Did you know that the so-called Hellenic Republic is the cradle of Western civilization, the birthplace of democracy, and a few other things that make our society what it is today? If you’re thinking about moving to Greece, the place “where it all began,” you should get familiar with the different regions in this country, its people, their lifestyle, mindset, food, and healthy balance between work and leisure, which does not care too much about the hectic life of modern times.
Whether you choose to live in the most famous Blue Zone of the world, Ikaria, or in the capital, Athens, you will be surrounded by fantastic nature, mouth-watering dishes, unbelievable culture, tradition, and friendly people. This nation, situated in southeastern Europe, takes pride in plenty of exciting stuff, including an incredible number of landmarks, both ancient and modern. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard about the Parthenon, Metheori, or the island Crete?
So, are you interested in learning more about this beautiful country? We’ve put together some useful information for you before you say goodbye to your family and friends and sail off to the Mediterranean. Keep reading and find out how to live in another country and why so many expats choose to stay in this country for good shortly after their first visit.
What to Know Before Moving to Greece
This is a fantastic place to settle down due to its sunny and warm climate, rich history that traces back to the ancient times, unique tradition, and cuisine that is suitable for all tastes. Furthermore, this nation of many islands has an advanced high-income economy (which is still recovering from a series of crises that it suffered recently) and a high quality of life made possible by numerous amenities. With the help of our list of exciting things to know before you move abroad, you’ll get a clearer picture of this proud European nation.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the things Hellada is most famous for:
- It is home to more international airports than most other regions
- The Parthenon temple of the Athens Acropolis is the most famous Greek landmark
- It is one of the global leaders in olive production, specifically the Peloponnese area
- The capital, Athens, is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the world
- Greek sovereign territory includes about 6,000 islands and islets widely dispersed in the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, of which only 227 are populated
- The national sport is soccer, or as Europeans call it – football
- The Greek language is one of the oldest European languages
- This sunny country takes pride in 9,000 miles of coastline – that’s the 10th longest coastline in the world
- The highest mountain is Mount Olympus (9,573 feet high) which was, according to the Hellenic mythology, the home of mighty gods, Zeus included.
But, before you decide to get reliable international moving services and relocate, you should become familiar with some little less exciting, but still crucial aspects of living in the Hellenic Republic, including visa options, job possibilities, accommodation possibilities, etc.
Americans don’t need to apply for a Schengen Visa to cross the borders as tourists as long as they have a valid passport. But, in addition to this, there are several necessary documents you should obtain, depending on the purpose of your stay.
Proof of Sufficient Funds Is Mandatory
Every visit to Greece requires a return airline ticket and proof of your financial sufficiency. However, if you’re relocating here, you’ll need some other paperwork necessary to secure a long-term legal stay:
- Application form for the appropriate visa (usually a D visa – dependant and freelance employment)
- A passport valid for at least three months from the date of the planned entry
- A copy of the first page of the passport and a recent photograph
- Proof of medical insurance and a medical certificate
- Excerpt from penal records
An important tip: Don’t forget that most of these documents should be submitted in two versions – English and Greek.
Several Types of Visas
Depending on your needs and reasons why you want to enter the country, you can opt for several types of visas:
- Tourist/visitor visa (US citizens are not required to have one)
- For business purposes
- For medical purposes
- For cultural, sports, religious, and other purposes
- For members of official delegations
- For study, research, and different types of internship purposes
- For a wife/husband of a Greek citizen
- For under-age children
- Temporary visa extension for foreigners
For more information and a detailed explanation about necessary documents, visit the SchengenVisaInfo website and find out what requirements for US citizens are.
Is Living in Greece Expensive – a Quick Guide to the Cost of Living
The official currency in Greece is the euro, which is broken down into 100 cents. One US dollar is worth around 0.9 euros.
According to Numbeo.com (an online database which enables users to share and compare information about the cost of living between countries and cities), the cost of living for expats here is low in comparison to other popular places worldwide. On this website, you can compare Athens to NYC, for example, and find out how cheaper the capital of Greece is.
For example, if you want to eat out, a meal in a mid-range restaurant will cost you about $11. For a daily grocery purchase, you will spend about $35, and for utilities, you should put aside about $200 a month. If you use public transportation, your monthly costs will be, on average, $32, and if you can’t go anywhere without your vehicle, a liter of gasoline (about a quarter of a gallon) is about $2. To wear your favorite outfit, $300 should be enough every month, and for recreational activities, you should set aside about $45.
Accommodation in Greece
When it comes to housing options, you can choose to rent or buy a property. Foreigners, by law, can own property in most areas. But, before we jump into this, let’s find out what Numbeo says about renting prices per month:
- Apartment (1 bedroom) in downtown: $360
- Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of the center: $300
- Apartment (3 bedrooms) in the city center: $600
- Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of downtown: $520
Buying Property in Greece
If you’re planning to buy your own house or apartment, you should know that prices naturally vary depending on the location and size of the property. However, here are some universal things you should take into consideration when purchasing a property:
- All buyers must have AFM, which is a tax roll number
- As a foreigner, you must file “origin of wealth” documents
- Transfer tax must be paid before the purchase
- Property tax is not applicable if the property is your first home. Otherwise, this annual tax is mandatory.
- A notary public should check and authorize all tax papers and deeds
- Lawyers should check if everything is regular and in accordance with law
There are several more steps that may occur related to fees or overdue taxes, and if you want to be sure what precisely you will need to buy your property, check out the global property guide.
|Average property prices in Greece|
|Mykonos||4 BR 4 bath beachfront house w/pool||$810,000|
|Thessaloniki||2 BR 2 bath apartment||$22,000|
|Thessaloniki||3 BR 2 bath house||$270,000|
|Athens||2 BR 1 bath apartment||$270,000|
|Athens||4 BR 4 bath house||$1,080,310|
|Corfu||5 BR 4 bath house||$750,000|
|Corfu||3 BR 1 bath apartment||$103,000|
Are There Jobs for Americans?
One of the main obstacles foreigners face when it comes to employment is the language barrier. It can be challenging to get a job if you’re not fluent in modern Greek. However, some fields are in demand for English native speakers, such as:
- English teachers
- Child care
- Manual or agricultural work
- Some multinational companies are often willing to employ English-speaking expats
Leave Your Current Job Only if You Have Found One in Greece
Since there is no easy way to start working in Europe as an American, you shouldn’t quit your current work position until you find a new one. Luckily, there are several options to get a job in Europe as American, mostly through online search engines and recruiting agencies. Some useful websites are:
Comprehensive Healthcare Insurance Is a Must
National healthcare services can cover expats after they pay taxes to some of the many healthcare organizations. For example, the largest social security organization is IKA.
Many foreigners choose international private medical insurance as the best option to reduce waiting times in public healthcare institutions. You can find all relevant information associated with the Greek medicare system anytime by visiting the website aetnainternational.com.
Which Greek City Is Best for Living?
Depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose where to live – in some of the inland cities or on beautiful islands. If you go for the former, here are some suggestions:
- Athens – besides being the nation’s capital, it’s also its financial, shipping, tourism, media, educational, cultural, commercial, arts, and entertainment hub.
- Thessaloniki – with its port, which is one of the largest in the world, this seaside city is an important economic hotspot in the region of Macedonia.
- Patras – the regional capital of Western Greece, it’s a major commercial and cultural hub.
- Larissa – located in the Thessaly region, it is one of the agricultural, industrial, and commercial centers of the country.
- Heraklion – it’s the capital of the magnificent island of Crete and boasts beautiful rural areas, stunning beaches, and perfect weather.
Athens vs. Thessaloniki
At first glance, it may look like there is no significant difference between these two cities. But each of them has its own advantages and drawbacks. So, let’s take a closer look at them to make your choice easier.
Choose the capital city if:
- You’re a history aficionado
- You enjoy fantastic city views in rooftop bars
- You prefer nightlife, shopping, cultural events
Choose Thessaloniki if:
- You like being surrounded by young people (Thessaloniki has the largest university in the country – the Aristotle University)
- You want to spend your leisure time in some of the prettiest beaches in the country
- You’re a foodie
Whichever city you pick to be your new home, keep in mind that, according to Expatistan data, the cost of living in Athens is 5% higher than in Thessaloniki.
Additional Things to Know About the Hellenic Republic
No matter how much you read about your prospective destination, additional research won’t hurt. Moving to Greece requires extra effort to get more information about other vital things, especially if you are moving with kids and have concerns about their education. Furthermore, this land is located in Europe and takes pride in unique habits, lifestyles, and cuisine. Yes, you’ve heard many times that Hellenic dishes are finger-licking, but you should find out a little bit more before you board the plane.
Public schools shouldn’t be your primary choice, especially if you’re still struggling with the language. These institutions teach only in Greek, and they might be an excellent option for those who already have some language skills. That’s why many expats select English-speaking private international schools to enroll their children, although this kind of education has high tuition fees. Most of these educational institutions are located in the capital, with a few in Thessaloniki. If you were thinking about homeschooling, this option is, unfortunately, illegal, unless the child has special needs.
Living Is Easy With Excellent Cuisine
With over 250 days of sunshine all year-round, Hellas is a place that is hard to resist. And foodies will confirm that, too. Hellenic cuisine is known worldwide, not just for its moussaka or souvlaki, but feta cheese, which is the national cheese. It dates back to the Homeric ages – between 1,100 and 800 BC.
However, it’s not just the cheese that makes Hellenic cuisine so unique, but other famous dishes, too. This country has, luckily, a vast range of different plates. To mention just a few, note these down:
- Taramasalata (fish roe dip)
- Dolmades (stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and courgettes baked in the oven)
- Souvlaki and Gyros (grilled meat with veggies and sauces wrapped in pita bread)
- Baklava (a sweet made of honey, filo pastry, and groundnuts)
- Amygdalota (gluten-free almond cookie)
- Dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves)
- Galaktoboureko (crispy filo sprinkled with melted butter)