Are you thinking of retiring in Greece? Well, you aren’t alone. Greece boasts the longest coastline in the Mediterranean Basin and is defined by thousands of beautiful islands, endless miles of pristine sandy beaches with turquoise waters and an agreeable climate. Greece though has plenty more to offer beyond the glistening sands and the geographical, cultural, culinary and architectural diversity is what really makes Greece such an attractive destination.
Olive groves, vineyards, inland wildernesses, picturesque mountain ranges, endless ancient and wonderfully scenic villages offer an alternative view of life in Greece. On top of the magical scenery, Greek people are warm and welcoming, the food and produce is some of the best in the world, and the cost of living is low, meaning that you could be soaking up the sun and living your life to the fullest spending close to 70% less than your life in NY. What more could you ask for?
Greece is culturally unraveled—the birthplace of Western civilization with foundational concepts like democracy, theater, philosophy, science, and literature originating here. Countless landmarks of cultural and historical importance, some dating back thousands of years, can be found all over the country, making Greece a must visit for history buffs.
And if you can’t decide which Mediterranean destination to choose then know this. What Greece offers over its Mediterranean and European counterparts like Croatia, Spain, Italy and Portugal is a laid-back version of life and a myriad of exciting lifestyle changes and countless opportunities for exploring. You will never get bored.
The 2008 recession hit Greece hard, but the country is making a big recovery and right now might be the perfect time to consider investing in Greece. The Greek government is also very keen to attract expats taking steps to make your move to this beautiful and historical destinations easier.
Whether you picture yourself in the heart of Athens, absorbing rich culture and architecture or at a magical seaside city like Chania, you’ll be able to find the right Greek island, city or village for you.
One of the best things about living in Greece is the more than agreeable Mediterranean climate. If you are looking to soak up the sun year-round there’s no place better than Greece. The country experiences 250 days of sunshine per year! Greece is however a geographically diverse country and its climate changes accordingly.
Whilst the central and northern regions are characterized by colder winters, with snowfall in the mountainous areas, the island regions and southern lowland experience a milder winter climate. Average annual temperatures are 66°F (19°C), ranging from 57°F to 82°F (14°C to 28°C). But in the scorching summer sun be prepared for temperatures to reach the mid-90s.
If you thrive on the seasons, then heading to Thessaloniki might be enticing. Whilst you will experience the classic Greek summer sunshine temperatures also drop in winter for cozy evenings inside.
Greece’s low cost of living means that retirees can experience a more comfortable and high quality life. Generally speaking, Greeks prioritize two things, family and work. This sociable nation is an ideal place to relocate to if you are searching for that welcoming family-oriented atmosphere.
Right after family and work, the Greek culinary scene flourishes. Greece’s culinary heritage is studied and celebrated across the world and considered one of the world’s healthiest diets, which explains why Greeks enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in Europe. Whether you are searching for fresh seafood sensations, delicious fruit and vegetables or the classic and hearty Gyros, food will play a big part of your new Greek lifestyle.
Whilst Greece’s tourism industry has resulted in many locals speaking English it’s always good to start learning Greek. Though expat communities crop up across Greece’s cities and villages, getting to know the country men and women will enrich your new lifestyle in enthralling ways.
One of the best things about living in Greece is the climate and resultant active lifestyle. In most parts of the country there are no rainy day excuses not to get outside and be active. With mountains, beaches, and the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea’s there are outdoor activities to keep you fit and entertained all year round.
Depending on your personality Greece’s more relaxed, laidback lifestyle can be positively refreshing or a little sleepy. Whilst the slower pace of life is a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of most western societies a sleepy attitude can result in frustrations when trying to get things done. Life in a different culture is all about adaptation!
Safety and Security
When deciding to move to any country safety and security is a top concern for most people, particularly if you see yourself retiring there. As a whole, and according also to the Global Peace Index, Greece is a very safe place to live. Crime rates are generally low in Greece, with the most common crime being theft, often in tourist areas. With the current economic situation, it has to be acknowledged that the country has experienced a slight increase in theft crime rates in recent years.
Major violent crime is rare but as with any country its always best to take precautions to ensure your safety.
Cost of Living
By far one of the most attractive aspects of a retired life in Greece is the cost of living. Yes, there are islands such as Santorini that are on the more expensive side of life, but there are also very affordable island destinations such as Corfu and Crete.
The average cost of living in Greece is 50%-80% lower than in the U.S. Prices for a comfortable one bed apartment in Athens can be found for around $650 a month, but head outside the tourist hotspots and you can find nice apartments for $350. A frugal expat can comfortably live on $1,500 a month in Greece if living in an affordable area. Raise your budget to $2,000 and you will enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle.
Utility bills are the cost you need to watch out for the most. Remember that those 250 days of sunshine come with high temperatures and the need to put the AC on. For a two bed apartment electricity bills can be anything from $40 – $160 a month.
With all those mouthwatering Greek delicacies dining out is another cost of living you must consider. Greece has restaurants and tavernas. Whilst restaurants are more expensive, tavernas are more budget friendly but still offer excellent classic Greek dishes. In a larger city a meal for two at a tavernas with wine can easily be found for under $30.
Taxes in Greece are as high as other EU countries. Taxes on income are progressive, so the more you earn the higher the taxation rate. Personal income tax ranges from 9-45% and corporate tax is a flat 22%. Good news is that in 2020, Greece passed a law that taxes all expats who move to Greece, and change their tax residency to Greece, a flat 7% rate on all their retirement income. Can this be sweeter? Yes, as in an effort to entice more people to move to Greece they tabled the law meaning there will be no income tax income for 10 years from the date of its passing (until 2030).
Visas and Residency
Often with moving abroad the legal, visa and residency side of things can be pretty hectic. Wanting to attract more people and investment to the country however, the Greek government introduced the Golden Visa. You will need to invest 250,000 Euros in real estate making this the cheapest and most enticing Golden Visa in Europe. In exchange for your investment you get a residence permit for five years which can then be renewed.
If this doesn’t fit with your finances or you’re not eligible, then an alternative is to be on a standard work permit sponsored by a Greek employer. Greece has also recently introduced a Digital Nomad Visa that provides a residence permit for 2 years which is renewable for another two years continuously. Though this may not suit all retirees, it is an alternative option particularly if you are self-employed and wanting to semi retire.
We have good news as Healthcare in Greece is very good! According to the World Health Organization, the Greek Healthcare system ranks 14th in the world. If you are an expatriate living in Greece and contribute to the Social Insurance Institute (IKA) then you will qualify for public health insurance. If you don’t fit in this option and aren’t from an EU country, then paying out-of-pocket or obtaining private medical insurance are your options.
But what is the Greek healthcare system like? The standard of healthcare in Greece is generally high, private clinics tend to offer that more attractive modern finish. Whereas if you take a trip to the local hospital, you may find yourself waiting in line longer than you would like to.
Another perk of living in Greece is that many of the doctors speak English having been trained in America and Europe. Not having to worry about navigating a medical language barrier is a much needed relief when you are at your most vulnerable.
As is demonstrated by the Golden Visa program there is a big drive by the government to make the property market flourish. As a result, there are fewer barriers to foreigners buying property in Greece (particularly EU citizens).
Owning property in a foreign country is many people’s dream. Because it’s a continually popular vacation destination, Greece is an excellent place to invest. Whether you are relocating to Greece full time or for part of the year there are plenty of real estate options.
If you are searching for some of the less expensive areas to buy property, then Naxos and Paros are good options. On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Cyclades, particularly Mykonos are expensive, but do offer good returns on investments.
Best Places to Live in Greece
With so many beautiful and interesting places, choosing where to settle down is perhaps the hardest decision when relocating to Greece. The best places to live really depends on what you want out of your retirement destination.
If you want to be in the hub of everything, then you can opt to live in Athens. The nation’s capital has a thriving expatriate population, and you can sure see why. It’s an architectural and historical mecca with tons of things to see and do. As its the capital the cost of living is more expensive than other locations around Greece however for retirees it’s still an affordable destination compared to its European counterparts.
Rhodes is another top destination that is ideally located near to Turkey and Cyprus. Rhodes is the perfect combination of sleepy spots, energy and entertainment.
Corfu is one of the best Greek island destinations for overseas retirement. With otherworldly beach scenery, charming villages and an authentic Corfiot way of life, this is a unique place to live. The island is a melting pot of cultures with architectural influences from neighboring Italy. Living in Corfu means you can indulge in locally sourced produce, drink from award-winning vineyards and scuba dive and snorkel to your hearts content.
For those interested in archaeology, scuba diving, and lazing on the beach, Chania, Crete is for you. Chania is characterized by its beautiful Old Town, surrounded by its Venetian port. A labyrinth of museums, boutiques, restaurants, bars, churches are encircled by the ancient city walls. Despite being an island where imports are necessary, Crete has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. Crete bestows a sense of peace and those who visit Chania are mesmerized by the island lifestyle. Chania embodies that quintessential laid-back style of European living you’ve been searching for.
When you set foot on the vibrant island of Santorini, Greece’s most coveted holiday destination, it is as if all your dreams have come true. Revel in the picturesque red and orange hues that decorate its magnificent sunsets each evening. To make this experience even more magical, here are a few facts about Santorini that many do not know.
The breathtakingly beautiful Cyclades archipelago beckons travelers from near and far, and nestled in the middle lies Santorini. Just 128 nautical miles away from Piraeus Port and 63 nautical miles from Crete, this magical island is sure to delight those who take a journey there. Out of all the volcanoes in Greece that are still active, Santorini is simply unrivalled. Within Santorini’s Caldera, – an 8 to 5 kilometers (5-3 miles) wide bay created when the central part of Strongyli island submerged into the ocean and reaching depths as deep as 370 meters (1200 feet). Yet what makes this island truly one-of-a kind is its construction along the inner walls (caldera) instead of right next to it like most other islands.
Mykonos is an idyllic destination with its unmistakable Cycladic architecture. While you explore the traditional white-washed homes and awe-inspiring blue domed churches, don’t forget to take in the captivating views of iconic windmills that stand tall before Little Venice. Once evening draws near and a magnificent sunset appears over Chora (the main town), it’ll be impossible not to let out a sigh of pure bliss!
Nestled in the heart of the mesmerizing Cyclades, Mykonos is a heavenly sanctuary that has become widely celebrated for its effervescence and tranquil atmosphere. Its earned title as ‘the Ibiza of Greece’ certainly comes as no surprise! Spend your holiday in this extraordinary place to create lasting memories. Whether you are captivated by the spectacular sunsets of Little Venice, strolling around Chora’s cobblestoned streets, or luxuriating in opulent hotels – a multitude of unique experiences awaits! Furthermore, make sure to savor beach parties during the day before dancing until sunrise at iconic night clubs once nightfall appears.
Halkidiki Peninsula in Macedonia, Greece reigns as the most coveted destination in Northern Greece. Its acclaim is largely due to its stunningly soft sand and glimmering turquoise waters of its shorelines. The peninsula can be broken down into three “legs”: the first leg consisting of bustling cosmopolitan locations, while the second invites campers seeking a serene atmosphere, and third being Mount Athos – an isolated Orthodox monastic community that stands as an independent state.
Proximity to the United States
From New York to Athens, it’s around a 12 hour flight and there are many direct flights to Athens from the US especially during the summer months. Depending on where you intend to relocate to in Greece will determine how you proceed from there. Additional flights and even ferries may be required to reach your destination.
Activities and Recreation
One of the best things about Greece is it’s a destination for everyone. Whether you want to spend your free time relaxing on the beach, exploring the ocean, hiking, or learning about ancient history there is something for you.
The Acropolis that dominates the Athens skyline is a history buffs dream. The iconic architecture of Santorini that dominates so boldly in blue and white is just waiting to be explored. Greece also has innumerable opportunities for outdoor adventures with plenty of stunning natural sites and ecolodges. Whether you are exploring the Samaria Gorge, Meteora, the Corinth Canal, Lake Plastira or Mount Olympus, there are endless places to discover. If you are longing for a destination that allows for an active retirement, then Greece is an excellent choice.
If you are dreaming of retiring on a beautiful sunny island, eating delicious food and enjoying a laid back life in a thriving and welcoming culture, then it is time to look at Greece. Its stunning scenery, crystal clear waters, historic culture and gastronomic delights make this a superb retirement destination. The affordable cost of living also means you will be able to live life to the fullest and enjoy all the country has to offer.
Greece is quickly recovering from an economic turmoil which has admittedly resulted in a number of properties and services throughout the country being left incomplete and dilapidated. This means that there are a number of great opportunities around this beautiful country. Bottom line is that Greece is still one of the most beautiful places in the world.. Whether you find yourself retiring on the mainland in one of the big cities, a picturesque town or in one of the islands, Greece is a safe, beautiful and cultural place to retire.
Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in Greece
Very safe country
A relaxing slow pace of life
Beautiful landscape and fascinating architecture
Free and accessible medical services
Low cost of living in many islands and beautiful towns and villages
Infrustructure outside of big cities can sometimes be an issue
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