Greece’s descent into economic turmoil in 2010 triggered a significant exodus, with both skilled professionals and unskilled workers setting off in search of a better life elsewhere in the E.U. and U.S., where economic prospects were more promising. However, emerging from the shadows of austerity over the last five years, Greece has undergone a remarkable transformation into a land of opportunity marked by development, economic growth, and political stability.
This resurgence has not only reignited investor confidence, it has also made Greece an attractive place to live again, prompting the gradual return of Greeks who left during the economic downturn. Aggeliki, a molecular biologist who until recently held a senior position in London, exemplifies this trend: “I decided to come back, as the cost of living in London had become so expensive I couldn’t even run a car.”
The incomers include a rich tapestry of individuals from around the globe who have chosen Greece as their permanent residence. One unique strand are people of Greek descent, who include second- or third-generation Greek Americans and Greek Australians, as well as the children of Greeks who emigrated in the 1970s. Their decision to move to Greece is often motivated by a desire to rediscover their roots. Katherine, a young Greek American, expresses her aspirations: “I am a U.S. citizen who hopes to gain Greek citizenship, since my grandparents were born in Greece. I want to return to my beautiful homeland and greatly appreciate any help I get from its kind inhabitants.”
Similarly, retirees are attracted to the prospect of Greece. Jason, a British national who is seriously considering spending his retirement on Crete with his wife, remarks: “After months of detailed research, I’m almost 100% sure I’ll be embarking on a Cretan retirement. The beauty of the island, as well as the affordable cost of living, is very intriguing.”
According to the 2024 Global Retirement Index, Greece has secured the seventh spot among the top ten best places in the world to retire, with an impressive overall score of 77. The country received high marks in various categories including housing, cost of living, visa and benefits, affinity rating, climate, development, and healthcare.
Families with children and young entrepreneurs are also choosing Greece for a range of reasons. Roberto, a 33-year-old Italian web designer, plans to purchase a studio in Athens, while Alice, a mother from England, relocated to Larissa with her husband and child, emphasizing the appeal of raising children in a welcoming community with a lower cost of living.
Greece is also becoming a hub for freelancers and remote professionals. Nancy, a 25-year-old digital nomad from New Zealand, chose Nafplio as her base due to its laid-back lifestyle. “I’m a philosophy graduate, so coming to Greece seemed like the natural thing to do. I teach English online to make ends meet; the only thing I find annoying regarding my work is Internet connectivity and the Wi-Fi can get slow.”
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that, according to the Global Remote Work Index 2023, Greece still lags behind in certain aspects. It ranks lower in social security, economic security, and digital and physical infrastructure. It does, however, score high on digital security.
Embarking on a journey to Greece is a crucial life choice and an odyssey that comes with its share of trials and challenges. It is only natural that aspiring migrants should seek guidance in vibrant online communities. These digital havens, some of which can have an impressive 50,000 plus members, serve as collective founts of wisdom for those seeking to navigate the intricate path to relocation in Greece.
As individuals in these social media groups reveal, their choice of destination is based primarily on their needs and interests. Younger people may prefer the capital, Athens, or other populous cities for the job opportunities and social life they offer, while older individuals or retirees may prioritize access to healthcare facilities and the serenity of a more secluded environment. The island of Crete emerges as a top destination for all categories.
Islands like Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos and Kea account for an estimated 5%-15% of the luxury real estate market in Greece. According to a survey conducted by Geoxis, these locations primarily target buyers from outside Greece.
What many members of these online groups share is an interest in the byzantine procedures for obtaining residency or work permits. Most have had negative experiences dealing with Greek officials in their home countries, as embassy employees struggle to guide them through the requisite paperwork. But for those of Greek descent, especially those who can prove that at least one of their parents is Greek, the process is comparatively easy. Similarly, EU citizens can move freely within the Schengen area, while expatriates from outside the EU can explore the Golden Visa option and acquire permanent residency with property purchases that exceed 250,000 euros (or 500,000 in the Greater Athens area).
In conclusion, Greece’s transformation into a land of opportunity has attracted a diverse array of individuals ranging from those seeking to rediscover their roots to retirees and young entrepreneurs. Despite challenges, the appeal of Greece’s beauty, affordability, and lifestyle has created a thriving community of expatriates and potential residents. The process involved in obtaining residency and work permits, however, remains a significant concern for many, who are driven to seek answers and support in online communities.