Retiring to Greece
Aside from the thorny issue of the Elgin Marbles, the British and the Greeks have long enjoyed a special relationship. It is a mutual appreciation that dates back to the early nineteenth century when Britain helped Greece in its war of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Around 40,000 Greeks live in the UK, but the attraction is mutual with Britons feeling a magnetic pull towards Greece to soak up the many pleasures of its Mediterranean lifestyle and location. British travellers still make up the largest contingent of overseas visitors to Greece and many have capitalised on low property and land prices over the past couple of decades to buy plots or properties for holidays or retirement.
The halcyon images of beautiful bays, waterfront tavernas and long, hot nights spent soaking up the local hospitality are familiar to many of us. But they have lost some of their lustre in recent years by the impact that Greece’s debt crisis and its ensuing austerity measures has had on much of the nation. While the essential charms of southern Mediterranean life are still there to be grasped and savoured, there is no escaping the harsher realities if you are going to live there, including huge unemployment and in some areas social unrest in the face of spiralling living costs.
For young people wanting to start a new life, career and family, Greece may not be the haven they have in mind – for now anyway. But for those who are financially self-sufficient and seeking a warm, wonderful destination for retirement, it still has a huge amount to offer.
Greece is the cradle of Western civilization, the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, literature and the Olympic games. Traditionally – for the picture has been skewed by its recent economic woes – it has boasted a high quality of life and life expectancy, low living costs and a low crime rate.
The cost of living in Greece has changed out of all recognition from a decade ago and many expatriates there now comment that if you are reasonably well-off and retired, you can enjoy a good life. But if you move to Greece expecting a substantially cheaper lifestyle, you may struggle.
On the mainland, Athens’ northern and south-eastern suburbs are the most expensive areas. The priciest islands are those that attract the most tourists – Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu and Crete – and the islands in general are more expensive than the mainland for fuel and certain basic goods.
Overall, life in Athens is about half as expensive as in London, with housing, entertainment and transport seeing the biggest price disparity, followed by ‘personal care’ (everything from over-the-counter pharmaceutical items to the cost of a haircut), food and clothes.
Until the UK severs its links with the EU, Britain is still a full member and British people have the right to live, work and retire in Greece like any other EU national. That may change in coming years as finer details of Britain’s exit from the EU become clear.
For expatriates in Greece, it could mean the loss of entitlement to state healthcare, higher property taxes or a change to pension rights. But currently, nothing has changed and if you are thinking of moving to Greece, then the few years while the UK is still in the EU could be the time to do it.
See our ‘Brexit Update’ pages for how your retirement to Greece may be affected as the UK leaves the EU.
‘Retiring to Europe‘ provides you with the key information you need to consider when planning your retirement to any of the most popular countries in Europe. The following subjects are comprehensively covered for each destination:
Cost of Living
Retiring to Europe
Europe remains a popular retirement destination for Britons. But where best to retire in Europe? The full-colour, 264-page book ‘Retiring to Europe’ considers the pros and cons of the popular options. It examines in detail climate, lifestyle, language, travel connections, the affordability of property, access to healthcare and the tax and other financial implications of residency in ten European countries.
It focuses on the areas of Mediterranean Europe that Britons prefer to retire to: France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Turkey and Croatia. It also looks at the UK as a retirement option.