Last updated: July 9, 2019

Small Cities, Small Dreams (Thoughts on Zagreb)



I spent the last few weeks in Croatia, and during that time, I managed to hit up the capital city of Zagreb.

Which is quite small, quaint, and charming for a capital city in Europe. I’m used to the hustle and bustle and craziness of Kiev now, but Zagreb reminded me quite a bit of Vilnius, Lithuania, which I visited in 2016.

It also got me to thinking…

On one hand, I’ve always sort of advocated against these kind of small cities.

I just think it would be tough for an expat.

If I got bored in the span of ten days or two weeks, wouldn’t it be really tough to actually live there on a permanent basis?

Common sense would dictate that yes, this is the case.


Common sense would also dictate that if you stay in a place permanently, you’re more likely to make local friends, find things to do, get involved with stuff, get into a longer-term relationship and meet friends/family through that – etc, etc. You get my point.

You would also think that in a small town it might be easier to find these things, as you tend to see the same people over and over again.

But, there’s one other catch…

Namely, that in a small town like that, often times the local culture is a bit more “closed off”. You know, “small town” vibes where everyone knows everyone.

I don’t think this trend is exclusive to Europe.

If you go to ho-dunk-town Nebraska, you’re going to find if you show up as a guy from California, you’re going to be looked at with suspicion.

Same thing with the “village-like” European cities.

It was definitely that way when I visited Belgrade, Serbia last year. Same with Sofia, Bulgaria in 2017. Both those places felt very closed off, like you’d have to really, really work to get the insider network of the city and meet people. It also felt like if you managed to do so, it would really pay off.

Ultimately, this is not an easy conclusion to draw.

Either you stay in a place long enough to get established, despite it being small and having to work for it.

Or you get sick of it and just leave.

For those of you who have been to some of these cities, what are your thoughts?

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