Zagreb, Croatia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia 07/23/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes, Zagreb was our first post as expats.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Lived in Washington, D.C., prior to moving to Zagreb. From there, travel time (with layovers) can take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours. Unfortunately Zagreb does not have direct flights from the U.S. yet.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

A detached house in the Hills (north of the city). Luckily we live on a bus line that goes downtown, which is a 20 minute ride. The bus fare is pretty affordable, although I know some Americans do not like using the public transportation. We also use Uber a lot to get around, and other people enjoy using the Eko Taxi app.



Public transit to work would be 1.5 hours, so we drive every day. If we leave around 7:00 am, we can get to the embassy in 30 minutes. However, any later and it takes closer to 35-40 minutes. Commutes home take much longer, depending on traffic and construction.



Many houses in the hills have yards and places to park (some with garages). Since the American International School is moving out of the hills, Embassy housing is moving closer to the new location in Novi Zagreb, just south of the river. These houses would have better commutes to the embassy.



Other locations for Embassy housing include Velika Gorica (5-minute drive from the Embassy but far from the Center) and Downtown. Many people love living downtown, although in some places the noise can be a bit high.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There is pretty good availability of items, although a few we have not easily obtained are: ranch dressing, PAM cooking spray, large jars of peanut butter, beef jerky, weed spray for the yard, heartworm medicine for the dogs, and Velveeta.



Vegetables and fruits are very seasonal here, which is nice because it makes you feel like you are eating healthy. When you just crave fresh green beans and cannot get them 10 months of the year, it does get a little frustrating.



Ordering through Amazon or Walmart is good and typically takes 10 days through DPO (although it could take longer).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Since we do not have a commissary, and the nearest one is at Aviano Air Base or Vicenza Army Base, I wish anything in a spray can (PAM cooking spray) or in large jars over the shipping limit were available.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

U.S. chains here include McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and a Subway (at Arena Centar). The website Pauza.hr is amazing because it tells you delivery options based on your address. Many restaurants here are great, and prices are not bad. Groceries are cheaper than the U.S. but I would argue that restaurants are about the same.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Just ants and spiders in the house. With no screens on windows, you also have to be careful that wasps and bees do not enter the house.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO/DPO/Pouch. The mailroom in the embassy is super helpful. They can provide you boxes to ship, but you must buy your shipping online and print it before sending it; they do not sell stamps or process shipping.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is usually about 50 kuna an hour, which is about US$7.50 an hour. Many people hire house cleaners and gardeners. Those with kids hire nannies and babysitters. The problem for many is that 1) the household help may not speak much English and 2) the good help goes quickly. We have had some families struggle to find help. in our experience, it seems like some of the help does not feel comfortable working for families of color.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The embassy has a small gym available, and many employees use it. It can get a bit crowded, but people seem to find a time that works best for them.
The city also has many gym and fitness class options, although they seemed a bit expensive to me. For classes, there are some in English available (such as yoga).

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most places accept credit card, but check first. I was surprised at some of the cafes and bars that are cash only. And they do not split checks here, so have a plan for paying when going out in groups. ATMs are super safe and plentiful.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I know there are, but I have not attended them.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A post-language instructor is available for those who can. There are also affordable tutors in town, like Cro2Go. Plus, there are language schools in town.



I would say it is not necessary to speak Croatian, no, but it really helps. The times when I found it most helpful were when I was using a service. For example, not all taxi drivers speak fluently (although they speak it, just not confidently) and sometimes your request at the meat counter in a grocery store get lost in translation.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Many buildings do not have elevators, sidewalks are not always even (if they are on the street at all) and the hills would make it hard to get around.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and yes. The ZET Info app is great for looking at schedules for the buses and trams.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

The smaller the better, because many roads and parking spots are small. Be prepared for some dings or scratches. Friends who have larger cars make it work, but if you get a second car here make it compact.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Depends on where you live. If you live in a place that already has fiber installed, your internet is not too bad (but not as good as in the U.S.). However, if you are still on DSL, speeds can be miserable. The internet shares a line with phone and cable, and even without phone or cable your download speeds can be around 5 Mbps or less.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy provided SIM cards that we just pay monthly and that we will return once we leave. Plans are cheap compared to the States, although if you go over your data the throttle is brutal. Overage charges are cheap, but the speed is virtually zero.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine, and there are many vets and pet stores. There are also many great parks that are perfect for walking a dog. Be aware that many owners, though, let their dogs walk off-leash. Their pets are usually well behaved, but if yours are not, just be aware.

The city has some kennel services, but most people have friends or their dog walkers watch their pets as needed.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are currently ten positions in the Mission for AEFMs (including two EPAP jobs), but it is competitive. It seems right now most people want part-time work. The hiring freeze was rough on morale, but now that we have all of our positions full with people still wanting to work, there is still some grumbling.



A couple of spouses work remotely for their U.S. companies, and a few others freelance for clients. If one really wants to work and cannot find the above options, I found that there is ALWAYS an opportunity tutoring in English, for kids and adults. Just network a bit and you will find people willing to pay you for that service.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The International Women's Club is a great way to socialize and volunteer (it is a non-profit). The Community Liaison Office (CLO) at the embassy also has opportunities for volunteers. Other places include the Red Cross (who work with refugees), the Center for Autism, and local churches.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

For officers it is business professional. Many AEFM roles wear business casual or sometimes dressy casual (jeans and nice top). In the summer, the Ambassador typically has a summer dress code; last summer it was casual Fridays and this year it was no ties.

When out in the city, you will see people (especially women) dress up for everything, from going to the grocery store to going to the club. People are super stylish, which is why there are so many hair salons and clothing stores. Shorts and flip flips are not as common here as what you would see in the States.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Super safe. People tell you to watch your purse at the markets and when sitting outside to avoid pickpockets and beggars, but I have never had an issue. As a woman, I feel safe going home from downtown late at night on my own. Kids can explore the city and you see them using public transportation throughout the day.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Seasonal allergies for humans and dogs. Most cases of medevac are for maternity reasons.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good, although pollen can be bad at times. You get a nice manure smell at the embassy when the wind blows just right, too.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If you have food allergies, you need to be careful going to restaurants. Be clear in what you need because there is probably cross-contamination in the kitchen. The same can be said for those that are kosher or for those who do not eat pork/meat.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The winter can be long and gray. Small trips in the region help fight that off, as do attending social events at the embassy or language training at post.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

All four seasons. Cold in winter and hot in the summer.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American International School Zagreb is the post school. I do not have kids there, but I hear mostly good things. It is small, classes are small. It does not seem super diverse.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I believe so, yes. For testing, though, kids medevac to Vienna.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are preschools available in English, including at the International school. They seem be a little pricey, although not more than what you would pay in the U.S. for childcare.

The school does not have before or after school care, which is a concern for families that have both parents work. Some parents are working to change that at the school. For now, many families have a nanny that watches the children after school.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, many in Croatian, though. The school offers a limited number of activities after school, but other kids find a program in Zagreb to attend (karate, gymnastics, etc.).

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

I have nothing to compare it to, but the expat community here is active and fun. Most people seem to love their time in Zagreb, both because of Zagreb and because of its proximity to so many great places (Italy, Slovenia, Hungary).

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

International Women's Club (IWC), which is a non-profit that also offers clubs such as book club, language clubs (Croatian, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish), kids club, walking or hiking club, mahjong or bridge. They also have events such as Breakfast with Santa and an adult Christmas party.
Expat Meetup (last Thursday of the month) is networking at local bars with other fun expats. Professional Women's Network Zagreb (PWNZ) is for those wanting to make business connections and learn professional skills

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I would say this is super family-friendly. It has been fun as a couple as well, mostly because it is safe and affordable to travel and go out. For singles I hear this is a pretty quiet place to go out, but I think people of all family compositions can make this post an amazing time.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is getting better, but does not seem to be the most comfortable place to be out.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

With more than 90% of the population being Catholic, there is not a lot of diversity in the country. Like in other big cities, here you see Croats working all types of jobs, including driving the cab and working in the corner store. I do not hear of many racist incidents, but I have heard of two involving trying to hire household help and racial slurs in the international school.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling to the Croatian coast, Northern Italy, Budapest, Vienna - being able to travel around this region by car has been amazing.



We have also experienced a ton of hospitality from the Croats. Once you get to know them, they will do anything for you. They love to bring you gifts, usually fresh fruit or veggies from their garden or a baked treat.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The museums in Zagreb are cool, to include the ones like the Museum of Broken Relationships, Torture Museum and Museum of Illusions.



The only Michelin Star restaurant in Croatia is also a wonderful place to splurge. It is in Rovinj, which in of itself is worth a trip.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

When I was shopping for Christmas souvenirs, it was a little hard to find something that was explicitly Croatian. Croatian Ties are iconic. We have found some great artwork that is affordable here, but you need to visit the shops - there are not a lot of stands that sell things like that.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Affordable, safe, located in an amazing part of Europe, not as congested as other capitols, many green spaces, pet-friendly

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I would have known how much I would love it. I also wish I would have better established my work-from-home business. It is not easy starting from scratch here.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely!

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Introverted self, as there are so many ways to get involved and integrated, but you must put in a little effort to get involved. Weapons as Zagreb is pretty safe.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen - the Adriatic sun is brutal.

Car - Although many people easily (and affordably) take buses all over this region, we have loved hopping in the car and exploring this part of Europe.

Thirst - local wineries and craft breweries are amazing.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

For a bit of background on the 90s war, read, "Girl at War." For differences between American and Croatian culture read, "Chasing a Croatian Girl."

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Zagreb, Croatia 04/08/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, multiple other expat experiences mostly in North Africa and the Middle East.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. Connections via Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Heathrow. Total travel time approximately 12 hours if all goes as planned!

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have finished 22 months of a 3 year tour.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing is really spread out all over the city. There is some housing available a mile from the Embassy, which I have actually never seen (and I have been here 2 years!). It is townhomes and stand alone houses in a development. Couples and families are placed there, and seem happy to be a 5-minute drive to work, although kids have a very long hour commute to school via bus. The majority of embassy families live "in the hills," north of downtown, in large, single-family houses. Most other diplomatic and expat families also live in the hills. Commute from the hills to the embassy is 30-45 minutes. Houses are large, all with some sort of outdoor space, although size of yard varies. All have some sort of garage, but many garages are too small to fit an American size car such as an SUV or minivan. Neighborhood parking is very limited, even in the hills, and roads can be narrow and windy.

Couples, singles and a few families with older children are placed in apartments closer to downtown, and most of them seem very happy to be so near to the center of things. The current GSO seems to be making a concerted effort to group housing, as well as upgrade housing, although there is still a vast disparity in age and quality of homes. Our home is a 45-minute drive from the Embassy, but only 10 minutes from the school. It is one of the oldest in the housing pool and has had a number of electrical, internet, plumbing and water issues, things we didn't expect to find in an EUR post. The potential move of the school to the Bundek area will greatly affect where the Embassy places families to live, although the school movement is still quite up in the air. There are very few facilities staff in the Embassy, so we have found that we have to wait a relatively long time to get repairs done.

Housing square footage is large, but there is often unusable space in hallways or bathrooms. Most people have wardrobes in hallways or guest rooms to use as closets. If you want to be near other embassy families, request that in your survey. Many of us in the hills are still 25 minute drives apart, and often not on public transportation routes. A car is necessary when living in the hills, although taxis and Uber are available if you don't mind the wait.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You really can buy almost anything you want here, or order it from Amazon via the APO or pouch. There is not a huge need to stock up unless you like specific brands. Many people also make regular trips to the military bases in Italy (4 hours away) to shop at the commissary. The things I would recommend are US brand over the counter medications, both for kids and adults. There are very few 24 hour pharmacies here, and much of the medicine is not labeled in English. Common name-brands of US meds aren't available here (Tylenol, Bendryl, Sudafed)---you can find the generics under a different manufacturer and label. I regularly order breakfast cereal for our family, as local options are usually limited to corn flakes, chocolate cereal and muesli. Many people order cake mixes and icing, as well as brownie mixes. There are new little organic food stores popping up every week downtown, as well as more and more "ethnic" products too.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Surprisingly few fast food places: McDonald's, Burger King and KFC only. Lots of bistros and tiny restaurants, but not very many family friendly spaces to take kids to. Good if you want a quiet romantic dinner out, but not good if you are in need of a high chair and some noise to cover the kids! :) Great pizza available from local pizzarias, delivered. Very poor quality imitation Mexican and Chinese. We really miss good "ethnic" food options when eating out here. Costs overall are very cheap to eat out---maybe US$20-$30 for a family of 4, depending on where you go.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy APO or pouch address.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Going rate among the embassy is about US$7 an hour, which I find really reasonable. The problem is finding someone to work for you. There is high unemployment here, but many expats struggle to find someone to work regular hours for them.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The Embassy has a small gym. There are numerous city gyms with cheap fees and good equipment. None have childcare as an option, for those moms who are wondering :). When the weather is good (April-October), there are numerous paths for running, walking and cycling, depending on where you live.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Used everywhere, very safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Anglican (anglican.hr website), evangelical/non-denom, international Catholic, mormon. All very small congregations (30 people or so).

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

People will tell you that you don't need Croatian at all and that everyone speaks English. I haven't found that to be true. I was able to do 3 months of full time study at FSI, as well as 6 weeks of tutoring at post, and I still struggle with language. If you live close to downtown you will find many English speakers. Further out in the hills and suburbs, not so many. It helps if you know German. Most labels in the grocery stores do not have any English---usually just Croatian, Italian and some other random language such as German/Polish/Bulgarian.

Younger Croatians usually speak English, but many of the middle-aged women who work as cashiers in the stores and malls do not. Most Croatians will tell you they don't speak any, but often they are afraid of making mistakes with the English they DO have. Croatian is a difficult language to learn, but getting some of the basics will be really helpful. The embassy language teacher is great, but the fact that the Embassy is 30-45 minutes drive from most family housing makes it nearly impossible for spouses to take language classes with her. Street and directional signs are all in Croatian.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There is handicap accessible parking, but it is very limited. Many, many buildings have stairs, sidewalks are often broken up or parked on.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Because we live so far out of the city center, I have never taken public transport. Buses and trams are considered very, very safe and cheap. Taxis are plentiful, metered and safe. Uber is new here.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most members of the embassy community have scratched their cars here due to parking issues. This is not something we expected coming to EUR! I have scratched my car more here than in the other 2 more developing world countries we have lived in! Some families have mini-vans, but I don't feel comfortable driving ours, due to narrow roads in the hills and difficult parking in the hills. It is rare to see a large SUV here. Many people have RAV4s. We have used the Toyota and Honda dealerships and been very happy with the service. A few people at the embassy have motorcycles. Parts still cost more here, so you may find yourself ordering parts.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

If you live in the hills, the distance of your house and the age of the line running to your house will affect your internet speed. We have internet speed here which is slower than other less developed countries due to the fact that we are in an old house on a hillside. Downtown there is fiberoptic cable.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

We don't have pets, but people who do seem very happy. There is a pet store on every corner and multiple vets. You can take your dog into some malls and on the tram! Parks allow you to let your dog off the leash in certain areas. Croatians love their dogs and cats, and it seems that many people let their animals roam free in the neighborhoods in the quieter parts of the suburbs.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

The embassy here is medium sized but has very few family member jobs. I think the current Management/GSO/CLO are trying to introduce new positions, as there is a great demand. Even the very entry level jobs such as security escort are filled, and all openings seem to have multiple people applying. The job market in Croatia is really poor for Croatians, with high unemployment, but also a high level of education. So the likelihood of finding a job on the local economy is very, very small. The few expat spouses I know who work are tele-commuting or teaching/tutoring English. I think many family members would like to work part/full time but have no opportunity.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Limited opportunities due to the need to know Croatian. However, I'd highly encourage you to volunteer via the Information Resource Center at the embassy---they are often looking for Americans to give talks in schools, libraries and other public places.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is the safest place I've ever lived. My iPhone was returned to me when I left it in a restaurant. I regularly leave my purse in the stroller and walk away from it to chase my kids at the park.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No major concerns, although I don't have great confidence in the medical system here. Post currently has a full time Croatian doctor and RN. We have used local pediatricians and an ENT. Care is adequate but for complicated (especially pediatric) problems I wouldn't feel great about using the system here. That said, I am a medical professional myself, so I think I am picky about what I expect. Many doctors here seem to have a lot of education but not a lot of clinical training. Some are still very old-school, Yugoslav, "doctor knows best" in their bedside manner. Some facilities are old and not as clean as you'd hope. Others are great, particularly the dental and opthalmological care we've had here. Cost is very cheap----maybe US$30 for a dental check up.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Lots of hayfever and pollen allergies in the spring and fall here.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very, very similar to Virginia/Washington DC weather. But longer, grayer winters (November to April are dark, drizzly and cold with very little sunshine and a low cloud cover). Summers don't get as hot as Virgina/DC weather, and the humidity here is lower than on the East Coast of the US. Although summers don't get as hot, you do need A/C and we have found some public spaces don't have any A/C including, surprisingly, the school here.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The one accredited English school option is the American School of Zagreb (AISZ). It is small, with one class for each grade. Classes in the younger grades tend to be 14-21 students, with a teacher and assistant. Middle and high school are smaller, with 8-14 per class. The school meets in an old seminary complex, which is also home to a tennis center, medical clinic, university library branch and Catholic radio station. The facilities were not purpose built to be used as a school, and so are quite limiting. The playground is a small, interior courtyard with cement.

The positives to the school are small class size and caring teacher population. The negatives include limitations in classes offered due to size, limitations in peers due to size and high staff turnover. The school is trying to recuperate a large amount of money lost a few years ago when trying to build a new school campus. Some staff positions have been cut, or teachers are pulling double-duty. (One of the secretaries is also the high school biology teacher?) Our son has completed kindergarten and 1st grade there. We were overall happy with his experience, but found that the school offers very little in the way of enrichment for students who need additional challenge, particularly in the areas of math and science. It seems that at the elementary levels the school is putting a lot of energy into helping ESL students. Approximately 50% of the school is Croatian, and the expat/Croatian mix seems good in the elementary years, but I have heard it is clique-ish in the high school. I am thankful my son has had some caring teachers, but overall, I would not recommend this school for older students.

I also feel that the school is not doing well in general communication with parents, and you need to be pro-active to communicate yourself with staff. The embassy contracts with a mini-bus service to offer regular hour and after-school bus service, door-to-door, which is really helpful. Extracurricular activities are offered by teachers each semester at no charge, on a first-come-first-served basis (cooking, soccer, crafts, drama, games) There are "outsourced" activities such as hip-hop dance, karate and tennis which are offered through the school by outside instructors at an additional fee. There are no competitive sports programs for elementary school. In middle and high the only competitive sports for girls are volleyball and for boys soccer.

The high school and medical school send teams to regional model UN. One embassy family has a child at the French school.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Limited English language preschool options depending on where you live. Kindy International is popular on the west side of town, and The Learning Tree, as well as Magical World on the east side. Most function as a daycare model, not as preschool.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Many club sports, but all will be in Croatian. We have found coaches/swim coaches are willing to translate for English, but for our son, being the only English speaker in the group hasn't been fun. Very limited options at school. Preschool age programs are usually offered at the typical American dinner/bedtime of 5:30 pm or 7:30 pm, as most Croatian parents have 2 working adults and can only take their kids out after work. So we haven't had the chance to try those for our younger child.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small expat community. Medium level of morale, depending on if spouses want to work and are able to secure jobs, and also depending on people's previous experiences with living overseas. Some people find Zagreb to be too quiet if they are used to more international cities. Others love the sleepiness.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Many singles here seem to enjoy travel opportunities and some seem to also get into the dating scene. This is a predominantly family post now, though, and I get the sense that it can be lonely to be here without a spouse. If you don't mind the club/bar/concert scene, you will find a lot to do!
As a family with young kids, we have had a much harder time here finding regular babysitters than in other posts, which has limited our ability as adults to go out and experience all the city has to offer.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Croatia is working on acceptance of LGBT issues, but has a ways to go. There is quite an active LGBT population here, and they are visible in the city. That said, Croatia being a predominantly Catholic country, many people still face discrimination due to sexual orientation, even as expats.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Adriatic Sea visits, enjoying a view of Sljeme mountain from our neighborhood, experiencing 4 seasons every year. Beautiful European spring flowers.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Maksimir park, Sljeme mountain hiking trails, visiting the coast in the summer...so many guidebooks available for all the new tourist hotspots popping up in Croatia. Just keep in mind when reading the guidebooks that Zagreb is 2 hours inland from the coast, and the scenery and feel in Zagreb is quite different than what you find in Dalmatia.

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Beautiful Croatian coast, cheap goods if you are a diplomat and can file for the 25% VAT back, clean air, clean water, safe country, tons of hiking when the weather is good.

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7. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't travel every weekend!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

We were not prepared for the European winter: Grey, drizzly, foggy dark weather from November to March, often with 2-3 weeks straight without sunshine. After many years in the Middle East, this was really hard! The coast of Croatia basically closes down from October to April, so a lot of the cool touristy things you see advertised aren't accessible during the off season. Zagreb is a small, non-central European capital. There is a very small English speaking expat community, and not many English language events for expat kids, outside the school. Most Croatian mothers have to return to work after the baby is a year old, so the parks are filled with grannies and older nannies, but not other moms. The embassy community lives literally all over town and is very loosely connected. There are many people in our small community who I only see every 2 months. There is no community space for people to gather in, such as an American club pool, or playground. We really miss the tight sense of expat community which we experienced in other posts, as well as missing a more international scene. Zagreb will be great for you if you are looking for a quiet life, with frequent road trips. This hasn't been a great fit for our family. Babysitting has been harder to come by here, which has limited our ability to get out and about.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Hmmm....it hasn't been a bad place for our family, and it's been a good, safe environment for the kids. But, as a stay-at-home spouse, I have found it isolating and not a "warm" culture. I wouldn't choose to come here again anytime soon. That said, some people really love it here, and I think that all depends upon your stage in life and ability to get out and explore, or not.

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Zagreb, Croatia 08/05/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Previous assignments in Kyiv, Ukraine and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I also lived in Moscow, Russia for a couple of years before joining the Foreign Service.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

There are a fair number of decent options for getting back to the U.S. from Zagreb with connections via Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, and London among others. Zagreb to Arizona was about 20 hours of travel time including layovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years from 2011 to 2014.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are three basic housing locations:

1) Downtown apartments. Smaller units but walking distance to restaurants, stores, and just about everything else downtown. Most singles and couples with no children prefer to live downtown. Commute is about 20-30 minutes.

2) The Hills. Larger single family homes, townhouses, and duplexes with small yards. Most embassy staff live in the hills, particularly those with kids. Never did it myself but I understand the commute was 45-60 minutes depending on where people lived.

3) Velika Polja. Smaller townhouse-style residences near the airport and about a five minute drive from the Embassy.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries were a little cheaper than in the U.S. Household supplies were significantly more expensive to buy in Croatia but the higher prices could generally be offset by shopping online or at Aviano Air Force Base (3 hours away in Italy).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing really given the availability of commodities in Zagreb, the ability to order via Amazon, and Aviano Air Force Base being located three hours away.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, KFC, and now Burger King are all in Croatia. Prices are a bit higher than in the States but comparable to the same fast food joints in other parts of Europe. There are tons of restaurants in Zagreb, the other major cities, and in most of the small towns in areas frequented by tourists. Quality of the food and price vary depending on the specific restaurant and where it is located.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None. There are mosquitos on the coast but not so many that it was a problem.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Diplomatic Post Office or Diplomatic Pouch. Shipping times varied and we experienced the typical problems around the holidays but both were generally reliable.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is readily available. Cost was about US$10 an hour give or take.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The Embassy has a small gym that employees/family members can use for free. There are a number of other workout places around town.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I used my credit card and withdrew money from ATMs all over Croatia and never had a single problem. Obviously, you want to exercise basic common sense. Biggest problem with using a credit card is that some smaller guest houses and restaurants would accept payment in cash only, but even in these cases there was usually an ATM around the corner.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Croatian is not absolutely required to live in Zagreb but is really helpful for reading signs and talking to people at some of the restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations. The same goes for anywhere tourists frequent. That being said, Croatians really appreciate when a foreigner (especially an American) is able to speak even a little bit to them in Croatian so I would make an effort to pick some up even if not strictly required for professional or personal living purposes.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Zagreb is an old Central European city and was certainly not designed to make living with disabilities easy. High curbs, narrow sidewalks, and old buildings with either no or very small elevators are among the challenges that someone with a physical disability would face living there. Newer or renovated construction is starting to incorporate ramps and the like, but these buildings remain the exception rather than the norm.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes to both, although you should stick to marked taxis with a meter.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I had a small SUV and it did just fine in Croatia. Parking can be problematic so I'd avoid bringing something huge. Getting parts for some U.S. vehicles locally could be problematic, but given that auto parts are significantly more expensive in Croatia than in the U.S., it is probably better to order them from the States anyway.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. I paid about US$50 a month for what they said was 10MB download. I generally got less than that in speed tests but my internet connection was generally sufficient to stream decent quality video.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are several local mobile phone providers with a variety of plans and pricing options. Starting and stopping service can be a bit complicated so having someone along that speaks Croatian fairly well can be helpful. Coverage was generally good throughout the country with the occasional blank spot. The Embassy provides a Blackberry to most employees.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

You don't see a lot of slobs in Croatia and people generally get a bit dressed up even to do everyday things like go to the grocery store. Dress at the Embassy is either suit and tie or business casual depending on your specific job.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really. Zagreb is super safe with very little crime that affects diplomats. Biggest concern I had was with traffic - either avoiding getting run over as a pedestrian or not hitting pedestrians while driving when they stepped out onto busy streets without looking.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Healthcare is pretty good generally. Medical personnel are well trained and competent but the government-run facilities sometimes lack modern infrastructure and equipment. The Embassy health unit will refer Embassy personnel to specific doctors and facilities. The dentist the health unit sent me to was hands down the best dentist I have ever had anywhere including the U.S.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

No problems at all.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Zagreb was comparable in many respects to some of the higher elevations in Arizona. Summers are hot with some humidity. Winters can be moderately cold with snow - my second winter had a lot of snow.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have no children so my experience with the American International School of Zagreb (AISZ) was second-hand and based on what I heard from other people. The facilities are not the best - the school is housed in an old part of an old convent - but the people I knew best seemed generally happy with the quality of education and their kids' experience there. Post and the school are working with the City of Zagreb to identify a location for a new school. That effort seemed to be coming along when I left although it will be several years at best before any new construction is finished.

There was quite a bit of controversy surrounding the school and its director just as I was leaving. Post management was very involved and spending a lot of time on the issue. My impression from the outside looking in was that most of the problems were due to unrealistic expectations from some who found AISZ lacking compared to larger and better funded schools in the U.S. or other places they had lived.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community seemed fairly small given that most international NGOs and organizations have closed up shop and not a lot of international businesspeople are in Croatia at this point. Most expats I met had some family ties to Croatia. It's not a super cohesive community but Croatia is such an easy place to live that it probably doesn't need to be.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Go to a movie, out to eat, or over to a friend's house for dinner. Weekend/holiday trips to the coast, or to a nearby location in central Europe. Croatians also spend hours day and night, summer and winter talking to each other in the coffee shops.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

My impression is that Zagreb is a fantastic city for families and couples. It was also a good city for singles from my perspective with the caveat that the Croatian social scene can be a little challenging to break in to so persistence is key.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

A qualified yes. Croatia is still a fairly conservative country so it is certainly true that significant segments of the population are not accepting of LGBT lifestyles, especially in the more rural parts of the country. That being said, harassment or violence against LGBT individuals are generally isolated incidents, and are not condoned or facilitated by the government. Croatia just passed civil partnership legislation that gives LGBT couples most of the rights/advantages of heterosexual married couples. Pride parades take place in Zagreb and Split and have been without incident the last couple of years, and the Milanovic government is strongly on the record in supporting equal treatment for LGBT individuals.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Croatia remains very homogeneous - white, Catholic, and Croat - and people who are different stand out. My impression was that Croatians were expected to conform to the norm but that foreigners are generally given a pass. There is a high degree of religious freedom, and most overt prejudice was directed against ethnic Serbs rather than racial minorities. Gender roles are still fixed to a much higher degree than in the U.S., although women can and do rise to positions of prominence within Croatia on a regular basis.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The best part of living in Croatia was traveling around the county. In previous assignments, I felt like I had pretty much been everywhere in the country that I wanted to go by the time my tour was about half over. Not so in Croatia where my list of places to go kept getting longer right up until I left. Don't miss the islands, and also plan to spend some time in the continental and mountainous parts of the country, which are spectacular in their own rights.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The Adriatic Coast is spectacular and offers hundreds of miles of small towns to explore and places to swim. The well-known places such as Dubrovnik and Split are definitely worth multiple visits, but travelers should also try to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser known places. I highly recommend a visit to the islands of Vis and Cres. They are a little more complicated to get to, but were two of my favorite spots in Croatia. In addition, don't neglect the rest of Croatia - the mountains are full of wonderful little towns.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel. Olive oil, pumpkin oil, truffles and truffle oil.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Zagreb is a safe and comfortable city to live in. The Adriatic coast is only a few hours away and the same goes for virtually all of Central Europe.

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10. Can you save money?

If you work at it. But, don't scrimp so much that you don't experience all of the wonderful things Croatia has to offer.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How easy it was to live there. While maybe not on the same level yet as Austria or Germany, Croatia is light years away from the places in the former Soviet Union I had been comparing it to.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely and without hesitation.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Thousand pounds of food and other consumables.

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4. But don't forget your:

Beach stuff. Bring lots of sunscreen. You can find it in Croatia but it is pricey.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

A couple of the most recent reviews talked about morale at the Embassy being not so good. I don't really know what these folks were referring to because from my perspective morale has gotten much better, which I attribute to the Embassy's new management team. The Ambassador arrived in late 2012, and the new DCM and other senior officers in summer 2013. I thought morale was quite good when I left in July 2014. It is true that Embassy Zagreb is not necessarily as cohesive a community as other embassies at which I have served, and if your idea of a Post with good morale involves lots of parties at the Marine House and other well-attended community events, then Zagreb may not be the place for you. But, I would argue that this has more to do with the place than morale per se. Croatia is a beautiful, safe country that allows people to make friends outside of the embassy community and to get out and explore rather than live, work, and play with the same group of people from Post all of the time. That seems to me to be a good thing rather than a sign of poor morale.

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Zagreb, Croatia 06/16/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Not our first experience; Reykjavik, Prague, Madrid, plus a couple stops in DC and 1 short time in Fort Lauderdale.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home is in Florida and it is usually two layovers - DC or Atlanta and then somewhere in Germany or Paris and then to Zagreb In all it usually takes about 15 hours or so.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been here for 2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Trailing spouse of an Embassy employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are basically 2 types, houses to the north and houses to the south, as they are doing away with downtown apartments. We live in a large house to the north of the city, closer to the International school and we have fruit trees and vineyards in our backyard. It is about 15 minutes to city center by car (very convenient) and about 30-40 to the Embassy depending on the traffic. The school is around 15 minutes away by car and 90 minutes by public transportation. From here, there is no public transportation to the Embassy as it is way south in the middle of a cornfield near the city landfill!

The other type of housing is close to the Embassy (5-minute drive) but not near anything else and in a pretty ugly part of the city. I have not been inside the housing - which are stand alone houses or town houses, only outside, and would say that I would not like to live there. It is a group of houses rented by the Embassy that are only a few feet away from each other with little yard and NO privacy at all. Usually, families with small children are housed there. In the north areas I think the housing is fantastic even if a bit far from the Embassy. You are really living in the country with great access to the city.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

A little cheaper than the USA if you stay away from lots of prepackaged foods. There is a great farmers markets downtown every day.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing really.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King is just arriving, costs are about the same as the U.S. Eating out is fairly limited to grilled meats and pizza although now that Croatia is in the EU, we see some new places opening up. We have a favorite vegetarian place and 2 Italian restaurants we like. There is a burrito restaurant that is passable and a couple of new sushi places that are not great. For a really good meal at our favorite Italian restaurant, 5 of us ate for US$125. I can have 2 pizzas delivered to my house in 30 minutes for about US$10 to 12. Coffee bars and sweet shops are very good.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the Embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We have a cleaning lady come once per week and she costs about US$40 for 8 hours. We have someone cut the grass for about US$30 and it takes him 8 hours.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Lots of places don't take credit cards but ATM's are no issue.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None in the restaurants. But if you want to talk to neighbors or the taxi driver you will need some Croatian. Most people speak some English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

For sure. Great lack of sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe and affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Anything is fine. The local roads here are in rough shape but the bigger roads and highways are top notch.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available, not too reliable at peak hours.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I think it is pretty lax. Not sure about kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I would say no. High unemployment and a real need to know a very difficult language. There are some opportunities in the Embassy for family members

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Probably a lot if you speak the language.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None, a completely safe place to live and travel. Not even pickpockets are a problem here. You rarely hear about crimes and feel completely safe on public transportation or downtown even in the late nights.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No special health concerns. Care is hit or miss and you will need to figure it out yourself as the Embassy has a poor record in healthcare recommendations. In the end you will probably find someone who can help you. For example, my daughter went to 6 dentists until she found a really good one. One dentist even drilled out the wrong tooth and another treated cavities with rubber cement. Still another said "if you sit with your legs crossed you will confuse your mind" and another "your teeth problems would be solved if you just found a boyfriend." These were not jokes, as Croatians really believe in wives tales and home remedies. A common one is "don't sit on a hard chair or you will catch a cold in your kidneys."

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very clean air, a little grass burning now and then.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

November to April is gray and rainy and some winters are pretty snowy. Last winter there were two really big storms and this year there was no snow at all. Spring and fall are lovely and summers are normally hot and in the 90's (F). The winters are foggy, wet and pretty depressing like all of central Europe in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our daughter attended one year at the American International school and in a word - awful! The building is unsuitable for a private American school. By comparison, Prague and Madrid were modern, beautiful schools with very capable management and great extra curricular activities. The Zagreb school is old and run down (part of an old convent that is rented by the school) and has no decent facilities (like a gym). This year the director has changed and it is even worse than last year with unhappy teachers, a declining student body and horrible morale. We endured one year here but would have taken our daughter out and gone elsewhere if we needed to. Many students in the American school don't even show up for weeks at a time but still graduate. There is absolutely no discipline and behavior is deplorable. I have heard the best option is the British school but do not have any first-hand knowledge.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Private clubs are the only way to go for kids and for all kinds of European sports.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Not a very big community and in general pretty happy. The morale of the embassy staff fluctuates with management and now I would say it is mediocre at best.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Cafes.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Excellent for all.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Internally, yes, as they are not far removed from the homeland war and have great prejudices against neighboring countries. But for U.S. citizens, no issues at all. If you have darker skin you are likely to get stares as there are not many non-whites here. But I don't believe you would be treated badly - only gawked at as a novelty.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Definitely the best part is the coast of Croatia. From Zagreb it is around 90 minutes to the nearest point and the Adriatic coast is awesome - clear, clean water. Just drive anywhere to the coast (it is all public) and jump in the water. Then climb out, get a pizza, and jump back in. Well, that's what I like to do. Then there are the old cities like; Split, Rovinj, Dubrovnik and Pula, just to name a few that are fascinating places to see and then go jump in the Adriatic!

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The coast is a jewel and after 2 years we are still exploring little ancient cities all over Croatia. Rovinj is a family favorite and Opatija, although touristy, is really nice and only 2 hours away from Zagreb. Any island you go to is quiet, peaceful and relaxing with lots of sun and warm water. Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg and Venice are all about a 4 hour drive away, just awesome!

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Just travel, travel, travel.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Zagreb is a small and quiet city with very friendly people. The lifestyle is easy-going and has a great cafe environment (sitting around drinking coffee and people watching). It is also fairly cheap to live here and close to many great travel destinations.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, for sure.

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2. But don't forget your:

Swim gear and ski gear. There is good skiing very close by.

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3. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

BBC video series on Youtube "The Death of Yugoslavia."

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4. Do you have any other comments?

This is a very relaxing place to live with lots to do and see. I highly recommend the post and I have been to some other really nice places.

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Zagreb, Croatia 02/18/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First overseas tour.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC - about 13-15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years - from 2011 until 2014.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are 3 major housing locations.

The Hills (at the foothills of the mountain): These houses are pretty large and offer great living spaces and fantastic views. The roads and the commute to the Embassy can be a bit hairy. It usually takes most people in the hill 30 minutes (on a good day) and up to and hour on difficult days to get to the Embassy. Most people choose to live in these houses because they are closer to the American International School of Zagreb (AIZ), and the houses are the nicest. Most offer parks in a walking distance. They are also pretty far apart from other the American families.

Downtown: These are generally apartments and are also pretty large. There layouts can be a bit confusing to the Western mind, but nothing you can't get use to after a few months. They are usually within walking distance to cafes and bars, the limited (good) food options in the city, and the local open air market (dolac). They come with the normal prices you pay to live in the city; noisy mornings, smaller living areas, flights of stairs (or rickety elevadors), and distant parking. You can expect a 25 to 40-minute commute in this location. There are a many parks near the downtown area if you need to see some green.

Near the embassy (in the cornfield): These houses/townhouses are a bit smaller than the ones offered in the hills. They are grouped together and offer more of a sense of American community (which you will either hate or love). The major advantage these houses have is the 5-minute commute to work. You can also easily run or bike which is about 3 miles. The bus will come and pick up your kids for school, but that just means that they are the ones with the 40-minute commute while you have 5 minutes to work.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The fresh food in the grocery stores is pretty good and reasonably priced. They lack some of the staples of the American diet (items that come to mind are peanut butter, cheddar cheese, and sliced/good bread). The local stores lack high quality goods and offer products that are similar to what you'd find in an American dollar store, but not at dollar store prices. We thought that this would get better once the country joined the EU but change for the better has been extremely slow moving.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Our own personal mattress, snow tires, beach supplies (for the 2-hour drive to the coast), any BIG item you can't order on Amazon.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are about 8 McDonald's in the city, and 4 KFC's. That is about it for Western Fast Food but is that really a bad thing?! Don't expect any good food other than the local cuisine (which gets old after the first few months). They do have ethnic restaurants but they are just silly imitations at best.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Yes, there is DPO and pouch mail at the Embassy and it usually arrives pretty quickly. Pouch tends to take about 13-15 calendar days and I've seem DPO take less than 5, but I've also seen things get lost and show up weeks/months later. So the rule of thumb is if you need it fast, but can risk losing about 3% of your packages, use DPO. If you need to make sure it arrives within 2 weeks, use Pouch. Also note the restrictions for each.

Pouch = NO liquids over 16 ounces, limited lithium battery support (smart Phones, tablets, and laptops are cool), and nothing over 70 inches total dimensions (w+l+h) and nothing over 70 lbs.

DPO = No weapons, a lot of places won't ship to DPO, but you can use shipping forwarding services like myapobox.com

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

They are plenty and they are reasonable (US$7-9 an hour).

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The Embassy has an okay gym (the basics). There are MANY gyms in the area but they tend to have strange hours of operation and close for part, if not all, of the summer. There is a BIG MMA culture here so they are a TON of MMA or boxing gyms. So if you like to fight, you're in the right place. Just ask the local guards at the Embassy and they will be more than willing to take you to one and show you around.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are good. We use them daily in the city and at the Embassy.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

They have a few for the major holidays.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A few local phrases will carry you your whole tour. Most of the locals speak GREAT English, especially the younger ones. Almost all the movies at the 5 theaters in town are in English with Croatian subtitles.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Like most older European cities (especially Eastern Europe), the infrastructure is extremely lacking and if you were handicapped, you'd have a real hard time.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The local bus/tram in about US$2 for a few hours of riding. Taxis are pretty reasonable. I would only recommend a company called EcoTaxi. They are very good, clean and consistently priced. Most other cabs will charge you different rates all the time.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You could bring anything here, but I'd recommend something with 4WD like an Audi or small SUV. During the winter months the streets aren't plowed very well and the Embassy doesn't get the same delays and snow days like people in DC do. I would definitely bring a set of snow tires in your HHE no matter what car you drive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Depends on your definition of "High Speed". Most of the houses can get a maximum of 10 mbps down and 1 mbps up. A few houses can buy a 20 mbps package, but they are lucky if they see 14 of that. Most streaming service work without too much lag. If you use a service like unblock-us.com (to get your full bandwidth via a traditional VPN) you can get netflix, amazon prime and hulu (along with MANY others) to work.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The Embassy provides a blackberry and also a brick phone for the spouses. If you wish to bring an unlocked smartphone, you can get a duplicate SIM card and add a data plan to your account (about US$14 a month for 1GB of data). Your spouse can just use the SIM card from the brick phone in their iPhone/Android.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

When we arrived, our dog wasn't even noticed in our carry-on bag and we were required to present no papers. I believe people who have had bigger dogs did not have to quarantine them, but they had to show their paperwork.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not sure.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There is always a CLO trip to help out at the orphanages. Also a lot of people like to help out at dog shelters.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suits at the Embassy, jeans and polos in the city.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Nothing that any other city doesn't have but I would consider it safer than most. Being that most people here are highly religious (and not in a fake way), the day to day people you interact with are generally VERY honest.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I have heard some great things about people having knee surgeries and other medical procedures. But I've also heard horror stories about people who have gotten hurt and gone to the emergency room.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

It's pretty good. No worse than DC or NoVA.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

We consider it VERY similar to DC. On most days you can look at an iOS or Android weather app and you will see both cities have very similar climates.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No real exposure to the schools. Other families say the school is okay, or good.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not really sure about this one, but I know other families have had a difficult time.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, there are 3 to choose from and we have heard good and bad things about them all. Nannies are also a viable option and pretty reasonably priced (about US$8-10 per hour).

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

We haven't actually heard of anyone taking their kids to any team sports, but once again, Croatians have a fighting culture and there are a lot of Martial arts places for kids. We have also seen a lot of families take their kids to swimming lessons. I am sure there are soccer clubs too, we just haven't seen or heard of anyone participating.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

I believe the American expat community is around about 100+, but if the Embassy is any indication, the morale is quite low. Since I have been at the Embassy, everyone has always been replaced by an incoming officer that is the complete and polar opposite of the departing officer. Normally that would not be a bad thing, but unfortunately this is not the case for the present officers. I try to look for the best in people, but it has been really difficult with the group that is currently at the Embassy. There is a big rotation in the summer of 2014, so I wish the place the best of luck.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

In the city, people mostly like to sit around the cafes and drink coffee or beer, and smoke cigarettes. But on the weekend, most expats leave for a weekend trip somewhere.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I would say that Zagreb is a good/better city for families, and couples. From what we hear from the singles, the dating scene is pretty difficult to break into. The locals tend to be either shy or resistant to outsiders getting into their circles. The people who have been here and had any luck at all usually did so with the help of another Croatian that they were mutually friends with.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

As far as we know the Croatians are not very receptive of the LGBT community. A vote was held not long ago banning same-sex couples from getting married. Granted, the same things also go on back in the U.S. but we feel that the highly religious tendencies of the locals has made them less accepting of any people from an alternative lifestyle.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This country is VERY VERY white... I haven't seen or heard of anyone of an ethnic background being openly bashed or treated horribly, but they do get a lot of stares, and maybe even a few unfriendly ones. But some of the Marines here have had great experiences and never any real negative things happen.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

This should give you some insight about our tour... Our highlights of being posted in Croatia have been traveling down to the coast, and also visiting the neighboring countries. So if it's not a long weekend out of town, don't expect a good time from the city of Zagreb. There are been a few fun festivals and celebrations but our true highlights have come from getting OUT of Zagreb.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

We really enjoyed going to Jarun (the Croatia olympic training park). They have a lake there and several cafes and bars. It also has some of the best nightlife in Zagreb. There are clubs that rim the lake that can get really hopping in the spring and fall. During the summer most people are on the coast, so it tends to thin out.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Croatia is known for inventing the neck tie and the ballpoint pen. Other than that there isn't much you can get locally that is extremely nice.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The city of Zagreb itself can be great, but also frustrating at times. Zagreb is so close to so many other amazing locations that are VERY easy to travel to. But the city of Zagreb has some ways to go. It's not completely unmanageable, and is an awesome place for maybe a 2-year tour, but you will be ready to leave after two years.

The local people are GREAT! Most speak perfect English. They are mostly very friendly to Americans (and most other foreigners). There are many restaurants and activities, but they are all very sub-par in comparison to other places only an hour away. Don't expect any good food other than the local cuisine (which gets old after the first few months). There are ethnic restaurants but they are silly imitations at best. The local stores lack high quality goods and offer products similar to what you'd find in an American dollar store (but not at dollar store prices).

We thought that this would get better once the country joined the EU, but change has been extremely slow moving. Diplomats have long been tax exempt in the country (through a very difficult process) but the process has stopped working altogether once the country joined the EU. It has been almost 8 months and there has been no traction to regaining our diplomatic tax free status. The COLA has not been raised either. Hopefully it is resolved soon, but none of us have high hopes. You also cannot sell your car tax-free anymore. So between traveling from Zagreb, the lack of tax-free status, and the changing policies, Zagreb has been a VERY expensive tour.

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10. Can you save money?

Not really... this tour has broken our bank.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yeah I guess... I just wish the people we worked with were more interested in doing things together and/or hanging out.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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4. But don't forget your:

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Zagreb, Croatia 01/25/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

U.S.; about 15 hours from the East Coast, including a connection in Europe (usually Germany, France or The Netherlands).

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3. How long have you lived here?

Just over 2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Worked at U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing for U.S. Embassy personnel is nice. Houses up in the hills are spacious and have yards, but living in one entails a slightly longer commute to the embassy than for those in apartments in the city. The apartments are great. We didn't see a USG apartment or house that we wouldn't want to live in.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Pretty expensive, but it won't break the bank. Most things are available, but it'll take some searching to get a lot of items that are readily available at stores in the US (e.g., cheddar cheese, peanut butter and cake mixes).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Mainly food items, like baking supplies and certain spices. If you like ethnic food you should bring some of your staples.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Croatian food is fair. Very good Italian is readily available. There's not much else in the way of ethnic food -- the Indian is horrible, while the Chinese and Mexican joints are slightly better. There are some nice restaurants; our favorite was Trilogija. Not too much fast food. McDonald's is there, but it's the only American chain. Not a big street food presence.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a few gyms. The U.S. Embassy has a pretty nice workout facility.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

It's safe. Most restaurants and stores accept cards, while many cafes and smaller establishments don't.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. I'm aware of Baptist, Catholic, and Latter Day Saints services in English, and believe there are others.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much at all. Croatians speak English extremely well. In Zagreb there will just about always be someone around who speaks it well enough to help you out. But it of course can't hurt to speak some Croatian, as you will encounter some folks who don't speak English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It could be tough. There are some accommodations, but not to the extent one would find in a larger European city.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Both safe and affordable. Public transportation is reliable and makes it easy to get around town.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any kind is fine.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Unlimited data plan costs about $60 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes. We found a vet we liked for our cat. I'm not sure about kennels (I imagine they exist), but there are trustworthy locals who will pet-sit for a reasonable fee.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No. It's very difficult to get a job outside of the embassy. It is also hard to find volunteer opportunities, as it's something that's just not part of the culture.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It's a fairly formal society.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No. Zagreb has got to be up there with the safest places in the world. One very rarely hears of crimes. My wife felt perfectly safe walking around alone anywhere in the city, even at night.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No particular health concerns. Medical care is decent, but not up to U.S. standards. For surgery or any very serious issues I would probably try to go elsewhere. People often went to Austria or London for pregnancy-related care.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons. It snows a couple/few times in the winter with a few hot weeks in the summer, but is generally pretty mild. Winters can get a bit dreary with common grey skies.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small-ish.

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2. Morale among expats:

High. It's a great place to be. Living is easy and the (embassy) work isn't overwhelming. Some people found Zagreb a bit boring. It's true that it's a slow, low-key city, but between the easy living, the coast, and European travel opportunities, there's plenty to do.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of entertaining in homes. There are some bars and clubs, but Zagreb isn't known for its night life.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it's good for all.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It's not a terribly progressive country, but it seems to be pretty good in this regard.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No. It's a predominantly Catholic country, but Croatians tend to get along with those of other faiths or none at all, and I'm not aware of any racial or gender issues.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

As mentioned, the coast is brilliant and it's easy to travel throughout the region. Most things a person would want to do are available in Zagreb, but there's not as much in the way of cultural or social activities compared to larger cities. There are nice, affordable movie theaters that show films in English with Croatian subtitles, a bowling alley and a few decent museums. The Istria region, about a 2.5 hour drive northwest from Zagreb, is beautiful (it looks like Tuscany) and features great Italian food and truffles.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There aren't too many especially unique local items one would want for souvenirs. Naive art is huge in Croatia, but paintings are pretty expensive. Truffles make for good souvenirs, but that's about it.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Croatia is great. The coast is beautiful and is easily accessible on nice (but expensive) highways. Dubrovnik, Split, and Rovinj are beautiful, as are many of the lesser-known towns and the islands - we particularly liked Brac and Rab. Several national parks are well worth a visit; Plitvice Jezera, with its water falls, is amazing. Travel throughout Europe from Croatia is pretty easy and reasonably affordable. Venice, Vienna and Budapest are all around a 4-hour drive from Zagreb, and a fair number of flights connect the city to destinations further afield. Very cheap direct flights from Zagreb to London and Paris are available through EasyJet.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you try fairly hard. Croatia is somewhat expensive and it's easy to spend money traveling, but overall it's not awfully expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

For sure. Croatia is a nice, developed country with amazing natural beauty. Couple this with the easy lifestyle an expat leads in Zagreb and the opportunities for travel throughout Europe, and it makes for a great tour.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Zagreb, Croatia 12/16/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Spain.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

D.C-same connection time as anywhere coming in from the U.S.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Expat.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is ok, we lived in the center, about 2 blocks away from the main square.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Relatively cheap.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Perhpas more food. There are not many options. Everything is very limited, and I really didn't enjoy that there was no variety, and all they sell is just pizza and pasta.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

None, forget it! there is only a MacDonald's in the center, and a few bakery places that only sell bread.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There is some dolac market, which some say it's fresh. But to me there is not much of a variety.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They are everywhere and are safe to use.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A lot! So you don't feel you are a "stranger." Although young people speak English and you can get by with it. To me, it was important to know the basics of language especially with customer service, since it's not that great and many cashiers don't speak English well.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. very safe. Trams are on every corner in the center of town.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

There are no carjackings, it's unheard of. Small typical European cars are best for parking around the city.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, very reliable. Fast connection.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

None.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Very safe place, one of the MOST safe places in the world.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Okay.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's awful, especially winter can be very depressing, very grey, foggy and cold.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

I would say 1%. This place lacks the international aspect of other cities, perhaps becuase of the lack of immigration (it's nearly 100% Croatians). It's very rare to see someone from other places, unless you get out of your bubble.

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2. Morale among expats:

I would say very low.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It's ok. I am not a party animal, but I think zagreb lacks character. It's definitely not a lively city.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I say mostly for families for the tranquility of the place. However, if you are single, recently married or just arriving alone, it is not the best place. Not much going on in the city, it's kind of boring place.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None, but that is because there is not too much immigration from other parts of the world and Europe. If you are a foreigner you are seen as something weird. Croatians are NOT open at all, or at least they don't seem to mind you or care.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The Croatian Coast, it's really the only thing that this place is worth coming for.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Only the Coast. Zagreb is not a fantastic place per say. But since it is well located, it's great to just travel around Europe.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

None. There isn't much in the way of crafts or handmade stuff. Perhaps all they sell is just their lavender stuff...but it gets boring after a while.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The ONLY advantage of living here is that you have an amazing coast. However, it's a bit far away-about a 3-hour drive.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, things are cheaper here (relatively) more than in other euro countries.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. I don't plan to come back to Eastern Europe.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

smile. Croatians don't smile. haha!

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is definitely not a place for someone who enjoys food. It's really bad in that sense. But good luck!

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Zagreb, Croatia 10/16/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Zagreb was not my first expat experience. I used to live in Russia and before that, in Pakistan. I now live in Amman, Jordan.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

I'm from a small town called Auburn California. Usually from Zagreb, we would get up at around 3 in the morning and take a flight to Frankfurt, then a connecting flight to either Washington D.C. or Chicago and then a third connecting flight to Sacramento.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I lived in Zagreb for about 9 years. From 1999 to 2008.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All of the embassy housing is great! Most is in the "Sestine" area and is barely a 5 minute commute to the center. However, the location of the embassy is extremely inconvenient. From Sestine, it would take about 30 minutes to get to the embassy.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Somewhat expensive, but it is what it is.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Peanut butter!

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are 100s of GREAT restaurant in the city. Fast food wise, there is McDonalds, Subway (a bit out of the city), numerous Pizza places and a few Kebab whole-in-the-walls around the city. All are reasonably priced.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There is a story called "Bio-Bio" that I would suggest.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing, except for the occasional mosquito.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Things from the States we get through the US Embassy Pouch, but if you are sending or receiving in the country, Croatian mail is reliable.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

The Embassy will always help you find help. Most is affordable, but I wouldn't say cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes!

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are scattered throughout the city and all are relatively safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is a nice English, German and French speaking Catholic Church. Although, otherwise I wouldn't know.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Croatian TV has a few English speaking channels and they are decent.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some. It is not all English speaking, but the younger generation speaks English very well!

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be difficult, because most of the streets are crammed with cars. However most places are wheel-chair accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trams and buses are affordable and relible, but taxis are expensive and rare to find around the city. Almost 100% of Croatians use trams and buses though, because they are so efficient.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Best not to have a large car. Something small that can fit into tiny parking spaces is suggested.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not many.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None at all other than some house break-ins.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Hospitals are OK, but most Americans that I know went to Vienna for serious conditions. However dental care is extraordinary!

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is good. We have never had any problems.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Beautiful, colorful fall. Long, cold, snowy winter. Hot spring. Scorching summer.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American International School of Zagreb (AISZ), is a pretty good school. It is a Pre-K - 12th Grade school, although only has about 200 students. It is an IB school, so if you have a teenager, it would be good to stay for all 4 high school years. My son, Tommy, started out at AISZ in 1st grade and finished 9th grade there, and we had a great experience. When we first went to Zagreb, my daughter, Adriana, had just turned one. We sent her to a Croatian speaking preschool, because we wanted her to learn the language. She also went to a school called "Kreativni Razvoi" for grades 1-2, which is a very good Croatian speaking school. By the end of that, she was fluent in Croatian and it was a great experience.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I knew someone who had an injury and used a wheelchair. AISZ was probably the best school in Zagreb for this, because in an a joint building to the school, there is an elevator, which made it more convenient. However, the school does not have ramps.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

The AISZ preschool is the only English speaking preschool. However, there is a nice Croatian speaking preschool called "Brat Sunca".

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small - 500 people??

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is a lot of city life and it is lots of fun.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Definitely a GREAT city for all!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

My favorite times have been just in the city at night. The main square, Trg Bana Jelacic, is a great "hang out" spot.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

I would definitely recommend hiking Medvjedgrad, skiing in Sljeme, going to the zoo in Maksimir, rollerblading in Maksimir park, ice skating in Salata or swimming at the pool in NoviGrad.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Cheese!

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Zagreb is a great tourist location. It has a few museums and the city is beautiful to stroll on. You can also go to the coast for the weekend and have a great time on the beach. My favorite places are Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar.

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11. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Are you kidding? OF COURSE!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

120-volt appliances

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3. But don't forget your:

Winter jacket and skis.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Zagreb has become one of the best places that I have ever lived in or visited and I hope that your experience in Zagreb will be as great as mine!

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Zagreb, Croatia 03/23/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I've also lived in Singapore and China.

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2. How long have you lived here?

I've lived here for 9 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

No direct flights to U.S., but connections through Paris, Frankfurt and other Europeans cities. With the layovers included, the journey from DC was 15+ hours, I believe.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For U.S. Embassy staff, housing is either north of the city in large and modern houses (for the most part), or south of the city just minutes from the Embassy in brand-new duplexes. All have small yards. There are also a few apartments downtown but I think those are getting sparse. Homes are nice--I'd say 90% I've seen in the Embassy pool are very recently renovated and very clean.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Cheap. Locals like to say it's expensive to live in Zagreb, but our grocery bill is very low!American products aren't in abundance, but it's also not like going to an Asian grocery store and not recognizing anything on the shelves.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Peanut butter, mayo, American treats and candy, chocolate chips, brown sugar, cereal.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

The only fastfood they have here is McD's. Cost is the same as in the States (I think--it's been awhile since I've been home).There are a handful of good restaurants, but generally, it's hard to find a really delicious, high-quality meal with good service. There are a lot of so-so joints with crummy service.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have an APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cleaning ladies are pretty affordable here.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, throughout the city.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Mormon, Baptist.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. Most Croats speak EXCELLENT English, especially the younger generation.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The sidewalks (when there are any) are either 18 inches wide or else blocked by a car parked on top of it. It's just not handicapped accessible in general, although there are lots of designated handicapped parking spots.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Bus and tram systems are cheap, safe, and easy to use. Taxis aren't cheap.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most any car is fine here, although don't attempt to bring a huge SUV!Roads can be narrow and parking is tight. We drive an Odyssey and we're like a gigantic space craft on wheels around here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Cost is around US$50/month, I think, or something very affordable like that. Very dependable.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative and not sloppy. They're pretty trendy but girls are pretty modest in their dress.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate to good. It's perfectly fine here, just as in any other average small U.S. city.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

They follow the same schedule as the States.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None. I've walked around alone at night and seen other women also walking alone, and feel very safe. Local friends allow their children to walk a few blocks alone at night, too. Very safe.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I've heard the hospitals are okay here--but try not to break a bone or slice a finger here! Dental work can be great and it's very afforable.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Spring and summers are beautiful and mild. Locals claim it's humid mid-summer, but it's really nothing terrible at all. Winters are also mild--it snowed here maybe three times and never stuck around longer than 36 hours.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AISZ is really the only option for Americans, and it seems to be good. Not great, but good. Currently it's located in the Northern hills. There are rumors that the '09-'10 schoolyear will be the last in this location, after which it will be moved south of the city very close to the US Embassy.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are limited English-speaking preschools: 3 main ones, and the one at AISZ.All are in the Northern hills. AISZ is ridiculously expensive for a preschool that is nothing better than an average preschool you'd find in the States. The other options are also quite expensive (US$350+ for just a few mornings a week, up to almost US$500 for full-day, 5-day programs). These schools are...okay. They are fine, the teachers are fine. But not great for the price. Facilities are VERY small, making the schools not as comfortable and functional as you'd want.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty small. Other than the Embassy people, there are few Americans here. There are other Europeans here, all with gov't work.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty high. Zagreb is a nice, modern, clean city with nice people and lots of fun travel opportunities.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

If you like to go out, Croats are into hanging out at cafes and just chilling. Pretty laid-back.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's probably moderate for all. I can't speak for singles, but I imagine that if you wanted to date, you could:almost all young Croats speak excellent English and are generally attractive. For families, it's a nice, liveable city, but somewhat lacking in activities for small children. We find it rather boring and the winter months were very dull stuck in the house all day with no place to take the kids. It's also challenging for lack of sidewalks in the neighborhoods.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I know several gay expats and they all seem to enjoy Zagreb.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I've heard there are racial prejudices here, but I'm Korean and haven't ever had any problems. People are very kind, helpful, hospitable, and sweet to my small children.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Maksimir, Bundek, and Jarun are nice large parks for biking, swimming in mand-made lakes (if you're into that), walking. There is a small zoo in Maksimir and several playgrounds in the parks. Other than that, Zagreb is a rather small city with not many things going on. The travel opportunities here are great, though. We are so close to Italy, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia. Even Germany is a feasible drive. Flights are affordable to Paris or London.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not many, actually. I was disappointed at Christmas to find the fairs stocked with things I'd find at Target at home!

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9. Can you save money?

Yes! The only thing that could limit your savings are all the awesome travel opportunities here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. I wouldn't do a repeat tour here, but I definitely don't regret coming. My only complaint about Zagreb is that it can be a little boring at times. But it's a very nice place.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

120 volt appliances.

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3. But don't forget your:

American snacks and foods.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you're choosing a place based on ease of living, Zagreb is a good choice. It's modern, it's clean, it's safe. Culture is similar to American--there are no shockers when you get here.

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Zagreb, Croatia 03/02/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've lived in Paris, France and Verona and Rome, Italy.

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2. How long have you lived here?

8 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Military.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

No direct flights from the U.S. due to FAA safety classification. Good road condition to Ljubljana (1.5 hours), Triest is about 4 hours away. Graz is about 3 hours away.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most families live North of the city on the hills. The distance to downtown varies between a few minutes to about 20. The school is in this area. The Embassy is South of town, and commute can be long (45 minutes). There are plans to move the international school towards the Embassy, but it will still be a few years.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Good availability and choice. Cost is, in my opinion, slightly lower than in European cities.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

American groceries (peanut butter is very expensive, as is maple syrup). Plastic Ziploc bags are very different here, and I am glad I brought some. Specific brand items that you might have a strong preference for.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Restaurants are less expensive than in many other cities in Europe. Meat is everywhere ad good. Not much choice for vegetarian or ethnic food, but it is available. McDonald's is there, as is Subway.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some mosquitoes in the summer.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Post offices are efficient.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Easily available, less good that in other cities I lived at. It runs about 40 to 50 KN/hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. Many are beautiful and very modern. Pilates is big here.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They are readily available. I have not heard of scams or problems like for examples in Italy.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Jewish, Orthdox, I believe

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable has many English channels, but also Croatian national TV, since it broadcasts most programs in Original Language with subtitles. So TV shows are in English.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with just a little. Many young people speak English in the city. Outside of it, it is a different matter. Some Italian is spoken on the coast. Many speak German.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I have the impression the city is by no means fully accessible, but I see slow progress being made. Still a long way to go.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trams and buses service all of the city very efficiently. Buses are also very good to reach smaller towns. I have not used trains, but they are available especially to go towards Austria and Hungary.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Roads are very good in the city and in most of the country. Parts of American cars can be expensive and it can take longer to get them in.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about US$50/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Coverage is good, there is a choice between at least three providers.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I do not believe so.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes. Also all night clinics.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Smart, elegant for work and around the city, but casual is also accepted.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Nothing specific. We follow the CDC schedule.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Zagreb is still a very safe city. The country was shocked because of two major violent episodes this fall, both connected with organized crime. Still, Croatian children walk to school alone and walk back even if it is dark outside, and it is common to see women out on their own even late at night, coming home from the bus stops.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Healthcare is of good standard, even though the look of some of the facilities can be disheartening. Some cultural differences can be puzzling.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Warm/hot summers, winter can be very gray, with frequent rain fall and snow (not much accumulation in the city).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AISZ is the only Int School I have experience with. We are very happy with it. We have asked for supplemental history instruction for our daughter and they were very efficient and responsive in designing a program tailored to our needs. It is a small school, but it is growing.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Unfortunately most sports are available only with Croatian teams/instructors.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Medium small.

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2. Morale among expats:

High, the people I know really like it here. Host country nationals are usually very pleasant towards foreigners.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lively cafe culture among Croats and expats. International Women Club is present and offers some activities. Other poles are the school and the embassy communities.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I have heard that it can be difficult for singles to meet other young people. Families will, in my opinion, enjoy this post.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I am not sure. I know some have made good friends, but at the same time the city can be a bit conservative and difficult.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Again, I have heard of some prejudices (mostly based on race), but I a not sure how real they are. Religion is obviously very important, since being Catholic is almost a matter of national identity, but I am not sure how mu this would enter in play in day to day life with foreigners

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You can ski about 30 minutes away from the main square, you can do all sorts of water sports at the Jarun lake. There are two ice skating rinks, very well maintained. Zagreb has many parks, including the huge Maximir which, in its Northern side is a veritable forest. There are a lot of small villages that are very interesting to visit, and a water park only a short drive away. There are some interesting festivals throughout the year, and a very active music program with big name international artists.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lace, silver traditional jewelry, some crystal, trips to the coast.

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9. Can you save money?

I think so. We were in Rome before, and we are doing much better here, and living "larger."

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, absolutely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Worries. Life can be truly great here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit for those trips to the coast. Also, if you wear special size clothing or shoes, you may want to stock up.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

For Croatia: Vukovar The Wounds.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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