Looking for the best Greek island to live on? We’ve got the scoop.
Island hopping in Greece is a dream holiday for many Brits, but why stop there?
Imagine not just visiting but living in some of the most idyllic places on earth, under almost perpetually warm, sunny skies.
The Greek islands offer a fantastic quality of life for British expats — so why not make the move?
Here’s the lowdown on the best Greek islands for Brits to move to, to help you make your dream a reality…
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4000 years ago Crete became the birthplace of advanced European civilisation, and is littered with ruins and remnants of its intriguing historical past, from the spectacular Bronze age Palace of Knossos to the treasures at the incredible Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Crete’s rich history is just one of the many reasons why Brits choose to move here.
The island’s traditional villages are picture perfect, and the jovial locals are passionate about their culture and heritage.
They also love food, and Cretan cuisine is second to none. Fresh and locally sourced seafood, meats, honey, olive oil, cheese and wine are undeniably delicious enough to delight any foodie.
If you tire of Crete’s glorious beaches (is that possible?) head inland to explore the breathtaking landscape of rolling hills and jutting mountains, Europe’s longest gorge, and hundreds of acres of pretty orchards — there are abundant opportunities for hiking, kayaking, snorkelling, and more.
Heraklion, the island’s capital, is a city of many layers offering oodles for British expats.
Cafés, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife are just some of the enticing entertainments on offer in this bustling metropolis.
Crete is home to a large number of expats, most of whom are Brits. The most popular areas for expats are in the north in the more populated areas, but there are expat communities spread throughout the island.
The cost of living in Greece has dropped dramatically due to the country’s economic crisis, but this also means that unemployment is high and salaries are low, so this needs to be taken into account when considering living costs.
Shopping at local markets is affordable and prices of consumer goods are fairly competitive.
Fuel costs in Crete are higher than on the mainland, but rental prices are reasonable depending on location.
Renting a modern villa in a nice town costs around €600 per month, but there are plenty of cheaper options available. Eating out is affordable too, with restaurants and tavernas serving 3 course meals with wine from as little as €12 per person.
The largest of the Dodecanese islands and arguably the most popular, Rhodes is all about long, lazy summers, pristine beaches, astounding amounts of history, art and architecture, and some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Greece.
The charming capital city is famous for its magnificent Venetian castle perched loftily on top of a hill overlooking a stunning bay, and with its winding cobbles streets and Medieval architecture the whole city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rhodes is well known as a buzzing spot for nightlife, so much so that hotspots like Faliraki have a reputation for the bad behaviour of clubbers.
In recent years however the nightclub scene has calmed down, but there are still a plethora of bars, clubs, discos — and even strip clubs — where you can party the night away.
Clubs are inexpensive and tend to attract a younger crowd.
The interior of the island is uniquely beautiful, mountainous and swathed with forests. There are numerous architectural sites including delicately frescoed churches and a crumbling acropolis, and the hillside town of Lindos in the south is about as pretty as it gets.
The east coast of the island is littered with sandy beaches, but has also seen lots of high rise development over the years and there are numerous resort towns and chic hotels.
Rhodes offers endless opportunities for fun, exploration and activities for expats, and there is a large expat community here.
All this does come at a price however, and Rhodes is one of the more expensive Greek islands to live – it also gets very crowded during the tourist season.
That said, there are no import duties on goods, so groceries and consumer goods are relatively affordable.
Costs for eating out are on a par with other Greek islands, and if you’re going to be renting a property you should anticipate spending between €220 and €500 per month for decent accommodation in a town with utilities costing around €50 per month.
Inhabited since the Paleolithic era, Corfu has been a part of Greek culture for over 3000 years.
Aside from being a natural paradise of sparkling white sand beaches, majestic mountains, lush valleys, olive groves, and tumbling waterfalls, it also has fantastic restaurants and nightlife, great golf courses, ancient churches and monuments, and beautiful architecture amongst many other attractions.
Over the centuries Corfu has been occupied by many different cultures including Turkish, French, Italian, and British, which has contributed to its unique culture, and it has long been considered a seat of learning by the Greeks.
The Corfiats remain proud of their artistic and intellectual heritage, and there are numerous museums, art galleries, and regular concerts.
Corfu town is both cosmopolitan and steeped in history. The medieval Old City has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site with plenty of old world charm, and the new part of town is bristling with chic bars, restaurants, shops, and nightclubs.
Venture further out and away from the summer crowds there are plenty of quiet hillside villages and unspoilt natural wonders to explore.
With 12 hours of hot sun during the summer months, and so much to do and see in one place, Corfu does experience a lot of tourist traffic, and this is one of the more expensive islands in Greece to live. There are a couple of advantages to this.
One is that English is widely spoken, and the other is that competition has forced business to keep prices reasonable which is good news for expats.
With fantastic dining options at around €20 for 3 courses with wine, eating out won’t break the bank, and groceries are generally the same price or cheaper than in the UK.
Property rental costs vary depending on your chosen location, rural property is cheaper than that on the coast or in Corfu town, both to rent and buy, however it is still cheaper than Britain and most expats can find small apartments in the centre of the town for around €300 per month, or €400 – €500 per month for a nice villa.
One of the cluster of the Sporades islands, the small and enchanting island of Skiathos delights with its turquoise waters, verdant mountainous pine forests, fig, olive and almond groves, and some of the most stunning beaches in the Aegean sea — more than 50 in total and one of which has been voted the best beach in Greece!
Skiathos town on the southeast coast has been built around the old port, and it’s an ideal location for boat trips out to neighbouring islands.
The older part of the town is bursting with charm with pretty plazas perfect for people watching and whitewashed houses.
Harbourside there are numerous restaurants and bars to pleasantly while away your time and socialise.
Away from town there are a smattering of monasteries, quaint villages and archaeological sites to explore, but Skiathos’ real pulling power remains its laid back beach life, relaxed nightlife, great food, hiking, and watersports.
Skiathos is popular with tourists and expats alike, but not overly crowded. Most of the expats living on the island are over 30, and there is very little rowdy behaviour.
That said, Skiathos does get packed with tourists in the summer months, and prices in restaurants and bars tend to rise as a result, however it is no more expensive than other Greek islands.
Friendly donkeys trot placidly around the cobbled streets in Hydra town. Travel by donkey is one of the main forms of transport on this idyllic gem of an island.
Motorised traffic is prohibited on the island, and it’s all the better for it – and you can understand why as you explore the narrow, winding streets bordered by elegant mansions.
There are some stunning beaches on the island, and scores of rural paths perfect for hiking (or donkey riding).
Back in Hydra town, there are clusters of chic restaurants, cafes and bars, art galleries, and boutiques around the harbour, and one of the most popular pastimes is just kicking back, relaxing, and people watching.
This is an undeniably romantic island, and popular with writers, musicians and artists.
While Hydra lacks the long, sandy stretches of beach of some other Greek islands, there are some beautiful sandy coves to be found, and it’s a great place for kayaking and other watersports.
But above all this is an island where you can enjoy peace and tranquillity and bliss out.
As Greek islands go Hydra is fairly expensive, but generally it’s still cheaper than the UK. It does get extremely busy in tourist season – it’s a popular holiday destination for Athenians, as well as visitors from elsewhere.
Glamorous Mykonos oozes chic, from its glitzy bars, boutiques, restaurants and cafés to its dazzling gold sand beaches.
The nightlife on the island is second to none, and many a tourist comes here to party until they drop.
The most expensive of the Greek islands, Mykonos attracts a mostly well heeled crowd, and plenty of expats have chosen to make it their home, lured here by the Mediterranean climate, great food, the warm, friendly locals, and of course the endless opportunities for living it up.
Property on the island doesn’t come cheap, and a 1 bedroom apartment in the town centre can cost around €700 per month to rent excluding utilities. Likewise eating out is more expensive than on the mainland or other islands, so eating out will likely cost you and minimum of €20 a pop.
But as they say — you get what you pay for — and Mykonos is certainly worth it.
Life on this slice of heaven on earth is wonderfully laid back, and expats living here can laze on beautiful beaches, go diving or hiking, or hang out at one of the many hip beach bars.
In the main town of Hora, charming whitewashed houses trail down the hillside like confetti and a row of 16th-century windmills high look out over the sea.
The rambling narrow streets house stylish boutiques and galleries which are a delight to browse, and massive dance clubs attract world class DJs who pump out tunes until early in the morning.
Harbourside the restaurants and bars are the perfect place to enjoy wonderful seafood and watch unparalleled sunsets with a cocktail in hand.
If asked how we imagine as quintessential Greece, many of us would describe Santorini.
Famed for its whitewashed buildings scattered on a cliff top overlooking the azure Aegean ocean, Santorini is endlessly romantic.
The island is the result of a volcanic eruption which thousands of years ago causing a lagoon crater in the centre, and from the vertiginous volcanic cliffs to the west of the island to the verdant vineyards, pretty villages, and multicoloured sand beaches the scenery here is breathtaking.
This is the perfect island for walks and hikes, swimming and sunsets, wine tasting and people watching. Firá is Santorini’s main town and boasts blue domed churches, cafes, bars and restaurants with panoramic views, boutiques, and swish hotels.
Expats seeking nightlife will find the best on the island in Firá, but it’s by no means party central.
Most people come and stay for the stunning views, sensational sunsets, delicious food, fantastic beaches, warm and generous locals, and relaxed pace of life.
If you don’t like crowds then you may not like the tourist season as Santorini gets rammed with visitors during the summer months, however things are much more peaceful as winter rolls in.
There isn’t a large expat community here and property is expensive to rent or buy — a one bedroom apartment in town will set you back anywhere between €550 and €800 per month — so if you’re thinking of moving to Santorini that should be taken into account.
Groceries are affordable but eating out can be pricey. A 3 course mean in a mid range restaurant can cost around €40 per person, but it is possible to eat out relatively cheaply — roughly €15 for a meal — in one of the smaller local tavernas.
Understated and underrated Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands.
The whole place has a friendly, relaxed vibe, and unlike some other Greek islands it hasn’t yet been overrun by tourism.
Majestic mountains crown the centre of the island, and the fertile valleys that surround them are dotted with flocks of sheep, vineyards, and olive groves, as well as a smattering of interesting ancient sites.
Some of the best beaches in Greece can be found here too, and cover almost the entire southwest coast, with perfect conditions for windsurfing, diving, and kitesurfing.
Naxos has a long established agricultural economy and produces an abundance of local produce, so as you would imagine cuisine here is fresh and delicious.
The main city boasts elegant Venetian architecture, cool bars, with a couple of clubs for party goers and great restaurants — many of which can be found at the lively harbour.
As Naxos town isn’t driven by tourism things stay open all year round, which is good news for expats thinking of moving here.
As Greek islands go Naxos is pretty affordable too, with prices similar to those on the mainland in Athens. €30 will buy you a 3 course meal in a nice restaurant, and groceries are reasonably priced — particularly those that are locally produced.
Which Greek island would you most like to live on?