Expat Essentials

Lynne Evans’ expat diary: Moving to a house in the Greek countryside … the good and the bad

(Editor’s note: Lynne Evans is long-term expat in Greece. This is the second in a series about her move from Athens to a house in the Greek countryside near the sea including the day-to-day challenges one never anticipates. In short, what expat life is really like.)

We’ve been in the new house for two months now, but still have lots to do. At least we have cold water, but no hot because we are trying to use solar power.

I think we’ll have to abandon that idea for the present though and stick with electric. We can, however, have a smaller boiler installed which will free up space in the bathroom. The problem is that it needs to be refurbished and we need an experienced designer to help. I need safety rails and so on as my arthritis gets worse.

We need to do a few other, more minor, things too.

THE NEW HOUSE … AND THOSE PROBLEMATIC PINES (Photo courtesy of Lynne Evans)

Disappointments

We had air conditioning units upstairs and down, but they weren’t working well and the one in the bedroom wasn’t working at all. Off we went to Corinth and ordered more.

They were delivered the next day and fitted the day after. The old units were taken for recycling, which we appreciated.

A month ago, we found delicious strawberries in the Saturday market. They tasted like strawberries used to, before the use of chemicals. We put some of them in the fridge for the next day and were looking forward to having them with breakfast.

Imagine our dismay to find that they had become rotten overnight. The fridge was broken. At least that was easily remedied and a new one was delivered within a few days. Again, the old appliance was taken away for recycling,

The exterior of the house is now free of old appliances and looks much better. Also, the pipes for the water supply have been drastically reduced.

Gardening

The garden is much bigger than the house, with two lemon trees, a palm, and the two problematic pine trees. There are a couple of olive trees and a fruit tree which has ripe fruit now.

I believe the fruit is related to damsons, but I haven’t identified it yet. Then there are other flowering plants including jasmine and oleander. There are also several weird plants which could be papyrus.      

There’s still a lot of gardening to be done, but we’ve made a start and used the discarded twigs, branches and weeds for barbecues. It’s wonderful to have these in spring and early summer.

May was unseasonably cold, but so far June has been hot. So hot, in fact, that we had an unexpected visitor in the garden yesterday. We heard twigs snapping yesterday and looked out to discover the cause.

We were very surprised to see an adult tortoise tramping through the debris under the pine trees.  Luckily, I remembered being told that these creatures go in search of water in hot weather.          

We found a container and filled it with water and watched while the thirsty tortoise drank about half a litre of the precious liquid in one go. It will need water throughout the summer as will any other wild creature, I suppose.

The evening before seeing the tortoise, we found a gecko in residence behind a kilim on the wall in our main downstairs room. We had heard noises, but hadn’t investigated them before. At least they are useful for catching flies and other insects. It is welcome.

Our European Pines

These beautiful old trees are a bit of a headache for us. Before winter we will have to decide what to do with the older, taller one. 

Their branches hang over the roof and we are afraid that they might come crashing down in high winds. Also, the roots are too close to the foundations, However, we like them and really, if rather unrealistically, want to keep them. A decision must be reached soon.

To remove the trees, we have to get permission from the forestry commission. I have no idea how long this will take.

Another related problem is that these trees attract magpies. I don’t know if you have ever had the misfortune to hear a mischief (there are several nouns given for a collection of these birds, but “mischief” sums them up for me) of magpies chattering, but let me tell you that it is an annoying cacophony of squawks and clucks.

These magpies wake us at 8 a.m. – sometimes earlier – fly off half an hour later, only to return around 10 a.m. and start all over again. If I shout “Go away,” they oblige for a minute or two, but are soon back, and their chattering begins again. (If any readers know how to stop them please leave a comment below.)

HOOPOE

Sometimes a hoopoe arrives and sits quietly in one of the trees, and these birds are most welcome.

For some reason, there don’t seem to be any sparrows around the house. I wonder if hoopoes eat smaller birds.

The land registry

We have been to the local and national land registries several times now, so often that we have lost count. Luckily, they are housed in the same building in Corinth.

We have to go once more (and pay again, of course) to get a document declaring that we have complied with the rules and regulations pertaining to the registering of property. As we already have the documents, this seems like a waste of time, effort and money, but we’ll get this final one to be sure that we have fully complied with Greek law. We will have to find the time to go again. It’s awkward because these offices close around 2 p.m.

Other than this detail, we believe we have done everything necessary to ensure the purchase is legal.

I think, and fervently hope, that we can rest over the summer and just enjoy being here. However, the summer residents will arrive in August, or perhaps earlier. This will mean that the municipality will cut off our water supply and we will have to pay a private company to bring us water to fill the tanks outside; there are three of them.

I’m looking forward to our first summer here.

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 about her adventures in Greece:

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

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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