The Expat Hub

Retiring to Greece

With a low cost of living and year round sunshine, Greece is an idyllic location to retire to. However, you should think long and hard before deciding to spend your remaining days there. The Euro crisis has reduced Greece to a desperate nation, one that is trying to claw its way out of debt and find a solution to its problems. As mentioned in other articles the Greece healthcare system has been ravaged by budget cuts, civil unrest is on the rise and the cities have become increasingly dangerous for immigrants.

As a retiree, it’s important to make an effort to learn at least the rudiments of Greek so that you can understand your bills, use the telephone, deal with servicemen and communicate with your local town hall (plus performing a myriad of other ‘daily’ chores). If you don’t learn Greek, you’ll often be frustrated in your communications and will be constantly calling on friends and acquaintances to assist you, or even paying people to do jobs you could easily do yourself.

The most important reason to learn Greek is that in an emergency it could save your life or that of a loved one! Learning Greek also helps you appreciate the Greek way of life and make the most of your time in the country, and opens many doors that remain firmly closed to resident ‘tourists’.

Within the EU pensioners can obtain form E121 from their home country to cover all health care in Greece, although care can be basic and pensioners are advised to also consider taking out private health insurance. Consider also the cost of flights ‘home’ in an emergency. Pensions drawn from outside of Greece in another currency will be affected by exchange rate fluctuations.

When choosing where to live you need to take into account that many Greek islands have very little in terms of modern amenities. In the winter some islands can even be cut off for weeks at a time from the mainland so make sure your new home is a good location. A place with easy access to hospitals and shopping areas will be ideal.

For a list of Greek islands look here:

http://www.inyourpocket.com/greece/athens/Top-10-Greek-Islands_71201f

You should also prepare for extra unexpected costs such as flights back home to the UK, the cost of running a car and the cost of hosting friends and family when they come to visit.