Digital Estonia Leads, Serbian Tax Breaks: Meanwhile, in Croatia…

October 9, 2019 – As Estonia leads the digital revolution in Europe, Serbia announces tax breaks to entice digital nomads. Meanwhile in Croatia…

There are so many things I love about living in Croatia – the people, the nature, the climate, the food, the wine, the safety, the cheap pints.

And the total absurdity. I genuinely couldn’t live anywhere else.

Here we are, fairly well into the 21st century in the rest of Europe, or at least most countries are.

Somewhere up there in northern Europe, a tiny former Soviet republic with no obvious natural resources to turn it into an economic powerhouse, little Estonia leads the way in its digital revolution. Now offering public administration efficiencies we can only dream of in Croatia, those efficiencies have also brought savings equivalent to 2% of GDP. Learn more in Lessons from Estonia: Farewell Uhljebistan, Welcome to the Future?

Could it happen in Croatia? At least a little bit?

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I had to laugh today when I saw this on a friend’s Facebook timeline, as it just about sums it up. Rimac the superstar, a Croatian company which is taking the world by storm, attracting prestigious foreign investment form the likes of Porsche and Hyundai. Rimac Automobili, one small company started by a 23-year-old which represents the entire car industry of Croatia and which has the world’s top names from abroad queueing up to invest. And the Croatian government, propping up things from the past – shipyards, a national airline (here is what happened in Budapest when Malev went bust 7 years ago) and a rusting boat of a former president from a former era.

But if they do insist on such things, could we at least be a little sensible looking to the future in working to attract investment by making laws and taxation competitive?

One area where Croatia has HUGE potential to attract an entirely new industry which could bring more visitors than tourism does currently (and for longer, not only in peak season, and not only on the coast) is the digital nomad revolution. To be clear – as there is some confusion – when talking about digital nomads, I am not referring just to bloggers and influencers (although they are a form of nomad), but people who work remotely online, and who can therefore be anywhere.

People like the Russian/Ukranian couple resident in Munich, but living all over Europe for 10 months of the year. From April to June inclusive, they were enjoying life in Jelsa (and they will return for three months next year). Their daily routine: swim, coffee on the square (Jelsa), work online until lunch (Munich), lunch in a restaurant in Jelsa, back to work online in Munich. After work, another swim and an evening’s entertainment in Jelsa.

Working and earning in Munich, spending in Jelsa. 90 days a year.

Not in peak season.

Learn more about How Croatia is Becoming Increasingly Attractive for the Digital Nomad Lifestyle.

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Blessed with its climate, lifestyle, location, safeness and a host of other things, Croatia really doesn’t have to work too hard to make it a European hot spot for the remote worker of the future. Imagine that nomad couple in Jelsa multiplied by 20 million over the year and all over the country. Just 2% of that projected one billion. Is there anywhere better than Croatia potentially for a digital nomad lifestyle?

A little digitalisation, some third-country visa issues, making the residential permit nightmare simpler, that kind of thing. Really not difficult. Oh, and perhaps a tax break or two, some incentives to give nomads additional reasons to come and spend time and money in Croatia.

Something like Serbia announced today, for example:

A new demographic which Serbia is now looking to attract is digital nomads. The Prime Minister announced that starting in 2020 the Serbian government will be rolling out a new tax incentive. This first iteration will offer digital nomads a zero tax rate for income earned while working in Serbia (for a set amount of time – 90 days).

This announcement is quite exciting as part of a larger trend of governments beginning to acknowledge the importance of creating policies and incentive for remote workers and digital nomads.

Read more on Serbia’s progressive approach to attracting the next generation of traveller.

Meanwhile in Croatia…

Despite the best efforts of the powers that be, Croatia is still a fabulous (and increasingly popular) digital nomad destination – check out the Total Croatia digital nomad guide here. But it could easily be SOOOO much better and a market leader in Europe.

But then I would not be living in Absurdistan and I wouldn’t like it…

Learn more about real-life digital nomad experiences in Croatia in our series of interviews with remote workers who have called Croatia their temporary home.

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