Is attending a credible veterinary school and receiving a strong education without completely breaking the bank too much to ask for?
Studying abroad can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be a decision that sets you back decades in debt.
Beginning your veterinary career is supposed to be full of excitement, but unrealistic expenses for a veterinary education can make this excitement short-lived. That’s no fun!
Alright, so let’s dive in.
Now that I have officially completed my 1st year of vet school, I’ve looked over all the costs and have broken them down based on these categories:
- One Time Costs
- Annual Costs
After some much-needed reflection on this past year, I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the total expenses. It’s like going to a restaurant that has a lot of hype where everyone tells you that the prices are $$$, and then looking at the bill afterwards and realizing that it wasn’t so bad after all!
FYI – All prices below are in Canadian dollars (CAD).
One Time Costs:
When I first considered studying abroad, I thought the only REAL costs were going to be for tuition, food, and rent. But there were a few more things that I hadn’t realized until afterwards.
- Application Fee ($75)
- Official Transcripts from Canadian Universities ($30)
- Translation Services ($140) – In order to get my documents approved, I needed certified translations of which I handled once arriving in Croatia.
- Recognition of Diploma ($28) – Verifies credibility of your high school.
- Recognition of Higher Education ($40)– If you have completed university prior.
- Bicycle ($500) – I decided to splurge a little on my bike since it’s more of an investment that will last me for the next 6 years (and be my main source of transport). Once I am finished in Croatia I can always sell it for little to no depreciation.
- Tuition – $13,500
- Annual Residence Permit Renewal – $70
- Health Insurance – $500+
A note about health insurance…
Health insurance is mandatory and the price varies depending on your needs from the insurance. Some options I’ve explored include:
- HZZO: This is Croatian health insurance (which is quite pricey). It’s around $1200 upfront and then monthly payments on top of that. The coverage is pretty comprehensive though and includes doctor’s visits, etc.
- Manulife CoverMe: This is the insurance that I used last year. It has no deductible and costs me $80 dollars a month. It also covers doctors visits and yearly check-ups with specialists (eye doctors, etc), but no dental coverage. This year it cost me $800 total.
- SafetyWing Nomad Insurance: This is the health insurance I will be using going forward. As I’m a healthy young adult with no pre-existing health concerns this coverage is better for me (it’s more of a “just in case” kind of coverage). A year will cost about $500 in total.
The deductible is about $300 if you do need to use it, but it only costs about $50 a month. Check it out here and see if it’s right for you!
This is where I realized that I could save the MOST money.
Instead of renting a place and then finding a side job to help pay for rent, I reached out to several hostels in Zagreb and offered to volunteer in exchange for accommodation.
Fortunately, I received great feedback and ended up having a few responses! So this year (and next) I volunteered/lived at Zagreb Speeka Hostel which is a boutique hostel located in the heart of the city. I handled reception, helped clean, and helped guests in exchange for FREE RENT! This opportunity to live rent-free had a huge role in me being able to pursue studying abroad. Sometimes it was a difficult job, and sometimes it felt like it was too good to be true. You can check out the hostel here.
Alternatively, here are the costs for other rental options:
- Shared Apartment – $300 + utilities
- Studio Apartment – $500 + utilities
My experience with food here has been amazing. The quality has been great and the costs have been more than reasonable compared to what I’m used to in Canada. I got food from these places to stay within my budget:
- Student Restaurant – These are a set of student restaurants spread around the town that offer cheap and delicious food. Sometimes it would be schnitzel and pasta, other times it would be sardines with a side of potatoes and swiss chard. Each meal costs $1 – $2 and on average I would get food about 4 times a week = $24 per month.
- Click here to check out our video that shows what the food is like!
- Market – The market was a great place to buy things in bulk. For example, I would buy 3kg of oranges to snack on and it would cost me $2, but if I wanted just 1 orange it would often be more expensive than grocery stores.
- Müller – When it comes to me and gummy snacks, it’s hard to separate us. I love gummy candy and I found Müller to have such a variety of whatever candy I could imagine. It’s pretty bad to admit but at times I would buy 2 packages of candy a week = $5
- Pizza – Where do I start, the pizza here is something that I’ve really enjoyed and gives me a break from cooking after a long day. It’s delicious and full of cheesy goodness and a giant pizza that lasts 2 sittings tends to cost $10.
Monthly food cost average = $140
Of course, there are always hidden costs wherever you end up going.
- Transport – Public transport has been great here and costs $20 for a monthly pass or $0.80 per ride. I’ve maybe paid $5 all year for this.
- Phone – I purchased a prepaid sim card once I arrived and haven’t looked back since. I don’t need calls or texting, so I only load data credits on my phone which comes out to $10 per month for 6GB of data through BonBon. The best part is that whatever data I don’t use gets carried over to the next month. Especially with WI-FI available all over town, it’s hard to go over 6GB per month.
- Flight – I haven’t returned home yet but flights typically cost $800 roundtrip.
- Brim Credit Card – Finding this credit card has been a blessing. Brim Financial is a Canadian credit card company that has SO MANY features. The most important for me is the no foreign transaction fees so I can use my Mastercard and not pay the typical 2.5% extra fees. This card has really made studying abroad much easier.
The best part is that this card is absolutely free! If you travel often or make foreign purchases online, then be sure to check out this card here so we can both benefit.
This year has flew by. With one year down and 5 more to go, I realize that I’ve made a great decision by pursuing vet med and studying abroad when faced with obstacles back home.
I chose not to include my bike in this final breakdown because it is more of an asset then an expense. With this being my first year, I’m confident that in the coming years I’ll be able to reduce my costs even more as I become more familiar with my surroundings!