7 (minus 1) Reasons Why it Is Folly to Move to Greece Permanently

The allure of stunning beaches, dazzling islands and hospitable locals has caused many an expat to consider moving to beautiful Greece for good, but it is one thing to visit and a totally different experience to actually live here. Let’s not forget that it is no coincidence that statistics show that almost 74 percent of Greeks aged 22-35 would opt to emigrate and one in three local families would jump at the chance to leave.

Life has never been easy in Greece at the best of times, but it has become even harder since the country became a modern-day debt colony. So before you start packing your bags and consider swimming against the tide, here’s a reality check of  what you’ll be up against:

1. FINDING A JOB

Finding work is not easy for Greeks let alone for non-EU citizens. The mentality that you need to know somebody hasn’t changed in a land where nepotism reigns supreme (just look at the make-up of the members of government ruled by family dynasties). People will ask if you have a ‘meson‘ (contact) but if you forget getting a job in the public sector, you may be lucky enough to find a vacant position that makes its way to the classifieds rather than be spread by word of mouth. In that case, you’ll find yourself up against many desperate and educated candidates in the land of roughly 25% unemployment (50% for those under 25 years).

2. ADJUSTING TO WORK

When you manage to land a job, your problems will be far from over with businesses shutting down at lightning speed leaving behind thousands of jobless and an unemployment rate that is double the Eurozone average. Many companies are taking advantage of the situation by paying employees “under the table” or “black” – this means that you get no health benefits and will be at the mercy of the tax squad if you get caught. Language schools, filled with expats teaching foreign languages, are a common target of tax spot-checks and once caught it isn’t just the employers bearing the brunt of the fine, but employees too.

ΛΕΔΡΑlAID-OFF

3. PITIFUL SALARIES

Already low salaries have been slashed by half since the economic crisis began. It is not unusual to find university graduates getting paid 560 euros per month (with unpaid overtime + weekends considered a matter of course). Figures say that the average wage is around 700 euros per month, but this is far from the truth (though, yes, there is a dwindling middle class still making 1,000 euros per month with taxes). Many employers are now recruiting staff on a part-time basis with flexible contracts and low pay. There are teachers grossing 800 euros per month at a posh private school at upmarket Kefalari work 8-5 p.m. (extra hours for afternoon clubs), who are all sacked over summer and then rehired again in September in a work arrangement that is routine at many private schools and language institutes where expats work. Furthermore, don’t be surprised if the wage that you agree upon during your recruitment translates to a lower amount once your first pay check comes through (yes, even in companies considered respectable on the Greek market). Another problem is actually getting paid on time – because nobody does. You may have to pay the rent on the first of every month, but in Greece it is commonplace for employers to delay paying wages. Nobody says a word because it is considered a blessing to actually work for someone who actually does pay for services rendered at a time of economic crisis.

SALARY

4. DIFFERENT MENTALITY

Working with Greek people is a different ballgame to the lovely locals you meet when on holiday. It is one thing having a laugh over coffee and quite another matter hearing views that may be racist and non-politically correct on a daily basis. People express themselves quite freely and no-nos – such as swearing on the world or sexist banter – is apparently quite acceptable. Though Greeks work long hours and willingly put in unpaid overtime rather than stick with each other and demand their rights, their productivity is low due to a lack of organization. You’ll find that deadlines are mere suggestions. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security in thinking that these people are your friends because they want to know personal information. Be warned that everything you say can, and probably will, be used against you. On the plus side, dress codes are mere suggestions and, in a land where the country’s leader shows up at White House functions without a tie, you are free to wear pretty much anything you want at work – even flip-flops and a swimming cozzie under pink shorts.

5. FINDING A FLAT

Apartment prices have dropped since the crisis began, however this doesn’t mean that finding accommodation is easier. In downtown Athens, you can find a 20+ year flat of around 70 sq. metres, but finding a flat that you actually want to live in is another matter as not all of the pickings are freshly painted or in mint condition.  Also bear in mind that when Greeks say “unfurnished” they mean unfurnished all the way without a refrigerator or stove.

6. TRANSPORT

Transport strikes are plentiful, so you would do well considering finding accommodation near your work. Wages are too low for taxi fares and hectic traffic means that the time it takes to get to work should be taken into consideration. The days when you could just meet a stranger who’d offer to take you somewhere nearby have disappeared since the abolition of the drachma.

7. THINK OF THE FUTURE!

Sure, Greece is great when you’re single with only yourself to take care of, but imagine the problems that will arise once you have a family and dependents. Consider the life that your kids will have here. By law, they won’t automatically be entitled to Greek citizenship just because they were born here so imagine the bureaucracy that they’ll be up against.They’ll have to go through a tough education system that is far from organized or truly inducive to learning. The health system is riddled with shortages and it is not uncommon for doctors to expect fakelakia (bribes) so that they can perform operations in order to supplement their own pitiful 1,000-euro per month salaries (in the state health system). As for retirement packages, they are in a state of flux with the state pensions constantly being lowered. In a radio interview with Praktorio 104.9 FM on August 23, Greek Labor Minister George Katroungalos said that nobody in Greece will be poor with a state pension at 384 euros per month… just so you know where it’s all headed.

BEARINMIND

MINUS 1 – GREECE!

Most people who come to Greece from English-speaking countries or Western Europe come for emotional reasons rather than for the hope of economic stability. If you seek to take the road less travelled and prefer a life of struggle and chaos rather than routine, then Greece is for you. Throw caution and sensibility to the wind and live in a fractured land of sunlight and uncertainty, but don’t say that you’ve not been warned!

APPLE

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25 thoughts on “7 (minus 1) Reasons Why it Is Folly to Move to Greece Permanently

  1. number 1 – i found a job with no conne on my own – thank you very much
    number 2 – adjusting to work in any country is difficult not just greece – i do not get paid in black money and all my friends and family and including myself ( all in various positions from tourism, shipping, medicine and hospitality) all of us are legally paid WITH our health benefits!
    number 3 – i agree (only point i agree- ish) salaries are pitiful in some cases BUT we are in a crisis and in the end of the day you get what you deserve and i know many people who work in private sector that are very satisfied with their salaries
    number 4 – every country has a different mentality – where are you from?? racism exists everywhere! in every single country. anything you said in number 4 refers MOSTLY to public sector – not everyone is in public sector so dont diss what you done know/understand
    number 5 – i found an appartment in a good area in a week and well priced too and new! i dont know where you are looking but if you want to be in trendy areas – then you have to pay more pretty sure this happens in EVERY country in the world
    number 6 – transport is difficult everywhere and i never recall getting rides in Athens for free – maybe in the 60s you know, when most of Athens was still a village – we are not in Jamaica though! oh and fyi a lot of people work far from their jobs and they use public transport just fine and carpool on strike days and/or take taxis
    number 7 – me, my family, our friends ALL OF THEM were raised JUUUUST fine and our parents had the possibility to send us abroad to uni – many of us chose to come back! and we re proud of it. if you dont like it you can leave no-one is keeping you here and we certainly dont want any whiney people here we have enough of our own!! Thank you very much.

    oh and sweetheart only someone deeply unintelligent would think that holidaying in a place and working in same place will be exactly the same. sounds like you need a reality check.

    next time please publish the name of the author so we all know who is person is- they deserve public ridicule

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading my post. I’m glad your personal experience goes against ELSTAT statistics regarding the chronically unemployed (worst in Eurozone), IKA’s findings on wage rates, and general figures regarding what is happening in the Greek education system (for those whose parents don’t have the chance to send them abroad to uni)… Or should we just dismiss these as being “Greek statistics”? It’s nice that you don’t need to pay fakelakia or are one of the highly educated young Greeks who are forced to seek a better future abroad in what is known as the Brain Drain (heard of it?)… I guess all these young unemployed people listened to your advice when you said “If you don’t like it you can leave” – but perhaps the wrong people are leaving… Personally, I think I’ll stay! Take care… and feel free to check out other equally as biased blog posts I’ve written that are probably more to your liking about exquisite sunsets, haunting lighthouses, and ancient marbles draped in moonlight. You’ll find my actual name at the About Me section. 😉 Anyway, thanks for reaching out and sharing your opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear sir,

        I want to apologize about the person that commented on the top. I am a 30 year old woman who married an American, and although my husband loved Greece we didn’t have any other choice than to move to the US. I live here for 5 months now and, even though I make some decent money I can’t help but feel betrayed by my own country. When I was in Greece, even though I had a strong resume I couldn’t find a decent job, only in call centers or waitressing jobs, which by the way pay 3.5 euros per hour. They force us to leave our own homes. I want to say that whatever you write in this article is very true, and that the of our governments, as long as their willingness to comply with the EU commands has forced practically all of Greeks to live a life of poverty and desperation. Truth hurts, and the need of people like this lady to distort the truth is far greater than their willingness to fight for their work rights, the right to a free healthcare and education. What’s happening in Greece right now is a result of 40 years of bad governments and people’s ignorance. I could start analyzing all the facts but I’ll leave that to you 🙂 Take care and keep writing the truth!

        Eleni

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Even though Eleni’s post is a bit harsh, I agree that this listicle is very demotivating, and a bit unfair.
        Would love to see an article from you on specific suggestions on how to improve the situation.
        I wasn’t able to find the “About Me” section so I could figure out the author; clicking on “Σχετικά” only leads to the main page.

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      3. First step to improving a situation would be to recognise the problem… but for as long as we feel that we can use the old “leave if you don’t like it” or “we’re the descendants of Alexander the Great” quips to disguise our weaknesses as a modern nation – forget it!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Ha! Seriously?! You are either in denial or just don’t know any better, OR typically – just trying to proclaim your national pride so people can praise you OR your family is wealthy and nothing affects you … yet!
      I praise the author for writing the brutal truth which, by the way, hurts me more than anyone on the globe, but IT’S THE TRUTH. We are not in a crisis – it’s a pseudo crisis THAT WE’VE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO just because WE CAN. Furthermore, EVERYONE is riding the band wagon to take advantage by offering pitiful salaries. Doctors especially – not giving receipts and more disgustingly requesting and therefore making bribes a standard – because it frightens people – and you have to “pay up” in order to save your life when YOU’VE ALREADY PAID for the service via your health insurance holdings from your salary!!!!

      It’s funny – people getting their panties in a tangle just because they don’t like reading the truth. You’re funny. You hate it when our country makes the headline world wide news, you all proclaim it’s “propaganda” but I see that it’s the truth and the truth hurts and I do my best as a citizen to help where I can, when I can, and SPEAK UP when I can because our mentality includes “bullying” just because we can and I can go on and on and on and on….

      Greece should be the best country in the world overall, the Greek people should be the smartest not among the weakest and the corrupted. You can’t even go the supermarket without witnessing people parking any which way they want JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN without taking into consideration that MAYBE a DISABLED PERSON WILL NEED THE DISABLED PARKING SPOT, or being considerate enough to park in ONE PARKING SPOT instead of TWO just because they don’t know how to park and JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. If you approach someone about this it turns into a brawl. THAT’S WHO WE ARE.

      We speed when we drive (our car accident death toll is among the most in world), we park where we want, we drive the wrong way on a one way street because we want to. We pay employees when we want to and how we want to BECAUSE WE CAN – I’ve had that experience.

      My dad has alzheimer’s I can write a book on all the wrongs involved with our healthcare system and bribing and corrupted doctors. Thankfully, when “bribing” occurs I move on to another doctor because I refuse to participate in BULLSHIT even if it kills me!

      Shall I mention the condition of our hospitals? We don’t have enough staff, we have no supplies, the patient acts as secretary running all over the place just to get admitted and is required to have someone stay overnight becuase the nurses sleep in their office – YES, nurses have admitted this to me and they should be FIRED just for admitting it! YET …. during my last hospital stay with my dad, there was all of the above with the big surprise of A NEW HOSPITAL WING was in the process of being built – question to myself was “then why do I have to bring my own diapers, toilet paper, blankets, and sleep on the hospital floor???? ….HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN in the wonderful world you live in Paola????

      HOW CAN YOU SAY its so fantastic when there are more stray dogs and cats than there are people, and the people who own pets DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE CONSIDERATE OR EVEN CARE FOR THEM?????

      I can go on and on and write a book – one day maybe I will but for now I will close with this…

      Ghandi said it well: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

      GREECE is NOT A GREAT NATION to live in. END OF STORY.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m a little confused on how the comment section works. My “ha” comment is directed at Paola. My “Amen” comment is in response to the article. (not sure if that is clear here).

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  2. AMEN! However, I do blame the Greek people for not being a little more united and standing up for their rights and taking a stand by not accepting work that has unethical payment options for example. It seems to me all we know how to do is go on strike and set Athens on fire while protesting whereby creating collateral damages resulting in more damages that we have to pay for. Between the government and the people its an infinity circle and all we succeed in doing is shooting ourselves in the foot. All the time. Over and over again. It’s too bad. We certainly can’t count on the next generation because the education system is so lame and our children learn by way of “parakeeting” (memorizing the text book pages and repeating the words to get a good grade). Just heartbreaking. You can witness the result of this type of learning when you speak to Greeks, they have a lot of information in their brains and they love to hear themselves talk but they are not taught on what to do with it, how to apply it, how to think outside the box. This is why everyone gets away with corruption. Why our leaders are useless and corrupted. Just so much to say here but I need to stop.
    I am Greek, I live in Greece and it disappoints me. Worst of all, every day is a struggle in dealing with nonsense… Living in Greece has sucked all my Greek pride out of me hence creating a “Planet Greece” perspective that I never dreamed I would ever have the misfortune to experience in my motherland.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ten million people, ten million different opinions. That is why we will never unite. But is that what we need? Why should we unite? To go on the streets protest set everything on fire and get beaten up by the police? We have done this more than we should and we got nothing. I have lived rich and i have lived poor. And when i say poor i mean eating frozen peas for a week, without electricity. Trying to live with 200 euros my mother was getting from my diseased father’s pension who commited suicide by not taking his pills because we wanted to let me and my mother take some more money to live easier. I mean the rightful pension a woman gets if she looses her husband who was working for 40 years. The pension started at 580 euros in 2009 and now is 210 (2016). Anyway, i did not quit, i did many jobs, whatever jobs just to pay the bills and keep our fridge full. We could never pay the bills. I was worrying that we were gonna loose our house, from debts to a bank. So i sit back and rethinked about everything, i questioned every opinion i had. I stopped worrying about money and started studying philosophy. I had a lot of free time without a job. I got to know myself ans surpassed my fears which where holding me back. I stopped believing what i heard in radio or watching in TV. I was not voluntarily getting terrorised by the media, which is what they actually do. They sock the people with terrifying news, they give them 3-4 bad choises and forget about the fifth or sixth which is actually working and not bad at all. A terrorised person cannot think clearly. So the stupid citizen chooses to conform and believe that this plan is working if we all try together despite the fact that half os us are not even able to pay our debts and we get divided again and again. But we are already divided in ten million pieces, what did you expect? So taxes are rising, prices go up, new taxes about this or that make an appearance out of nowhere and there is a new tax you have to pay to support poor people in Greece if you choose to open up your own bussiness like you make tons of money, at the point where half a million bussinesses closed. There is no logic in this, our goverments are sold, our banks are sold, our public sector is sold and now they tell you that it is your fault. Well world go F@ck you. I found one job. I found a second job and opened another one on my own. On weekends i do anything that comes up to make some more money. I .have not really rested in 2 years or had a good night sleep but my fridge now is full and all the bills are paid. The point is that nobody can tell me how to live. I am not afraid of anything after all these, i know that all this crisis is preplanned for over 30 years now and i can see where this is going. Im still proud to be Greek now more than ever even if they call you racist or nazi if you dare to say that you love your country, the place where you lived your happiest moments, the place where you fell in love for the first time. All hardships i can get, happy to get some more. I get to learn the limits of myself, surpass them and set new ones. Crisis? Who cares, bring it on. And this mentality my friends you get when you know yourself, when you conquer your fears when you are trully free. And this is my rebellion. My revolution is to live a good life despite the difficulties you bring to me. There is always an option, one or two which you tell me or the third i choose? Everyone is right and Paola too. I love you Paola but you cannot express what you feel. Yes anyone gets what he deserves so get better to deserve more. Besides you never know, this crisis may be for the best, now we know who is trully worthy and who is not. All masks are down now. And we have the great opportunity to improve ourselves spiritually. Everyone can do anything, there is always a way if you truly want something. And stop whining about hardships. How else could you enjoy happiness and what wouldnyou tell to your grandchildren after all this. Besides we Greeks are not dreamming about something great nor we endure hardships to prove that we are strong. We endure everything for the past milleniums just to tell it to others. We love to talk about our lives and the harder we live the better the story will be.

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  4. Everything that is stated in the article is absolutely spot on! Whether you choose to turn a blind eye or whether you happen to come from a well to do family and don’t have a family to support on your own, Greece is a sad, sorry state of affairs I’m afraid. No parent wants their children to emmigrate to another country, but I am (sort of ) pushing my children to find a ‘better’ life (economically speaking) abroad, where they will have an OPPORTUNITY to scale the labour ladder and make something of their skills. At least, abroad if you start as a dishwasher, you can own the company. In Greece, you start as a dishwasher and end up getting your pension as a dishwasher!

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  5. After 2 and a half years that I lived in Athens as expats I can only congratulate myself with who wrote this article. Everything is listed exactly how it really is… from the poor making 3 jobs to pay bills (chapeu) to the posh coming from γλυφάδα and being used to a good job (I am sure you got it without any kickass) and a good style of life… greece is that country than makes you think whether it was worth or not leaving your… I decided that it was not. I didn’t go back where I’m from but just where I was before Athens. About greece I only miss beautiful islands (which you Greeks don’t know how to keep), cheap food and few friends. I don’t regretted having lived there, I just understood thats was about time I have to leave.

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