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Living in Crete
Guide to Living in Crete Book
Living in Crete, Greece
So what is it really like living in Crete, or on any other Greek island?
The most important thing to consider is that Living in Crete is not the same as spending a holiday in Crete.
The chances are that if you live in Crete you won't be spending all day at the beach (if you are working) or eating out every night (few can afford to do that anywhere on a full time basis!).
The Greek Island of Crete may be a recent property hotspot for some seeking to escape the rat race but for me Crete has been home for more than 20 years. In the last twelve years or so the island has seen an influx of building and there are now quite a number of Brits in Crete, as well as other Europeans, having packed up and moved for a new life in the sun. Now that Europe has opened up its borders to allow free movement, with few living and working restrictions across EU countries, more and more people are seeking to 'live the dream.'
Cretan culture is unique and can take a little getting used to, while the laid-back Greek lifestyle is not without its frustrations when living in Crete (as opposed to holidaying).Take bureaucracy, for example, which seems to have been refined into an art form and often requires endless patience as you wade through a mountain of red tape to get anything done.
So before selling up, packing up and heading overseas to live in Crete make sure that you have done your homework. Those who have thoroughly researched the full implications of living in Crete have a better chance of success than those who jump right in without looking. If you are selling up everything at home and moving lock, stock and barrel with a family to live in Crete you need to be better informed than the single traveller who can drift along from job to job and head home whenever he/she feels like it.
Moving to Crete - the main considerations
- Winter Living in Crete. If you have only spent time on Crete during the summer months then consider spending a few months during the winter in Crete when the resorts close down and when the weather can be COLD and very wet. The best advice is to RENT first before buying property. This way you'll discover how you really feel about living (not holidaying) in your chosen area.
- Cost of Living in Crete. Check out the cost of living in Crete - it may be higher than many imagine and if you are exchanging pounds or dollars for euros (e.g. if you have an income from home or a pension), remember that currency fluctuations will impact your income. As an example of living costs, petrol is around 1.40 euros per liter (Jan 2016), and the VAT rate stands at 23% on most goods and services. More cost of living in Crete figures can be found here
- Children & Schools in Crete. There is only one full time school in Crete which teaches lessons in languages other than Greek. It is the European School, based in Heraklion, and lessons are taught in English, French or German. The school currently accommodates children only up to the age of 12 years. If your children are over this age, or you live outside of the Heraklion area, then you must consider how children will cope in Greek school - particularly older children and young teens who speak little or no Greek. How will they fit in and learn? Generally older children won't. Do you really want to follow a dream at the expense of your childrens' education?
- Retiring in Crete. If you are receiving a pension in another currency (e.g. GB pounds or US dollars)be aware that exchange rate fluctuations can affect your income. Those who wish to retire in Crete should also check out health insurance - EU citizens are covered under the reciprocal agreement as pensioners, but if you are taking early retirement you may not be entitled to health cover until you reach state retirement age, which means that some form of private medical insurance is a must.
- Finance & Working for a Living in Crete. How are you going to support yourselves? If you are relying on working for a living be aware that full time, year round jobs are virtually non existent in Crete for non Greek speakers. The majority of jobs are seasonal, in tourism - April to October, or teaching English in language schools -September to May. Wages are low - a minimum wage is around 520 net in 2015/2016 (reduced under the ongoing Greek austerity measures).
These are just a few of the main points to consider. Others may be health issues, cultural differences, language problems and missing family or friends.
It is important to learn about the local cultural traditions and etiquette of the Cretans and Greeks, as well as learn some of the Greek language if you wish to integrate. Cultivating friendships and contacts - with both Greeks and expats - is important to avoid isolation.
Copyright © 2008 - 2016 Carol Palioudaki All rights reserved
Further reading and information about living and working in Crete and Greece can be found at the links below.
Living & Working Abroad - Further Information Links
- Living in Crete - The website and book
An informative detailed guide and book for Living, working, retiring, buying property in Crete and Cretan culture.
- Working Abroad: Find Volunteer Work Abroad in Over 150 Countries
Voluntary Work Information Service - information on all volunteer work opportunities in over 150 countries worldwide in the environmental & humanitarian sectors
- Britons Living Abroad
Government website information for Britons moving Abroad