Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Lynne Evans’s expat guide to moving to Athens

Thinking of moving to Greece?

It might be that you have become disillusioned with the country in which you currently live and are hankering for a change. If you are thinking of moving from the  United Kingdom to Greece, for example, here are some points to consider.

Most people who decide to emigrate take years to put into action their dreams of living in the sun. However, in these uncertain times, people are feeling compelled to relocate more quickly. With the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union, some people are very worried about what seems to be an uncertain future.

Some hurried to find new homes before the date given for Brexit, my daughter amongst them.

Greek estate agents

I suppose she had the advantage of my living in Greece. Even so, there were problems with an unscrupulous estate agent. Basically, don’t use an estate agent who is not a member of a recognised institution such as the Hellenic Association of Realtors (Tel. 2108-232 931), or the Federation of Greek Real Estate Agents (Tel. 2104-933 001).

If you can, try to find a real estate agent who is also a member of the European Confederation of Estate Agents (CEI). This should guarantee you extra protection, and, at the very least, will give you peace of mind. However, you should always verify your estate agent’s membership.

Estate agent’s fees vary, but are set at 2 percent of the price of the property. Both buyer and seller pay these fees. When my daughter bought her property, she paid her share of the fees in cash directly to the agent.

Where to avoid when house hunting

There are rules about where non-Greeks can buy a property. Basically, you should not attempt to buy a property near a border, whether it is a land or sea border. That means that it would be best if you avoided the islands close to Turkey and areas bordering Albania. It could be difficult to purchase a property on Corfu, for example, because of its proximity to Albania.

It is possible to apply for – and receive – permission to buy such a property. Of course, this will take time, and this being Greece, it could take a very long time. The wheels of bureaucracy can turn extremely slowly.

Check a map and work out where you should be able to buy a property relatively quickly. The Greek mainland is best, and the islands close to it, Evia, for example. This island is now accessible via a road bridge as well as by ferry.

You might also wish to avoid buying a property on forestry land. You can buy homes on forestry land but need permission to do so, and again this takes time.

It is much easier to buy a property in urban areas rather than on the outskirts. If the property is not within the city plan, this will mean that your lawyer will have to do a very detailed search.

Where do expats live in Athens?

There are many expats of different nationalities living in Athens. They tend to favour its southern areas such as Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmenis. Some live close to the Acropolis hill in central Athens. Properties in the southern suburbs are generally cheaper, but are older and might not have lifts.

ILIOUPOLIS

Ilioupolis is one of the cheaper southern suburbs. Possibly because it doesn’t have a beach, it has yet to be discovered by expats. The ones who do live there are usually ex-English teachers who taught in private language schools and married Greeks. Apartment blocks are the main type of accommodation you will find there.

GLYFADA

Glyfada itself marks the start of the Athenian Riviera and is split into two recognisable sections. Ano Glyfada is above Glyfada, on the coast. Properties are cheaper in Ano Glyfada as people tend to want to live near the sea. The properties are either apartments or villas.

There’s at least one Irish bar in Glyfada where you can find traditional British food. You can find restaurants and tavernas serving different cuisines.

VOULA

Voula is a little more upmarket than Glyfada, and there are fewer foreign tourists there. There are many eateries and bars in the town, and it is easy to find expat haunts. However, it isn’t as lively as Glyfada. Properties are more expensive here.

VOULIAGMENIS

Vouliagmenis is reputed to be the most expensive place in Europe for property buying. It is on the coast and has many restaurants and tavernas.

Expats are few and far between and tend to live outside the boundaries in villas they have had built.

At the end of the Athenian Riviera is Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon, but to the east of this is Lavrio, which the Romans used as the port from whence silver was exported.

MAROUSI – NORTH ATHENS

Marousi is one of Athens’ northern suburbs, popular with expats despite the fact that it isn’t on the coast. Properties are cheaper than comparable ones to the south of Athens and worth looking at. Some have been built relatively recently. Marousi deserves a mention because in recent years it has become popular with expats.

Before you go

Emigration is a huge step to take, and before you head to a new country you will need to do a lot of research. Don’t be too hasty. Spend time going around Greece to find a place you like. Remember that places are different in winter. In high season villages are very lively, but in winter, you might not find anyone to speak with. It would be a good idea to learn some Greek before you leave.

Contact the Greek embassy and sort out visas [if necessary] in plenty of time before your departure date. Ensure that pets have the necessary documentation too.

If you do emigrate to Greece, good luck.

(Editor’s note: Also see Lynne’s primer for moving to Greece.)

About the author:

Lynne Evans is originally from Wales but is an inveterate traveller. She is passionate about writing and feels compelled to write something every day. Lynne has visited many countries in Europe and South Asia. Working as a freelance writer gives her opportunities to travel.

She’s currently living in her favourite country, Greece, in Athens. In the past, she was always leaving Greece and then returning. This time she wants to stay.

Here are more of Lynne’s posts:

Lynne Evans in Athens: An expat’s misadventures in the Greek healthcare system

Lynne Evans on daily life in Athens, the newly crowned European Capital of Innovation

 Lynne Evans in Greece: A Greek real estate agent tried to rip me off … and how you can avoid this scam

Lynne Evans on Greece wildfires: ‘We can’t keep destroying Athens’ environment’

Lynne Evans in Athens: More tips to navigating the expat life in Greece

Lynne Evans: The trials, tribulations and absolute pleasures of living in Greece

Lynne Evans: The unvarnished truth about living in Greece

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