Experiences of an Expat 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.

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.

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.

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.

The pros

The pros of living on a Greek island are undeniable. Imagine waking up every day to the sound of waves crashing against the shore and being surrounded by picture-perfect views wherever you go. Whether you prefer remote and secluded or bustling and lively, there is an island in Greece that can cater to your preferences.

One of the main reasons people are drawn to the idea of living on a Greek island is the laid-back lifestyle. Life here moves at a slower pace, allowing residents to truly immerse themselves in their surroundings and appreciate every moment. The stressors of city life fade away as you embrace the relaxed Mediterranean way of living.

Another appeal is the strong sense of community found on these islands. With small populations and close-knit communities, it’s easy to form genuine connections with your neighbors and feel like you’re part of something special. This sense of belonging creates a welcoming atmosphere for both locals and expats alike.

Of course, we cannot discuss living on a Greek island without mentioning the incredible climate. With over 250 days of sunshine per year, it’s no wonder this country is nicknamed “the land where sun never sets.” The mild winters and warm summers allow for outdoor activities year-round, making it an ideal place for nature lovers.

But perhaps one of the biggest draws is the opportunity for a simpler life. Away from busy cities and modern conveniences comes a chance to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Fresh seafood caught daily by local fishermen,picking fruit straight from trees or rows upon rows of grapevines ripe for picking are all just part of the everyday life on a Greek island.

The island life in Greece is truly unique and unlike any other. The natural beauty of the islands, paired with the rich cultural history, makes for an enchanting and unforgettable experience. In this section, we will delve into the beauty and culture of living on a Greek island.

The first thing that strikes you upon arriving on a Greek island is its stunning landscape. Surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters, these islands are home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. From secluded coves to bustling beach towns, there is no shortage of places to soak up the sun and take a dip in the Aegean Sea. Some popular beaches include Navagio Beach in Zakynthos, Red Beach in Santorini, and Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia.

Aside from its beautiful coastline, each island has its own unique charm that sets it apart from others. The winding cobblestone streets lined with white-washed buildings adorned with vibrant blue accents create a postcard-worthy scene at every turn. The traditional architecture reflects centuries of influence from various civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, and Ottomans.

The warm hospitality of the locals also adds to the allure of living on a Greek island. As soon as you step foot on one of these islands, you are welcomed into the community with open arms. The small population allows for close-knit relationships among residents where everyone knows each other by name.

Furthermore, Greek islands are known for their lively festivals and celebrations that showcase their rich cultural heritage. Traditional music fills the air as people gather to dance and feast on delicious local cuisine such as souvlaki and gyros. These events provide insight into traditional customs and beliefs that have been passed down through generations.

Another aspect worth mentioning is how time seems to slow down on these islands. Life moves at a relaxed pace which allows residents and visitors alike to fully immerse themselves in the island lifestyle. From sipping on a frappe in a quaint café to taking an afternoon siesta, the simplicity and tranquility of island living are truly rejuvenating.

The beauty and culture of living on a Greek island is unlike anything else. The stunning landscape, traditional architecture, warm hospitality, and rich cultural traditions all contribute to making it a unique and enchanting experience that one must not miss.


The daily routines and lifestyle on the island are greatly influenced by the unique cultural and geographical aspects of living on a Greek island. From waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, to ending the day with a mesmerizing sunset, life on a Greek island is truly enchanting.

For most locals, their day begins early in the morning as they set out for their daily chores. The warm Mediterranean climate makes it ideal to start the day early before the sun becomes too hot. While some head out to work in nearby towns or cities, others tend to their farms or fishing boats. In fact, fishing is not just a means of livelihood but also a way of life for many islanders.

As mornings continue into afternoons, there is often a midday break where most businesses shut down for “siesta” – an important part of Greek culture that allows time for rest and relaxation during the hottest time of day. This break can last from two to three hours and gives people time to enjoy lunch with friends or family, take a nap or simply unwind with a cup of strong Greek coffee.

Once siesta comes to an end, islands come back alive as people resume their daily activities. Many locals spend this time socializing at local cafes and tavernas while indulging in delicious traditional treats like feta cheese pies or souvlaki wraps.

Evenings on a Greek island are truly magical. As dinner time approaches, families gather around tables adorned with fresh seafood caught that very same day along with other locally sourced ingredients. This is also when visitors can witness traditional dances and live music performances by talented musicians who showcase Greece’s rich culture.

After dinner comes another highlight – watching breathtaking sunsets over crystal clear waters which never fail to leave locals and tourists alike in awe everyday. Some choose go out for evening strolls along scenic paths while others engage in intimate conversations under star-lit skies.

As night falls over the island, some locals retire to bed while others head out for late night gatherings with friends. Whether it is attending festivals and concerts or simply enjoying a glass of wine at a beach bar, there is always something happening on the islands.

Living on a Greek island may be slower-paced compared to urban areas, but it is filled with experiences that allow for genuine connections with nature, community and oneself.


Living on a Greek island may seem like a dream come true, with stunning views and a laid-back lifestyle. However, like any other place, there are also challenges that come with this idyllic lifestyle.

One of the main challenges of living on a Greek island is the limited access to resources. Due to their isolated location, many islands have a shortage of supplies and services compared to mainland cities. This can be particularly challenging during the winter months when ferry services may be disrupted due to rough seas. Residents often need to plan ahead and stock up on essential items to last them through any periods of bad weather.

Another challenge is the high cost of living. Living on an island means that most goods and services need to be imported, making them more expensive than in mainland Greece. This is especially true for luxury items such as imported food or clothes. For those living on a low income, this can make it difficult to maintain their desired standard of living.

The small population size on most Greek islands also means that there are limited job opportunities available. This can be especially challenging for young adults who may choose to move away from their home island in search of better job prospects elsewhere. The lack of job diversity can also limit career growth opportunities for those who choose to stay.

Additionally, the infrastructure and utilities on some islands may not be as developed as they are in cities. Power outages may occur more frequently due to the use of generators instead of a steady electricity supply. Internet connection speeds may also vary depending on the location on the island, making it difficult for professionals who rely heavily on technology.

Furthermore, maintaining relationships with friends and family outside of the island can also pose as a challenge due to the distance and limited travel options available. While technology has made communication easier, nothing beats face-to-face interactions which can make some feel isolated or disconnected from their loved ones.

Despite these challenges, however, many people still choose to live on a Greek island for the unique lifestyle and sense of community that it offers. Navigating through these challenges can also make one more resilient and appreciative of the simpler things in life.

Living on a Greek island may have its difficulties, but for many, the beauty and charm of island life outweigh any challenges. It is important to be aware of these challenges before making the decision to move to an island, but with a positive mindset and adaptability, one can easily embrace and overcome them.