Monday, November 19, 2007

Living on a Greek island

In the last 20 years, moving permanently to Greece has become very popular for many European citizens over the last 20 years.
Most of these new residents have bought a house on the mainland or one of the many islands in Greece and many have adapted very well to the Greek way of life.
On the other hand, there are others who still feel somewhat distanced from the locals.
This is more likely to occur in places where other ex-patriots also live in the same area and, together, they create a separate cultural group within the small world of the island. Those who adapt best to the Greek mentality and culture are the ones who are married to a Greek person.

Greek island

In my opinion, the best way for anyone who wants to live on a Greek Island or somewhere else on the Greek mainland, the most important thing is to learn the Greek language.
This is probably the most essential step because the complexity of the Greek language can lead to misunderstandings and confusions without a good grasp of it. It is often quoted by people who have either travelled or lived in Greece, that they think that when they hear Greeks speaking loudly during conversations that they are having an argument or fight.
This isn't true, but merely a normal way for Greeks when they communicate together.

A good way to start establishing a first contact if you don't understand Greek, is the body language. Greeks use a lot of this. If you happens to be living on a tourist island, quite possible you will find that a large percentage of the local population speak either English or some other European language. For example, in the Dodecanese Islands, you will find that many of the older generation in particular speak almost perfect Italian. This is due to the Italian occupation of these islands before the Second World War. Also, in many places, you will find many older Greek people who have lived their younger lives as emigrants in places like USA, Australia, Germany, Scandinavia or other places, and they will be able to speak these languages with a good deal of competency. As for the younger generation, most of them speak English, even on the tiny Greek Islands due to an educational system whereby English is a compulsory taught second language on the curriculum.Living in the summer on a Greek Island can be like having constant summer holidays because the foreign expatriate will have the chance to meet people from many other countries and be able to chat more than they did in the winter and make new friends.

Paros island

Winter, however, can be the biggest problem for someone who wants to live on a small Greek island. Like everywhere else in the world, Greeks in winter tend to stay indoors. Of course this doesn't apply to the young people, nor to many of the Greek men who will visit frequent the local Kafeneio, sitting there for some hours, and between a glass of retsina and a game of backgammon they will spend away the hours as men the world over do.

kafeneio The kafenio is the best place for the foreigners to meet the older, local Greeks and is the ideal place to get in contact with the locals. Of course, it is very unlikely that you will meet a Greek woman in a kafenio. Though the kafeneio has its special place in the Greek culture the more popular place now, is the cafeteria. Here you will find the younger generations as well as women. Cafeterias exist everywhere in Greece, including the islands. they are a mixture between cafe. snack bar and pub. and they have a more modern style than the old traditional cafes. Many of them offer internet access, television, and board games.

Greek islands


Anonymous Larry said...

First of all I enjoyed the post on 'Living in Greece' very much. I am working on a novella set on Santorini. The main character is a male of Greek descent who marries a Greek girl. He is a psychologist who has a 12 year girl brought to him after she has had very vivid dreams that she can perfectly recall in her waking hours - very strange dreams. Long story short, I'm having a dickens of a time finding information about 'life' on an island such as Santorini. Not much chance I can get there on our fixed income either. I don't want to fake the necessary background for the the story - would you mind if I put some questions to you? My e-mail is

January 27, 2008  
Blogger admin said...

Thanks Larry.I will email you.

January 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I,ve been reading page after page of your blog and found it not only very interesting, but heartwarming too.
As a long time resident of Paros I particularly enjoyed those pages and I found it amusing that you chose pictures of Paros to illustrate this article.
Good choice, as there does exist a very large expatriate community here, many of who do not even speak basic Greek after 2 or 3 decades here.
Anyway. i too would love to see more photos if you have any.
Also where is Vasillis' famouse yellow bicycle in you picture from outside his shop?
Thanks again.

July 26, 2008  

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