Living as an Expat in Greece

1. What are the visa requirements for moving to Greece as an expat?

1. The visa requirements for moving to Greece as an expat vary depending on your country of origin and the purpose of your stay. Generally, if you are a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) country, you do not need a visa to enter Greece and can stay for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. If you plan to stay longer or work in Greece, you will need to apply for a residence permit. Non-EU citizens typically need to apply for a visa to enter Greece for any length of stay, and then apply for a residence permit once in the country.

2. To apply for a residence permit in Greece, expats will need to provide a variety of documents, including proof of accommodation, proof of sufficient financial means to support themselves, health insurance coverage, and a clean criminal record. It is important to consult the nearest Greek consulate or embassy in your home country for specific visa requirements and to start the application process well in advance of your planned move to Greece. Additionally, seeking the assistance of an immigration lawyer or consultant can help navigate the visa and residence permit process smoothly.

2. How easy is it to find accommodation in Greece as an expat?

Finding accommodation in Greece as an expat can vary depending on the city or region you choose to live in. Here are some considerations for expats looking for accommodation in Greece:

1. Rental Market: The rental market in Greece is competitive in popular areas like Athens and Thessaloniki, with higher demand leading to higher prices. It is important to research current rental trends in the area you are interested in to have a better understanding of the market.

2. Real Estate Agents: Utilizing the services of a reputable real estate agent can streamline the process of finding accommodation in Greece. They can help you navigate the local rental market, language barriers, and paperwork involved in renting a property.

3. Online Platforms: Websites and apps like Idealista, Spitogatos, and Xe.gr are popular resources for finding rental properties in Greece. These platforms offer a variety of options, from apartments to houses, in different price ranges.

4. Local Networking: Expanding your local network can also help in finding accommodation in Greece. Networking with other expats, locals, or joining expat groups can provide valuable insights and recommendations for housing options.

Overall, while finding accommodation in Greece as an expat may require some effort, with proper research, the right resources, and networking, expats can find suitable housing options in the country.

3. What are the healthcare options for expats living in Greece?

Healthcare options for expats living in Greece include:

1. National Healthcare System: Expats who are legally residing in Greece and paying into the social security system are eligible to access healthcare services through the country’s National Healthcare System. This provides coverage for a range of medical services at public hospitals and clinics.

2. Private Health Insurance: Many expats opt to also purchase private health insurance to supplement their healthcare coverage in Greece. This can provide access to private hospitals and clinics, as well as additional services not covered by the public system.

3. International Health Insurance: Some expats may prefer to obtain international health insurance that provides coverage both in Greece and in their home country or other locations around the world. This can offer more flexibility and ensures access to quality healthcare services wherever they may be.

In general, Greece has a relatively good healthcare system with well-equipped facilities and trained medical professionals. Expats living in Greece should familiarize themselves with the available healthcare options and ensure they have appropriate insurance coverage to meet their needs.

4. Is it necessary to speak Greek to live comfortably as an expat in Greece?

1. While it is not absolutely necessary to speak Greek to live comfortably as an expat in Greece, having a basic understanding of the language can greatly enhance your experience and make daily tasks easier. Many Greeks speak English, especially in tourist areas and larger cities, so you can often get by with English alone. However, learning Greek can help you navigate everyday situations, communicate with locals, and immerse yourself more fully in the culture.

2. Speaking Greek can also open up more opportunities for social interactions, friendships, and integration into the community. It shows respect for the local culture and can help you build stronger relationships with your neighbors and colleagues. Additionally, understanding the language can be crucial when dealing with official matters, such as paperwork, healthcare, or legal issues.

3. There are many resources available for expats to learn Greek, including language classes, online courses, and language exchange programs. Immersing yourself in the language through daily practice and interactions with locals can accelerate your learning process and make you feel more at home in Greece. Overall, while it is possible to live comfortably as an expat in Greece without speaking Greek, it is highly beneficial to make an effort to learn the language for a deeper and more fulfilling expat experience.

5. What is the cost of living like for expats in Greece?

The cost of living for expats in Greece can vary depending on the city and lifestyle choices. Overall, Greece is considered to be an affordable country for expats compared to other European countries. Rent prices can range from around 300 to 800 euros per month for a one-bedroom apartment in cities like Athens or Thessaloniki, with more expensive options available for larger or more luxurious properties.

Groceries and dining out can also be quite affordable, especially if you frequent local markets and tavernas rather than more touristic areas. Health care costs are relatively low compared to other countries, with both public and private options available.

Transportation costs can vary, with public transportation being relatively cheap and efficient in major cities, while owning a car can add up due to fuel and maintenance costs.

Lastly, utility bills, internet, and other day-to-day expenses are typically reasonable, although it’s important to factor in potential fluctuations in the cost of living such as taxes or unforeseen expenses. Overall, by living like a local and being mindful of expenses, expats can comfortably maintain a good standard of living in Greece without breaking the bank.

6. How is the public transportation system in Greece for expats?

The public transportation system in Greece can be efficient and convenient for expats, especially in larger cities like Athens and Thessaloniki. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Metro and buses: Athens has a well-developed metro system, making it easy to navigate around the city. The buses also cover a wide area, providing access to different neighborhoods and suburbs. In Thessaloniki, the bus system is commonly used for commuting.

2. Ferries: For expats living on the islands or in coastal areas, ferries are a common mode of transportation. They connect the mainland with the islands and offer a scenic way to travel.

3. Taxis and ride-sharing: Taxis are widely available in Greece, but make sure to use licensed taxis to avoid any issues. Ride-sharing services like Uber are also available in some cities.

4. Ticketing system: The ticketing system for public transportation in Greece is relatively straightforward. You can purchase tickets at kiosks, metro stations, or on buses. There are also reloadable cards available for frequent travelers.

5. Punctuality: While the public transportation system in Greece is generally reliable, delays can occur, especially during peak hours or in busy tourist seasons. It’s advisable to plan your trips with some buffer time in case of delays.

6. Accessibility: Most metro stations and buses in major cities are equipped with facilities for people with disabilities. However, it’s always a good idea to check the accessibility options beforehand if you have specific needs.

Overall, the public transportation system in Greece can be a convenient and cost-effective way for expats to get around, especially in urban areas. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the different modes of transportation and routes can help you navigate the Greek transportation system with ease.

7. What are the best cities or regions in Greece for expats to live in?

1. Athens is a popular choice for expats living in Greece due to its vibrant atmosphere, rich history, and plethora of job opportunities. The city offers a blend of ancient landmarks, modern amenities, and a diverse expat community.

2. Thessaloniki is another excellent option for expats looking to live in Greece. It is the second largest city in the country and offers a more laid-back lifestyle compared to Athens. Thessaloniki boasts a picturesque waterfront, bustling markets, and a thriving cultural scene.

3. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is a great choice for expats seeking a slower pace of life. The island has stunning beaches, charming villages, and a warm climate all year round. Expats can enjoy a relaxed lifestyle while still having access to modern conveniences.

4. Corfu is a popular destination for expats looking to live in Greece. This beautiful island offers a mix of Venetian, French, and British influences, resulting in a unique cultural experience. Expats can enjoy a laid-back lifestyle, stunning beaches, and delicious cuisine.

5. Thessaly is a region in central Greece that offers a mix of coastal and mountainous landscapes. Expats living in Thessaly can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and swimming. The region is known for its lush greenery, charming villages, and friendly locals.

Overall, the best cities or regions in Greece for expats to live in will depend on individual preferences such as lifestyle, job opportunities, climate, and proximity to amenities. It’s important for expats to research each area thoroughly and visit in person before making a decision on where to settle.

8. How does the education system in Greece cater to expat children?

The education system in Greece provides options for expat children to receive schooling that meets their needs. Here are some ways in which the system caters to expat children:

1. International Schools: Greece has several international schools that offer curriculum in English or other languages, catering to the expatriate community. These schools follow international educational standards and provide a familiar academic environment for expat children.

2. Bilingual Programs: Some public schools in Greece offer bilingual programs, where subjects are taught in both Greek and another language, such as English. This can help expat children integrate into the local education system while maintaining their language skills.

3. Support for Non-Greek Speakers: Schools in Greece often provide support for non-Greek speaking students, including language classes and extra help with assimilating into the curriculum. This can make the transition easier for expat children who may not be fluent in Greek.

4. Cultural Integration: The education system in Greece also promotes cultural integration, teaching expat children about Greek history, traditions, and customs. This can help them feel more connected to their new environment and foster a sense of belonging.

Overall, the education system in Greece makes efforts to accommodate expat children through a variety of options and support services, ensuring they have access to quality education while adjusting to their new surroundings.

9. What are the job opportunities like for expats in Greece?

Job opportunities for expats in Greece can vary depending on several factors.
1. Language proficiency: Greek language skills are essential for many jobs, especially in customer-facing roles. However, there are opportunities in multinational companies or sectors like tourism where English is commonly spoken.
2. Qualifications and experience: Highly skilled expats in sectors such as IT, finance, or engineering may find more job opportunities, particularly in larger cities like Athens or Thessaloniki.
3. Networking: Building a strong professional network can be crucial in finding job opportunities in Greece. Attending industry events, networking with locals, and utilizing online platforms can be beneficial.
4. Entrepreneurship: Some expats choose to start their own businesses in Greece, taking advantage of the country’s entrepreneurial spirit and government incentives for small businesses.
Overall, while job opportunities for expats in Greece may require effort and perseverance, there are possibilities in various sectors for those who are well-prepared and adaptable.

10. What are the cultural norms and etiquette expats should be aware of in Greece?

Expats living in Greece should be aware of several cultural norms and etiquette to integrate smoothly into Greek society:

1. Hospitality is highly valued in Greece, so be prepared to accept invitations to people’s homes for meals or social gatherings.
2. Punctuality is not always strictly observed in Greece, so it’s common for events to start late. However, it’s still respectful to arrive on time for appointments.
3. Greek people are generally warm and friendly, so it’s important to be polite, greet people with a smile, and show interest in their culture.
4. When dining out, it’s customary to linger over your meal and not rush through it. Also, splitting the bill evenly is not common in Greece, so be prepared to take turns treating each other.
5. Physical contact such as handshakes, hugs, and kisses on the cheek are common greetings in Greece, so don’t be surprised if people are more touchy-feely than in other cultures.
6. It’s considered impolite to point with your index finger in Greece, so use your whole hand or gesture with your chin instead.
7. In Greek social settings, it’s common for conversations to be lively and animated, so don’t be afraid to express yourself openly.
8. Respect for elders and authority figures is important in Greek culture, so it’s best to show deference and avoid confrontations in formal situations.
9. When visiting someone’s home, it’s customary to bring a small gift such as flowers, wine, or sweets as a token of appreciation.
10. Lastly, learning a few basic Greek phrases and customs can go a long way in showing respect for the local culture and building relationships with Greeks.

11. How easy is it to make friends and socialize as an expat in Greece?

Making friends and socializing as an expat in Greece can vary depending on various factors such as location, language skills, and personal interests. Generally speaking, Greeks are known for their warm and welcoming nature, which can make it relatively easy for expats to connect with locals. However, language barrier can be a challenge, as not everyone speaks English fluently. Expats can overcome this by taking language classes or joining expat groups where English is commonly spoken.

1. Expats can also make friends through common interests such as sports, volunteering, or cultural activities.
2. Joining social clubs or groups can be a great way to meet both locals and other expats who share similar interests.
3. Networking events and social gatherings are also popular in Greece and can provide opportunities to meet new people.

Overall, with an open attitude and willingness to integrate into the local community, expats can find it relatively easy to make friends and socialize in Greece.

12. What are the options for banking and managing finances as an expat in Greece?

As an expat living in Greece, you have several options for banking and managing your finances:

1. Local Greek Banks: You can choose to open an account with a local Greek bank such as National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, or Piraeus Bank. These banks offer a wide range of services including savings accounts, current accounts, online banking, and debit/credit cards.

2. International Banks: Some expats prefer to keep their accounts with an international bank that also operates in Greece, such as Citibank or HSBC. This can be convenient if you have accounts in multiple countries and want to easily transfer funds between them.

3. Online Banks: Another option is to use an online bank such as Revolut or N26. These digital banks offer easy account setup, low fees for international transactions, and convenient mobile banking apps.

4. Currency Exchange Services: If you have income in a foreign currency, you may want to consider using a currency exchange service to convert your money into euros. Services like TransferWise or CurrencyFair offer competitive exchange rates and lower fees compared to traditional banks.

5. Financial Advisors: If you need help managing your finances or navigating the Greek banking system, you can also consider hiring a financial advisor or accountant with expertise in expat finances. They can provide guidance on tax planning, investment opportunities, and other financial matters specific to your situation as an expat living in Greece.

13. Is it common for expats to buy property in Greece, and what are the regulations around this?

1. Yes, it is quite common for expats to buy property in Greece. Greece’s beautiful landscapes, rich history, and relatively affordable property prices make it an attractive destination for many foreigners looking to invest in a second home, retire, or simply enjoy a change of pace in a Mediterranean setting.

2. The regulations for expats buying property in Greece are fairly straightforward. Non-EU citizens can generally purchase property in Greece without major restrictions, though there are certain limitations on where they can buy based on national security reasons.

3. Expats from EU countries have fewer restrictions and can buy property freely in Greece. It’s important to note that property laws and regulations can vary based on the specific location within Greece, so it’s advised to seek legal advice or consult with a real estate expert familiar with the local market before making a purchase.

4. Additionally, expats should be prepared for the bureaucratic process involved in buying property in Greece, which can sometimes be time-consuming and require patience. Overall, though, purchasing property in Greece as an expat can be a rewarding experience, offering the opportunity to immerse yourself in the country’s culture and lifestyle.

14. How is the internet and mobile phone service in Greece for expats?

Internet and mobile phone services in Greece for expats are generally reliable and widely available. Most urban areas in Greece have access to high-speed internet connections, with both cable and DSL options offered by various providers.

1. The major cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki have the best coverage and fastest speeds, while more remote or rural areas may have slower and less reliable internet connections.
2. Mobile phone service in Greece is provided by several major carriers such as Cosmote, Vodafone, and Wind, offering both prepaid and contract plans.
3. Expats will find that it is relatively easy to obtain a local SIM card for their mobile phone, which can be used for both calls and data.
4. The cost of internet and mobile phone service in Greece is generally reasonable compared to other European countries, but expats should be aware of any additional fees or charges that may apply.
5. Overall, expats living in Greece should have no trouble staying connected with friends and family both locally and internationally through the country’s internet and mobile phone services.

15. What are the options for leisure activities and entertainment for expats in Greece?

As an expat living in Greece, you have a plethora of leisure activities and entertainment options to choose from. Here are some popular options:

1. Exploring Ancient Sites: Greece is rich in history and culture, so visiting ancient sites such as the Acropolis in Athens, the Palace of Knossos in Crete, and the archaeological sites in Delphi can be fascinating and educational experiences.

2. Beach Relaxation: With its stunning coastline and crystal-clear waters, Greece offers endless opportunities for beach relaxation. Whether you prefer the cosmopolitan beaches of Mykonos or the secluded coves of Pelion, there is a beach for every taste.

3. Outdoor Activities: The Greek landscape is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. You can go hiking in the mountains of Peloponnese, windsurfing in Rhodes, or sailing around the Ionian Islands.

4. Food and Wine Tasting: Greek cuisine is renowned worldwide for its fresh ingredients and delicious flavors. As an expat, you can indulge in traditional Greek dishes such as souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava, as well as explore the local wines and spirits.

5. Festivals and Events: Throughout the year, Greece hosts a variety of cultural festivals and events celebrating music, dance, food, and more. From the Athens Epidaurus Festival to the Carnival celebrations in Patras, there is always something exciting happening.

Overall, as an expat in Greece, you will never run out of leisure activities and entertainment options to enjoy during your time in this beautiful country.

16. How safe is Greece for expats, especially in terms of crime rates?

Greece is generally considered a safe country for expats in terms of crime rates. The country has a low overall crime rate compared to many other European countries. However, like any country, expats should take normal safety precautions to ensure their well-being. Here are some points to consider:

1. Safety varies by location: Some areas in major cities like Athens or Thessaloniki may have higher crime rates compared to smaller towns or islands. It’s advisable to research and understand the safety levels of the neighborhood you plan to live in.

2. Property crimes: Petty theft, pickpocketing, and burglary can occur in touristy areas or crowded places. Expats should be vigilant, especially in public transportation, markets, or tourist sites, and take necessary precautions to safeguard their belongings.

3. Personal safety: Violent crimes against expats are rare, but it’s always wise to be cautious, especially at night and in secluded areas. Avoid confrontations, be aware of your surroundings, and trust your instincts if a situation feels unsafe.

4. Emergency services: Greece has a reliable emergency response system, and expats can dial 112 for assistance in case of any emergency.

Overall, Greece is a safe country for expats, and by practicing common-sense safety measures, most expats can enjoy a safe and fulfilling experience living in this beautiful Mediterranean country.

17. How easy is it to access amenities like grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and pharmacies as an expat in Greece?

As an expat living in Greece, access to amenities such as grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and pharmacies is relatively straightforward and convenient.

1. Grocery stores are abundant in most cities and towns, ranging from small local shops to larger supermarket chains like Lidl, AB Vassilopoulos, and Sklavenitis. These stores offer a wide variety of products, including fresh produce, meats, dairy, and international food items to cater to different dietary preferences.

2. Healthcare facilities in Greece are generally of a high standard, with both public and private hospitals and clinics available. Expats can access healthcare services through the public health system with the use of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or private health insurance. Pharmacies, known as “pharmakeio,” are also widespread throughout the country, and pharmacists can provide over-the-counter medications and healthcare advice.

Overall, expats in Greece should have no trouble accessing essential amenities like grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and pharmacies, making daily life comfortable and convenient.

18. What are some common challenges that expats face when living in Greece?

Living in Greece as an expat can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Some common challenges that expats may face include:

1. Language barrier: Greek is the official language in Greece, and not everyone speaks English fluently, especially in more rural areas. This can make it difficult to communicate with locals and navigate everyday tasks.

2. Bureaucracy: Dealing with Greek bureaucracy can be frustrating for expats, as paperwork and procedures may be complex and time-consuming. This is especially true when it comes to obtaining visas, work permits, or setting up utilities.

3. Adapting to the culture: Greek culture is unique and may be quite different from what expats are accustomed to. Adapting to the traditions, customs, and social norms of the country can take time and effort.

4. Finding employment: Job opportunities for expats in Greece may be limited, especially if they do not speak Greek. Securing employment in a competitive job market can be a challenge for expats.

5. Healthcare system: Understanding and navigating the Greek healthcare system, which may be different from what expats are used to in their home countries, can be a challenge.

6. Finding housing: Rental accommodations in popular expat areas like Athens or the Greek islands can be expensive and in high demand. Finding suitable housing that meets your needs and budget can be a challenge.

Overall, while there are challenges to living in Greece as an expat, with patience, an open mind, and a willingness to adapt, many expats find that the experience is ultimately rewarding.

19. How can expats navigate the Greek bureaucracy, such as obtaining permits and dealing with paperwork?

Navigating the Greek bureaucracy can be a complex task for expats, but with proper preparation and patience, it is manageable. Here are some tips to help expats navigate the bureaucracy in Greece:

1. Research: Before beginning any bureaucratic process, it is essential to research the requirements and procedures specific to the type of permit or paperwork you are seeking. This will help you understand what documents are needed and where to submit them.

2. Seek Assistance: Consider hiring a local lawyer or consultant who is familiar with the Greek system to help guide you through the process. They can offer valuable advice and assistance in completing paperwork correctly.

3. Be Prepared: Make sure you have all necessary documents, such as proof of income, residency, and health insurance, readily available. Missing documents can lead to delays and complications.

4. Patience: Bureaucratic processes in Greece can be slow, so it is important to be patient and persistent. Follow up regularly on the progress of your application but be prepared for delays.

5. Language Skills: While many officials in Greece speak English, having some knowledge of Greek can be beneficial when dealing with bureaucracy. Consider taking language classes or using a translator if needed.

6. Double-Check: Before submitting any paperwork, double-check all documents for accuracy and completeness. Mistakes or missing information can lead to delays or rejection of your application.

By following these tips and being proactive in your approach, expats can navigate the Greek bureaucracy more effectively when obtaining permits and dealing with paperwork.

20. Are there expat communities or social networks in Greece that can provide support and connections for newcomers?

Yes, there are expat communities and social networks in Greece that can provide valuable support and connections for newcomers. Here are some ways in which expat communities can be beneficial:

1. Expats often share valuable insider tips and advice on navigating life in Greece, such as finding housing, dealing with bureaucracy, and understanding cultural norms.
2. Expat networks can offer opportunities for socializing and making new friends, which can be especially important when adjusting to a new country.
3. Many expat communities organize events, gatherings, and activities, providing a sense of belonging and community for newcomers.
4. Sharing experiences with fellow expats can help alleviate feelings of isolation and homesickness, as others can relate to the challenges of living abroad.
5. Expats can also offer practical support, such as recommendations for doctors, schools, or language classes.

Overall, expat communities in Greece can be a valuable resource for newcomers looking to connect, integrate, and thrive in their new home country.