Pros and Cons of Living in Rijeka

Rijeka is a port city in Croatia with a strong history and promising future. 

As a main port back in the day, Rijeka was the city of crucial importance which played a big role in building the rest of the country and allowed for many trends to see the light of the day.

Today, Rijeka no longer plays an important “port town” role as that purpose is now sent into a second plan with the degraded industry. Still, it remains a lovely city worth visiting and perhaps living in for some.

Whether you are visiting Croatia for just a few days or plan to live here as a permanent citizen or a digital nomad, I’ll take this opportunity to speak about the pros and cons of living in Rijeka as a local who spent 27 years in Rijeka.

Before stating any pros and cons of living in Rijeka I must state how Rijeka is one of the safest cities in the world and you can find more about it and other useful information about Rijeka in my article What foreigners must know about Rijeka.

Rijeka has an ideal geographical position

Rijeka is like no other city in Croatia when it comes to geographical advantage. This advantage alone put it into the branch of the most important ports in this region of Europe, and while the port is less significant today, this advantage still persists.

Port in Rijeka and a cargo ship

If you want to swim and sunbathe you have the sea and lovely beaches whether in the town or in nearby towns such as Opatija or Kostrena which are only 20 minutes away from Rijeka by car.

Are you bored of the coast and want something more exotic? No problems, the islands of Krk, Cres, Mali i Veliki Lošinj are right across the sea and you can easily reach them by ferry and by car over a bridge that connects Rijeka and Krk.

The sea is not your cup of tea or it’s not ideal weather for sunbathing and swimming? No problems, less than 30 minutes by car and you are in the mountains in Gorski kotar where you can ski, hike or just enjoy the fresh oxygen powered by lush forests.

Whenever I get bored of the sea, I visit Platak, Fužine, or hike some hill in Gorski kotar and feel that I traveled somewhere far away as the difference in climate and vegetation is enormous.

At top of this, you can get on the idyllic roads through Istria and visit small medieval towns surrounded by vineyards in less than 45 minutes.

Want to go to Slovenia or Italy? The border of Slovenia is like 20 minutes away from Rijeka and you are in Trieste, Italy in an hour and a half at most.

The rest of the country is also well connected with Rijeka so you can be in the capital city of Zagreb in less than an hour and a half.

The city’s great geographical position is one of the reasons why I recommend Rijeka as a great anchor point for itineraries around Croatia.

Industrial parts of Rijeka are taken care of by the locals, so even the most industrial hoods are getting love

Is Rijeka expensive?

What is expensive to one might be inexpensive to another, so this is subjective unless we have strong criteria.

The problem is that the expenses rise on a state level, thus everything from groceries to gas and real estate is reaching all-time high prices in recent times.

Job insecurities and inflation affect the entire country, but in Rijeka, you can at least find a job that will cover some of these expenses and enjoy a normal life as long as you know how to manage your finances.

This unfortunately isn’t the case with some other regions in Croatia such as Slavonia.

To better understand what prices you can expect in Rijeka compared to other cities, I have prepared comparison tables below.

First, let’s see how expensive life is in Rijeka based on factors that matter to most people:

CategoryAverage Cost (€)Range (€)
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant12.629.95-25.00
Mid-range Restaurant (Three-course, 2 People)53.0733.16-120.00
McDonald’s Combo Meal6.675.99-7.98
Domestic Beer (0.5L)2.782.39-4.00
Milk (1L)1.210.93-2.00
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)1.390.83-2.50
Chicken Fillets (1kg)8.735.00-12.00
Apples (1kg)1.451.00-1.99
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)22
Monthly Pass (Public Transport)46.9737.25-53.09
Taxi Start66-8
Utilities (Monthly)
Basic Utilities (85m2 Apartment)141.90128.85-265.34
Internet (60 Mbps, Unlimited)19.8713.20-30.00
Sports And Leisure
Fitness Club (Monthly Fee)38.7130.67-46.42
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour)10.418.06-13.00
Preschool (Monthly, 1 Child)154.0092.44-336.15
Clothing And Shoes
Pair of Jeans (Levis 501)77.4039.59-92.90
Summer Dress (Chain Store)37.8726.39-66.35
Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range)77.5353.07-106.68
Rent Per Month
1 Bedroom Apartment (City Centre)508.62398.16-900.00
1 Bedroom Apartment (Outside Centre)411.51331.80-600.00
Buy Apartment Price
Price per Square Meter (City Centre)2,728.172,200.00-3,981.56
Salaries And Financing
Average Monthly Net Salary954.54
Mortgage Interest Rate (%)4.482.50-4.70
Source: Data taken from

In comparison with Zagreb:

Consumer Prices in Rijeka are 2.7% higher than in Zagreb (without rent)
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Rijeka are 2.4% lower than in Zagreb
Rent Prices in Rijeka are 18.6% lower than in Zagreb
Restaurant Prices in Rijeka are 6.4% higher than in Zagreb
Groceries Prices in Rijeka are 4.5% higher than in Zagreb
Local Purchasing Power in Rijeka is 25.0% lower than in Zagreb

And finally, to give you a better context Rijeka compared to London, England:

Consumer Prices in Rijeka are 37.7% lower than in London (without rent)
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Rijeka are 56.0% lower than in London
Rent Prices in Rijeka are 79.9% lower than in London
Restaurant Prices in Rijeka are 42.9% lower than in London
Groceries Prices in Rijeka are 26.6% lower than in London
Local Purchasing Power in Rijeka is 43.6% lower than in London

Rijeka is a student city

Rijeka is a popular student city and it’s not uncommon for people from all regions of Croatia to come to study in Rijeka.

Rijeka has various programs for studying from Economics and IT to Medicine and Art and more.

Students can find affordable apartments on university campuses and while the prices of living did go up recently with the inflation it’s still possible to have a normal student life in Rijeka with some support from home or by taking place in some student jobs. 

Working student jobs during the summer season can be a lucrative way to collect enough money for the rest of the year as these jobs are best paid and there are plenty of summer jobs near Rijeka.

What else do students have in Rijeka?

On a state level, it’s possible to study free of charge until you are 26 years old as the state finances all state universities from its budget.

Moreover, many students are compensated for transportation and similar expenses.

In Rijeka, students are large in numbers so usually they find a way to spend a good time together at student parties during the week.

There are regular parties suited for students that take place in the town including the famous Đir po Starom Gradu where young folk enjoy happy hour in the chain of town’s clubs.

Also, the largest multi-day event Student day takes place every year.

Rijeka is a free-minded city

Most people would describe Rijeka as a city with plenty of open-minded and liberal people and this is very much true when compared to other cities in Croatia.

Most trends that would be considered unusual were first accepted in Rijeka and later adopted in other regions throughout the state.

For instance, the very first Rock band in Croatia and ex-Yugoslavia, URAGANI was formed in Rijeka in 1960 and lasted till 1970.

A decade later, in the 1980s, Rijeka continued to influence the culture and break the norms of the time with the first punk bands in ex-Yugoslavia collectively named Rijeka New Wave.

Due to its important port role in Yugoslavia, Rijeka was connected with foreign lands, and naturally, a certain level of multiculturality was formed for years to follow.

Today in Rijeka, many people find acceptance for who they are which unfortunately isn’t the case everywhere else in the country.

Rijeka is getting modernized

Despite some obvious flaws such as the fact that the town’s train station hasn’t been touched since the Hungarians built it in the late 19th century, or the never-ending road works, mediocre bus station, and many buildings that still await reconstruction, Rijeka is slowly, but surely getting modernized.

For instance, Rijeka recently got a modern hospital at Vezica with leading world technology in treating kidney illnesses, a new football stadium that hosts the biggest matches in the country, and new roads that greatly connect the city, so the driving from the furthest corners of the city seem super-fast and much more that’s in the plans.

I have seen the plans for further investments in hospitals, heliports, investments in some old, historical parts of Rijeka such as Mlaka where the first torpedo in the world was built, and more interesting projects that we’ll yet have to see whether they’ll come into a realization or not.

Recently, I also read that Rijeka will take its important port role back within 8 years as there are plans to build a logistic route from Ukraine.

Thus, Rijeka is improving in terms of superstructure and infrastructure and while it might be behind some other cities in some ways, to say that Rijeka is stagnating and there’s no future wouldn’t paint the real picture of what’s going on. 

Parks and green parcels

One of the disadvantages for nature lovers is the lack of parks in the town.

There are a few small parks with a few benches in the town but they aren’t anything special where people would voluntarily go for a picnic or spend more than 20 minutes after the dog walk.

In comparison, Zagreb has beautiful parks that can host thousands of people and you can immerse yourself in the true park atmosphere like you could do in the famous world parks such as New York Central Park. 

For this reason, I’d like to see more trees and green fields in the town, but Rijeka indeed has many parks that are located around the town center, such as at Vezica, above Guvernerova Palača, Mlaka, and Trsat. 

These parks are relatively close to the town center and are a lovely option for nature lovers.

Still, there’s plenty of nature and peisaje out of the town as Rijeka is surrounded by plenty of forests from one side and by the sea from the other!

Walking on Korzo is beautiful even on a rainy day

Rijeka is built on hills 

One of the biggest problems for most people who come to Rijeka is the hills as Rijeka is almost entirely built on hills.

Pretty much wherever you go, the hills await you!

The town center is flat but as soon as you leave it to reach the rest of the city and suburbia there’s no way but to go uphills.

This is awesome when you are going down the hill to the town as walking in one direction is seamless, but you better catch a taxi for a return.

This geographical position challenges bike riders and walkers who are used to flowing through the flat paths and whose cardio level isn’t the finest.

Moreover, driving a car in Rijeka means the constant holding of a brake and utilizing the clutch-gas techniques for continuing after stopping on a hill after the red or getting stuck in traffic.

If you plan to live in Rijeka and previously lived in a flat grounded city, you’ll need to take some time to get used to Rijeka’s interesting geographical position.

And yeah, a car is really necessary if you live outside of the town.

Entertainment is questionable for some

To be honest, Rijeka can be considered a party city by those who don’t have crazy expectations.

If you are looking for a crazy variety of parties throughout the year you’ll be disappointed.

You’ll find decent nightlife experiences at events such as Đir po Starom gradu and clubs, but real parties happen when the events get organized and you can dance along to the live music.

Guess what, these events are quite unstable and only get organized from time to time, so you can’t count on consistent nightlife in Rijeka.

However, if you aren’t living for the weekend parties you’ll be just fine.

You’ll find theatre plays, dance, and other artistic performances quite often in Rijeka, the museums and galleries host various events and the artists have plenty to show.

Is Rijeka a good place to live? – Conclusion

I might be biased, but yes I believe that Rijeka is a good place to live.

Rijeka has its flaws but it’s a city with soul and if you appreciate the advantages mentioned above and can ignore some of its cons, then you’ll love it here.

As long as you can fit in, and that said, it’s really not hard to fit in in Rijeka you might find a really good time here.

I wouldn’t move to live in any other city in Croatia, although I definitely love the rest of Croatia and regularly travel across the state.

If you have any particular questions about Rijeka or Croatia feel free to message me and I’ll do my best to answer as soon as I can!

Before you go, you can watch this great video that shows Rijeka from various angles, so you can visualize the city!


Dino is a local who has spent 27 years of his life in Croatia. He's here to provide you with useful information and some local guidance.

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