Information for people who want to move to Greece

greece move to greeceIf you decide to move to Greece, either to retire there after a lifetime of work, or to go there to begin a new life, you should consider how you will spend the whole year, both in summer and winter.

A life without any work in it may begin to pall even in the most perfect setting. Personal projects, charity work, courses, hobbies, a paid job for even 1 or 2 days per week can make a big difference. Visit the Greek Tourist Board website for useful information:

When you are looking for work, it is important to get to know as many people as possible, especially related to the type of work you are looking for. To work on an official basis, you will need to apply to the police station for a residence permit and pass the relevant bureaucratic procedures to get a work permit.

A good employer will help you through this process. If you are starting your own business in Greece bring as much paperwork from your home country as possible especially previous tax declarations, diplomas and so on. As happens in any country, to work unofficially, you are very much at the mercy of whoever is employing and paying you.

Opportunities to contribute something to your new country exist in the tourist industry who would welcome anyone with the right experience. .Indeed, in some areas, much of the work is tourist related which means that if there is a bad season it is very difficult to find work. Furthermore, you have to work for two seasons to have enough IKA (like our National Insurance) stamps in order to claim winter unemployment benefit. Additionally, anyone who brings capital and management skills would, on the whole, have an advantage .

Generally, it is true to say, that Greeks are not so keen on paperwork. So anyone with strong organisational skills can be useful. Another possibility is in voluntary and environmental work, especially with World Wildlife Fund. In terms of local jobs, high quality villa housekeeping, cleaning, nursing, childcare, pool maintenance, gardening work, tourism, property/marketing slots are all possibilities, although not always advertised and there is no big campaign to attract non-Greek workers.

What jobs are the best when you move to Greece

The best area for jobs, however, is teaching English or other languages but you will need to be a graduate. A TEFL or TESL qualification is also an advantage and there are good on-line courses that offer this qualification. For example see Graduate nurses, too, stand a better chance for work than non-graduates but in all cases, it is a good idea to write to your own professional bodies in the UK, explaining your intention to move to Greece because they may have useful networks that can assist and advise you.

If you are setting up an international business, or intending to work from home on computer-related projects, then you should check e-mail connections, ISDN, postal services and computer support in the locality that you are considering buying in.
It is important to remember that Greece does have an unemployment problem – around 10%. But even if you have been receiving unemployment benefit in the UK you may still be able to claim for up to 3 months in Greece. You are also allowed to take casual work for up to 3 months before you need full documentation.

Tax is payable by everyone over the age of 25, whether your income is from in or outside Greece. The British self-assessment model is currently being worked into a Greek plan.
All European citizens are entitled to reciprocal health care in Greece but you need to provide documents from your home country and obtain medical records from IKA (Idrina Kinonikon Asfalisseon). They have regional offices and branches known as Parartimata.

You should visit only doctors and dentists registered under this scheme. Some insurers operate a Europe wide private Health Scheme – Norwich Union in the UK is one. 

If you want to have a good time living in Greece, be prepared to learn to love the things Greeks love: learning the language of villagers, cooking for your neighbours (usually at short notice), working on tapestries/playing with worry beads in your spare hours, helping out with the olive picking during the harvest season and maybe keeping your ears and eyes open for useful gossip about town and being prepared to relay it discreetly to any concerned parties… As they say, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ Well, who do you think taught the Romans everything they know?

Why people move to Greece

Nearly everyone moves to Greece for emotional or sentimental reasons. Most non-Greeks move to be with a spouse, fiance(e), boyfriend/girlfriend or partner; many Greeks move back based on nostalgia and longing for the patrida, usually to an established family home, forgetting the financial and practical reasons their ancestors originally left.

Still others are “runaway expats” who dream of escaping or take the leap after reading a novel that is fictional or heavily edited, not realizing that old problems follow and new challenges await them. Many decisions are made based on memories of an idyllic vacation or a starry-eyed romance before uprooting lives, not taking into consideration the bureaucracy, cost and how such a move will affect long-term life goals once the charm of being somewhere new or with someone new wears off.

It has always been my intention to publish an article about moving to Greece, since the question of, “Should I?” or “Why should I?” is the first thing people confront. However, I have never been comfortable with dispensing advice on big decisions. Why?

Each individual is different: What’s right for one person is not for another. Just because I did it and your boyfriend, mother or cousin is happy here, doesn’t mean that you will be.

Greece is a “results may vary” country: People who experience virtually no problems either don’t work for a Greek employer or don’t work at all, depending on retirement money, personal wealth, parental subsidies or a working spouse, which is why many who are students, holidaymakers, retirees and housewives, or were children when they last lived here as in “Mourning the Greece of my childhood” (BBC), are out of touch with everyday adversity and have romanticized accounts of life in Greece.

*I was successful and continued the same career I had in America without connections or being dependent on funding or marriage to a Greek/EU citizen, but I made indescribable sacrifices and am a very rare exception. There are thousands who didn’t make it and left, still here but struggling, or regretting their choice in silence.

Being Greek doesn’t solve everything: Those born abroad, or Greek citizens who were born in Greece and left, are often considered not Greek enough. If you don’t look Greek, you’ll be treated as a non-Greek. And when competing with job candidates already here, experience abroad is typically a disadvantage since first-hand knowledge of Greece’s current industries, laws and trends is far more desirable.

Love is fine, but don’t leave your brain behind: Many who fall in love with the country or come to Greece to be near and/or marry someone they met on vacation will move under the guise of “following their heart,” then wake up when reality sets in or the relationship falls apart. You have a 50/50 chance of forever and fewer rights in a foreign country. Don’t forget to think.

Non-Greeks have a completely different experience than Greeks and should not believe everything their partners say without doing separate research. I meet a lot of non-Greeks who uprooted their lives and careers after Greek spouses/fiance(e)s dismissed my website, painted a dream scenario of enjoying a “simpler life,” living six months in paradise and six months elsewhere, freelancing, traveling and soaking up the sun. Many are unemployed, dependent, subject to daily discrimination/racism and now trapped or faced with divorce because their Greek counterparts refuse to leave. Some won’t sign passport renewals for children, using them as leverage. Taking a risk is fine; getting tricked is not.

The economic crisis has vastly changed the landscape and future of Greece, which sunshine, beaches and the power of positive thinking cannot solve. Already low salaries are 43.7 percent lower, businesses are shutting down at a record rate, up to 900+ people lose their jobs every day, unemployment is more than double the eurozone average at 27.8 percent overall (charts in English & Greek) and 36.9 percent for non-Greeks, those with jobs have problems getting paid, pension funds are bankrupt, neo-Nazis sit in Greek and EU Parliament, and taxes were raised four times in 18 months. Quality of life in Greece was ranked third worst in the EU behind Bulgaria and Romania, in addition to being expensive and uncertain, with the country expected to be in recession ’til 2015 and in recovery until 2030. By then, the country’s educated elite will have long gone. Greece doesn’t make headlines as often, but its troubles are far from over.

Your perception of Greece (exposure and awareness) has little to nothing to do with facts.

No one is fit to advise anyone on personal decisions that will permanently impact the course of his or her life, so polling and consulting friends, relatives or strangers in a forum is a waste of time. This is your life, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks — it only matters what you think and what you can live with.

If you cannot make a decision on your own and commit to it, you have a difficult road ahead.