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Best Ever Guide to Moving to Greece

Posted Country Guides / July 29, 2013

Moving to Greece sounds like a lovely adventure. Even though every international relocation can be somewhat demanding, you won’t find it that troublesome when you have something to look forward to. And you certainly do have a lot to look forward to when relocating to the cradle of Western civilization. From rich history and culture to lovely weather all year round, there are plenty of reasons why you might have decided to live there.

We understand that you can’t wait to start enjoying those 3,000 hours of sunshine per year at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can already picture yourself relaxing on some of the hundreds of heavenly islands. And don’t even get us started on its stunning architecture and vibrant culture that’s waiting for you to explore it. But before you get to that lovely part, whether you want it or not, you should handle the less exciting part – prepare for the actual relocation.

Just like with any other place, you will need to think about entry visas and permits, the cost of living, job hunting, and so on. When you prepare for the move properly, you can be sure you’ll enjoy the entire process, so don’t let anything spoil this experience for you. Let’s find out what you should do to get ready if you want to move to the Hellenic Republic and what to expect when you finally get there.

Take Care of Visa Requirements

If you’re planning just a visit, as a US citizen, you can stay there up to 90 days without a visa. However, in case you’re not looking for any trial period, but you want to relocate permanently, you should become familiar with Greece visa application requirements.

When moving across the world, your primary concern should be the most important documents needed to travel abroad. It’s no use getting down to planning any further steps if you don’t handle these first. Once you do relocate, you’re supposed to apply for a residence permit within the first two months. Let’s find out what this process entails.

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Apply for a Residency Permit Within the First Two Months of Living in Greece

Before you get to the process of adjusting to a new country after moving or even packing to move, you should apply for a residence permit as soon as possible. To start with, you should know that there are different types of permits, depending on what grounds you’re applying for a visa. In any case, here’s what you’ll be required to submit when applying for the permit:

  • Original passport and a copy
  • Health certificate and proof of health insurance
  • Three biometric passport photos
  • Two application forms (completed)
  • Work contract
  • Proof of sufficient funds and accommodation
  • Proof of fee payment

If you’re relocating for employment, your permit will be valid for one year for starters. As you can see, you should have a contract to apply for a residence permit, which means you have to start looking for a job while still in the States.

Find Employment Before Moving to Greece

Considering the recent economic turmoil, this European destination may not be the best possible choice if you’re looking for a job. Its unemployment rate is still rather high (over 16%), but the government is encouraging foreign entrepreneurs to come. Considering that the unemployment rate was as high as 27.80% at one point, we can say that the worst has passed. The economy seems to be on the road to recovery. So, depending on your profession, there might be some employment opportunities worth considering. For instance, tourism accounts for one-fifth of the entire economy.

Check Out the Job Market Carefully

Since the economy is still on the road to recovery, but not nearly fully recovered yet, you should put some effort into exploring the job market. It is advisable to start looking for employment well in advance because it will probably take you some time to find a worthwhile opportunity. If nothing else, you can check out available jobs for English teachers in Athens or other major cities. There aren’t many international companies, so you can’t count on some golden opportunities there. You should be on the lookout for anything that can bring you a decent salary. When you find employment, be sure you have the answers to the most important relocation questions to ask the employer before you accept the job offer.

Consider Working Online If Your Profession Allows It

If you don’t fit into any of the major sectors, you shouldn’t give up just yet. Depending on your profession and your qualifications, you might be able to work remotely from Greece. In this case, you would avoid all the struggles of finding a stable job on the famously unstable Greek job market. Perhaps you can keep your current job and just work remotely, if possible. Working online is probably the perfect option, as you can work from a sandy beach and enjoy the view of the bright blue sea instead of spending your days in a cubicle. How perfect is that?

Make Sure You Consult a Local Accountant and Learn About Tax-Related Costs

Self-employed people should go straight to a local accountant to find out all there is to know about the taxes. First of all, you should apply for a taxpayer identification number at the local tax office. It is necessary to have one for your daily transactions, starting with opening a bank account. The matter of taxes becomes somewhat tricky when you are self-employed, which is why it is necessary to seek professional advice.

Taxes for self-employed people are rather high, so you should check whether it pays off to keep paying taxes to your home country even after your relocation. This brings us to another crucial thing to note: check double taxation laws between Greece and your country to be sure you won’t have to pay taxes to both countries. Fortunately, the US and the Greek Republic have signed a whole set of bilateral tax treaties, regulating income and estate taxes, among other matters.

Speaking Modern Greek Will Ease Job-Hunting

As you can see, finding employment is a rather tricky business, so you should do what you can to make the job-hunting process easier. One of the things that will make your life much easier is the language. Speaking Modern Greek can help you more than you can imagine. You should find a guide to learning a new language to help you with breaking the language barrier when moving abroad. Even though people there speak English, and you will be able to communicate with them in English just fine, they will appreciate your effort to learn their language. Since Greek is rather tricky to learn, be sure you start learning it before your relocation date gets closer.

Start Learning Greek Before You Leave the States

Learning a language abroad surely comes with some advantages. However, when it comes to a language as demanding as Greek, it is not a good idea to wait to start learning it only after you move. You might want to consider taking lessons so that you know more than just the basic greek words Kalimera (Good morning) and Kalispera (Good afternoon) when you get there.

Get to Know Your Chosen City

Whether you’re moving abroad alone or with your family, before you even think about what to pack when moving abroad, you need to be sure that you’ve picked the right city. Life is different in different areas. The difference is particularly notable if we compare life on the islands to the lifestyle in large cities and the mountainous continental part of the country. To see this for yourself, it is advisable that you visit Greece at least once before you move and spend a month or two traveling to see where you feel comfortable.

Once you pick a place, do some research to learn more about it before you get to call it home. Again, if you have a chance, visit it before the actual relocation to get the idea of what it feels like to be a local around here.

Decide Whether Athens Is the Best Choice for You

Athens is, without a doubt, one of the most popular destinations among expats. As one of the oldest cities in the entire world, it has a rich history and culture that draw a great number of tourists, as well as people looking for a new home. Athens is an ideal place for those who prefer hot summers and mild winters. Humidity is low, and the rainfall is quite rare, so there will be plenty of time for you to enjoy at its sandy beaches with crystal clear water.

Check the Cost of Living and Plan Your Expenses

No matter your chosen destination, it is always advisable to find some ways to save money when moving internationally. So, even though you are relocating to a place that’s significantly more affordable than the States, it’s still a good idea to have some savings. The cost of living is low, but so are the salaries, meaning that you will need an above-average pay to live comfortably there. Also, with a recovering economy, some prices are increasing, such as housing prices.

Beware of the Rising Housing Costs

When it comes to housing costs, these are still rather low compared to what you’re used to now. According to Numbeo, the average rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center is just over $540. Prices are somewhat higher in the capital and other major cities, but there’s still no major difference (the rent for a three-bedroom apartment in Athens is $670). However, you should keep in mind that there has been a significant rise in property prices in the last couple of years. They are estimated to keep rising in the years to come.

Get Ready for the Hot Weather

Now, this one shouldn’t be much of a problem. We’re sure that the pleasant weather all year long won’t bother you when you head to southeastern Europe. You’ll get to enjoy all your free days on sun-drenched sandy beaches or head to one of the beautiful islands throughout the Ionian and Aegean seas. July and August are the hottest months of the year when the temperature can go up to 95°F. Plus, people are open and friendly, so you’re sure to have fun even if you’re relocating alone.

Be Sure You Pack Light

As you can see, you’ll mostly need summer clothes when going to this part of Europe. Plus, you are relocating to another part of the world, so the best thing to do is to pack as light as possible. In case you can’t seem to handle packing on your own, you can always turn to international movers to provide you with packing services. You can also rely on them to bring all the necessary boxes and moving supplies.

Follow this Comprehensive Guide and Pack Your Bags

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to live in another country and make it your home. It all seems quite overwhelming. But when you follow these steps closely, you can organize the entire process properly and make it an adventure. Even international relocation to Europe can seem like smooth sailing when handled accordingly. So, enjoy your upcoming move and look forward to the new life in the cradle of Western civilization, democracy, and so much more.

Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

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