‘I live on $ 47 a day – here’s how I spend my time’


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Before Covid appeared in March last year, I was earning a decent income of about $ 4,000 a month as a freelance video producer. But as the pandemic intensified, earnings from the concert quickly dropped to $ 700.

Because of all the uncertainty about the future, I found myself sleeping on a futon at my sister’s house in New Jersey. I felt restless and missed all the trips to work.

But a few months later, my prayers were answered: Published by Croatia that it will start offering a one-year residence permit to digital nomads (anyone outside the European Union working remotely) in January 2021.

I had already visited Croatia and was completely enchanted by the country, so I decided to apply.

Obtaining a Croatian digital nomadic residence permit

I did a lot of preparatory work between April and December earlier obtaining approval to obtain a permit.

The application processing fee was $ 100, and to qualify, I had to have a monthly income of at least $ 2,750. So in the following months I aggressively built a steady stream of income from free performances (video production and text writing) through Upwork.

By December, I was making about $ 4,000 a month again. I was also an obsessive saver and rarely spent my earnings. So with the $ 76,000 I had in my savings account, I felt financially secure enough to live abroad.

Beautiful street in the heart of Split

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

In addition to the income claim, I had to show proof of international health insurance (which I got through an American travel insurance company called Seven Corners), get an FBI check, and state the address where I would stay.

I spend much less in Croatia than in the USA

Average monthly consumption of Steve Tsentserensky

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I live alone in a 650 square meter apartment, which I found through a Facebook group for emigrants in Croatia. I rent directly from the owner for $ 540 (including utilities) per month.

Marmontova Street, a busy street in Split filled with several shops and restaurants. Pictured in the distance is the island of Brac.

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

I spend an average of $ 47 and. Here is the division (from June 2021):

  • Rental and overhead: 540 USD
  • Health insurance: 65 USD
  • Food (groceries, dining and drinks): 608 USD
  • Subscriptions: 14 USD
  • Phone: 12 USD
  • Recreational travel: $ 185

Total: 1,424 USD

How I spend my days

As soon as my alarm goes off at 6:30 in the morning, I’ll make Turkish coffee and have a simple breakfast – usually eggs, vegetables, cheese, and toast.

Then I dived straight into my free projects. I try to work about eight hours of work on weekdays. Since most of my clients are based in the U.S., I will schedule work calls by Eastern or Pacific Standard Time.

If I feel like eating for lunch ($ 10 to $ 14, including tip), there are a few places within walking distance. I love trips to the bakery to taste burek, a savory pastry that is usually stuffed with meat or cheese ($ 2 to $ 3).

A burek with cheese and a double espresso in a cafe in Split cost around $ 5.

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

A nice dinner on the beach will include many seafood dishes like tuna, octopus ink risotto and squid ($ 18 to $ 30, including drinks and tip).

Risotto with squid ink and beer from the local restaurant Dujkin Dvorlocal in Split for just under $ 18.

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

I am quite a social person and I met a lot of great people in Split – both locals and other emigrants. On weekends, I could spend hours in meaningful conversations with friends over a $ 2 espresso.

From my apartment I am a three minute walk to the famous ruins of Diocletian’s Palace. Built at the turn of the fourth century and considered the heart of the city, pedestrians smoothly swallowed the streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The famous ruins of Diocletian’s Palace

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

I am also six minutes away from the waterfront, a promenade along the waterfront full of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops.

At 35, travel has always been an essential part of my life. Since coming to Croatia, I have traveled to see more of this infinitely beautiful country.

Several places I was: Zagreb (where I lived for several months), Rijeka, Zadar and the islands of Hvar and Brač. I recently took a two-hour bus ($ 28 for a return ticket) to Zaton.

View of the Zagreb Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the second tallest building in Croatia.

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

Continuation of nomadic life

One of the disadvantages of working and living abroad is that I am far from family and friends, so I hope to return home someday.

One of the most famous attractions in Split is the Cathedral of St. Dujam – filled with murals, carved altars and a steep bell tower.

Photo: Steve Tsentserensky

While Croatia will forever take its place in my heart, several other countries, including Georgia and Portugal, also offer digital nomadic visas. After my license expires here in March 2022, I plan to take advantage of those opportunities and continue my nomadic life as long as I can.

The freedom to work from anywhere and to set one’s own course is a bit addictive, and its spontaneity is a big part of what makes me happy.

Steve Tsentserensky is a video producer, photographer and writer. He currently lives in Croatia through a digital nomadic residence permit. Follow him Instagram.

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