Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Should I move to Greece?

move-to-greecePlanning on moving to Greece? Are you Greek and thinking of coming back? Think long and hard. Visiting on vacation and dreaming of living in Greece are a lot different than the actual reality of being here.

If you’re an EU/EEA/EFTA citizen (except Croatia), you’ll have a much easier time. If you’re an American or other non-EU citizen, you must find out whether you can stake a claim to EU citizenship through an ancestor or get a residence/work permit for Greece by one of the methods explained in “How American/non-EU citizens can get a permit to move, live and work in Greece.” And if you know little or nothing about what Greece is truly like beyond gushing travel ads and stories from a friend or relative, follow Greek news at: www.twitter.com/livingingreece.

* Article last updated June 8, 2014.

Why people move to Greece

Nearly everyone moves to Greece for emotional or sentimental reasons. Most non-Greeks move to be with a spouse, fiance(e), boyfriend/girlfriend or partner; many Greeks move back based on nostalgia and longing for the patrida, usually to an established family home, forgetting the financial and practical reasons their ancestors originally left.

Still others are “runaway expats” who dream of escaping or take the leap after reading a novel that is fictional or heavily edited, not realizing that old problems follow and new challenges await them. Many decisions are made based on memories of an idyllic vacation or a starry-eyed romance before uprooting lives, not taking into consideration the bureaucracy, cost and how such a move will affect long-term life goals once the charm of being somewhere new or with someone new wears off.

It has always been my intention to publish an article about moving to Greece, since the question of, “Should I?” or “Why should I?” is the first thing people confront. However, I have never been comfortable with dispensing advice on big decisions. Why?

  • Each individual is different: What’s right for one person is not for another. Just because I did it and your boyfriend, mother or cousin is happy here, doesn’t mean that you will be.
  • Greece is a “results may vary” country: People who experience virtually no problems either don’t work for a Greek employer or don’t work at all, depending on retirement money, personal wealth, parental subsidies or a working spouse, which is why many who are students, holidaymakers, retirees and housewives, or were children when they last lived here as in “Mourning the Greece of my childhood” (BBC), are out of touch with everyday adversity and have romanticized accounts of life in Greece.

*I was successful and continued the same career I had in America without connections or being dependent on funding or marriage to a Greek/EU citizen, but I made indescribable sacrifices and am a very rare exception. There are thousands who didn’t make it and left, still here but struggling, or regretting their choice in silence.

  • Being Greek doesn’t solve everything: Those born abroad, or Greek citizens who were born in Greece and left, are often considered not Greek enough. And when competing with job candidates already here, experience abroad is not necessarily an advantage since first-hand knowledge of Greece’s current industries, laws and trends is far more desirable.
  • Love is fine, but don’t leave your brain behind: Many who fall in love with the country or come to Greece to be near and/or marry someone they met on vacation will move under the guise of “following their heart,” then wake up when reality sets in or the relationship falls apart. You have a 50/50 chance of forever and fewer rights in a foreign country. Don’t forget to think.
  • Non-Greeks have a completely different experience than Greeks and should not believe everything their partners say without doing separate research. I meet a lot of non-Greeks who uprooted their lives and careers after Greek spouses/fiance(e)s dismissed my website, painted a dream scenario of enjoying a “simpler life,” living six months in paradise and six months elsewhere, freelancing, traveling and soaking up the sun. Many are unemployed, dependent, subject to daily discrimination/racism and now trapped or faced with divorce because their Greek counterparts refuse to leave. Some won’t sign passport renewals for children, using them as leverage. Taking a risk is fine; getting tricked is not.
  • The economic crisis has vastly changed the landscape and future of Greece, which sunshine, beaches and the power of positive thinking cannot solve. Already low salaries are 43.7 percent lower, businesses are shutting down at a record rate, up to 900 people lose their jobs every day, unemployment is more than double the eurozone average at 27.7 percent overall (charts in English & Greek) and 36.9 percent for non-Greeks, those with jobs have problems getting paid, pension funds are bankrupt, neo-Nazis sit in Greek and EU Parliament, and taxes were raised four times in 18 months. Quality of life in Greece was ranked third worst in the EU by its residents, in addition to being expensive and uncertain, with the country expected to be in recession ’til 2015 and in recovery until 2023. By then, the country’s educated elite will have long gone.

I don’t know you, nor do you know me: I’m flattered you trust me enough to ask my opinion, but this is still about you. I am a messenger and truth teller, not a fortune teller.

Your perception of Greece (exposure and awareness) has little to nothing to do with facts.

No one is fit to advise anyone on personal decisions that will permanently impact the course of his or her life, so polling and consulting friends, relatives or strangers in a forum is a waste of time. This is your life, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks — it only matters what you think and what you can live with.

If you cannot make a decision on your own and commit to it, you have a difficult road ahead.

How I and this website can help you

I started this website with the intention of assisting you on your journey, filling a void by providing transparent practical information, complemented with news and stories not heard in mainstream media to break down stereotypes, hearsay, gushing reviews and myths. Unintentionally, it has become a bridge to creating understanding between people and a community for readers to connect and share stories, regardless of nationality.

A small minority believe this site is negative, and I’m on a mission to discourage people from moving to Greece, though I don’t see what I’d have to gain from doing that. Being truthful is a very different thing than being negative or anti-Greek, and I can assure everyone that I have not told my worst stories or even half of the bad things that occur in my life every day for reasons of privacy. In fact, this website has helped thousands that the Greek consulate/embassy and official Greek government sources failed to assist and saved people time, frustration and money.

You may never make the same sacrifices or encounter the difficulties that I and many others faced, but it doesn’t make our experiences less true or valid. Don’t you want to know the warnings and pitfalls, rather than be surprised after you’ve given up your home, career and bank account? Further, if people are so easily frightened by the information and stories on this site, I can say with certainty that they won’t have the nerve to face down reality and will likely be eaten alive or forced to return home in a short time.

The majority believe this website is — aside from being helpful — the most honest, objective and realistic account of what it’s like to live and work in Greece, with readers often telling me they nod their heads when reading something I’ve written, learn something new and recommend me to people they know. Some even say it’s inspiring and have embraced me as their friend. I am humbled, especially since many of these people are Greek.

Everyone takes away something different, and that’s the point. Life is both good and bad, every country has pros and cons, every action has benefits and consequences, every person has likes and dislikes. It’s important to sit quietly with yourself and be clear about what you want, define your priorities and make a commitment to persevere. Answers come from within, and dreams come true when those answers are put into action.

This website is an investment I’ve made in you. It is a resource and gift I built in my unpaid time and am offering free of charge to help your dreams come true. It can help you break down reality, be happy where you are and consider non-Hellenic options, or it can save you time and pain by empowering you with 15 years first-hand knowledge and experience, so you can jump to the front of the line and take advantage of what I’ve learned on your journey to Greece.

Take responsibility for your choices. It is, after all, your life.

In the news

Pros

Note that most of these stories involve affluent families or couples in retirement. It’s not a coincidence. They were also written before the crisis and nothing has been published since.

The truth about expat life in Greece” — Scots in Greece (Herald Scotland)
Fancy moving to Greece?” — UK couple (Lancaster Guardian)
Retreat to Crete” – Expats talk about moving to Greece (Daily Mail)
Chasing dreams: Family selling house to move to Corfu” — Telegraph
Shops of time: I turned down jobs abroad with big salaries to work alongside my father” — Ta Nea
A simpler life in Crete” — International Living

Cons

All of these stories pertain to people who live and work in Greece and know what it’s truly like.

Greece #4 unhappiest country, behind Iran, Iraq and Egypt” — Gallup/MSNBC
Voices from Greece: Europe is recovering, but the crisis is not over for us” — CNN
Dreams of living in Greece don’t match reality” — Brooklyn Ink
Moving back to Greece the ‘biggest mistake of my life’” — Le Monde
Greece #10 most miserable country in the world” — Cato Institute
More than half the population wants to leave for better quality of life and job” — To Vima
Hidden cost of living/working in Greece for women” — Huffington Post
She came back to Greece to contribute, but sacrificed for a future that never came” — CNN
Only one way out of Greek crisis: Board a plane and never look back” — Reuters
Greece’s one million unpaid workers” — BBC
Racism on the rise: There’s no such thing as a legal non-Greek” — FT
Why I left Greece” — Huffington Post
One in three families mulls leaving Greece” — Kathimerini
Majority of households cut food, clothing, heat from budget” — To Vima
UK resident jailed in Greece on false allegations” — BBC
Quality of living in Greece amongst worst in EU, according to residents” — Gallup Poll
I told Greek-American relatives to stay in New York” — Bloomberg
Brain drain: Greeks say their country is a ‘dead end‘” — BBC
Greece’s epidemic of racist attacks” — NY Times
Women in Greece face double burden, discrimination, domestic violence” — Guardian
We love Greece, but everyone wants out” — Canada.com
Ready to bale out over bailout: Greeks and foreigners are leaving” — BBC
Hit by crisis, migrants in Greece head home” — Kathimerini
Talented professionals aged 25-40 talk about why they’re leaving Greece” — The Independent
The 592-Euro Generation: Greek TV comedy based on serious reality” — The Guardian
I have bitterly regretted the day I booked my ticket to Greece” — WSJ
Half of PhD holders and 10 percent of university graduates have left” — Daily Beast
Greece loses skilled workers to countries still hiring” — Deutsche Welle
Overqualified and Unemployed: Women in Greece finding little success” — NY Times
I dreamed of returning to Greece. It was bad, so I came back” — CNN
Thousands of Greeks put plan B into action: Leaving” — Kathimerini
A staggering 95 percent of executives ready to leave Greece” — Eleftherotypia
Businessmen under 45 Amongst Homeless, Hungry, Suicidal” — NY Times
Attacks on Immigrants on the Rise in Greece” — NY Times
Ninety-five percent of Greek parents urge children to work abroad” — Kathimerini
Tired of Cronyism & Stagnation, Greeks Leave for Better Lives & Salaries” — NY Times
It was a ‘horrible mistake’ to move back to Greece” — BBC
Greeks Look Abroad as Jobs Dry Up: 61% don’t look for work in Greece before deciding to leave” — WSJ
A 20-year love affair with Greece turned nightmare” — Daily Mail
Almost 74% of Greeks Aged 22-35 Would Opt to Emigrate; 66% Seek Better Quality of Life” — Bloomberg
Young, educated Greeks rush to emigrate to UK, USA, Canada, Australia during debt crisis” — Guardian
Gave up career in London, built dream house in Corfu but left when Greek recession hit” — Daily Mail
Greeks look abroad for jobs again, as austerity bites” — Reuters
UK citizen ‘unlawfully killed’; Greek doctor listed ‘natural causes’” — BBC
Moving back to UK; living in Greece economically impossible” — The Shuttle
Adriana Huffington’s story of leaving Greece for America” — Huffington Post
Hard times prompt Albanians to return home” — Reuters
Greeks head to the Emirates as jobs dry up” — The National
Man dies of negligence in Greek hospital, body sent back to UK minus a kidney” — The Guardian
UK woman found dead after moving to Crete, Greece; organs missing” — Sunday Express
Greeks in Thessaloniki say they’re trapped, can’t leave — no funds” — Eleftherotypia

Related posts

How American/non-EU citizens can get a permit to move, live and work in Greece
Greek citizenship by claim of Greek origin
Best places to work in Greece
Moving back to your country from Greece

The Author

Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”

  • Livingingreece.gr was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites/forums run by people without credentials.
  • @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 15 years experience.

Note: Please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.

Photo from suretone.com

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38 Comments

  Phillip wrote @ February 11th, 2008 at 09:42

You summarize the ‘big decision’ of moving to Greece very well. It’s a very difficult decision that involves weighing a lot of different factors, and these factors apply to each individual in their own unique way. It’s certainly not a decision that anyone can make for you.

There’s little information out there that helps, unless people happen to stumble across this site. I find that there’s more information out there that really scares you! But, the scare is there for a very good reason…it is not so simple to just up and move to Greece, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that. There are real things to consider about coming here, and the bureaucracy is not the beach or the cafes and the nightclubs, meaning, it’s not laid back and it’s not fun. It’s really tough and it takes a lot of patience and accepting the fact that sometimes things go wrong in the realms of Greek bureaucracy. ‘Sometimes’ is probably an understatement. I didn’t have that many things go wrong though, thankfully.

  Peter wrote @ February 21st, 2008 at 00:52

Hi Kat, I’m posting here as I couldn’t find a more worthy spot to comment.

I’ve taken a quick read of your blog and it’s detailed, thought out, genuine and unbiased.

You still live in Greece therefore, you can’t have a grudge. Tell it like it is and allow people to make their own decision about Greece.

Greece and Greeks like to sweep “problems” under the rug. The sooner they solve their problems, the sooner they crawl out of their morass.

Peter

  KT wrote @ May 8th, 2008 at 03:13

I noticed you have been to many countries and places in the US. I am considering trying my luck in Cali , FL and even Mexico, because I want a similiar climate to Greece..What’s your opinion about those areas? As far as people critisizing some of your posts, I think it’s stupid. I believe that if not all, 99% of citizens who live permanently, or have experienced life in Greece, would agree that you give your honest opinion of how life really is there, and the daily struggles people go through.

Kat Reply:

Hi again KT, my belief is you need to at least visit those places and do a little research based on your priorities. I do have opinions on those places, but like I said in the article, it’s really up to you and what you want. Fortunately or unfortunately, I’m the kind of person you could put anywhere and find a way to be happy. I’m from California, so I’m highly biased. I love Mexico, but that’s because I love scuba, can speak Spanish and it’s so close to CA. Also loved Miami for different reasons, and the mosquitoes loved me too.

Most people who criticize me have never lived outside GR or enjoy a lifestyle in GR (connections, parents’ money paid for their education and house, still living at home, team of lawyers, etc.) in which they are never (or hardly) exposed to bureaucracy or infrastructure, so they have no clue what I’m talking about. It’s much easier to call me a liar than admit their own ignorance.

  Chaney wrote @ July 14th, 2008 at 05:44

I’ve just stumbled upon your site today and it makes for fascinating reading! My boyfriend is Greek, born in Athens but raised in the U.S. We live together in San Francisco and are considering moving to Athens for a few years to look after his aging parents. He has warned me what a hassle it is to live there (I’ve only visited once) but upon reading several of your posts, I’m starting to get pretty scared! I’m reading a lot of fairly awful stories here–what is it that keeps (or kept, it sounds like you’re on your way out) you in Greece all this time if Athens is such a terrible place to live?

Cheer me up, would you? :)

Kat Reply:

Hello there! Your boyfriend is being truthful, and I can’t dispute what he says. You’ll also see many commentators have had the same experience across all nationalities. There is a small minority of people who know a different Greece; and there are people from non-westernized countries that find Greece’s “hassles” to be the same as their homeland. For the record, I never said Athens or Greece is a terrible place to live.

Stories on this site have been somewhat sanitized, i.e., Emotion has been replaced with humor for the sake of keeping topics more objective and readable. And I regret to say that these are not my most awful stories.

People are mystified by my presence in Greece, instead of accepting it and going on with their lives, and I don’t know why. I suppose it’s what my friend N said:
a) Most people who expatriate and have the option to leave would give up and go back home at the first sign of trouble, and it’s baffling as to why I don’t do the same (I’m simply not “most people”);
b) Some people are in denial that I’m being truthful — not critical — about Greece’s ills, same as anyone else who actually lives/works here and is in touch with reality. They take it as being negative when it’s realistic, and “complaining” to which I have no right because I’m a foreigner that chose to live here and therefore should shut my trap and/or “go home.” I find this ironic since I respect and listen to millions spew their anti-American sentiment hourly, even though many get rich off of my flawed country and some haven’t even been there.

If I say that Greece is a perfect country and it’s wonderful to live here, extolling her beauties on a daily basis, I’m called a liar and clueless tourist who doesn’t know how this country works after 11 years. If I say Greece is an imperfect country like every country in the world — as I’m doing now, in a way that is a lot less harsh than many Greeks — I’m called an anti-Greek liar and told to go home. In both cases, I’m called a liar, so I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

Greece is my home and has been for 11 years. Every country has its good and bad, every person has their own personal dreams and priorities. If you come here and your priority is to care for his aging parents, then you might find charm and adventure in new things or shift your focus away from the hassles your boyfriend and I reference because your presence serves a bigger purpose. My hope is that I and this site can help you on that journey. Thank you for making a comment today :)

  Irene wrote @ October 20th, 2008 at 02:48

Hi guys,

I need some advice. I am a Greek American living in the United States, but i really am attracted to the Greek way of life. I’ve been going to Greece every summer with my family since i was a kid and i’ve fallen in love with the beauty of Greece and the relaxed way of life.

Just last summer i decided that since i love it so much i should just move there. The advantage is that i have a house there in a nice area of Athens so i won’t have rent to pay. That’s a huge plus! Since i’m a low maintenance woman i don’t think i’ll spend a whole lot of money.

The problem is everything you guys talked about in the above messages, like the unemployment rate, low pay, etc. I have a master’s degree in physical education and i’m hoping i can find a teaching job at some private school. I think i can make between 800-1000 Euros a month. Will that be enough to live on? Do you recommend i go ahead and chase the better life i’m looking for despite the economic status of Greece? Please advise?

Kat Reply:

Visiting Greece in summer, and living and working in Greece year round are completely different things. People who move to Greece from the USA usually do it for emotional reasons based on little exposure to reality.

I really don’t know what you mean by, “the relaxed way of life.” Most people who make reference to this “simpler life” are talking about village life, where there aren’t jobs or jobs with salaries much lower than the figures you’re quoting (unless you have connections). Or they’re talking about a life in which parents have provided a mortgage-free home, the female does not work full time and lives off her husband, someone enjoys privilege through corrupt activities (tax dodging, side jobs, bribes, connections, etc.) and has little or no exposure to infrastructure, or retirees who have their own money. To me, life in Athens is definitely more stressful (loud and dirty) than NY for the many reasons I and readers already give in comments all over this website.

Makes no difference if you’re low maintenance or not. Things definitely cost more money here, so whether that’s enough really depends on you; I guess you didn’t read the Greece vs. USA price comparison or how Greek residents pay double compared to other EU nations or take a look at prices in online ads. Also makes no difference if you have a master’s degree, as there is a more than 50% unemployment rate for women, and it will take you more than a year to have your degrees recognized at DOATAP since they’re foreign. It’s even more difficult for females over 30 (like me) since we’re considered useless and good only for babies by GR society. See, “Value of a university degree in Greece.”

I don’t know how you define, “better way of life,” but everyone’s definition of better and best are different. Listening to gushing stories from travelers, newbies to Greece in their honeymoon phase (first 1-5 years) and hyphenated Greeks — who tell stories based on homesickness, idealized memories or as one Greek calls it, “fabricated nostalgia” — will not serve you. Gathering advice from friends and strangers in forums or attempting to take a census from readers of my website (in GR or EN) is also pointless because ultimately this life-changing decision to move to Greece is yours.

If you can’t make this decision on your own, I predict a very tough time for you here, where things are not transparent and people typically dispense erroneous or nationalistic advice. This website is popular with people of all nationalities and has a lot of repeat visitors because it’s the first time people have access to clear, practical information based on ‘what is,’ not rumors, hearsay, tabloid news and reviews of Greece from people trying to sell travel packages.

  Spring wrote @ November 23rd, 2008 at 11:19

Greetings!

I have mixed feelings about finding this website. Grateful that such a site exists and torn because my boyfriend (soon to be fiance) wants me to move back to Greece with him. I have to be in Greece for my official proposal.

Like so many others who have posted, I have worked very hard in the states to build my career from scratch. Unfortunately, I am in daily angst with the pressure of my career and my boyfriend (100% Greek) assures me life in Greece is better. His family owns, maybe 30, acres of olive trees and a couple residential properties here in the states as well. My options for work will be either finding a finance position (through networking with his family) or working for the family business. The family business will be (not is, but will be) building a hotel on 10 acres on the island of Evia. I’ve been concerned with this idea because nothing comes easy in the states and he assures me that he has the connections and the financing to do anything THERE.

It sounds like a dream for me to do what I love (finance) and live in abroad. I’ve always wanted to move abroad because I’m disgusted with American culture (a little less now with Obama, but still disgusted). I am 31 and want to have it all- family, work, peace of mind. However, from what I’ve read, it sounds extremely difficult for me to gain respect as a non-Greek professional woman. I’m terribly afraid of leaving a successful career to follow love. This blog contributes to my initial concerns.

Another piece of my story is that I am an American story. Despite having a welfare mom, I put myself through college…. overall, it’s hard for me to trust another person and to become so dependent. I am SO American, I know. I don’t want my baggage coming in between a real oportunity to be happy. From what I’ve read, it seems that who you know, olive tree owners, and a good reputation can get you anything in Greece. If that’s true, maybe I’ve hit the goldmine by falling in love with someone who wants to make my life easier. Is there anything anyone could say to shed light on this decision? Much appreciated.

Kat Reply:

Hi S, thank you for leaving a comment today and saying hello.

There have been a lot of inquiries about choosing life in Greece or choosing a career — not both — and it’s not a coincidence that they’re all from women. Why? Reasons include but are not limited to:
- Men are more often the breadwinner;
- it is more common for a woman to give up her life and career to move with a man, in general;
- it is assumed the woman wants to stop working and raise her children;
- society sees it as more acceptable.

In the case of Greece, there are also nationalistic and patriarchal factors to consider.

There’s a saying that “Greece is good for Greeks,” and this country favors men. This is the frame of reference from which your boyfriend speaks. Non-Greek, non-EU women like you and me have the lowest standing in Greece, and his reality will not be your reality, nor will he ever be able to understand or experience it, and this could leave you feeling isolated and alone. Peace of mind is a rare find in Greece no matter who you are.

Marriage to a Greek helps little. Yes, it gives you a permit that entitles you to live and work in Greece, but you’ll always be the non-Greek wife of ____. His family may have money, property and olive groves; however, they don’t belong to him and therefore don’t belong to you. I’ve lived and worked in Greece for 11 years, I speak Greek, I smile, I’m polite and I know how things work here and what my place is, but I’m literally invisible…well, unless someone is molesting, pointing or staring at me with disdain. No matter how well I’m connected, no matter how rich I am, no matter how fluently I speak Greek and no matter how much I’ve done to fit in, I’ll never be Greek and therefore never good enough. It doesn’t matter who I’m married to and what he has. I will always be a “kseni” (foreigner), and I understand that. It’s historical, cultural and racial, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The United States is a unique place because you can become an American while still being yourself; you never give up who you are. And because we’ve been raised this way, we forget that the rest of the world isn’t like that or mistakenly fool ourselves that it can be.

Most women who are happy in Greece are:
a) Migrants from Asia, Africa, South America or Eastern Europe;
b) Females from developed countries (USA, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Sweden, Germany, etc.) with no specific career goals;
c) Girls, married or engaged, who live in a semi-protected world — often dependent on their male counterparts, may or may not speak Greek, stay home most of the time, may work a mediocre job or be unemployed and/or have several university degrees they’re not using;
d) Women over 60 enjoying their retirement;
e) Greeks who have never worked in a country outside Greece;
f) Anyone whose parents give them money or property;
g) Anyone in their “honeymoon” period (first 5 years in Greece).

A woman’s willingness to move here sets a bad precedent in that a Greek man expects this type of behavior to continue without compromise because he’s had everything his way since birth. There are exceptions, but very few. And the majority of women not on the list above will eventually divorce or be forced to stay if children are involved.

On the fence are:
- EU citizens who came here decades ago, bought property and/or have lucrative businesses and find it difficult to start over by leaving;
- American/Australian/Canadian women who are divorced from their Greek husbands, but remain here for their children out of choice or out of force because their ex-husbands won’t allow them to leave (it happens much more than you think);
- children of Greek origin who came back or remain here to care for aging parents who refuse to leave Greece.

Anyone I haven’t listed usually stays in Greece for a few months or few years and leaves.

I also know many two-country couples in which the non-Greek woman under 40 is forced to work outside Greece because it was the only way her career could continue, despite having connections, skills, education, multilingual ability and experience. These women know they’ll eventually be forced to come back and have a life with no career, or transfer to a branch in Greece and take a huge pay cut, because their spouses will not or cannot leave Greece, and they do not wish to divorce.

Anna is Greek-American and came to visit her potential fiance in Greece for a month to see if she could make a life of her own if she said ‘yes.’ She’s 32 and speaks Greek fluently. He personally (not his family) owns two successful businesses, two properties and vehicles; is well connected; has acres of olive trees (which I’d like to point out is often a family’s secondary income, not first); and is a nice guy who loved her dearly and wanted to give her everything. She eventually turned down his proposal because no matter what he had, it wasn’t hers and she didn’t want to give up her career and independence, while adding bureaucracy, discrimination and uncertainty to her life. It was not an easy decision to make.

As I say in the post above, I don’t believe anyone — friend, relative, stranger, including me — has the right to advise you on such important decisions, so taking a census from strangers won’t accomplish much. The only recommendation I can make is to visit Greece as a potential resident (not a sightseeing, clubbing traveler) WITHOUT the help of your boyfriend and take a hard look at hospitals, public sector offices and job opportunities.

I commend you for thinking about it seriously, as I know many girls who jumped at a marriage proposal without second thought, after only knowing a boy for a few weeks/months and having long-distance contact after that. Some are happy; many are miserable but won’t admit it openly. To me, it sounds like you’ve already made your decision and are looking for affirmation. But as Socrates says, “To find yourself, think for yourself.” :)

  anastasia wrote @ March 17th, 2009 at 10:33

well hello :) i am a serbian and i have recently started the procedure of moving to greece, hopefully to stay there permanently as it will actually be pursuing of my dream of many years, since i’ve been in love with greece ever since.

i struggle to find words to describe how helpful all information i’ve found here has been and therefore i thank you very much from the heart, especially for your good will and unselfishness to spend quite a lot of time posting info here. despite many strong connections, friends in greek embassy and a greek fiancee, you’ve provided me with some info that none of them has and encouraged me to rethink my decision many times as to be completely sure of it, and to compare my wishes and dreams to my real potentials and possibilities i could have once i get there. i am aware it wont be simple or easy considering the country i come from and being a foreign female, yet i will do my best to succeed. i may have written some things that nobody may care about yet i really felt i had to write them being so thankful to you for your amazing work. many greetings and good luck in anything you do.

Kat Reply:

Hi Anastasia, thank you for letting us know your story and letting me know that the pure intention behind this website is reaching people. I hope that you will contribute your experiences in the future or continue to tap this website as a helpful resource if you need it. I have a very nice feeling about you and wish you all the best on your journey! :)

  Tammy wrote @ April 13th, 2009 at 20:22

I found your site a few weeks ago while researching Greece. I appreciate the time and honesty that you put into each post. We are US citizens, and my husband has been offered a job opportunity in Greece. This site has been invaluable while we research the area, what is needed for us to live/work there legally, and just what to expect.

  Melina wrote @ September 27th, 2009 at 07:05

thank you for this very interesting web site. it is the first time i read it today as i was looking on the internet on information that i could use to convince my american husband to come back to greece. i am greek (born and raised) and been abroad (czech republic and usa) for the past fourteen years. i miss greece a lot but i do not know whether to come back. your web site makes me feel “nostos” (a deep feeling of missing my country). thank you again, Melina

Kat Reply:

Most people move to Greece for emotional reasons, not taking into consideration the everyday practicalities of living and working here. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, but reality is very different — bureaucracy, high unemployment, high cost of living, bankrupt retirement funds, corrupt judicial system, variable health care.

It’s also important to take into account your husband’s skills, goals and ability to speak Greek. Personally, I don’t think anyone should need convincing — they should want to go at their own free will and not just for you. That’s pretty selfish. I also don’t know why you would use this website to persuade him because I am a stranger and have only told a few stories from my life with a humorous spin; I have not told my worst stories, nor do I journal the everyday struggles I face.

Thank you for leaving a comment today, and please visit again!

  ruth wrote @ February 2nd, 2010 at 03:37

hi – I am 22 and still trying to decide “what I want to do with my life” :) I am in school for dental hygiene, which is an amazing opportunity, but I’m just not sure it’s what God really wants of me. I think traveling, even if just for a while. might do some good. A woman I work with is from Turkey and never stops talking about Greece. I am a “jack of many trades” I guess you could say. An excellent waitress (red lobster for 3 years) a bartender, my true passion in life in horses. I have been training an giving riding lessons for 5 years. I also love to water ski and am a great teacher. Among other things I’m curious as to how hard it is to adapt to Greek life and would there be any job opportunities for an American 22 year old… I appreciate the advice :)

Kat Reply:

Hi,

I cannot dispense advice on one’s life beyond the article above, “Common jobs in Greece for English-speaking foreigners” and “How Americans can get a permit to live and work in Greece.” Answers come from within, not from strangers on the Internet or even relatives and friends such as the one you mentioned. Moving to Greece and traveling in general are both worthwhile experiences but don’t base your decision on gushing reviews or what a co-worker says.

Being a jack of trades will help you with respect to not being picky about jobs, but it will do nothing when it comes to securing a work permit or competing with thousands of EU citizens already here even if you work illegally. There are tons of certified teachers, certified water ski instructors, waitresses and bartenders in Greece who speak several languages. Equestrian jobs are rare. Experts predict Greece will be in economic crisis until 2012 or beyond, and ‘real’ unemployment currently hovers at approximately 20 percent.

Follow your passion, but be aware that Greece is a tiny country compared to the USA and opportunities will be limited and involve immigration. All the best in whatever you decide, and thank you for stopping by.

  Katerina wrote @ February 10th, 2011 at 11:02

Hallo, ich hab mal eine Frage und würde mich sehr freuen wenn mir jemand hier Auskunft geben kann.

Ich bin 34 Jahre und alleinerziehend, mein junge ist 6 Jahre alt.
Da meine ganze Familie in Griechenland mittlerweile lebt, hab ich auch vor wieder für immer zurück zu gehen.

Aber ich weiß nicht was mich dort erwartet….. Bekommt man dort wenigstens für die ersten Monate Hilfe? Und wo muss ich dort anfragen….. Ich weiß, viele tuen mir abraten wieder nach Gr zurück zu gehen.

Ich hoffe es kann mir hier jemand Helfen, danke schön

Kat Reply:

Unfortunately, German is not one of the four languages I speak so I need to write in English.

What can you expect in the first few months after moving back to Greece? There’s no way to predict how life will be for you and your son because everyone’s experience is different. Therefore, I cannot tell you what to expect or give you advice because I moved here alone as a non-Greek with no family, no Greek language and no help. So it depends on what kind of life you had outside Greece, where you will live in Greece, whether you need to find a job and work, how well you speak/read Greek, how your friends and family treat you, how fast you and your son adjust to change.

If your whole family is here, why not ask them?

Moving anywhere in the world requires you to be OK with the unknown, even if you lived there before. The only way to know how it is here is to come and experience it yourself.

  Javier wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 17:52

Hello, I’d like to know if moving to greece is a good idea at this moment.

Kat Reply:

Moving to Greece is a personal and legal decision. The first thing you should ask yourself as a non-EU citizen is, “Can I get a residence/work permit to move to Greece?” Without EU citizenship or the ability to get a Greek residency permit, you cannot live here.

Please read the information above and follow the links I provided.

  Kostas wrote @ March 20th, 2011 at 12:02

Hi!
I found this site today and i think its really interesting and informative.

I have one question for you, if you were able to turn time back, having all this experience that you gained, would you make the step to move to Greece?

Kat Reply:

I moved to Greece because it was a dream of mine, not for a man, a job or any other reason, so the answer is yes.

A lot of people move to Greece without being informed. But as you might have read in my “About Me,” I knew about the corruption, discrimination, patriarchalism, red tape, cronyism and other issues that plague Greece and arrived with eyes wide open. I’d done research and interviewed Greeks who were brutally honest with me and lived here all their lives; the only thing I didn’t have was accurate information about bureaucratic processes, which is not so different than today and the reason I started this website.

Greece is a “results may vary” country, so there’s no way to predict what could happen to me or anyone. That’s life. I’m grateful for all experiences because I like the person I’ve become and am proud of my accomplishments.

Arthur Ashe was a great tennis player who contracted AIDS though blood he received during heart surgery. In his biography, the interviewer asked if he was angry at God for doing this to him. He said, “If I’m angry at God for the bad things, I need to be angry at Him for the good things also.”

Thanks for your question.

  GG wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 01:50

very informative website. sometimes information comes across as biased or against Greece and its citizens, and moving back to Greece has no positive suggestions by the author.

A week or two after daughter turned 18, she received 3 pre-approved Visa applications. Do you know why? Because she is now age of majority and this N. American culture/banking system wants all teenagers to be addicted to credit, paying high interest rates for the rest of their lives and very be in debt. I travel to Greece allot in the past 15 years rarely I see Visa transactions.

Are we better off here in N.America where our mortgages are amotrized from 25 – 20 years? Benchmark a young adult in Greece with one of your family member….revisit this idea in 10 years and you will realize the Greek in Greece is living an interest free, care free life without stress.

I have a hard time hiring an Albanian for 50 euros a day to clean my property.

Kat Reply:

The articles you looked at — How to start a business in Greece, value of a university degree, best jobs in Greece and taste of America in Greece — were all based on factual research, sources that interviewed Greeks and/or first-hand experience living here full time for more than a decade. Regarding moving to Greece, most people already know the positive reasons they’re interested in taking the leap or they wouldn’t be considering it, and what’s a pro to one person is a con to another. It’s subjective. I chose to communicate common sense, as many are under emotional and nostalgic ether and this has nothing to do with practicalities.

People use credit cards to pay for groceries and take cash advances, even if you rarely see Visa transactions during the short time you’re here. The country didn’t get where it is today by political irresponsibility alone. Everyone got a piece of the pie, some have up to 10-15 credit cards and binged on cheap loans, which is why GDP growth skyrocketed after the euro was introduced.

Several Greeks told me in private that your view of life in Greece isn’t based on reality. Their words, not mine. A young Greek today will likely in 10 years be working in another country because he/she could not find work here, start a life and/or support their family. Read “The 592-Euro Generation: Young educated Greeks locked out of their lives.” Only Greeks were interviewed for the article.

The last sentence of your comment also says a lot about you. Good luck.

  Christina wrote @ February 4th, 2012 at 04:52

To start, I am in my early 20s completing a degree in geography and want to do work concerning sustainable urban planning. I am 100% Greek and my parents came to the U.S. to find a better life for their family. However, they are currently in Greece taking care of my Grandparents and while my sister and I finish up our degrees, we are faced with the hardest decision of our lives: to move to Greece (where our roots are from but have only visited in the summers) or to stay in America? The information offered on this site is all something I am well aware of, however, emotionally -despite all my wishing to be objective and clear headed, and rational in my decision making- I am leaning towards moving there. I hope that the daily tedious challenges of the bureaucracy, the strikes, the prices, finding a job, rude people, inefficiency, do not tarnish my image of Greece. I mean to say, If I do move there, I do not grow to resent the country that I currently love from afar. I spent 3 month there this past summer and it was the most eye opening experience for me. All my family currently living there is urging us to stay here, however I cannot bear the idea of having a family and living somewhere without having my parents nearby. I grew up without really knowing my own grandparents, as they live in Greece and I do not want the same for my children. Then again, is raising a family and having children in Greece going to be the beast idea? You can see my dilemma. These are all things I have to figure out in the near future. This site is reassuring in an odd way. Even if I make the wrong decision, that is life I suppose. As far as being considered a Greek and your experience…I am full Greek born in the U.S. Over here I am the Greek girl who did Greek dance and Greek School. Over there I am the “Amerikanaki”. Either way I am sort of in limbo. I suppose the main things drawing me to Greece are my parents and my heritage, and the main things that make me hesitant are the the challenges that will inevitably be part of life in Greece. Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to offer such an informative site for those of us faced with questions and tough decisions to make. I must mention that I do love Xatzigiannis and also Nikos Portokaloglou is great to listen to.

Best wishes and good luck ,
Christina

Kat Reply:

As I say in the post above, nearly everyone moves to Greece for emotional or sentimental reasons, and spending three months here in summer is not an accurate indicator of living full time in Greece. I find it odd that you don’t mention unemployment — which, by the way, is 43.5 percent in your age group and 60 percent for women — so unless your family is independently wealthy and you plan on being a housewife, be prepared to find little or nothing in your field of study and face not having a life or family of your own because you or your future husband cannot make a living. That’s ultimately why Greeks leave. No one wants to live away from their country, parents or grandparents.

Nowhere on this website do I say to not move to Greece, nor do I give reassurances because this country has none to offer.

  jon wrote @ July 15th, 2012 at 09:06

I hope this gets to you. I was wondering about moving to Greece with my family. I read your other article and was only able to reply on this one. I just wanted to simply say, thank you for writing it. You may have saved a family. You never know how much simple words read/written can change a person’s path in life.

Kat Reply:

Before Greece’s challenges were made public to the world, I was a lone voice speaking openly and honestly about the reality most of us face in everyday life because I believed (and still believe) it was the right thing to do. It’s the only way to earn respect and build trust.

Thank you for persevering to make a comment. Most people find open posts to call me names, and instead you offered me a rare glimpse of how this website may be having a positive impact.

Wishing you all the best.

  Heather wrote @ September 26th, 2012 at 12:18

Thanks for providing such a great resource! I recently visited Greece and fell completely in love with the country. I’m trying to be a practical person; I’m currently a Peace Corps Volunteer so can’t just up and move there. After my service I’m going to spend a little more time there (still as a tourist) to be sure the magic is still there, then go back to the US and apply for EU citizenship via my Polish mother. Then we’ll see what happens! I do have lots of non-profit/aid group work and grant-writing experience in me, so maybe there’s hope. But your website is my go-to resource to keep my feet on the ground while still entertaining the idea of moving to Greece!

Kat Reply:

The so-called magic of any country remains alive as long as one remains a tourist. Even the mundane and oppressive ills of everyday life seem exotic and exciting during the ‘honeymoon period’ after moving to Greece because they’re new.

I wish you luck on your journey and am glad this website can serve you.

  Bobbie wrote @ February 24th, 2013 at 13:27

Hi Kat,

Like many others thank you for all the information. I am from the UK and have lived in Thessaloniki Greece for 3 years. I am now unemployed and would like to say to anyone thinking of moving to Greece to live the dream, that it is only a dream.

There are no jobs here, even when jobs are advertised no one ever replies. I have sent my CV to every hotel and nothing has come back, it is hopeless, and I am considering moving back to the UK at risk of losing my relationship (who is greek).

Life here is not easy, I struggle every day to find work. I am lucky to have the support of my partner but as a person I need to work. If anyone is thinking to move here and find work, think again. I do love this country, but it is hard.

Your comments are very honest and reflect life here, and I urge everyone to read your words.

Thanks Bobbie

  zonars wrote @ November 30th, 2013 at 14:38

1:
I have a very important question to ask you. I would appreciate your opinion. I was born in Athens to a very wealthy Greek mother and an American father. My father is bi-racial. I was raised in the US and in Canada, but visited Greece often. I consider myself Greek and was raised accordingly. I have always wanted to move back to Greece and am ready now to do so. My concerns are that I am half-black and how will that affect me in todays Greece. It was never an issue when I was growing up, but today with Golden Dawn I am worried. I am very successful and want to buy a home on Mykonos or Santorini. I want to help Greece and I have so many ideas. What worries me is will the people and the press work with me as I consider myself Greek as well, or will my race hinder me if I am found out. Basically, if the press in Greece were to interview about my plans and then ask me questions about my family. Will the revelation in todays Greece be against me. I am afraid and saddened by Golden Dawn and don’t want to threated them if I become a prominent figure in the Cyclades where I would prefer to be.

This may help you. I don’t look black like Will Smith or so. I look more like Pit Bull or Vin Diesel. I have blue eyes as well. I can pass for white most of the time, but I don’t want to hide my other half. I just don’t want to come to Greece and stir things up and be hurt in the process.

I’m sorry about my spelling my fingers are frozen. Its freezing here in the northeast.

Thank you.

2, 3, 4:
Hello. I have finally gotten your response and would like to re-explain my situation. Since I didn’t fully understand your response. I’m sorry for replying in the wrong section. Anyway. I was born in Greece to a wealthy Greek mother and a bi-racial American father. I have never experienced any kind of animosity in Greece because of this growing up and my mothers family has always been very excepting of me. I speak the language, I am Greek Orthodox and I am a citizen of both the US and Greece. My father moved us around a lot and eventually to the states. I grew up in both countries, but for the last few years I’ve been busy in the US and have not been able to visit Greece during this crisis. My question was. I want to move back to Greece. I am not a tourist in Greece, I have family and my mother has a house in Athens still. I am worried because of Golden Dawn and my being bi-racial what could happen. I trust you enough to tell you my mothers family owned Dionysos across from the acropolis and Zonars. They have let those go recently and moved on to other hotels and restaurants. However, I am negotiations to purchase Dionysos and Zonars and return them to the family. I want to build a number of businesses and would like to invest heavily in the southern tip of Mani. I know everyone in Greece and have a lot of friends. I know they would be fine with me. What I was wondering is. Would I be safe. When people see me buying up property all over the country and rebuilding towns, building schools, hospitals, roads, etc…, would the everyday people embrace me. I know Lakis Gavalas and Sakis Rouvas. will, but what about the people. I wont be just another wealthy person buying an island for vacation. I want to create and empire in Greece and not in the US. I hope you understand me better this time. I think I sounded more like a tourist before. I wont be living in a cold house. I’d be living in Kifisia and Ekali. If I were to bring such great change, I need the people to stand by me. For example. When it becomes a media story of what I am doing. Will people be like get out half-breed. I have never experienced that from a Greek before. I know the Chinese and the arabs are investing in Greece. I would just be living there. Also, I am not black in colour, you can’t really tell I am bi-racial. I also will be a part of the cities nightlife anyway, they all know me. I just don’t want to be bothered my immigrants. From what I here they are a problem. My family says Golden Dawn would completely leave me alone since I would be surrounded by family. I just want a foreign opinion. Basically if the Greeks see me in the news talking about buying up land everywhere and building up the country will they praise me or chastise me.

I just want to make it clear in case you do respond again. I know how Greece works. I know all the issues. However, I have never had any issues before when it comes to doing business and getting things done. All the things you talk about I have never experienced in Greece. I’m just worried about the new phenomenon of crime and racism and how I would fit in to that. I’ve met Golden Dawn in New York while attending church and I was invited to attend meetings. They obviously didn’t know my situation. However, I have spoken to others that did know about me and they didn’t care. I’m confused. I idolize Greece. Always have. I was a top model there, a DJ, I helped open Tommy Hilfiger. Mykonos, Hydra, Glyfada, Kolonaki, have all been my homes at one time. I don’t know if you remember the Lycabettus Zonars on the hill, but my family owned all of that at one time as well. In Athens by the way. Greece is my home and I will always love Greece and be a part of it. I just don’t want to experience any negativity. It would anger me and I don’t know what I would do. Anyway. If you read this and respond again thanks. If you don’t I understand.

That’s just it. I am a nice guy and have a great family. That is why I am so bloody confused by all of this. I just don’t understand. Not the economic issues, the social issues. My mothers family is getting old now and the bulk of the estate goes to me because I am the first male out of all the first and second cousins. One more question will I be robbed in Ekali. Or is that all exaggerated. I don’t want my home to be broken into. As I am having furniture delivered from London to Athens next week for both my mothers and my family estates. I’ve even offered to restore the parliament building and was spoken to very nicely by the current administration. So that’s enough. IM SORRY FOR RAMBLING. This is good for me to get it out because this does keep me up at nights. It has really bothered me. Thanks. Antonis.

When I am in Athens, perhaps we can share a coffee in Dionysos. I hope you have been before, it was a great place. From when I was born to recently. If you need any assistance in Greece let me know. Or anything with your blog. I must say I am confused by what you say because I don’t know this Greece you talk about. Perhaps I am spoilt. It agitates me at times, but it confuses more. Anyway. Thanks again. This will be my last post. I never do such things. I am sorry for all of the rambling on.

Kat Reply:

Visiting Greece is not a realistic indicator of what it’s like to live here.

- Racism and fascism: Let’s be clear. Racism and fascism have always been markedly present in Greece; it is not a new phenomena or brought on by the economic crisis. It was only exacerbated and became a newsworthy topic because Greek citizens elected Golden Dawn to Parliament. You may not notice it while visiting because Greeks are extra nice to tourists or anyone they believe has money and will spend it. Nationality doesn’t matter. It only matters what you look like. If you don’t look Greek, speak the language like a native and know how things work, you’re foreign. Period.

And in cases when you look Greek, speak Greek and were born here, neo-Nazis will crucify you once they find out your blood is not 100% pure Greek as they define it. What your family says has no relevance, since they’re Greek and have never confronted racism. Greeks also make racist comments while stating they’re not racist, so it’s clear that many have no clue what it is, including politicians.

- Sexual orientation: It is still incredibly conservative in Greece. TV programs showing anything with same-sex partnerships, PDA or friendships are censored, the government and Orthodox church are anti-gay and outspoken about it, and my friends feel uncomfortable to hold hands and be themselves in public. It’s better on Mykonos, but not everyone can afford to live there.

- Wealth: Having money solves nothing. If people know you have it, they’ll charge a higher price. For example, when a lawyer learned I was American, he wanted 50 euros for a simple paper; after learning I spoke Greek, worked for a Greek employer and had Greek friends (who were present and ready back me in filing a complaint), the price dropped to 5 euros. Since the crisis, the elite — celebrities, wealthy, government leaders, big business owners, etc. — have made a point to stay low key and hire bodyguards as to not tempt trouble and avoid being kidnapped for ransom. Seeking media attention and bragging about success, wealth or privilege are considered arrogant.

- Wanting to help Greece should be weighed against the interminable bureaucracy when implementing ideas and starting businesses.

Finally, if you think you’re freezing now, just wait ’til you live in Greece where homes are routinely built without insulation.

Good luck.

  Sam wrote @ February 19th, 2014 at 22:37

I am a Greek citizen living in South Africa. I am considering moving to Greece for good. I initially found your website to be very helpful, BUT the more I read the more I wondered why you chose to live in Greece. I find that although you often defend yourself as being objective many of you your links, posts and responses say otherwise. For someone to have been through your experiences and still come back to Greece, I find that you lack the true ethos of Greece. I love Greece it is paradise on earth, every country has its problems stop bringing Greece down!!

Kat Reply:

It’s easy to criticize and fantasize as a Greek living outside Greece, only visiting on occasion, completely removed from the reality of everyday life.
a) Ethos is severely lacking in modern-day Greece, as there is nothing moral, competent or visionary about the way the country is run or the majority of people who find success here.
b) Paradise? Indeed, for tourists and 1% of people in Greece (the rich, subsidized, ignorant). Latest survey found that more than half the population want to leave for better quality of life and job.
c) Love is blind. Youth, nationalism and idealism perpetuate blindness.

In the article above, I state clearly that all countries have pros and cons. Being helpful, credible and reporting facts have nothing to do with parroting tourist mottos and marketing.

Greeks are doing a fine job sinking the country all on their own, without my help.

Good luck.

  Xara wrote @ March 9th, 2014 at 00:31

Two comments, neither directly related to this post but I couldn’t find a better place for them:

1. Thank you for your excellent website. I have recently needed to learn about the realities of daily life in Greece because a close elderly relative of mine, a Greek native, has returned there. The information you provide is invaluable. Thank you.

2. Do you see any hope for Greece? I love the country and am proud to be of Greek heritage. But I also know that the country has been dysfunctional for decades, and I wonder if the problems are intractable. I don’t know if a post on the subject would be up your alley, but I would love to read a thoughtful assessment of Greece going forward.

Thank you.

Kat Reply:

Hello!

1. Glad that it’s been helpful. It’s time-intensive and a lot of work, which most do not realize, but I keep going because I believe it serves a purpose. Once in awhile I get comments like yours and feel redeemed.

2. Sorry, I don’t. Much of what led to the crisis is cultural and is ever present. The generation that could have changed things for the better have left for better opportunities/pay elsewhere, or are being “punished” for staying, and the old guard plus a few neo-Nazis were elected by citizens to run the country.

The Guardian UK asked me to write commentary in 2007, but I have since exited journalism and do not post on my own website due to death threats, trolls and lack of time to moderate discussion. I do appreciate your interest and suggestion.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share thoughts and kind words. All best.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.