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A Guide to Expat Investing and Living in Greece

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Expats often choose Greece because of the high quality of life and abundance of investment options the country provides. The healthcare system satisfies fundamental necessities, and the overall cost of living is usually reasonable, but administrative procedures can be difficult to navigate.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

We’ll tackle the nitty-gritty of living in Greece as an expat to help guide your potential investment decisions in or move to the country. In particular, the topics we’ll cover will include:

  • What is it like living in Greece?
  • Living in Greece pros and cons
  • Cost of living in Greece
  • Where to live in Greece
  • Investing in Greece
  • Greece economy
  • Can foreigners buy property in Greece?

What is it like living in Greece?

Standard of living in Greece

Greece’s high standard of living, especially given its inexpensive cost, makes it an attractive option compared to other countries. Greece’s Mediterranean lifestyle emphasizes socializing, family, and outdoor activities, creating a rich cultural experience. Greece’s natural beauty, historical attractions, and gastronomy enhance this unique quality of life, weaving a lively culture.

Transportation, utilities, and other services are easily accessible in cities due to well-developed infrastructure. However, rural communities may have fewer services and infrastructure, demonstrating Greece’s cultural and lifestyle diversity.

weather in greece during spring
Photo by Adi Shefer

Greece weather

From June to August, Greece’s summers are hot and dry, especially inland. Sunshine and warm weather draw beachgoers to islands and coastal areas.

September to November in Greece is comfortable due to progressive cooling. Higher rainfall in the late season refreshes the air.

Temperatures are pleasant in winter, but mountainous locations may get snow. Compared to interior regions, islands and coastal regions have milder winters.

Temperatures rise in spring (March–May), bringing flowers and greenery. Spring brings a rejuvenation of nature as rainfall decreases.

Greece population

The population of Greece is about 10.3 million in 2023., according to Macrotrends.

Greece currency

The Euro (EUR) is the currency of Greece and a number of other European countries.

Bigger hotels and resorts in the nation take most major credit cards, while certain mom-and-pop stores may only take cash.

Greece language

Greece recognizes Greek as its official language. It is not uncommon for Greeks to study not just Greek but also English, German, French, and Italian.

Although most people can get by in English, it would greatly benefit your experience and relationships with locals if you made an effort to acquire some basic Greek idioms and were sensitive to their culture.

Healthcare and insurance in Greece for expats

A National Health System (ESY) in Greece provides free and equitable access to quality health care for all people. Public and private health service providers provide primary, secondary, and tertiary services.

Private health insurance is popular among expats because of its many benefits, including better access to care, shorter wait times, and the option to select coverage for visits to neighboring countries. Public healthcare systems do not typically cover supplementary services offered by private health insurance policies, such as transportation and repatriation coverage.

International health insurance programs are available to expats. Individuals can tailor their coverage to their unique need with these plans, and they grant access to a vast network of medical facilities and specialists across the world.

The Greek National Social Security Organization (IKA) is the place where foreign workers can apply for health coverage. While most treatments provided by doctors who are approved by the IKA do not cost patients anything, some medications may have a fee associated with them. Those already working in Greece’s workforce will find this option especially useful.

Pension system in Greece

Expats in Greece have the same pension benefits as Greek nationals. The Greek pension becomes available to expats who work in Greece and pay into the social security system. There are two components to this public program that provide pensions to people when they reach retirement age: the national pension, which is not tied to earnings, and the contributing pension.

State funds, rather than private contributions, support the national pension. On the flip side, a person’s wages and contributions while working determine their contributing pension.

For foreigners who have worked and paid into Greece’s social security system for at least 20 years and decide to retire there, the national pension is an option. The pension payments for expats who have worked in Greece will be the same as those for Greek nationals, thanks to this measure.

Banking in Greece for expats

Although getting a Greek tax number, or AFM, is the first step in opening a bank account in Greece, the procedure is otherwise simple for locals and foreigners alike. To be on the safe side, especially with the Greek economy the way it is, many expats keep a bank account back home. In addition, it’s smart to have some cash on hand, particularly if you’re traveling outside of big towns or very popular tourist spots, because some places may only take cash.

For their broad services and nationwide branch network, major Greek banks including HSBC, Piraeus Bank, and Alpha Bank are highly recommended for foreigners. The customer care representatives at these institutions are fluent in English, and you can even use their ATMs to make a purchase in English, especially in the bigger cities. Many Greek banks provide low-priced ordinary deposit accounts and provide English-language online and offline banking services.

Several e-money platforms or fintech companies serve expats in Greece, providing them with modern banking services and affordable current accounts. Expats in Greece have a lot of options when it comes to banking, so it’s easy to handle their money.

Related content: 6 Best Banks In Greece

Money transfer in Greece

Expats in Greece can transfer money online and offline through:

  • Wise (previously TransferWise) offers a fast, affordable, and transparent way to send money to Greece. Google Pay, debit/credit cards, and bank transfers are accepted.
  • WorldRemit allows Greek expats to send funds to over 140 destinations worldwide. Pay with debit, credit, or pre-paid cards.
  • MoneyGram provides financial transfer services in Greece, including wire transfers to bank accounts and mobile wallets, at various locations.
  • Xoom offers direct deposits to all Greek banks such as debit card deposits, bank deposits, and cash pickups.
  • Greece has several online banks offering affordable current accounts and contemporary banking services for expats.

Expat jobs in Greece

Expats can find work in a variety of fields in Greece, but the hospitality, agricultural, shipping, and technology sectors offer the best prospects. Language instructors, customer service representatives, information technology support specialists, and positions in the hotel and tourist industries are among the most sought-after occupations among foreign nationals living in Greece.

Expats from countries where English is the native language have an easier time getting these jobs because they demand fluency in the language.

Related content: Working in Greece as an Expat

Expat tax in Greece

calculating expat tax in Greece
Photo by Pixabay

Residence and income are the two main factors that determine how expats in Greece are taxed. Rental income or wages earned while employed in the country are examples of Greek sources of income that non-residents are obligated to pay taxes on.

A person’s effective income tax rate may be anywhere from nine percent to forty-four percent. In Greece, everyone from employees to employers must contribute to social security. Moreover, persons are required to pay tax on their income from overseas sources at a rate of seven percent per annum until their tax liability for this income is exhausted.

Is it expensive to live in Greece?

The anticipated monthly costs for a family of four in Greece come to €3,008, while the expenses for a single individual are roughly €1,213. Greece has a more affordable cost of living than 54% of the world’s countries, according to Expatistan.

Cost of living in Greece vs USA

The cost of living in Greece is almost 40% lower than America’s. Monthly costs in the US are approximately $3,614 for an individual and $5,980 for a family of four. To emphasize, American living expenses are more than those of 90% of the world’s nations. Because of its relatively low cost of living, Greece is an attractive alternative for both locals and foreigners due to this large gap in prices.

Is Greece safe to live?

For the most part, foreigners feel quite secure in Greece. People generally feel comfortable strolling the streets of Greece at any time of day or night, thanks to the country’s low crime rate compared to others in Europe. Still, there are a few things expats may do to be safe.

Expat education in Greece

In Greece, expat children can attend public, private, and international schools. The Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs oversees Greek education, which is mandatory for pupils aged six to 15.

Greek government-funded teacher training promotes academic success in public schools. Expatriate children struggle with the language barrier because public schools only teach in Greek. Many expats prefer private or foreign schools with multilingual curricula from the US, UK, and France to overcome this issue.

International schools in Greece provide more languages and foreign curriculum. Athens College, American Community Schools, and International School of Athens are notable international schools in Greece.

Greek private schools have more autonomy than public ones and Ministry oversight. Most private schools teach in Greek, but some offer English.

Where to live in Greece

Here are some of the best Greece cities to live for expats:

  1. As capital, Athens is known for its rich history, cultural vibrancy, and many job prospects. However, expats face high population density, traffic, and a greater cost of living.
  2. A young population, cultural events, and a diversified gastronomic scene make Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, lively. Its job market is smaller than Athens’, but its lifestyle is more easygoing. Coastal Volos, surrounded by mountains and the sea, has a dynamic atmosphere and natural beauty. Volos is smaller than Athens or Thessaloniki but has a university and rising expat community.
  3. A warmer climate, ancient buildings, and olive orchards make Kalamata in the Peloponnese appealing to people seeking a quieter lifestyle. However, work opportunities may be lower than in larger cities.
  4. Heraklion and Chania in Crete provide a laid-back lifestyle and historical charm for expats seeking island living. Rhodes, another attractive island city, has beaches, history, and a burgeoning expat community.
  5. Venetian, French, and British traditions create a lovely backdrop in Corfu, giving expats a unique cultural experience. Like other islands, population may vary seasonally.

Related content: Best Places In Greece For Expats To Live In

Living in Greece pros and cons

Benefits of living in Greece

  • The Acropolis and other ancient ruins and archeological monuments in Greece attest to the country’s great cultural and historical legacy. Here locals can fully experience the rich cultural mosaic.
  • The Mediterranean way of life, which is defined by a slow pace, an emphasis on socializing, and the enjoyment of outdoor sports. More relaxation is a result of the priorities placed on family, community, and leisure.
  • The country’s breathtaking natural environments, such as its attractive islands, beaches, and mountains, are world-renowned for their beauty. People living here have access to stunning natural settings perfect for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits.
  • The weather is warm; summers are hot and dry and winters are mild because of Greece’s Mediterranean environment. Those who cherish a milder, sunnier climate will find this climate to be quite appealing.
  • Greek food is famous for its abundance of fresh produce, olive oil, and other healthy elements. Part of daily life is following the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
  • Greeks have a reputation for being very welcoming and having a strong feeling of community. Living in Greece, many expats quickly become part of the local social scene and feel the welcoming embrace of Greek friends.
  • While people’s perceptions of cost of living differ between regions, many find Greece to be more budget-friendly than other Western European nations. Certain regions can have reasonable housing, dining out, and daily expenses.
  • Greece provides the chance to reside on one of its several picturesque islands. Living on an island offers a one-of-a-kind experience, thanks to its idyllic setting and closeness to the water.
  • The Greek calendar is jam-packed with annual festivals and cultural events. The vibrant daily life of the residents can be enhanced by participating in celebrations, traditional music, dance, and religious festivities.
  • The strong international population in cities and tourist sites offers expatriates support networks, language aid, and a diversified social atmosphere.
knowing the pros and cons of Living in Greece to enjoy the country
Photo by Dimitri Dim

Disadvantages of living in Greece

  • Complex and time-consuming bureaucratic procedures are a hallmark of Greek life. It could take tenacity and patience to get through administrative procedures.
  • A high unemployment rate and little work prospects have been the outcomes of Greece’s recent economic struggles. When thinking about their job prospects, expats should keep the current economic climate in mind.
  • In certain places, Greece’s infrastructure is either inadequate or out of date. Some rural locations may lack adequate public services and transportation options, in contrast to more developed urban areas.
  • Importance of Learning Greek for Expats: While English is frequently spoken in tourist regions, learning Greek can help expats navigate daily life, especially when interacting with locals outside of major tourist locations.
  • Regular Protests and Walkouts: Regular protests and walkouts have a history in Greece and can interrupt regular services and daily life. Expats need to think ahead and make plans in case something unexpected happens.
  • Some of Greece’s most visited tourist spots may get quite congested and pricey, making the experience less than ideal for foreigners living there. A more genuine experience may be available if one seeks out alternatives or explores less touristic regions.

Residency and citizenship in Greece

In Greece, expats must distinguish between visas and permits, which serve different functions. A visa allows travel or study in Greece, whereas a permit allows expats to live and work there. Non-EU citizens need a visa, although EU, Schengen, US, and Canadian citizens can stay as tourists for 90 days in 180 days.

For stays above three months, EU expats can apply for a residence permit. In addition to a residence permit, non-EU expats working and staying beyond 90 days need a type D visa (National Visa). Non-EU work visa holders must apply for a residence permit within 30 days. The Schengen Visa for short stays and the Work Visa for employment meet expatriate demands in Greece.

Greek real estate investment, business, and long-term residence permits are three ways that expats might become permanent residents.

Some of the ways to become a citizen of Greece are by investment, naturalization, or descent. Those who can be traced back to a parent who possesses Greek citizenship—even if that parent hasn’t sought citizenship themselves—are automatically citizens of Greece according to the jus sanguinis concept outlined in the Greek Nationality Code.

Individuals who have been legally and permanently resident in Greece for a certain amount of time can then apply to become citizens of Greece through the naturalization process. These routes allow foreign nationals to stay in Greece for the long haul, with the possibility of permanent residency or even citizenship depending on their individual circumstances and desires.

Investing in Greece

Greece allows foreign investors of any nationality. The country lets non-EU nationals to invest in Greece golden visa program for residency. The scheme demands €250,000 real estate investment.

FDI inflows have increased in the country.

Related content:

Is the Greece Golden Visa Worth It in 2023?

Greece Golden Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

Greece economy and government

Greek capitalism has public and private sectors. Service, industrial, and agricultural sectors drive the economy.

However, Greece still struggles with high unemployment, inefficient public sector bureaucracy, and low competitiveness. Price-setting by market participants limits government intervention in the free-market economy.

Due to high government expenditure and worldwide economic recession in the past, the Greek debt crisis escalated. Greek economic prospects have improved significantly though.

Greece is unitary parliamentary republic. President is Head of State, Prime Minister Head of Government.

Can foreigners buy property in Greece?

Everyone, even non-Greeks, has the same rights to purchase, sell, and inherit property in Greece, including land. But, as a matter of procedure, non-EU nationals may be required to obtain a permit in order to invest in Greece real estate in border areas.

It is possible for foreign nationals to become property owners by obtaining a Tax Registry Number (AFM). This can be done by visiting the nearest tax office and creating a bank account. No one can own residential or commercial property in Greece without paying taxes.

The buying procedure is fraught with legal complexities; a lawyer can help you understand them, verify the property is legitimate, and make sure there are no outstanding debts or concerns. Assistance from this legal counsel facilitates a more streamlined purchasing process for international buyers in Greece.

Is buying property in Greece a good investment?

The Greek government offers a number of advantages to homebuyers, including tax breaks for homeowners who make improvements to their homes and residency permits for those who spend more than €250,000 on a home.

Related content:

9 Helpful Steps In Buying A Property In Greece

Best Places to Buy Real Estate in Europe – Part 2

Can foreigners get a mortgage in Greece?

Mortgages are still available to non-EU citizens and other foreign nationals through respectable market leaders in Greece, even though the country’s banks are notoriously cautious when it comes to lending to this sector. When looking to buy a home in Greece, foreigners face few regulations.

In order to verify their eligibility for a mortgage, foreign nationals may be required to submit a written form to the Ministry of National Defense. Because of their greater propensity to extend lending services to foreigners, well-established banks with good reputations are the best bets when engaging with them. Borrowers can get loans with low minimum amounts beginning at €10,000 and maximum amounts that depend on their income.

Other investment options in Greece

Outside of real estate, Greece offers international investors several other alternatives. Government bonds with a €400,000 minimum investment can help foreign investors get a Greece Golden Visa. Foreign investors can purchase and sell shares on par with local investors on the Athens Stock Exchange. Business investments in Greek startups or existing enterprises require a €400,000 minimum.

Alternative Greece Golden Visa applicants can lease a home for 10 years. Foreigners can diversify their Greek investment portfolio with private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds. These possibilities give international investors many ways to invest in Greece’s economy.

Related content: How can I invest some money while living in Greece?

Pros and cons of investing in Greece

Greece is a high-risk, high-reward investment destination. Investment opportunities in real estate and a flourishing tourist industry abound as the country’s economy enters a recovery phase. Opportunities for considerable profits abound, thanks to comparatively low property costs compared to other European destinations and a growing demand for rental properties driven by increased tourists.

Investors looking for a steady or guaranteed return on their money should look elsewhere; nonetheless, the Greek economy is still facing significant problems. In addition, before making any investment decisions in Greece, potential investors should research the local laws and taxes thoroughly and consult an expert if necessary. Entering the Greek market requires a careful evaluation of the risks and rewards, despite the clear development potential.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.



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