria) during the winter, ’cause they are covered in snow. Hahaha, yes, we’ll happily share with you our spot to get sun-dried tomatoes and cima di rapa. Can you believe that asparagus have already started – this is the earliest ever. This winter was definitely a strange one.

  15. Thanks for stopping by, Kerry! I might know somebody interested in a home exchange. Please send me an e-mail, I’ll be happy to share that info with you. If you also need any information on Croatia, let us know. Hope to meet you in 2015 :)

  16. Thanks, Ashley! We have like a range of hammocks, one person, two person hammocks, then netted one, fabric one, you name it, we have it. We are two hammock-obsessed individuals :)

  17. Hahaha, like your associations of being a British expat in Greece. You made me laugh. Small things, like enjoying the view of the Acropolis when walking to work, make life beautiful.

  18. Thanks, Sylvia! It’s true, the lists like this can keep us sane from time to time when we feel down. I really enjoy the sea, and love the fact to be able to live by the sea.

  19. Hi Jackie, great news! Please, let us know if you have any questions. Also, if you feel, let us know once that you are in Istria, and we can have a drink together.

  20. Lol, Ana Lynn! Nothing wrong with burek! How not to love a home town that has a good burek s mesom :). I would love to have my morning coffee and watch the does and deer. We do see them sometimes, crossing the road (and when that happens, it’s never a fun moment, as it includes lots of breaking :-)

  21. Thanks, Trish! Oh, I prefer living in a smaller town (I guess the older we get, ….). Everything is convenient, within a walking distance. And whenever we feel we just go for a day trips (sometimes weekend) to the big towns around us.

  22. Oh my goodness, you live in such an amazing place! And that picnic is making me hungry :)

    We live in a small town in Minnesota, which I really like. It’s got enough amenities to keep me from going crazy, but is still small enough that it doesn’t feel too busy or crowded.

  23. Okay, now even though I also live in Croatia,, not even I do picnics! I must pick up my expat game. Great post Frank.

  24. The picnics, the gorgeous view of the Alps, proximity to Italy and so much more … you guys are having a blast!

  25. Favorite thing about where I live? The fact that I wake up in the morning, go out to the balcony to have my morning coffee and watch the does and deers grazing on the grass right next to my backyard. If you ask my husband he is going to say burek s mesom.

  26. Hi Frank! LOVE this post.

    We’re planning on Istria this July. No formal plans yet, so I am scouting out hidden gems in the region.

    Thanks for the post!

  27. Oh wow… How I would love to have an office with a sea view, or at least live by the sea! Lots of times I go crazy living outside my country, but then I sit down and force myself to think about all the amazing things I have around me… I should definitely make a list like yours to look at whenever I feel down!

  28. Yes! I am an expat in Greece and I know what you mean. I don’t like referring to myself as an expat as it conjures up images of British getting sunburnt, drunk at ten A.M and eating fish and chips.
    But I love living in a foreign country – and love feeling ‘foreign’ too. I don’t think I can ever get enough of walking to work, looking up at the Acropolis.

    Thanks for sharing

  29. I think the months of beach picnics would make the move worthwhile all by themselves! Well, that and the affordable local wine.

  30. Wow, this sounds wonderful. That picnic looks amazing…and every day?! That hammock also looks amazing. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

  31. Just love it: the sea view, the food (that picknick!!!!!!!), the restaurants… just dreaming of it. Nice post, now we’re jealous! :)

  32. Hi Frank, timely post for me. I have been dying to visit Croatia & Slovenia for a while now. I just watched an International House Hunters ( I love that show!) on Korcula and it looked so beautiful that I made up my mind. I must add this area to my next trip abroad in the summer of 2015. We already have decided that my family will travel to Germany for several weeks and I’ve decided to add Croatia and Slovenia for a 2 – 3 weeks as well. I do plan to find a great home exchange in Germany and in Croatia for a good deal of this 4 – 5 week trip. If you know anyone in Croatia who would be interested in a home exchange in New Jersey (one hour from NYC and twenty minutes from the NJ shore) please introduce me to them! I will definitely be following you more closely and will probably have lots of questions in the months to come.

  33. I agree with all of these (and have been writing a similar post in my head for weeks!). We can also see the alps from Gračišće and they’re especially easy to spot now because they’re completely covered in snow. You’ll have to let me know where you get your sun-dried tomatoes and cima di rapa! Can’t wait for wild asparagus time!

  34. Sounds like a perfect place! I love the luxury of going to the beach after work :) The close proximity of other countries is something I love about living in Europe as well – within a couple of hours on the train I can be in Belgium, France or Germany, I don’t think that’s bad at all :)

  35. WOW how beautiful !! My Husband has been to Croatia so many times ~ I have only been Once and I loved it But I want to go back and explore! Thank you for sharing all your expat experiences, We have bee expats for 8+ years now and 3 New Countries ~ and sometimes it is true … You just have to come to terms with where you are! Than you again! Have a super Sunday!

  36. It sounds like you live in an amazing area! I am slightly jealous of being able to pop over to Italy. I would love that!

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