June was my first full month outside of the U.S.A and I thought you all might be interested in hearing about what it cost for me to live abroad in the beautiful country of Croatia for the month. I’ve provided a snapshot of my Mint budget report for June below so you can see where all my money went.
This budget report covers my time traveling from Pula in Istria all the way to Hvar in Dalmatia. In between I saw Zadar, Sibenik, Plitvice, Krka, Split, and Brac. Costs include everything I spent while traveling as well as any costs I still pay back home, like car insurance. Not included are costs to run the blog.
I keep all costs spent in a single month as costs for that month regardless if they are for services in future months. For example, in June I paid for an Air BNB that I’ll be staying at in July. Since the cost hit the books in June I’m just going to leave it there, mainly because I’m lazy and Mint makes it a little difficult to reassign costs to future months.
How I track my costs – I log into Mint daily to check my balances, categorize all credit card transactions, and enter any cash transactions I made the day before. Cash transactions are tracked via the notepad app on my iPhone and I am consistent about it – every coffee, beer, taxi, bus, piece of chocolate; every time a Kuna leaves my hand it gets logged. In Croatia it’s still rare to find a place that accepts credit cards, so most transactions are done in cash, and I’m always whipping my phone out afterwards like some deranged biologist logging the local flora and fauna of regional costs. “Ahhh, well, I see, hmmm, interesting… one slice of pizza at 1/4th of total pizza circumference is 10 Kuna in Zadar and here in Hvar one slice of pizza at 1/8th total pizza circumference is 20 Kuna … hmmm.. calculating…. This damn pizza is 4 times as expensive!”
So let’s get into it. Below you’ll find my budget, my costs, and an analysis of what went right and what could have been done better.
Total Spent: $2,048
I know for you Mint users all that red is probably giving you an anxiety attack but to be fair, before my trip began I really had no idea what most of these costs would be so I entered my best budgetary guesstimates going into the month. Also, my general attitude about the whole thing is that I’m going to do everything I want to do, within reason, and I’m not going to stress about blowing any arbitrary budgets I may have set for myself. I rarely eat at nice restaurants, I never stay at fancy hotels, I always walk or take the bus so I know my costs will remain at an acceptably low level.
The first thing that jumps out to me when I review this budget is that I spent $515 to put a roof over my head and I didn’t have to sleep on the street for one night! That is absolutely spectacular to me. What are you paying for rent, and where do you live? I was staying on one of the most beautiful coastlines on Earth and it cost me less than what I was paying to live in a boring, run-of-the-mill apartment with a roommate in a place you’ve never heard of in good ol’ USA.
My next thought was… Alcohol is expensive. We all know it, but to see that I spent almost as much on alcohol as I did on food (70%) for the month just reinforces how expensive the drinking habit is. And I don’t even drink that much (seriously Mom). I met people that spent the same amount in one big night out as I did for an entire month. While traveling, even if you stick to the “non-party” hostels, most people have at least a couple of drinks each evening while socializing and it begins to add up. Stay in a party place like Hvar too long and you will rack up a sizeable party bill. In the “alcohol and bar” category I include all costs associated with partying, including cover charges.
There are a few more miscellaneous things that stand out to me. One thing is pharmacy costs – included in that $42 is about $30 worth of sunblock. It’s very expensive here, especially in Pula where I spent $24 on one bottle of SPF 30 spray sunblock. Also the fact that I spent $94 on groceries for the entire month blows me away. If I really wanted to buckle down and save money for a month I would buy more groceries (eat at less restaurants) and stay out of the sun.
Areas of Improvement
I made a couple of sizable mistakes this month that cost me large chunks of cash. First, you’ll notice I blew my “Bills and Utilities” budget for the month. I spent $223 on my cell phone bill, which should have only cost $54 for the month. I chalk this one up to the “stupid Brandon” category because I didn’t have my iPhone on WiFi-calling mode. This means I spent 20 cents a minute every time I talked to my friends and family back in the USA. I have the international plan with T-Mobile, which is an incredible deal if you’re a smarter person than me. The deal is, for $54 per month, you keep your US number, all text messages are free to domestic and international numbers, you get free unlimited internet where available up to 3G, and 1 gig of 4G internet per month. All calls made from and within the USA are free, and all calls made from outside the USA are 20 cents per minute, unless you call from WiFi, in which case, it’s free. AS LONG AS YOU TURN ON WiFi CALLING. I find that I’m never as angry as I am when I am angry with myself. I try to remember to forgive myself but when I make a stupid mistake I usually spend some time sulking like a child for a bit until I remind myself that I am not working, traveling the world, making new friends and having a wonderful time.
The other mistake I made was missing my 9AM ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik, because I slept in too late. I had to eat the cost of the ferry as well as the cost of a bus I had pre-arranged, for a total of $45.
Ways For You to Save Money in Croatia
Prices everywhere in Croatia increase as soon as July 1st hits and they stay elevated through August. I started feeling this pressure, fueled by an influx of tourists, about a week ago in Hvar. Hostels started booking up 3 to 4 days in advance and my preferred tactic of booking one night at a time started to fail. If you want to drastically cut the cost of your trip to Croatia I’d recommend visiting in June or September. The weather is still beautiful and there are plenty of people around but your costs will be as much as half the price. This is true for most major expenses, including housing, national park entry fees, club entry fees, transportation, food, drinks, etc.
Other tips are pretty standard backpacker fare – stay in inexpensive hostels, cook your own food, don’t buy drinks at the clubs, travel by ground and don’t travel too far too quickly.
Did you like this post? Do you have any other tips for fellow travelers coming to Croatia? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’ve enjoyed my blog please take a moment and help me help you help me cut our costs! – If you’ve never done it before you can use the Air BNB link below to set up your own account and we’ll both get $25 towards a stay.
Click Here to help – – > www.airbnb.com/c/bcronan2?s=8 < – –