Stunning scenery, incredible history, abundant arts and culture, warm and welcoming people, and outstanding cuisine — Greece truly has it all.
Add to this the fact that it is one of Europe’s hottest and sunniest destinations and it’s easy to understand why so many Brits wonder what it would be like to move to Greece either short or long term.
But what’s the reality of living and working in Greece?
Is it all sunshine, ouzo and olives?
Read on for the lowdown on moving to Greece from the UK…
Living in Greece: Best Places
The capital city of Greece, Athens, is an obvious choice for expats.
With the city’s blend of ancient and modern there’s a huge variety of things to do here.
The historic sites and museums are first rate, and you can experience some of the best gastronomy Greece has to offer.
In northern Greece, Thessaloniki is an upbeat and beautiful port city boasting some of the most stunning architecture anywhere in Europe. This cosmopolitan city enjoys a diverse ethnic mix and a spectacular and world famous live music and entertainment scene.
If island life appeals to you and you’re a nature lover, you’ll adore the island of Kefalonia with its unspoilt white sand beaches kissed by turquoise waters, with picturesque rustic villages scattered along the coastline.
Alternatively, party with the jet set in glamorous Mykonos — on the northern side of the Cyclades — where between the traditional whitewashed stone walls are packed chic cafes, bars and boutiques and some of Greece’s finest nightlife.
Greece’s largest island, Crete, is popular with expats too and features bewitching scenery with valleys and mountains and sandy pink bays.
Cretans are proud of their culture, and foodies will love the unique gourmet cuisine on the island which uses fresh, local products.
Cost of Living in Greece
Greece’s struggling economy has led to a serious drop in livings costs, so much so that the country has one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union (generally around 30% less than most other European countries).
The standard of living is very high as long as you have enough regular income.
Housing and rental prices are low country wide (although major cities like Thessaloniki and Athens are more expensive than elsewhere on the mainland) and a month’s expenses in Athens — including rent — can cost nearly half of a month’s expenses in London or any other major European city.
Food, drink, fuel and basic goods are very cheap, but will cost you more if you’re living on one of Greece’s many dazzling islands.
Island life may be bliss, but it can get pretty expensive, with the more touristy islands like Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Corfu commanding the highest prices.
It’s worth noting that as Greece continues to elevate the cost of V.A.T, this is slowly but surely pushing prices up.
Another cost of living in Greece worth budgeting for is healthcare.
Unless you’re an expat employed in the country with a social security number who is already paying for public health insurance, you will be expected to pay your own medical fees.
Greece’s healthcare system has a rather shoddy reputation, with the quality of care varying from hospital to hospital, and constant corruption and cost cutting has led fewer and fewer treatments and medications being covered by the public health insurance.
If you plan on staying here long term it is worth investing in additional private healthcare insurance.
Living and Working in Greece
There’s no way to sugar coat it — Greece is in serious economic difficulty.
Unemployment levels are high, and naturally the majority of jobs that become available are awarded to Greeks rather than foreigners — in fact Greek legislation forces employers to prove that any position filled by a foreigner cannot be filled by a Greek citizen.
This can make living and working in Greece extremely tricky for UK expats.
If you are lucky enough to find employment, don’t expect a high salary.
Wages reflect Greece’s monetary troubles, with most people being low paid workers.
Average monthly earnings for a full time employee range from anything as low as 450 euros per month up to 700 euros per month for the luckier ones.
Companies are even known for sometimes demanding that their employees work extra days without pay, which the employees are then obliged to do if they want to keep their jobs.
Greece’s biggest industries were traditionally within the service sector, but these areas have been hard hit by the country’s current economic crisis.
British expats are most likely to find employment in the teaching or tourism sectors.
There is stiff competition for teaching posts, and if you’re thinking of applying for a position as an English teacher in Greece, the minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree.
Jobs in the tourist industry are a good alternative, but work is seasonal, which means that income is not often available all year round.
If you are not retired with a pension and need to work to support yourself whilst living in Greece, your best bet is to try and have a job already organised in advance before you arrive on Greek soil.
The Legal Side of Moving to Greece
For as long as Britons remain EU citizens, they can enter Greece for up to three months.
After this time, expats wanting to continue to live and work in Greece are required to apply for a Registration Certificate.
These can be obtained by registering at a police station or at a ‘Aliens’ Bureau’, which can be found in bigger cities, so be prepared to travel further afield if necessary to make your application.
Once you’ve obtained your Registration Certificate it’s valid for an unlimited time, so you’ll only need to renew it if your circumstances change.
Are you tempted to move to Greece?