Good luck! I mean, here’s a guide to help you out.
This is not just a Croatia-specific issue. Many destinations face higher prices in ‘peak’ season, and ghost towns in ‘off-season’. As such, apartment owners make the most of their rental income during these months. You’re searching in a market where more travellers (about 19 million in 2021 in Croatia if I am correct) are also booking the same place you’re looking at, but staying shorter and thus prepared to pay more.
Add to this, your chances of finding something with availability over 1 or more months diminishes. Eg. A property with sporadic bookings across June is now no longer an option.
So what to do?
Well, I don’t have a magic wand, but here are some tips if you’re desperate to get to Croatia this summer (or anywhere experiencing market peaks and troughs).
1. Be prepared to pay more in these months.
2. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! (tips below)
3. Be open to sharing or pay a higher premium through a paid rental service in these months, and plan as far in advance as you can for this.
What to pay?
Split in peak season – expect to pay 60 – 100 per night for a “high rated” central apartment. In our Split network – a great 1 bedroom apartment in the palace in March goes for 750/euro. It’s over 4,000 in Summer. If you can get a deal for 500 – 1000 in Summer, you’ve hit the jackpot!
- OTAs and PAID COMMUNITIES:
- Join a paid digital nomad community.
This is a group service (Remote Year, Wifi Tribe, Hacker Paradise, Be Here, etc). Why? Many of these services find apartments for you, hopefully at good rates. Yes, you’ll pay an added premium, but what price do you pay for the hours of searching? While many dodge the peaks, it will generally show you what months are affordable in which location.
- Find a Midterm Rental Service
In Croatia, there is Trawerk, Grabahome and – full disclosure, DNA Stay. Granted, the latter is evolving, as we work with accommodation providers. Of these, DNA Stay’s fees are considerably lower than large OTAs, and the proceeds fund our association! If you find a place that isn’t available, or you’d like to adjust – you can reach out to DNA to contact the owner on your behalf.
You’re on my blog – of course I’ll give myself a plug. We have a select range of trusted providers we work with. We also negotiate on rates based on the duration of your stay. Note – we have limited availability over the peak, sorry! Once they’re taken, that’s it.And roomies – we help out with this a lot, as we know nomads in town looking to share, and are happy to connect you over video call to work out your needs.
- Join a paid digital nomad community.
- Join an online community
This can be local area Facebook groups, Slack, Discord, Whatsapp, etc – many of these groups have local members who post their properties, or, it’s a way to find someone to share with (more on this later). You can also ask around to see what neighbourhoods or regions might have better deals, or tips – eg. if there is a large festival on a certain date (festivals, what are they again?!), you can almost guarantee prices will be through the roof.
- Other platforms which are the equivalent of Craigslist. In Croatia this is Njuskalo (“sniff” out a deal). This can be tricky, for a number of reasons. The first is, photos are generally sh*t. Sorry to be harsh, but real estate agencies and private owners in Croatia don’t take great photos or bother to offer a translation. You also aren’t as protected here – if you find a place, do a Google image search and ask for their tourist listing ID, or minimise your deposit. This would be a safer bet when you are physically present, can see a property and negotiate in person, and get the right paperwork, including a written record of any bond or deposit you pay. If in doubt, you can email a local tourist board to see if they are a registered provider (for tourism purposes). If they aren’t renting as a tourism property, your lease is lodged at a public notary – so insist on these things to protect yourself. Need help? Get in touch – we’ll refer you to trusted providers.
- Find a longterm lease, eg. 12 months, and ask if they are open to a summer rental. “Don’t ask, don’t get” applies here. Many won’t, but if you offer a decent price, it may be worth their while. Eg. your 3 months of renting, could equate to 6 months at the year-round rate, so if it is empty once you leave, it is still in their interest. Here, offer an end of stay clean, but be sure to protect yourself with a contract. They might keep the ad up while you’re in there, and be tempted to take a long term offer! Not all – but unfortunately, there are always stories like this out there.
You’re in luck! This is the time you can actually use a few things to your advantage. At the same time – whether it’s optimism or obstinance, not many Dalmatians budge when it comes to Summer.If you’re staying longer, you can generally get a better deal (more in point below). Further, with the labour shortage, owners will be more inclined to accept longer stays – removing the need for constant linen and cleaning changes will bring them relief – especially if they have other businesses or jobs in the summer.One nomad we helped wrote to a landlord about herself – explaining why she was in Croatia, what she does for a living and her willingness to rent for 3 months with the option to extend if she stayed. It worked!
Showing who you are, and that you’re a professional who will respect their property will build confidence.
- Share (see next point).
- Join an online community
- SHAREIf you’re not normally into sharing, this may be the time to try it out. There are a number of benefits to consider.
- Bigger apartments
- Better cooking facilities
- Meet people
- Share costs (eg. utilities, agent/booking fees – if applicable).
- Explore together
Generally – sharing means you’ll have a bigger apartment. It will in turn have better cooking facilities (many smaller tourism rentals might have tiny stoves- if any, no dishwasher and minimal utensils). Larger apartments tend to have a lot more included. You can meet people this way, share travel costs for day trips (eg. car rental) and also share utilities and booking fees if this is being charged. So it saves you money, in many ways- from the self catering benefits to shared costs.
- Couchsurfing, if it is for you, is an option in Croatia. Note – if you are renting a place, or about to couch surf, check that “subleasing” is permitted. Also note, tourists must pay a daily city tax (roughly $1-2USD per day) and you are required to register at police stations with your address – whether you’re paying or staying for free.
- Find a flatmate. How? There currently isn’t a dedicated site in Croatia for this (if there is, correct me). My recommendations here are:
- Join or contact a coworking space and see if any members are looking to share, or join forums to find someone looking for your dates.
- For peace of mind, line up a video call and ask for online profile proof, eg. their Airbnb rating.
- You’ll also want to ensure the lease allows ‘subleasing’ (you can negotiate this with the owner) and ensure you are all paying tourist taxes, if it’s that type of lease. If you lodge a lease in only your name only, take some measures to protect yourself if the unlisted person leaves early or incurs damage – really, like any type of rental lease.
- Put up an ad! Njuskalo is open to anyone to list, as well as any other forums.
4. Befriend some locals. 🙂
This applies more when you’re on the ground –
Locals tend to know someone who “has a place” or someone not interested in changing strangers’ sheets every 1-2 days in the middle of summer. Many properties for sale never even make it on the market. It is less so with holiday properties, but there are often times someone hasn’t listed online for whatever reason – and you’ll only discover these gems through in-person connections, and by asking.
You can also use this if you book a place for short term, and use the time to explore neighbourhoods you like and look for a longer term option.
5. STAY LONGER
Longer stays give you more negotiating power. We know nomads who are prepared to pay more in the ‘peak’ and have this lowered in shoulder and low season. This is common. As with anything – get it in writing!
Thanks to Croatia’s digital nomad permit, you can stay for 12 months. And, hot tip – if you enter as a tourist, you can stay during the processing time.
WHERE TO STAY?
Too much to cover in this post, stay tuned for another write up, or reach out via email.
We pretty much endorse ANYWHERE, but if you’re after an existing hub for your starting point, Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar stand out. Many other places are up and coming and you’ll enjoy your time there.