If the idea of spending your retirement on a sun-soaked island, savoring delectable cuisine amongst a vibrant local culture appeals to you, Greece might be the perfect destination. With its warm summers and mild winters, Greece offers an inviting climate year-round. Whether you’re in for bustling city life or the laid-back charm, you’ll find a place that suits your preferences. 

Retire In Greece

With a rich history spanning centuries, Greece boasts exquisite architectural wonders, a tantalizing culinary scene, and a thriving cultural milieu. If Greece resonates with your retirement aspirations, then we have just the right article for you. 

A Quick Look at the Top Places to Retire in Greece

  1. Athens

  2. Peloponnese

  3. Rhodes

  4. Crete

  5. Thessaloniki

  6. Patras

  7. Syros

  8. Polydrosos

  9. Corfu

In this comprehensive guide we will give you an idea of what living in Greece is like and everything you need to adhere by. We will also give you our top picks of places where you can settle in after retirement. So let’s get started on explaining how beautiful your life can be in Greece if you choose to move there

Getting Ready For Greece

Getting Ready For Greece

Obtaining a Residence Permit

Obtaining a Residence Permit in Greece varies depending on your situation. If you plan to work before retiring, a work permit is needed. If your goal is retirement in Greece, a residence permit is necessary. For U.S. residents, stays of up to 90 days require no visa or permit. To extend beyond 90 days while maintaining U.S. residence, a visa application becomes essential. 

The good news for EU member state citizens as you can live in Greece without these requirements.

The process of obtaining a residence permit requires time. Consider obtaining a visa first, allowing a stay beyond 90 days and covering the application duration. Key documents include a passport, proof of continuous medical insurance, and either a monthly income of 2,000 euros or a bank balance of 24,000 euros. 

Medical insurance is crucial for the application, but it can be changed upon becoming a resident. Notably, Medicare and Medi-Cal do not fulfill this requirement. 

Housing & Cost of Living

Greece’s cost of living is approximately 23% lower than that of the United States. This calculation encompasses expenses such as rent, meals, healthcare, transportation, and more. Typically, a one-bedroom apartment in the central area of Athens, the Greek capital, would cost you less than $500 per month. 

By contrast, a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of New York City averages slightly less than $3,100 per month. It really is very tempting to know that with that amount of money, you can really live the remainder of your life in absolute beauty.

Healthcare 

Greek healthcare is generally of high quality and more affordable than in the U.S. To apply for residence in Greece, existing medical insurance is necessary. Once you’re a resident, transitioning to a local provider’s coverage is possible, although private insurance remains essential. 

Greece provides universal healthcare to citizens only, making citizenship a requirement for access.

While Greek healthcare costs less than U.S. equivalents, maintaining your current insurance initially could be wise. This facilitates price comparison while maintaining coverage. Switching to local coverage may be more cost-effective later, especially for those needing minimal medical attention. 

When selecting a living location, proximity to a hospital is crucial. While Greece offers excellent healthcare, residing near a hospital, especially in urban areas, ensures optimal access. For specialized care, consider hospitals focusing on specific medical areas.

Taxation

Income, whether from domestic or international sources, means you’ll have to pay taxes. You’re liable for taxes in your home country, demanding annual tax return filing if you retain citizenship. Greece may also require taxes, particularly on in-country earnings.

The law imposes a flat 7% tax on all retirement income for foreigners establishing tax residency in Greece. Additionally, this law offers a 10-year tax exemption on the same income. 

Property tax is another factor, with relatively high rates that have risen recently. This is especially important if you’re considering property purchase as a financial investment, warranting careful evaluation prior to deciding.

Special Considerations 

Greece’s economy has struggled extensively over a decade, similar to the Great Depression in the U.S. High unemployment and reduced incomes have persisted, leading to cuts in public services like healthcare, due to bailout measures. As a retiree, you might not experience the full impact of this crisis, but working plans could be affected more noticeably.

For those considering pre-retirement work in Greece, researching the economic situation is crucial. Understanding how these challenges might influence your plans is essential, given the country’s economic uncertainties.

How Much Money Do I Need to Comfortably Retire In Greece? 

How Much Money Do I Need to Comfortably Retire In Greece? 

On the whole, a comfortable monthly living budget of 2,000 Euros is feasible. This includes typical costs and city-center one-bedroom apartment rent in Athens. For couples retiring in Greece together, almost doubling that amount might be necessary to uphold equivalent living standards as in the U.S.

Alternatively, expenses could be reduced based on lifestyle choices. Embracing frugal living is one approach, but residing in remote areas can also yield cost savings. Greece boasts numerous sparsely populated islands with charming small towns, offering a lot despite being farther from urban centers.

Top Places To Live In Greece

1. Athens

Athens

For those seeking a blend of modern urban conveniences without sacrificing character and culture, Athens should unquestionably be at the top of your considerations. The city radiates charm and historical significance. Athens seamlessly integrates ancient remnants into its streets, squares, and tavernas, creating a harmonious coexistence.

Athens stands as a bridge between history and modernity, a connection not as vividly realized elsewhere in the country. As Europe’s warmest capital, its summer temperatures can peak at 35 degrees daily. Yet, the cooling Aegean breeze maintains a refreshing ambiance, uncommon for a metropolis of this magnitude.

As the capital, Athens boasts excellent connectivity, with an international airport and train lines linking to major Greek cities. Regional flights to larger Greek islands and boat access to smaller ones are convenient options. Public transport networks within the city are comprehensive, potentially rendering car ownership unnecessary.

Athens offers a quality of life similar to that of modern European cities. Essential aspects like internet access, road safety, cost of living, and education are favorably ranked by both Greeks and expats. 

The city’s commercial vigor ensures a year-round buzz, with most establishments staying open even during winter. Athens features 19 international schools, several universities, and specialized educational institutions, making it an appealing choice for families.

Healthcare is robust, with 13 hospitals offering comprehensive medical services, and places of worship for major religions abound. The city’s lushness shines through its green spaces, with the National Garden and numerous parks dotting the landscape. Locals often congregate in Filopappou Hill Park in the evenings to relish the weather and share relaxed moments great for new retirees.

2. Peloponnese

Peloponnese

Exploring the Peloponnese is remarkably convenient due to its relatively compact size, with a travel time of slightly over 2 hours from north to south. For enthusiasts of culture and history, the entire Peloponnese functions as an open-air museum. 

From Epidaurus and Olympia to Sparta, Mistras, Nafplio, Mycenae, and numerous other ancient sites, the region is a treasure trove of historical significance.

By connecting these historical “dots” within their geographical context, you’ll gain insights into the Greek mindset. If you’re considering property investment, the Peloponnese offers affordable options. 

3. Rhodes

Rhodes

With a staggering 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, Rhodes leads the charts in its sun-soaked appeal. Boasting around 220 km of coastline, charming towns, quaint villages, lively nightlife, and delectable cuisine, this Dodecanese capital emerges as a premier choice for retiring expatriates.

Rhodes’ success story has been built on its history of fusion, evidenced by the thriving expat community on Greece’s fourth-largest island. The extended summer season and strong communal ties create an ideal environment for retirees. These well-knit groups offer firsthand insights and advice on daily life, smoothing your transition. 

Notably, language barriers are minimal, given the island’s international tourism ambiance where English is widely spoken. If you’re open to a bit of effort and involvement, property purchases begin at €55,000 (for a one-bedroom apartment), making Rhodes a promising destination to call home.

4. Crete

Crete

Crete’s allure lies in its unspoiled beaches, majestic mountain vistas, delectable traditional cuisine, and the warm hospitality of its residents. Beyond the surface, authenticity defines the island’s character.

Cities like Chania, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Ierapetra offer urban amenities, while hidden treasures dot the island, waiting to be discovered and possibly become your personal haven. A multitude of nationalities, from Brits to Americans, have embraced the Cretan way of life, making it a second home. 

The Cretan International Community (CIC), based in Rethymno, provides support and connections for expats through coffee gatherings and social events, offering practical advice for retirees planning their relocation.

In a nutshell, Crete has emerged as a solid retirement choice, offering convenient global access, robust medical facilities, a mild climate, and a comparatively affordable cost of living.

5. Thessaloniki 

Thessaloniki 

Thessaloniki is a favorite among expats. It offers warm summers and snowy winters, a departure from the Mediterranean climate in the south. Positioned on a gentle slope toward a sheltered bay, the city is known for its fishing vessels, bustling port, and refreshing sea breeze along its stunning promenade.

Unlike Athens, Thessaloniki exudes a more laid-back ambiance, emphasizing the art of relaxation, savoring good food, and embracing Greek culture. As the country’s gastronomical capital, this city showcases an array of influences owing to its history of Roman, Ottoman, Byzantine, and Hellenistic empires. 

This amalgamation of cultures gives rise to diverse cuisines, accentuated by the abundant local produce available at bustling markets. Beyond its culinary prowess, Thessaloniki boasts Greek ruins, historical landmarks, and architectural marvels, making it an enchanting and traditional setting. 

The city’s cultural offerings include theaters, cinemas, art galleries, and gardens, along with events like an annual film festival. While smaller than Athens, Thessaloniki provides similar urban amenities, encompassing hospitals, international schools, public transport, and a thriving university. 

With a major port and ongoing rail renovations, it is getting more and more accessible. If you seek delectable cuisine, Greek culture, distinct seasons, and urban comforts at a gentler pace than Athens, Thessaloniki offers a captivating lifestyle.

6. Patras

Patras

When it comes to vibrant entertainment, bustling nightlife, and a thriving downtown scene, Patras, nestled in the northwest of the Peloponnese, stands as Greece’s premier offering. Despite its size, Patras boasts a heartbeat that resonates beyond its physical dimensions. 

While Patras features a dedicated old town adorned with splendid stone walls and archaeological remnants, its charm is somewhat concentrated in a corner. The labyrinthine alleys branching from Korinthou and Maizonos boulevards are pedestrian havens, brimming with amenities, bars, clubs, museums, galleries, and shops, catering to every need.

Positioned ideally for outdoor enthusiasts, Patras becomes a haven for those drawn to the sea, islands, and mountains. Its enviable location facilitates a connection with the Greek countryside, supplemented by two major parks situated on opposite ends of the city.

Leveraging its expansive port and flowing river, Patras thrives as a hub for commercial activity, providing expats with opportunities for additional work. The city’s cost of living remains reasonable, buoyed by competitive business dynamics that keep prices in check.

7. Syros

Syros

The notion of retiring to an island evokes dreams, but living year-round on a Greek island diverges vastly from the summer experience. Particularly in the Cyclades, winters can be challenging. Enter Syros, a potential gem for retirement. Functioning as the administrative heart of the Cyclades, Syros thrives throughout the year with a population of approximately 20,000.

Its close connectivity to Athens by ferry or plane, coupled with a fully operational General hospital, offers a reassuring safety net. The island also boasts an array of entertainment choices, including art events, theater, and festivals. 

The local expat community, though tranquil, contributes significantly to Syros’ year-round vibrancy and enjoys seamless island-hopping to neighboring Cyclades.

While it may seem ideal on paper, Syros offers more than words can convey—encompassing stunning landscapes, remarkable architecture, and a palpable sense of nobility ingrained in every facet of local life. Proud of its renowned elegance, Syros reciprocates generously by bestowing a highly coveted laid-back lifestyle.

8. Polydrosos

Polydrosos

Perched on Parnassus’s gentle slopes, Polydrosos is a tranquil village just a two-hour drive from the capital. Its proximity to the esteemed Paleopanagia temple, a Byzantine gem, infuses Polydrosos with historical allure.

Embarking on an adventure to the neighboring Arahova village is a delightful experience, facilitated by a scenic trek through an expansive national park skirting the village outskirts. This picturesque hike, spanning approximately two hours, immerses you in a history-rich environment. 

The local residents extend a hearty welcome, often inviting expats to relish Greek coffee and flavorsome cuisine. Moreover, a splendid ski resort awaits a mere 30-minute drive away.

With a population of around 1,000, Polydrosos presents an idyllic haven for those in pursuit of serenity. Amidst its tranquil landscapes and warm community, this village stands as an inviting sanctuary for individuals yearning for a serene escape after retirement.

9. Corfu

Corfu

If you’ve ever wanted the sun-soaked charm of “The Durrells,” where laughter, family, and seaside living converge, then Corfu might be your destined haven. Cradled in sandy coves and embraced by lush forests and mountains, Corfu’s beaches are rightfully celebrated as among Greece’s finest.

Corfu’s coastline possesses a rugged and untamed character, setting it apart from its island peers. Its picturesque beaches are an invitation to reconnect with nature’s untamed beauty. The island’s heart, Corfu town, stands as a culturally diverse tapestry, a result of its history marked by various invading forces, including the Italians. 

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Corfu’s Old Town radiates history and charm. Two fortresses overlooking the harbor afford panoramic vistas, a reward for those who venture to their summits. The town is a blend of Italian, Greek, and even Spanish remnants, with a dash of British culture seen in an old cricket field.

As with many Greek islands, Corfu town overflows with a vibrant culinary scene, replete with restaurants, bars, cafes, and tavernas. While summer prices can run high, the overall cost of living in Corfu town remains reasonable. Abundant local produce, affordable apartments for rent, and healthy business competition contribute to its affordability. The town’s pedestrian-friendly areas and proximity to stunning beaches enrich the experience.

Unlike its counterparts, Corfu boasts a beach remarkably close to its heart, ensconced amid old yellow stone buildings and palm trees. The colonial and tropical ambiance carries into winter, keeping the town alive year-round. The city’s accessibility is enhanced by its central airport and port, facilitating supplies and conveniences. The old town’s vibrant energy juxtaposes with a contemporary shopping district, with the main Stamatiou Desila road as the demarcation.

Corfu beckons with a distinctive and independent culture. Blending Greek heritage with its eclectic past, the island offers a rich tapestry of experiences. The ease of connections to mainland Europe and the UK further elevates its appeal, making Corfu a seamless choice for those seeking a unique, accessible island lifestyle after retirement.

Ready to embark on your European adventure? Discover essential tips for moving from the US to Europe. Learn more and start your journey with confidence!

Conclusion

Greece presents an enticing package for those considering retirement in Europe. It encompasses all the elements one could desire – from delectable cuisine and rich culture to a history-steeped backdrop and abundant sunshine. Moreover, the affordability factor cannot be overstated. Embracing a monthly budget significantly lower than your current one can lead to a contented life.

Within this landscape, quality healthcare is accessible at reasonable rates. While securing a residence permit might pose a challenge for retirees, overcoming this hurdle is well worth the effort. The application process, involving various documents like proof of citizenship, medical insurance, and financial stability, demands thoroughness.

As you plan your transition to Greece, meticulous research is important to avoid culture shock upon arrival, given the myriad tasks at hand. Count on the expansive community of ex-pats in Greece, ready to offer advice, and support, or simply share conversations over coffee. Embrace Greece’s affable, laid-back lifestyle, as the country isn’t merely a new destination but a fresh way of life.

Conduct ample research, seek guidance from fellow expats, consider test rentals, and explore various regions to discover your ideal haven. Remember, this journey isn’t a fleeting vacation; it’s the start of an entirely new chapter – your new life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any retirement rules in Greece?

To be eligible for a full pension in Greece, you generally need to be at least 62 years old and have completed 40 insurance years, equivalent to 12,000 days of employment. Also, note that these criteria may vary based on specific circumstances and regulations. It’s recommended to consult official sources or seek professional advice for accurate and up-to-date information regarding retirement rules in Greece.

Is it easy to retire in Greece?

Retiring in Greece comes with a host of appealing factors. From exceptional cuisine and rich cultural heritage to a sunny climate and historical allure, Greece presents an enticing package for European retirees. One of its standout features is affordability, allowing you to lead a fulfilling life within a monthly budget that’s notably lower than your current one.

How do I get a Greek residence permit?

If you’re considering a Greek Golden Visa or a residence permit, here’s the process breakdown. Initiate by obtaining an entry visa from a Greek embassy or consulate in your current country of residence. After arriving in Greece, the next steps involve completing the necessary paperwork and compiling supporting documents. Then, submit your application to the relevant authorities for further processing. This sequence outlines the path to securing a Greek residence permit.

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