Expat’s Guide To Greece

Beautiful Village Assos In Kefalonia Greek Island
11/08/2021

Greece has it all, great weather, delicious food, and a lower cost of living. Discover what to expect and top tips for settling down in this incredible country.

Life in Greece

The Greek way of life is about family, time outdoors, good food and tradition. If you are willing to adjust to a more relaxed lifestyle, then you will love Greece. Major cities such as Athens and tourist centres work to more traditional working hours, but rural locations follow a more relaxed approach to working hours.

Cost of Living

The Greek way of life is about family, time outdoors, good food and tradition. If you are willing to adjust to a more relaxed lifestyle, then you will love Greece. Major cities such as Athens and tourist centres work to more traditional working hours, but rural locations follow a more relaxed approach to working hours.

Security

The Greek way of life is about family, time outdoors, good food and tradition. If you are willing to adjust to a more relaxed lifestyle, then you will love Greece. Major cities such as Athens and tourist centres work to more traditional working hours, but rural locations follow a more relaxed approach to working hours.

Post Brexit Rights & Residency Permits

For EU citizens, the process is quick and easy. They are required to apply for a residence permit after three months. Non-EU citizens will need to go through a more extensive immigration process.

 

For Britons, free movement within the EU ended 31 December 2020 – Brits no longer have automatic rights to settle down in EU countries such as Greece. UK citizens planning to move to Greece will need to apply for permanent residency to stay in Greece, as is required of all Non-EU citizens. The application is usually completed in the home country.

 

If you are unsure about where you want to settle in Greece, you should take advantage of the three-month visa-free travel.
Depending on your purpose for moving to Greece, different kinds of residency permits have varying requirements.

Employment Residency – Valid national passport, two biometric photos, proof of address, copy of your employment contract, declaration form signed by your employer. You will need copies of marriage and birth certificates for spouses and children.

 

Pensioner Residency – valid national passport, two biometric photos, proof of pension, an alternative is proof of funds, which will generally be a minimum of €4,000 per person in a Greek bank account, evidence of health insurance or state healthcare cover, proof of address

 

Business Owners – valid national passport, proof of address, hospitality or business declaration signed by local police

 

Golden Visa Programme – You can save a lot of time and paperwork by getting residency through the Golden Visa Programme. The visa provides a 5-year renewable residency permit that includes your spouse and children, together with access to national healthcare and schooling.

 

You will need to invest 250,000 euros in property in Greece and receive residency within 60 days. You will be required to secure a Greek tax number and a Greek bank account.
Quite a few law firms specialising in Golden Visa applications. They will take care of everything. Open to both EU and No-EU nationals, the process takes about two weeks.

Renting Property

You have now decided where in Greece you want to live. It is time to buy your property. If you have the cash to invest, the Golden Visa Scheme would be the best path to take as it provides many advantages.

 

You must declare whether you are buying for residence or investment purposes when buying the property. Property tax is charged annually based on the property’s purpose, which has to be declared on your tax returns.

 

As with renting, it is essential to use a reputable real estate agent and an independent lawyer to ensure no nasty surprises.

 

For those needing financing, most use international lenders for financing the property as it can be difficult to secure mortgages through Greek banks. Of course, this will require additional paperwork.

 

When calculating your budget, remember to include the costs for a lawyer, surveyor, notary fees and deposit of at least 10%. A mistake many people make, costing them thousands, is failing to protect the cost of their property from currency market volatility by using an international money transfer specialist.

Internet, Mobile and Utilities

Greek infrastructure, like many European countries, is better in the cities compared to rural areas. Internet access in rural areas is more likely to provided via mobile, affecting the available speed.


Mobile connectivity can be patchy in rural areas, but overall, there is good mobile signal coverage throughout Greece. Just do not expect high-speed internet access.


The best solution for expats is a contract with a national mobile phone network once you have moved to Greece. Brits were covered under European roaming charges, but this is expected to change because of Brexit.

Taxes

Greece’s income tax framework is not particularly attractive. You will be asked to pay tax on everything you earn as there is no lower income tax threshold. The rates quickly rise to 45% on any income over 40,000 euros.

 

However, Greece recently introduced a programme to lure pensioners to the country, with a 7% flat tax rate on any income from abroad for foreigner pensioners who decide to live in Greece. You may or may not be an EU-citizen.


Self-employed must pay their taxes up front, which are offset against your annual tax returns. You will need additional funds to cover the tax for your first year of trading, but the burden eases as the business starts generating income.


Setting up a business only makes sense if the corporation tax is lower. Currently, the corporate tax in Greece is 24%. For example, the UK is lower at 19%, Germany is higher at 29.9%

Healthcare

Greece’s national healthcare system is considered adequate. To get access, you need to be paying tax and belong to a national healthcare organisation.

 

Most expats opt for private health insurance to access better quality care and shorter waiting times. Before your move to Greece, it is wise to think about medical cover for when you are out there. Depending on your age and existing health conditions, expect to pay upwards of 150 euros per person per year.

 

Access to doctors in Greece is straightforward. Once the paperwork is completed, you can choose a local doctor from a list. Access to medication through Pharmacies is pretty standard.

Summary

Pros

  • Good weather
    Average temperatures are around 30 degrees in the summer and 10 degrees in the winter. Average sea temperature 25 degrees. Twelve hours of sun during the summer.
  • Ancient historical monuments
    For anyone interested in Greek history, there are many ancient historical monuments to visit throughout the country. Although you have to pay to enter most sites, they are inexpensive.
  • Outstanding food
    Almost every restaurant uses locally sourced produce and is of good quality that you would typically pay lots of money for in most European cities. A seafood lovers paradise, yet there are plenty of eating options for vegetarians.
  • Low cost of living
    Significantly lower compared to many countries, such as the UK, rental prices 60% lower, restaurant prices 30% lower, Grocery prices 19% lower.

Cons

  • Lack of amenities in more rural locations
    If you are accustomed to having amenities close to you, you’ll need to choose a location closer to a major city, which in turn increases your cost of living.
  • Limited job opportunities
    Finding employment will be difficult, even if you can speak Greek.
  • Tax maze
    The tax system in Greece is notoriously complicated. You will need the services of an accountant to ensure you don’t overpay.

Greece has it all – great weather, delicious and healthy food, lower living costs, a more relaxed lifestyle and welcoming locals.

Working through all that needs to be done on your own is possible, but expert help will make things quicker, easier and help you avoid the pitfalls to ensure your dream move overseas does not turn into a nightmare.

 

We can help you find your dream property, call us on +44 330 0575 990 or email info@overseaspropertyforum.com