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Moving to Greece? Here's everything you need to know

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buying property foreigner Greece

Everything you need to know before buying real estate is included in our Greece Property Pack

If you're reading this, chances are you're contemplating the exciting possibility of moving to Greece. Whether you're seeking an escape from the mundane, a new career opportunity, or just an incredible experience, this expat guide is your go-to resource for making that leap to that country.

In this article, we'll dive into all the essential aspects of relocating to Greece, from visas and accommodation to cultural etiquette and local cuisine.

Also, if you're interested in making a property investment in Greece, please note that you can get our pack of documents related to the real estate market in Greece. This pack will also give you unlimited access to our team of experts, allowing you to ask them anything related to Greece.

Moving to Greece

The expat population in Greece

People often choose to move to Greece for a blend of lifestyle, climate, and cultural factors that set it apart from its neighbors.

Greece's unique appeal lies in its rich historical legacy, stunning landscapes, and a relaxed way of life that's hard to find elsewhere. The country's history is deeply embedded in every corner, from the ancient ruins in Athens to the mythology that surrounds its islands.

This historical charm is a strong draw for those who appreciate a deep sense of the past intertwined with modern living.

The climate in Greece is another major attraction. With its long, sun-drenched summers and mild winters, it offers an inviting environment for those from colder or more variable climates.

The appealing weather supports a lifestyle that's heavily outdoor-oriented, encouraging activities like sailing, hiking, and beach-going, which are less accessible in neighboring countries with harsher climates.

However, it's not just the weather and history that draw people in.

The Greek approach to life is often more relaxed and family-focused compared to the fast-paced lifestyles of some Western countries. This laid-back attitude, combined with the warmth and hospitality of the Greek people, creates a welcoming environment for newcomers.

Different profiles of people are attracted to Greece for various reasons.

Retirees might find the slower pace of life and the cost of living, which can be lower than in many Western countries, especially appealing. Young professionals and digital nomads are drawn by the growing startup culture in cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, coupled with the opportunity to work in a beautiful setting. Families might move for the safe and community-oriented environment, which is ideal for raising children.

Yet, moving to Greece isn't without its challenges.

The economy, while recovering, has been through significant turmoil, leading to issues like unemployment and a struggling public sector, including healthcare and education. This can be a deterrent, particularly for those looking to find work locally or who have high expectations for public services.

The bureaucracy in Greece can also be a hurdle. Processes for things like obtaining residency, accessing healthcare, and buying property can be complex and time-consuming, which might be frustrating for those used to more streamlined systems.

Language can be another barrier.

While many Greeks speak English, especially in tourist areas, a lack of Greek language skills can limit social and professional opportunities and make everyday tasks more challenging.

Visas and immigration in Greece

Greece offers various types of visas for expats, each catering to different needs and circumstances and understanding these options is crucial for anyone planning to move or stay long-term in Greece.

Firstly, there are short-stay visas, known as Schengen visas, which allow you to stay for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

These are ideal for tourists, short business trips, or brief family visits. If you're planning a longer stay, you'll need to look into other types of visas.

One popular option is the national long-stay visa, which is necessary if you plan to live, study, work, or reunite with family in Greece for more than 90 days. The requirements for this visa vary depending on your purpose of stay.

For example, a student visa requires proof of enrollment in a Greek educational institution, while a work visa requires a job offer from a Greek employer.

Now, if you're thinking of settling in Greece, you'll likely be looking at residence permits. These permits allow you to live in Greece for a specified period and can be renewed.

Different permits exist for different situations, like employment, family reunification, study, or investment. The process for obtaining a residence permit usually involves submitting a visa application in your home country, then applying for the residence permit once you arrive in Greece.

Greece also offers a Golden Visa program, which is an attractive option for non-EU nationals looking to invest in Greece.

By making a significant investment, such as buying real estate worth at least 250,000 euros, you can obtain a five-year residence permit, which is renewable as long as you maintain the investment.

Regarding the difficulty of obtaining a visa, it largely depends on your circumstances and the type of visa you're applying for.

Greece's immigration process can be complex and bureaucratic, so it's important to be well-prepared and patient.

For visa renewals, it's crucial to start the process well before your current visa or permit expires. This often involves gathering updated documentation and potentially dealing with Greek bureaucracy, which can be time-consuming.

If you encounter legal issues or need advice on visas and residency, there are several avenues you can explore.

Firstly, hiring a local immigration lawyer is a reliable option. They can provide expert guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Also, you can seek help from expat communities in Greece. Many expats have gone through similar processes and can offer valuable advice based on their experiences.

Another useful resource is the local immigration office (Aliens Bureau) in Greece, where you can get official information and guidance. However, be prepared for potential language barriers and bureaucratic processes.

Lastly, there are various online forums and platforms where expats share their experiences and advice. While these can be helpful, always cross-check the information and remember that each case can be unique.

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Renting or buying a property in Greece

If you consider buying a property in Greece, we have prepared everything you need in our property pack for Greece.

When it comes to housing options in Greece, you have a variety to choose from, reflecting the country's diverse landscape and lifestyle.

In urban areas like Athens and Thessaloniki, you'll find a mix of modern apartments and older, character-filled buildings. These cities offer a lively urban lifestyle, with the convenience of amenities and public transport.

On the other hand, the Greek islands and rural areas offer standalone homes, often with more space and natural surroundings. These properties range from traditional stone houses in villages to luxurious villas by the sea.

Rental prices in Greece vary significantly depending on the location and type of property.

In general, Athens, being the capital, has higher rental prices, especially in the city center and affluent suburbs. The islands can also be pricey, particularly popular tourist destinations like Mykonos and Santorini.

However, if you venture into less touristy islands or the mainland's rural areas, you can find much more affordable options.

Several factors influence rental costs in Greece. Location is a key determinant. Properties in central urban areas, near the coast, or in popular tourist spots command higher rents. The size and condition of the property also play a role, as well as the availability of amenities like a furnished interior, air conditioning, a garden, or a swimming pool.

Foreigners are indeed allowed to buy and own property in Greece without significant restrictions.

It's one of the reasons the country is popular among expats and retirees. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, there are some restricted areas, mainly for national security reasons, where foreigners need special permission to buy property. These areas include parts of Northern Greece and some islands.

To purchase property in Greece, you'll need to obtain a tax number (AFM) and open a Greek bank account. These are standard requirements for property transactions.

Also, be aware of additional costs like transfer tax, notary fees, and legal fees, which can add up to a significant amount.

The process of buying property in Greece involves several steps, including making an offer, signing a preliminary contract, and then the final contract in front of a notary.

It's highly advisable to work with a reputable real estate agent and a lawyer to navigate the process, especially to ensure the property has no legal encumbrances and to handle the complex paperwork.

Retirement in Greece

Retirement in Greece is a popular choice for many, and it's not hard to see why given that the country offers a combination of factors that are particularly appealing to retirees, from its climate to its cost of living.

One of the main reasons people choose to retire in Greece is the climate. The warm, Mediterranean weather is a significant draw, especially for those from colder countries. Imagine enjoying your retirement with long, sunny days and mild winters which is a dream for many.

Additionally, the relaxed pace of life in Greece is ideal for retirees looking to unwind and enjoy their leisure years. The Greek culture, with its emphasis on enjoying life and social connections, aligns well with the retirement lifestyle.

The typical profile of a retiree in Greece is someone looking for a balance between a tranquil and culturally rich environment. They're often attracted to the country's history, cuisine, and natural beauty.

These retirees are usually seeking a more relaxed lifestyle, where they can enjoy outdoor activities, explore historical sites, and indulge in local cuisine and traditions.

Greece does have specific areas that are popular among expat retirees.

The Peloponnese region, Crete, and the islands of Rhodes and Corfu are some examples. These areas offer a combination of beautiful scenery, comfortable climates, and established expat communities, making them particularly attractive.

In these areas, retirees can often find a range of amenities and services catering to their needs, from English-speaking doctors to social clubs and activities.

However, retiring in Greece does come with its challenges.

One of the primary issues is navigating the Greek bureaucracy, which can be daunting, especially when dealing with healthcare, residency permits, and other legal matters.

The healthcare system in Greece has been under strain, and while the quality of care in major cities is generally good, it can be more variable in rural areas. This is something to consider, particularly if you have existing health concerns.

Another challenge is the language barrier. While English is widely spoken in tourist areas and younger generations, in more rural or traditional settings, not knowing Greek can be a limitation. This can affect daily life, from shopping to socializing, and accessing services.

Lastly, while the cost of living in Greece is generally lower than in many Western countries, it's important to have a clear understanding of your financial situation.

Pensions and savings need to be managed carefully, considering exchange rates and the cost of living in your chosen area.

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Living in Greece

Cost of living

Living comfortably in Greece can vary in cost depending on where you choose to reside and your lifestyle.

In general, Greece is known for a relatively lower cost of living compared to many Western countries. However, it's important to consider specific expenses and how they might vary in different cities.

In terms of a general range, for a single person to live comfortably in Greece, you might need between 1,000 and 1,500 USD per month, which is approximately 900 to 1,350 EUR, or about 1,000 to 1,500 Euros per month (using a rough exchange rate of 1 USD ≈ 0.9 EUR). This range would increase for a couple or a family.

For major cities like Athens or Thessaloniki, the higher end of this range or slightly more might be necessary due to higher costs for housing and entertainment. Smaller cities and rural areas could be on the lower end of this spectrum.

Groceries in Greece are relatively affordable, especially if you stick to local and seasonal products. For a single person, you might spend around 200-300 USD (180-270 EUR) per month on groceries.

Dining out in Greece can vary greatly in cost. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant might cost around 10-15 USD (9-13.5 EUR), while a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant could be around 25-40 USD (22.5-36 EUR) per person.

Transportation costs depend on your mode of travel. Public transportation in cities like Athens is quite affordable, with a monthly pass typically costing around 30-40 USD (27-36 EUR). If you're using a car, the cost will depend on fuel prices and how much you drive.

For expats looking to save money, there are several tips to consider.

Firstly, embracing the local way of life can reduce costs significantly. Shopping at local markets, eating local cuisine, and using public transportation can all help keep expenses down.

Additionally, living slightly outside of city centers can reduce rent costs considerably while still allowing you to enjoy the amenities of urban life.

When comparing the cost of living in Greece to that in many Western countries, it's generally lower.

Rent, in particular, is often significantly cheaper than in major cities in the U.S. or Northern Europe. However, salaries in Greece are also generally lower, so this is something to consider if planning to work locally.

Social and leisure activities in Greece

Greece, with its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers a myriad of leisure activities that are popular among expats.

The country's geography, encompassing thousands of islands and a vast coastline, naturally makes water-based activities highly popular. Sailing, swimming, and snorkeling are common ways for expats to enjoy the pristine waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas.

For those who love exploring underwater, scuba diving is a must-try, with numerous dive centers offering courses and excursions to explore the rich marine life and underwater ruins.

Another significant aspect of recreational life in Greece is its outdoor culture, thanks to its favorable climate. Hiking and trekking are popular, especially in areas like Crete, the Peloponnese, and the mainland's mountainous regions.

The country's diverse terrain offers everything from gentle walks through olive groves to more challenging mountain trails.

Cycling is also gaining popularity, with both locals and expats enjoying rides through scenic countryside or along coastal paths.

Greece is also known for its rich history and culture, which is a significant draw for expats. Visiting archaeological sites, museums, and historical landmarks is a common leisure activity.

For those interested in cultural immersion, participating in local festivals and cultural events provides an excellent opportunity to understand and appreciate Greek traditions and social life.

Regarding expat communities and socializing, Greece has a well-established expat network, particularly in major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as on popular islands such as Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu. These communities often organize social events, cultural outings, language exchange meetups, and other activities, providing a platform for expats to meet and socialize.

The nightlife in Greece's major cities and tourist destinations is vibrant and diverse. Athens and Thessaloniki, for instance, are known for their lively bars, clubs, and tavernas.

The Greek nightlife typically starts late and can last until the early hours of the morning. There's a mix of modern nightclubs playing international music and traditional venues where you can enjoy Greek music and dance.

When it comes to partying and socializing, Greeks are known for their hospitality and friendliness.

Locals often mix with foreigners, especially in areas frequented by expats and tourists. This integration is more common in cosmopolitan areas and less so in rural or traditional settings.

For expats, this means plenty of opportunities to mingle with locals and other internationals, allowing for a rich social life.

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Food and cuisine in Greece

Greek cuisine is renowned for its use of fresh, local ingredients, including olive oil, vegetables, herbs, fish, and meat.

Local dishes that expats should definitely try include classics like Moussaka, a layered eggplant and meat casserole topped with béchamel sauce, and Souvlaki, skewers of grilled meat often served with pita bread, tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce.

Another must-try is Spanakopita, a savory spinach and feta cheese pie wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry.

For street food lovers, Gyro is a popular choice. It's a pita wrap filled with meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, typically served with tomato, onion, and tzatziki. Dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, are another delightful snack that can be found in many eateries.

Regarding hygiene and food safety, Greece generally maintains good standards, especially in areas frequently visited by tourists and expats.

Like any destination, it's wise to eat at places that look clean and are well-frequented.

When it comes to accommodating dietary restrictions, Greece is relatively flexible, although it might vary by establishment. Greek cuisine naturally offers many vegetarian options, like the aforementioned Spanakopita and Dolmades, as well as a variety of salads, the most famous being the Greek salad.

For those with allergies, it's always a good idea to communicate this to the server. While not all restaurants may have detailed allergen information like you might find in some countries, staff are generally helpful and will accommodate requests where possible.

For those adhering to religious dietary preferences, such as halal or kosher, options may be more limited, especially outside of major cities. However, with the increasing diversification of culinary offerings, especially in cosmopolitan areas, finding suitable options is becoming easier.

International cuisine is increasingly available in Greece, particularly in major cities and tourist areas.

You can find a range of options from Italian and Chinese to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The affordability of these international cuisines can vary, with some restaurants positioned as more upscale dining experiences, but generally, there are options to suit various budgets.

As for foods that are difficult to find, certain specific international products or ingredients might not be readily available, especially in smaller towns or islands.

Items like specific Asian vegetables or certain brands of international products might require a trip to a larger supermarket in a major city or a specialty store.

Healthcare system in Greece

The healthcare system in Greece has its own set of characteristics and, for expats, understanding how it works is key to navigating it effectively.

Greece has a national health system (ESY) that provides access to various medical services. However, the system has faced challenges, including funding issues and resource constraints, especially following the economic crisis.

In comparison to other European countries or the US, the Greek healthcare system might not always match up in terms of efficiency or the availability of certain specialized treatments.

For expats, this means that while basic healthcare needs can generally be met in Greece, there might be situations, particularly those requiring highly specialized care or intensive surgeries, where the options are more limited compared to larger European countries or the US.

In such cases, repatriation or seeking treatment in a country with more specialized facilities could be a consideration, though this depends largely on the specific medical situation and the facilities available in the region of Greece you are in.

The private healthcare sector in Greece offers an alternative to the public system, with generally shorter waiting times and more modern facilities. Many expats and locals who can afford it opt for private healthcare to ensure quicker access and more comfortable conditions.

The cost of private healthcare can vary widely, but as a general range, a consultation with a specialist can cost between 40-100 EUR (approximately 45-110 USD). These costs can escalate for more complex treatments or surgeries, potentially running into thousands of Euros.

Emergency medical services in Greece are generally responsive, with the national emergency number (112) being the go-to in case of a medical emergency. However, the efficiency and speed can vary depending on the region, with more remote areas potentially facing longer response times.

Health insurance is a crucial consideration for expats in Greece.

While EU citizens can access public healthcare using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), non-EU expats typically need to have private health insurance. There are various international insurance companies that offer health insurance plans for expats, and it's advisable to get comprehensive coverage that includes both healthcare and repatriation.

The costs of medical treatments and procedures without insurance can be high, especially in the private sector.

For instance, a simple surgical procedure can cost several thousand Euros, while more complex surgeries can be much more expensive. With insurance, depending on your coverage, many of these costs can be significantly reduced or covered entirely.

Regarding medical billing and reimbursement, in the private sector, patients usually pay upfront and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company.

It's important to keep all receipts and detailed invoices for this purpose. In the public system, if you're covered by public health insurance or the EHIC, you typically won't face significant upfront costs, though there may be some co-payments for certain services.

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Transportation system in Greece

Transportation in Greece offers a mix of modern and traditional options, catering to the diverse geography and urban layouts of the country.

Public transportation in Greece is quite comprehensive, especially in major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki.

In Athens, for example, the public transport network includes buses, trolleybuses, the metro, tram, and suburban railway. This network is generally reliable, with the metro and trams being the quickest way to get around the city. However, buses can be subject to traffic delays.

In Thessaloniki, buses are the main form of public transport, and while they are generally reliable, traffic can impact travel times.

Outside the major cities, public transportation options become more limited. Buses are the primary means of public transport, connecting towns and villages.

On the islands, local bus services, along with ferries and boats, are the main forms of transportation.

The reliability of these services can vary, and it’s important to check schedules in advance, especially outside of the tourist season when frequencies may decrease.

Regarding traffic, like in many countries, it can be heavy in urban areas, especially during rush hours. Athens is known for its congested roads.

In contrast, traffic is typically lighter in smaller cities and rural areas. However, during the tourist season, popular areas such as the islands can experience increased traffic.

The road conditions in Greece vary. Major highways and roads in urban areas are generally in good condition, but in rural areas and on some of the islands, roads can be narrower, winding, and less well-maintained.

Extra caution is advised when driving in mountainous areas or on less-traveled roads.

For expats wishing to drive in Greece, the requirements depend on the duration of your stay and your country of origin.

If you’re from an EU country, your existing driver's license is valid in Greece. For non-EU citizens, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is usually required, alongside your national driving license. This IDP is used in conjunction with your original driver’s license and should be obtained before arriving in Greece.

It’s important to be aware of Greek driving laws and customs.

Greece drives on the right-hand side of the road. Seat belts are mandatory, and the use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited without a hands-free system.

Also, be aware that Greek drivers are known for being somewhat aggressive compared to some other European countries, so defensive driving is advisable.

Education system in Greece

Greece is generally considered a family-friendly destination for expats.

The country's culture places a strong emphasis on family values, and children are warmly welcomed in most social settings. This extends to various aspects of life, making Greece an appealing choice for families relocating from abroad.

When it comes to education, Greece offers a range of options for expat children, including international schools and local public schools. International schools are a popular choice for expat families as they often offer curricula in English and other languages, and they follow educational systems that are recognized globally, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), British GCSEs, and A-Levels, or the American curriculum.

In major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, you'll find a good selection of international schools.

For instance, in Athens, notable international schools include the American Community Schools of Athens, St. Catherine's British School, and the Campion School, among others. In Thessaloniki, options include Pinewood - The American International School of Thessaloniki.

The costs associated with these schools can vary widely, but you can expect to pay anywhere from around 6,000 to 20,000 EUR per year (approximately 7,000 to 23,000 USD), depending on the school and the level of education.

For expats considering local Greek schools, it’s important to know that the education system in Greece is well-regarded, particularly for its early years and primary education. Education is compulsory and free in public schools from the ages of 6 to 15.

Local schools provide an immersive Greek experience, which can be beneficial for children in terms of language acquisition and cultural integration. However, the language of instruction is Greek, which can be a barrier for children who do not speak the language.

Some families choose to supplement with private tuition to assist with language learning.

For older children, especially those who do not speak Greek, local schools can be more challenging due to the language barrier and differences in the educational system. This is why many expat families opt for international schools, especially for secondary education.

The Greek education system places a strong emphasis on examinations, with a focus on rote learning and memorization, particularly in high school.

This can be a different experience from education systems in other countries, which might be more project-based or inquiry-driven.

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Work and business in Greece

The job market in Greece for expats can be somewhat challenging, primarily due to the country's economic situation in recent years and the high unemployment rate.

Expats in Greece often find employment in industries such as tourism, hospitality, and education. Given Greece's status as a top tourist destination, there is a steady demand for professionals in tourism and hospitality, especially during the peak season.

Teaching English as a foreign language is another common job for expats, either in language schools or private tutoring.

In terms of jobs forbidden for foreigners, there are no specific professions that are outright banned for expats. However, certain jobs, especially in the public sector, may require Greek citizenship or EU nationality due to legal or security reasons.

Regarding language requirements, having a working knowledge of Greek can be a significant advantage, as it broadens the range of job opportunities available and facilitates integration into the workplace.

While there are positions, particularly in multinational companies or the tourism sector, where English is the primary working language, many local companies prefer or require fluency in Greek.

For work permit requirements, non-EU nationals typically need to secure a job offer before applying for a work permit. The employer usually initiates the permit process by proving that the job cannot be filled by a Greek or EU citizen.

EU nationals have the right to live and work in Greece without a work permit, but they must register with the local authorities if planning to stay longer than three months.

Expats usually find employment opportunities through various channels.

Online job portals and expat forums can be a good starting point. Networking is also crucial in Greece with many job opportunities being found through personal connections and word-of-mouth. LinkedIn and other professional networking sites are increasingly popular for job hunting in Greece.

Opening up your own business as an expat in Greece is possible and is an avenue some expats choose to pursue, especially in sectors like tourism, food and beverage, or services targeting fellow expats and international clients. However, it’s important to be aware that Greece is known for its bureaucracy, which can make the process of setting up a business time-consuming and complex.

There are no explicit restrictions on foreigners opening a business, but navigating the legal and administrative procedures requires thorough preparation and, often, professional advice.

Banking and finance in Greece

The banking system in Greece has undergone significant changes and improvements, especially following the financial crisis that impacted the country in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

In comparison to the US or broader Europe, Greek banks now adhere to stricter regulatory standards, but there might still be perceptible differences in terms of service range and efficiency.

In terms of safety, Greek banks are now generally considered safe, especially since they are under the supervision of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece. The deposits are also protected up to a certain amount, similar to deposit protection schemes in other EU countries and the FDIC protection in the US.

For expats looking to open a bank account in Greece, the process is relatively straightforward but does require some documentation.

Typically, you will need your passport, a Greek tax identification number (AFM), proof of address (which can sometimes be a challenge if you've just moved to the country), and possibly additional documentation depending on the bank, such as a residence permit or proof of employment. It's advisable to check with the specific bank for their requirements.

The banking services available in Greece are similar to those in other European countries. This includes checking and savings accounts, debit and credit cards, loans, and mortgages.

Most banks offer services both in Greek and English, particularly in areas with a high expat population.

Online banking in Greece has developed significantly in recent years. Most major banks offer comprehensive online banking services, allowing customers to manage their accounts, make transfers, pay bills, and more.

Mobile banking apps are also widely used, offering similar functionalities.

ATM access in Greece is generally good, especially in urban areas and on the islands popular with tourists. However, it's worth noting that during the peak of the financial crisis, there were restrictions on withdrawals, and while these have since been lifted, it serves as a reminder of the importance of having a diversified financial setup.

Transferring money into and out of Greece is relatively straightforward, especially since Greece is part of the Eurozone.

International transfers can be done through banks or international money transfer services. However, it's important to be aware of potential fees and exchange rates.

For tax and financial planning, expats should be aware that Greece has its own set of tax laws and regulations.

Income generated in Greece is subject to Greek taxes, and there are global income reporting requirements for tax residents. It's also important to be aware of any tax obligations you may still have in your home country.

Financial planning for expats in Greece can be complex, particularly with considerations around exchange rates and potential economic fluctuations. Seeking advice from a financial advisor who understands both the Greek system and the implications for expats is advisable.

Buying real estate in Greece can be risky

An increasing number of foreign investors are showing interest in Greece. However, 90% of them will make mistakes. Avoid the pitfalls with our comprehensive guide.

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Culture and social norms in Greece

Greek culture is rich and deeply rooted in history and tradition, and being aware of some cultural nuances can greatly aid in adapting and integrating into society.

One of the fundamental aspects of Greek culture is the importance of family and social connections. Greeks are known for their hospitality and warmth, but they also appreciate respect for their traditions and customs. When invited to a Greek home, it's customary to bring a small gift, like sweets or wine.

During meals, it’s polite to wait until the host starts eating or indicates it’s time to start.

Also, be prepared for a more relaxed approach to time. In Greece punctuality is not as rigidly observed in social settings as it might be in some other cultures.

Religion plays a significant role in many Greeks' lives, with the majority being Greek Orthodox. Showing respect in religious settings is important. For instance, dress modestly when visiting churches, and be aware of religious holidays and their customs.

When it comes to language, English proficiency varies in Greece. In major cities and tourist areas, many people speak English, especially the younger generation. However, in rural areas or among older populations, English proficiency can be limited.

Learning some basic Greek is not only practical but also shows respect for the local culture. Simple phrases for greetings, thanks, and common requests can go a long way in everyday interactions and are greatly appreciated by locals.

To adapt to the local culture, it’s beneficial to engage with it actively. Participate in local festivals and events, which are often steeped in tradition and are a great way to understand Greek culture and meet people.

Trying local cuisine and learning about Greek history and art can also help you connect more deeply with the country and its people.

Integrating into Greek society and building relationships with locals can be facilitated by showing genuine interest in their way of life.

Joining local clubs or groups, such as sports teams, hobby classes, or language exchange meetups, can provide opportunities to meet and bond with locals. Engaging in community activities or volunteering can also be excellent ways to integrate and give back to the community.

Another tip is to be open and patient. Cultural misunderstandings can happen, but approaching them with openness and a willingness to learn can turn these moments into opportunities for deeper understanding.

Building meaningful relationships takes time, so don’t be discouraged if integration seems slow at first.

Safety and security in Greece

In terms of crime, the most common issues faced by expats and tourists alike in Greece are petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, especially in crowded tourist areas and on public transport. These are not unique to Greece but are prevalent in many tourist destinations around the world.

The major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki have neighborhoods where these petty crimes are more common, so it's wise to be extra cautious with personal belongings in these areas.

Another safety concern, particularly in Athens, involves demonstrations and strikes, which can occur occasionally, often in response to political or economic developments.

While these are usually peaceful, they can sometimes lead to disruptions or confrontations. Staying informed about local news and avoiding demonstration areas can help mitigate risks associated with such events.

Regarding the legal system in Greece, it is structured to protect the rights of all residents, including expats. However, the judicial process can be slow, and bureaucratic challenges are not uncommon.

This doesn't mean that expats won't receive legal protection, but it's important to have realistic expectations about the efficiency of legal proceedings.

In terms of safe zones, most tourist areas, islands, and smaller towns in Greece are very safe. Greek islands, in particular, are known for their relaxed and secure environment.

Major city centers, while generally safe, do require more vigilance, especially at night or in less crowded areas.

Specific areas to be cautious in include Omonoia Square in Athens and some parts of the Exarchia district, known for graffiti and a bohemian lifestyle but also associated with higher levels of petty crime.

In Thessaloniki, while the city center is generally safe, some western suburbs have a reputation for being less so, especially after dark.

For expats, the key to staying safe in Greece is similar to what it would be in any other country: stay aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas, keep your valuables secure, avoid walking alone late at night in poorly lit or less populated areas, and stay informed about local news and events.

It's also advisable to have a basic understanding of Greek or carry a phrasebook or translation app, as not everyone speaks English, especially in more remote areas.

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buying property foreigner Greece

Religion and spirituality in Greece

The predominant religion in Greece is Greek Orthodox Christianity, which plays a significant role in the country's culture and traditions.

The Greek Orthodox Church is an integral part of Greece's historical identity, and you'll find that many customs and festivals have religious roots.

Regarding the level of religiosity, it varies among individuals and generations. While older generations tend to be more traditionally religious, younger people may approach religion more flexibly.

However, even for those who are not strictly practicing, religious traditions often remain a part of life, particularly during major holidays like Easter and Christmas.

Greeks, in general, are known for their hospitality and open-mindedness, but there can be a strong sense of pride and, as stated before, connection to their own religious traditions.

This doesn't mean that they are closed to other religions, but rather that Greek Orthodoxy is a key part of their cultural identity.

In urban areas and amongst the younger, more cosmopolitan population, you'll find a greater openness to diverse religious beliefs.

For expats practicing a different religion, accessing religious or spiritual activities and places of worship in Greece is fairly straightforward, especially in larger cities.

Athens and Thessaloniki, for example, have a variety of places of worship including Catholic churches, Protestant churches, synagogues, and mosques. In these cities, you might also find communities and organizations for different faiths, which can be a great resource for meeting like-minded people and practicing your religion.

In smaller towns and on the islands, the presence of non-Orthodox religious facilities might be more limited.

However, the growing expat communities and the increasing number of tourists have led to a greater awareness and accommodation of different religious practices. In these areas, expats often gather for religious services in private homes or community centers.

The internet can be a valuable tool for connecting with these smaller expat religious communities.

If you practice a religion that doesn't have an established place of worship in your area, reaching out to embassies or international groups can be a good starting point for finding local religious services or communities.

Additionally, online forums and social media groups for expats in Greece can provide information and connections to religious groups and activities.

Climate and environment in Greece

Generally, Greece experiences a Mediterranean climate, but variations exist between regions.

For instance, on the coast and the islands, including popular areas like Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete, you'll encounter hot, dry summers with temperatures often climbing above 30°C (86°F). This warmth is ideal for beach activities, sailing, and enjoying the vibrant outdoor café culture.

Winters here are milder and wetter but still relatively pleasant compared to northern European climates. However, be aware of the Meltemi winds in the Aegean Sea during summer. While they can offer a cooling respite from the heat, they can sometimes disrupt ferry services.

In the mountainous regions, such as Epirus and parts of central and northern Greece, the climate is more continental. If you enjoy winter sports, these areas offer colder, snow-filled winters perfect for skiing. Summers here provide a cooler and less humid alternative to the coastal areas, making hiking and exploring the natural landscapes quite enjoyable.

Heading to northern Greece, including regions like Macedonia and Thrace, you'll find a mix of continental and Mediterranean influences. Expect colder, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. This area's climate supports a variety of outdoor activities year-round, from winter sports to summer festivals.

Health-wise, Greece doesn't pose any significant risks like tropical diseases.

However, the summer heat can be intense, particularly for those not used to such high temperatures. It's important to stay hydrated, use sun protection, and be mindful of the signs of heat-related illnesses like heatstroke.

Environmental factors do vary across the country. In cities like Athens, air quality can be a concern due to traffic and industrial activities, particularly during the hot summer months when pollution tends to accumulate. However, the islands and rural areas usually enjoy better air quality.

Clean water is generally accessible throughout Greece, but on some smaller islands, relying on bottled water for drinking is common due to limited local water resources.

Lastly, being in a seismically active zone, Greece does experience earthquakes. While modern infrastructure is built to be resilient, it's something to be mindful of.

Additionally, during the dry summer months, wildfires can occur, especially in forested regions. Staying informed and cautious during these times is advisable.

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buying property foreigner Greece

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.