Evaluating Greece as a destination for British expats

Evaluating Greece as a destination for British expats

Evaluating Greece as a destination for British expats

For decades, the Greek mainland and its plethora of islands have been popular holiday destinations for Brits looking for sun, sea, great weather and a lively nightlife scene, but what does this ancient land offer for retirees and ambitious expats?

Given that nowhere on the planet is perfect, many long-stay expatriates believe Greece is as good as it gets. Of course, living in a strange land is vastly different than two weeks’ annual holiday, but the friendly nature of the Greek people makes those difficult weeks or months after arrival far less trying than in many other expat destinations. Although the overall cost of living isn’t an cheap now as it was a decade ago, it’s still value for money provided the big cities are avoided.

One major difficulty for new arrivals is the Greek language, especially as the alphabet is also unfamiliar. However, many words do sound familiar and the grammar is easier than in many other expat destinations, with a course before you leave the sensible idea. Locals will appreciate your efforts, and the country’s popularity with English-speaking tourists means many have a good grasp of your language.

Planning your arrival for the summer months is the preferred option, especially if you’re heading for one of the islands or the northern regions. Winters in Greece are rarely if ever as cold and miserable as their UK equivalents, although Athens and Thessalonica do experience snow showers from time to time. Expats planning to settle on one of Greece’s glorious islands should also remember almost everything closes down at the end of the tourist season, and bad weather may prevent supply ferries from chancing the journey, leading to occasional shortages in local shops.

The bad news is Greek bureaucracy, especially if you’re hoping to work or start a business. Visa rules vary, but absolutely everything takes a very long time and requires reams of paperwork. Public offices are now online, but you’ll need to be there in person and leave at least an entire day free for your visit. Brown envelopes help; so do a few tears!

As regards Greek taxes and your liability, using a local accountant for even the simplest task is the holy way to go. It has to be said that Greece isn’t for everyone but, for those who persevere, it’s the experience of a lifetime.

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