Episode #
015

Going Remotely in Croatia with Dora Zane

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Episode Summary

Have you ever been to a place where you just don’t know anybody and don’t have any idea what to do there? And you went there just because the name sounds exotic enough? Well, Dora Zane and her team in Going Remotely might just have what you need. They help people in navigating Croatia like getting bang-for-the-buck accommodation and helping people find the right environment for them. She was born and raised in Zagreb and spent some time in Amsterdam but went back to her home country to pursue her passion for helping people.

Dora joins our The New Nomad hosts, Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in regaling the audience with the amazing description of places in Croatia, the tourist spots, and the ones only locals would know. Our three nomads also gave tips on what to do in Croatia and shared their experiences (don’t you know that the weather is just perfect in this country even in winter that you can still enjoy a day at the beach?). It’s a country to cross on your bucket list, and maybe, you might want to stay there for a while longer and this is an episode you don’t want to miss.


What You'll Learn

  • Croatia: living the digital nomad dream
  • Tips on finding accommodation in Croatia
  • Places where nomads frequent

Timestamps

[2:43] Pet insurance for our furry travel buddies

[5:26] Croatia: living the digital nomad dream

[8:09] The birth of GoingRemotely.com

[15:33] Why you won’t find $250/month accommodation in Croatia

[18:51] The picturesque towns of Croatia

[25:02] Places frequented by Digital Nomads

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. We have a really interesting guest today, Dora Zane, co-founder of Going Remotely will join us. We'll have a lot of freewheeling conversation and really discuss one of my favourite countries, Croatia, where I had an amazing experience. And for anyone who has not been there, I highly suggest a trip there. But before we get to that, I want to introduce my co-host, Andrew Jernigan, who himself has been a new nomad. Andrew, how you doing today? And what is on your mind?Andrew  

Andrew

Ah, what is on my mind this morning? Hi, there, everyone. I have a new puppy. So that is what the latest thing that's on my mind and living this lifestyle. Getting animals really puts an interesting dynamic into this. I know Allen, you're a pet lover too, right?


Allen  

Yes, very much. I got two dogs. Yes.


Andrew  

Okay. So now this is my second dog. Two weeks ago, I picked up my dog from the JFK Airport in New York City first, first time to go to that airport in a long time. And, you know, our cat has flown from California to Panama to Brazil and back, you know, to back to the US and different places. Our dog is spent the night in Frankfurt on its way on international trip before. So I know you're, you lead innovation in in your area Allen so so what's your thought about the animals and and the whole nomadic lifestyle?


Allen  

Well, you know, just a couple things is, you know, for the the Nomad audience out there, the remote worker audience out there, sometimes the closest person place or thing to you is your pet. We've even interviewed a gentleman drives around the United States in a bus and it's his dog that that's with him. So we know how important that is. But from the pet protection, you know, perspective, we've had cases where people you know, need to be evacuated for medical or security. And we need to make sure their pets come with them, because you aren't going to leave a bad situation and leave your pet behind. Really looking closely at building something like a vet helpline. So somebody who's a remote worker may have a question, and they just cannot get to a vet. It wouldn't be great to reach out to somebody and almost like telemedicine for dogs and cats, etc. 


And then I think even further down the line, there are some products that that people like that is in the pet insurance area where you pay, like a monthly stipend. It's for lack of a better term it's health care for dogs and cats. But I think this is going to be a bigger issue. Yes, as pets become much more important to your family. I mean, they are family members, right? 


Andrew  

They are.


Allen  

You don't want to leave them behind. So interesting topic for us to delve into. For those who listen to this podcast. If you have questions at some juncture, I'd love to hear but I do think somewhere down the line. At least having a vet helpline would be helpful for people who are remote and may not have the best help out there.


Andrew  

We're gonna shift gears here I know very soon and bring out a great guest who has lived this cross border lifestyle and is passionate and an advocate for it. And I think she's even spent time in a in a city where I've I did a house setting where they had a pet. So I'm looking forward to that to have you brought in today for the episode Allen


Allen  

Dora Zane will join us from going remotely door please, please join us and where are you at today and and tell us about some of your travels.


Dora  

Hello everyone. At the moment. I'm actually in Zagreb, Croatia. But I have to say that the past year I'm traveling between countries between the Netherlands, Amsterdam I think Andrew you have been there. And between friends I actually South of France for those because my partner is from there. So we are working from everywhere. And yeah, we really accepted this digital nomad lifestyle, I have to say.


Allen  

I know you're really passionate about people coming to work and experience Croatia and admittedly just before COVID it was it was really my last global trip before things really shut down. I was amazed at how beautiful the country was, the beaches, the people were wonderful. We're also seeing that things like digital nomad visas and Andrew and I've also you know, run into some people that have decided to go there. Tell us a little bit about working and experiencing Croatia from a digital nomad environment. And what might get people excited about coming there other than one For people great food, great weather, the beaches, which should be enough


Dora  

noted. Yeah, without doing it know exactly. Well, we started I mean, the movement basically started because actually one Dutch guy living in Croatia started the story. His name is Yonda Young. And he wrote an open letter, a letter on his LinkedIn profile to our Prime Minister, about why we don't introduce digital nomad visa, it's COVID people in North countries and Western Europe got quite depressed. Maybe we should, like start a new branch of tourism, but because Croatia is highly dependent on tourism. Surprisingly or not, I don't know, our Prime Minister accepted that and he dedicated the team to work out on the visa. And I think this year in January, the visa is officially approved. And already first visas are distributed. So why this visa is important? Well, it's important for people that are not really coming from European Union, or for people from European Union that wants to be here longer than three months. It makes like digital nomad, or remote workers stay quite easy. 


And then you can enjoy this. Mediterranean, I would say lifestyle that we have here, which consists from, I would say quite some working but also a very comfortable lifestyle. Like people here really like to hang out. Almost everyday, you can find like a very interesting events even in like the smaller cities, not only the capital, and let's not forget that Croatia is like in the population, quite small country, like we have around 4 million people. So they're not like many huge, huge cities. Like, I don't know, New York, for instance, we don't have that. And and yeah, indeed, we believe like when we started going remotely, we started that because personally, I lived in Amsterdam, my business partners, two business partner live in Amsterdam and the fourth one lived in Germany. And we're all like, our background is actually crazy. And so we were like, Okay, what we're gonna do this summer. And then we said, oh, let's work from Croatia. And people were like, oh, but the internet? Or Aren't you worried how we're going to work? And I mean, we're from here. So we know that everything functions normal, the same as I don't know, in the middle of Vietnam. Yeah, we're in middle of Amsterdam. But for many people, that was like a big question mark. Then we start to get a lot of inquiries from friends. Because they were sharing pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and so on. And we're like, okay, there's like, a decent amount of questions like maybe we should just like a write a list or where to look for long term, or extra midterm accommodation, which places are more interesting, where cool co-working spaces, which cafes, you should visit with, who you should connect, and so on.


 And then I think, around first of August, the four of us decided to meet in the city of Split, that's on the Adriatic coast. And we're like, Okay, why don't we do something out of that? So let's create, like, some kind of platform that can answer all those questions. And where we can actually create a platform for booking accommodation. And yeah, all other basic questions that we're getting, and this is then four on us is working on pursuing the idea into into a business. I have to say that the so far, it's not so bad. We have we have some requests for accommodation. Also, even Lemonade wrote an article about us, then. Yeah, like a Croatian community. Most of the people are really see a positive side of this initiative. Yeah, soon we're, we will organise our first event. offline. We didn't do that yet, because of the pressure. So it's like, yeah, we also follow that like, to be compliant with the governmental rules. Yeah, and that's it In short, like, I mean, everybody that came here, we had to get the the, from France actually, the guy say like, Oh, I will come for two weeks. And we found him accommodation for two weeks. And after two weeks, he called us again, and he was like, Oh, I would like to stay for four more months and realize it's perfect. So yeah, now Okay, well, I'll be here until the end of the summer. Yeah.


Allen  

So so just it kind of in specifics and see if I got this right, because I know for listeners, they may be confused. So a digital nomad these would be I go to Croatia, I fill out some paperwork, maybe spend, say $1,000-$2,000 to say, you know what, what are some of the details on on how do you do that if you wanted to come to Croatia?


Dora  

Yeah. I mean, the easiest, depends. I mean, it's, it's like every European country, it's like super safe here. I would say that you don't have to be particularly worried about anything. But before you're coming, we recommend at least to book one week or two weeks in the city, where would you like to be before you go to your maybe mid to long term accommodation, just to see if you really like that vibe. And then when you see that that's the city where you want to be or if you see that you don't want to be you're kind of free to move. To apply for the digital visa, yeah the government basically wrote out the rules. If you follow them, it should not be a big problem like they clearly describe what do you need? And then like you, you just need like some confirmation that you have accommodation in Croatia. But you can even apply for digital nomad visa while you're already increased. You don't have to do that in advance I could we further there like some people doing that. Yeah, that I think more depends from which country are they coming? If they're coming from the States, then it's maybe a little bit more complex than if people are coming from Europe then it's quite smooth.


Andrew  

Yeah, it's, it's interesting. I know. There's the ziggurat digital nomad week, coming up in June. That is really drawing some publicity there to what's happening in the region. And it's, it gets motivating to me, because I didn't have it on my radar to visit before. And now Yeah, I want to go I want to spend time there. And, and when I go, I generally do go for what I kind of call a vision trip first. And then I generally am a slow mad that I don't go mad. It's that vision trip. That's maybe two or three weeks long. So determine do I want to invest a good nine months to a year and a half in this location. Because life needs stability. We can't be jumping from one place to the next to the next and the next and really be effective in what we're doing. It takes too much of a toll on our minds and our bodies. 


So if we're really caring for ourselves, you have to have a base. And I like what you what you said right there, Dora about how that you know, try play stay in a place move to another because where you stay is so crucial to acclimating to the place. So knowing Is this the type neighborhood I want to stay in, and you're not gonna be able to know that from from online, you're not going to be able to know it after two nights there. So switching and saying okay, I'm not giving up on this location, but I'm going to change to a different area of town and put a different lens on my glasses, so I can see the city differently. And when you've done that across, you know from from different places and now your your company is actually doing this right with helping people work remotely. Whether they're coming from another country, another region within within Croatia coming in saying okay, where should I stay? This this new Nomad, whether it's long term expat, the immigrant, the freelance worker, you know, kind of just working from their computer that's digital nomad that is ready to work from home, or free to work wherever they choose. What are the top things you would suggest when looking for a place to stay? In, particularly within Croatia?


Dora  

Yeah, I will just refer to something that you said. So yeah, indeed, we also see the difference between our guests. So yeah, indeed, we have digital nomads. I will call the day a little bit more experienced, the people already have probably been somewhere and they work full of remote. And then indeed, most of our guests like actually our remote workers, which means that they discovered this movement recently, probably with COVID, maybe a year or even before and they got bored by working all the time alone from their home country and they are now ready to explore something new. And so yeah, type of accommodation. That's what we see. It also depends on the stage where they are like it also depends if they're a couple if they're single. We even have remote workers and digital nomads with families. So then they're looking for something bigger at the place of the state really depends from person to person. In the winter, we saw that it was more requests towards like a bigger cities like for instance, Zagreb or Split even Ravine little bit. And now in the summer, everybody wants to be close to the beach so they can during the off times jugs hop on the ferry and move to the island close by and enjoy time over there. 


Our big suggestion is also to say digital nomads, that Croatia is a European country. And then most of the prices are really European, not European in the sense of maybe Amsterdam or Paris. But I will say more like Germany, which is like not the cheapest volume. We had a few requests for people that really thought that they can find accommodation in the middle of Split for I don't know, $250 per month. And I mean, that's ridiculous. Like that's literally impossible. Impossible, impossible to find. Then we first tried to educate them, we are explaining them that we don't know even any local that lives, that it's impossible, like it's just impossible. And then Okay, some people maybe will not then choose Croatia as their destination. Also, what do we see if, if they are really planning to stay somewhere, then we say okay, if you're single, probably longer than a month, if you're saying two or three months, then landlords are willing to give you a little bit lower price. 


So just try to think before you book it, so you get basically all the benefits that we are promoting. And then yeah, well, while you're here, try to enjoy in a local community, try to maybe participate on some events. It really depends what people like in Croatia, the nature is almost like it's all around like it's, you take a car like from the centre of Zagreb and you have a mountain on maybe seven minutes from this really centre of the city, in the seaside, everything is even closer. So. So that's that's a great, great benefit, like in the weekends, you can go to the seaside if you are in the Capitol or opposite you can go to the Capitol, from the seaside. Yeah, like I believe that there is something for everyone.


Allen  

I mean, there was there was two things when I visited that really stood out first off from an infrastructure perspective, I had Wi Fi everywhere, which was great. So I if I was a digital worker, I could I could certainly, you know, hook up, you know, provided I have my, you know, protective cyber protection on my computer. The other thing is, obviously Dubrovnik is gotten very popular for tourist destination because of all the TV shows that have been filmed there. And it seemed like when I was visiting, quite a few people were really enjoying the city walls, the tours where they do the TV shows, etc. and I could see where a country like Kuwait, Croatia would have been really hurt badly during the pandemic because it seemed like you had reached a new high as far as tourist destination and when people visit as tourists a lot of times they decide to stay. Could could you comment a little bit about how things are doing in Croatia now. You know, you have the feeling that things will be opening up soon. I know it ties into a lot of things but i'd love your your vision on that.


Dora  

Yeah, I'm in here everything is already open more or less and not like big clubs are open, especially not indoor cafes are working but only terraces and restaurants are also working. I think everything is open till 10 in the night, so you cannot really do a big party. But home parties are not forbidden. So that's good. Yeah, I understand like what you said about Dubrovnik, yeah, I think they are definitely the most codependent regional tourism and yeah, that last year they definitely had like the biggest issue because the list or scam also they are on the south of the country. So it's not really a car destination for maybe Slovenia, Austria, or other European countries, while northern parts of the country like for instance, Easter is still really a car destination. It's like seven hours difference. 


And so yeah, they definitely also recognize the digital nomad initiative. They, I think we have like one month ago or it's currently also has still happening, they organised the Digital Nomad competition for digital nomads that are willing to come to Dubrovnik and spend one month, basically there. And yeah, just to tell them basically, I think it's a little bit like a test project. We're not unfortunately, we're not involved into this project. But what I read, it seems like it's well, but the test project to see what the maybe digital nomads might need, so the city can adjust and basically provide them if there is something like that. on our platform going remotely, we also have some flights from Dubrovnik and all the landlords that we talk, we're very, very, very happy about our initiative. Some of them already had experiences with digital nomads. They say that, yeah, people are like, for instance, when they come in January, they cannot believe that they're in Europe, and there is like 20 degrees, and they're sitting on the sea side and having like, I don't know, a coffee or a beer, depending on the presence. So yeah, for now. Yeah, they they adjusted, I believe that in the future, they will also have more this, let's call them a more sustainable tourist as well. Because what you described by walking in the crowded walls, yeah, it's not probably the most beautiful experience that you want to have.


Andrew  

That is so beautiful, to hear the descriptions, the sound to go and have such a, you know, winter, on the, on the seaside, where you're not freezing, you know, it's a weather where you can enjoy a fire but not be frigidly cold. You know, and you know, with this changing dynamic with people shopping the world now, where they want to work, where we're talking about locations that have never been in their Google Search before. You know, they've they've never thought about, you know, travelling to some of these places that they're now hearing and saying, oh, wow, okay. We could go to Split. Where is where is that? You know,


Dora  

it's even funnier if I might add, we got the guest. So he also had like, a little bit limited budget. And then he asked a first price, and I said, Okay, you know, if it's January or February, probably for this price, we'll be really able to find you something. But now, I really cannot promise you anything. But are you open for some like little bit? Yeah, like surroundings of Split like. And then he was like, Oh, yeah, of course, I would like to go to Stobrec, and Stobrec is really like, in the front of the sea. I was like, very, it was so funny how he wrote that name and how someone told him and indeed, they are getting familiar, like the local, local community. Indeed.


Allen  

It's funny, you bring that up, because it's a lot like, you know, I'm here in the Philadelphia area, it's um, you say, like, you know, I think, because they don't just don't understand distance, or how, you know, we're over mountains. Sometimes it's hard to get somewhere, whatever it be like, Yeah, I'd like to, I'd like to go to Miami today, like, Well, let me get a flight. I mean, one thing about, you know, Croatia that I understood is, even though geographically, it's not the largest country, it's not like you can just show up in one city, and then get that you can. It's a long ride sometimes. But it's a beautiful ride. And I think it's interesting, as you mentioned, different places. I mean, most Americans know Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, and maybe a couple of other spots. And beyond that they don't know that much. But you mentioned that people get more into the countryside, or there's so somebody who's listening to this podcast, if I was going to Croatia, I'd want to reach out to you and say, What small town would be marvellous for me and you would be able to help correct it. And there probably are a lot of those little, a lot of little treasures out there. Do you have a couple of the top of your mind that if people were to research Yeah.


Dora  

Yeah. So first about the distance. Yeah, Croatia is like for instance, Netherlands. It's a little bit smaller than Croatia, but they're also rounded country and Croatia. for everyone. It has like little bit of weird shapes. So indeed, Dubrovnik is like really on the south but thanks God, even in the winter, there's like I think three times a day of play. So and the tickets are required the well priced because government is important. So that's not that's not that's not the issue, but regarding small cities. Yeah, indeed, Easter. Easter is a region on the let's say, west part of the country and more towards Italy and Slovenia. And over there, there's like plenty of small, beautiful towns. 


I think my favourite and it seems digital nomads also discovered that fine, it's called Rovinj. And over there, yeah, also some people maybe don't even want to be in that, that city, the town they maybe want to be in even smaller villages like Buje or Groznjan or Motovun is also very popular. So it really depends like some we've had even some digital nomads that are renting like a house, let's call it in the middle of the nowhere, like, it's it's just a nature. They have like a swimming pool. And I don't know, the family decides to spend their life and 3-4 months. Because they don't want to be in touch with COVID. They don't want to maybe they just want to have their own time I can they just go to the supermarket. And if something is happening, they might go visit that. But in general, they live like that. And then I mean, it really depends in which region of Croatia, you are, but during all year, the city that it's very interesting, it's called Šibenik, in Šibenik, there is also a very good incubation programme and yeah, help centre for startups. So that's definitely something that we're recommending for people that want to be part of the community. And the same goes for Zadar, which is also on the coastline. And in the main line from the cities like I will definitely recommend or seek it's not a very big city, but also quite vibrant with a great entrepreneurial ecosystem with a great universities. So lots of things are going on over there. Yeah.


Allen  

So as we cover that, but they will go broader based as we talk. So you've obviously travelled and experienced many things. Can you share with our audience? And this is a question we ask all the folks on the podcast, we get a lot of different answers. And you're not just limited to one, but could you share what you might feel is a overlooked person, place or experience that you would share with others that that maybe our listeners can discover and by the way, you already did a great job because you just shared a few undiscovered places for most of our listeners. But you know, it may be something beyond that.


Dora  

As well in Croatia, I will recommend definitely islands. Try to be there even in the winter time. Don't go there only in the summer, because for instance, October November, you can have all of harvesting, which is like super interesting in the winter, big fish things are happening and so on. So yeah, there is always something interesting on the island to surf but I will definitely recommend the island, [inaudible] actually. Because, yeah, they're a little bit bigger. So you don't feel completely isolated, but you feel enough insulated to actually enjoy everything with nature can give you. And in the world, I don't know I've really visited lots of interesting places, have many, many great memories from very, very different trips. But yeah, in Europe, I'm definitely the most attached to Italy and France. And I have to say the Netherlands, of course, Amsterdam is my second home. So it will not be fair if I didn't mention them, even though in Amsterdam, like, Yeah, sometimes the weather can really kill you. Like it can rain for days and days that it doesn't stop. But yeah, like the community over there is great. And you can have also fun.


Andrew  

You've taken me back some of those places.


Dora  

Yeah. You're going to get wet while you lived in Amsterdam. Yeah.


Andrew  

Yeah, some of these mental trips we can take as we live vicariously through other people's journeys. And it takes us down the memory lane of, of travels as well. So Dora is as we close up this this month, wonderful dialogue, tell us where people can find you. They're probably listening and ready to go to their to their phones and type it in and say okay, I want to check out the accommodations that their platform supplies, etc. It's going to be in the show notes as well. And I'll provide the links for that soon. But tell us more. Where can we find you on your social, etc.


Dora  

Well, we have definitely a website. It's a platform where you can already directly book accommodation. The website is GoingRemotely.com. Allen was struggling and you can also find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. You can always contact us personally if you have some personal questions like not only me but my other team members Jana, Annamaria and Petar which we can all help you with basically everything. And yeah, the way I was, yeah, whatever, whatever you have like, also, if you have any kind of suggestion for us that you don't like on our website that you don't like that you would like that we write maybe something more or anything. We're really open for a suggestion since Yeah, we're just a start up.


Allen  

Well, fantastic. And I do highly endorse a trip to Croatia and I will be coming back once we are allowed to travel a bit more of the United States. And I certainly will be going to GoingRemotely.com. Dora, thank you so much. Today, I learned a lot I frankly, I wish I had spoken to you before I went to Croatia about 19 months ago. But we'll be back on things. So thank you again. 


Dora  

Hope to meet you in person. Yeah, 


Allen  

yes, I that's that's the most important the most fun thing about travelling and I think Andrew summed it up. I do like a slow trip where you actually experience a location and you talk to people and you can go have a cup of coffee and spend some time. And that was something that I really appreciated about Croatia. So it was fantastic. So Andrew, great dialogue today. as we as we ride up, we always love to talk about what we learned today. I learned a lot and certainly you know we've we've had a lot of people question different countries to us, Croatia comes up quite frequently. I think it's a place for people to explore and, and to have somebody like Dora and her team helping make it easier for folks should make it a it's something that's on the top of people's locations.


Andrew  

It is and it's you know, its people are looking at Instagram accounts. They're looking at people's Facebook feeds, they're attending the virtual summit hearing, hearing different people speak representing countries. I think it's so vital that we think outside of the box and realise that their experience may not be ideal for you. What they've passed through will not be the same way you do it. And so this has been really good to just open our eyes a little bit more into ways of thinking and preparing or going growing cross border in different ways. Thank you.


Allen  

Well, thank you for joining us today the new Nomad podcast. As you know, it's not just the podcast, it's a community of people, places ideas, spirits, helping you take advantage of that location independent lifestyle. Please keep traveling. Please keep listening. Please subscribe to The New Nomad podcast and leave a great review. If you enjoyed the discussions. It helps others in this community find us. Thank you and have a great day a great week and great travels ahead.


Going Remotely in Croatia with Dora Zane

About the Guest

Dora Zane

Dora Zane was born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia who has done a lot of traveling too. She lives in the middle of Croatia, Amsterdam, and the South of France. She co-founded GoingRemotely.com and along with her team, they help people, especially remote workers in their logistics, accommodation, visa, etc. Their mission is to make finding affordable accommodation in Croatia easy no matter which town you want to go to. She is also a start-up mentor for IdeaHackers, a company that unites 450 professionals that brings the right people at the right time for your projects, programs, or challenges.