Greece is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s known for its vast coastline, myriad islands, whitewashed buildings with blue domed rooftops, and for its ancient history. Even better, the Greek economy is improving, and tourism and the golden visa program are there to help. Expats living in Greece can purchase homes now while the economy is still making moves to improve, so that when Greece is thriving again, they can rest easy knowing they’ve made a great investment. But where, exactly, are they living?
Many expats flock to Athens, thanks to its great location and proximity to both the islands and to other European countries. It is Greece’s capital city and it’s where you’ll find all of your amenities within arm’s reach. Athens is also where you’ll find world-class museums and ancient historical sites. It’s where the Acropolis is located, with many other ancient ruins nearby. Athens is also where the best healthcare can be found, so if that is on the top of your list of must-haves, you might want to check out Athens over some of the more rural areas. It’s important to note, too, that you will need to purchase private health insurance in this country, as there isn’t a country-provided plan for expats.
The Greek Islands
Most of the attention is focused on the islands, thanks to their gorgeous scenery and long coastlines. That’s not to mention that the weather is sunny and bright and the crime rates are lower in the island communities. Most of the people you’ll find there are either expat retirees or families looking for a slower pace of life with a Mediterranean touch.
Popular islands for expats living in Greece are: Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, Spetses, and Lefkada. Each has a little something of its own to offer. For example, if you’re looking for those idyllic whitewashed, blue-domed buildings, you’ll find those in Oia, on the island of Santorini. The houses are carved into the cliff tops, and the famous ruined Oia Castle rests there, famous for its blue dome and sunset views.
Corfu is home to more expats than any other part of Greece. If you chose to relocate there, you’d meet expats from all over the world, especially from the U.K., Germany, and Russia. Corfu’s capital city will have the amenities you need, while the rest of the island is known for its nature scenes. There are old fortresses and monasteries to explore, as well as plenty of outdoor exploring and snorkeling. Be prepared, however, to see lots of tourists. The island is home to many resorts.
Crete, Rhodes, Spetses, and Lefkada each have their own features to set them apart as well. Crete has the legendary birthplace of Zeus, Spetses has affluent population for those looking for more upscale living, and Lefkada is full of traditional villages and windsurfing tourism.
While Athens and the Greek Islands are famous in their own right, don’t discredit the Peloponnese area, a peninsula located in southern Greece. The Castle Town of Monemvasia and Kalamata are regions known for their outdoor scenery and adventure prospects. Expats in these areas set out to hike along winding trails where there are ancient stone towers, small villages, and olive groves galore. You’ll find Venetian features and romantic places, like the Castle Town of Monemvasia, which is carved out of a large rock. There is also a ski center in this part of the country, so that you can ski the slopes of Mount Helmos.
Living in Greece – Real Estate and Cost of Living
While the market is still recovering, you’ll find that real estate prices can be affordable, and the cost of living isn’t too bad, either, when compared to that of other nearby European countries. Corfu’s cost of living, for example, might be a little high for utilities and groceries (since it is an island, this is to be expected), but a one-bedroom apartment in the city center rents for only $360 per month. Prices in Crete, Rhodes, and Santorini are very similar. To live in Kalamata of the Peloponnese Peninsula, prices are much cheaper, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costing less than $300/month to rent. Real estate prices in these areas will, of course, vary, but you could find something for under $200,000 euros if you so choose. Athens is a bit more expensive than the other areas, thanks to its location and amenities, but you can still find affordable living there.