Svinisce, the hidden treasure

Expat of the month
  • Svinisce, the hidden treasure
Published on 2013-10-01 at 00:00 by team
I'm Pim, my wife's name is Nives, and the cats have changing names. I am coming from the Netherlands (Holland) and I am living in Svinisce, a tiny little village behind Omis, Dalmatia, Croatia.

I'm Pim, my wife's name is Nives, and the cats have changing names. I am coming from the Netherlands (Holland): I was born in a small border part of a town called Breda (in the south of the Netherlands). I am living in Svinisce, a tiny little village behind Omis, Dalmatia, Croatia.

When and how did you decide to move to Croatia? Is it complicated to settle down there?

A couple of years ago I was completely fed up with my job as a sales representative for 35 years. Had a fine house with a beautiful garden in a small town (in the south/west of the Netherlands). Through family ties (mother in law is from Split) already visited Yugoslavia many times before it became Croatia, and deeply liked this specific area, the Dalmatinska Zagora. Told friends here how very special it felt, so they and others started a search for space to either stay or even settle. They did, mother in law helped swapping some property at the coast for our current land.

My wife first absolutely wanted to settle at the seaside, but I convinced her to live here, and today she couldn't agree more (magnificent panorama, total peace and very social friends).

Settle down was complicated (as usual), different laws and habits, and I guess it's sometimes a pain in the *** for people that have no connections, nor real good advise. In short, yes it's difficult, no jobs, different regulations, and an impossible language.

Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?

Never lived abroad, so it was bit of an adventure to make this move. Visited many countries, both professionally and for pleasure, but Croatia beats them all !!!

What do you like the most about Dalmatia (or Croatia)?

What I like most about Dalmatia/Croatia isn't easily answered. First of all it's our region, unspoiled nature, the Cetina river and Canyon within five minutes, the Adriatic sea in another five. So we are blessed with fantastic pure surroundings, but there is more. People here are very social still, the climate overall pleasant, and with a big town like Split within half an hour's drive a bonus in case of shopping wishes/needs.

The whole package, history, culture, way of life, a near airport and a modern road system, makes life here what it is, European yet typical Mediterranean (and a bit Balkan too).

How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with the Netherlands, your home country?

I hardly experienced a culture shock, as grown up between farms this felt like coming home. Dalmatians are different than Croatians (easy does it, or to say it in Croatian: polako !), and Dalmatia having been under the influence of many other cultures is used to "strangers". If I am ever "shocked", it's the moment I need to visit Holland for some urgent reason. Crowds, noise, stress, over organised and (just a tiny bit more) rain and cloudy skies.

Rules, laws, habits form the main difference compared to Holland. This is a different country, the newest member of the EU, a young democracy coming from communist suppression, with the wounds of a recent war, and many previous wars. Guess that's why things change so frequently, guess that's why it may be difficult to understand the changes, for government, for people, and for expats like us.

o you miss anything from your homeland


Do I miss anything from Holland, the answer is yes, as everybody always is used to some specific things. In general however, we miss nothing, as this is an open market today, and most things we're used to are available here as well. Even Coca Cola, Mc.Donalds, Nike and Marlboro are on the market, so what to wish for. And what we've got here, easily makes you forget what you're missing. Food in general is far better; fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, olive oil and wine are really better.

Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?

Great memories I have from falling from a small roof I was building. Two meters were enough to break six ribs, flying was great, landing a bit less great. Smoking stopped instantly, and the stay in the hospital in Split another experience not to forget (however medical care is as everywhere). The good thing was (and IS) that each and everyone CARED, HELPED and WORRIED. The incomplete roof was instantly covered, and my wife was invited to eat wherever she liked or needed (I am the cook here). All in all this was the very best (of the most horrible) experiences, at it proved again our choice to live here was a GOOD one. Thanks again folks, this is why I say "JA VOLIM DALMACIJA" (I love Dalmatia).

What does a typical day as an expat in Dalmatia look like?

A typical day of us as expats here may seem different to other people. We are retired, so no wake up calls, no bossy bosses, no obligations, targets, neckties. Morning starts with having a coffee and a smoke under a clear blue sky, temperature perfect, view magnificent. After a second one of both, my wife does some paperwork (I don't), and I do whatever I feel like or have to, on our land and around the house. Thousands of small and bigger jobs still, helping some neighbor with my skills, helping harvest grapes, olives or potatoes, or cleaning the borders of the mountain road together (all of them followed by a joined meal in the open, with enough local drinks to keep from drying out). Never a dull moment, always active, and loads of home grown vegetables and fruits.

When did you start your blog? For what reasons?

I started my blog already years ago, before we even thought of settling down here. Reason was, and still is, I want to share thoughts about Dalmatia, sometimes just thoughts, reflections, inspirations, sometimes telling about a hike, a trip, a discovery. I use my blog to both enjoy myself and anyone interested in my "little no goods for nothings". On top of that I hope to show people how splendid this region is, for a visit, a long holiday or even life.

Did you make new friends with your blog?

Sometimes I get very nice response from unexpected parts of the globe. I decided to not open the option of comments, but make no secret of my email address in case somebody wants to comment of has a question. Japan, Australia, even Argentina and of course England, the USA and the English speaking part of Holland send me emails, to which I always reply with pride and joy.

Why did you register on and what do you think of the website?

Networks work, even for retired folks like me, and Expat Blog is a nice community of people who share the same attitude to new places, for reasons of job or a total change of life like we did. The website, as far as I can see, looks and works fine, however I am not even a frequent visitor (too many things to do, too many hobbies, and....more relevant too folks still in the process of their changes to come). I wrote on various websites and created a load of Svinisce-pages on the Internet, all with one reason: LOOK HERE, this is paradise !

Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Dalmatia (or Croatia)?

Best advice for anyone focusing on Croatia as a place to live:

1. "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". Moving never is an easy process, and that goes for Croatia as well.

2. "get yourself a really trustworthy adviser". I know a few good ones in this area, who are not only after your money.

3. "if possible, look and look and look again, talk and listen, about where you want to settle". Is it at the coast, an island or like us, just behind it, in the hinterland, or deep in the Northern woods, and even more, what are the local habits, as a city like Split is different from Karlovac.

4. "if looking for an easy job in tourism, forget it, unless you've got something very special". Finding jobs in general is a problem, due to laws, rules and a huge unemployment rate.

5. "if coming to Dalmatia as an investor, entrepreneur or clever businessman, welcome !!". A big harbor, a nearby airport, splendid highways, plenty of Croatian and European support, and low labor expenses combined with willing and well educated youngsters should do the trick, if the entrance to the entire Balkan does not do it. With Ikea planning to come soon, many European companies already penetrated the Croatian market (German, Austrian, Dutch, Italian and many more). Being part of the European Union made it a lot easier to start up a production plant, an import or open a store.

Also on that matter I gladly connect people to good contacts, however I am not active in that field, nor will I, as life is too precious to spoil making money for the sake of money. (I did, and did well, and am not interested in obligations anymore). Life today, for me, my wife and our cats is to good, and we try to keep it that way. We live in our hidden treasure, a tiny village tugged away in a beautiful valley, among fine people, and want to get old with a minimum of worries and a maximum of happiness.

Svinisce, the hidden treasure