Moving to Greece: A 10 Step Guide
As a lively country with various different regions, all rich in culture and history, Greece is an ideal location a lot of people choose to settle in for good. As a popular tourism destination, Greece is known for its warm and friendly people, its attractive landscape and fascinating culture. Whether you are a student, tourist, or an individual looking for work to take place in Greece, there are several visas available. Here is a ten-step guide for what you need to know when you are planning on moving to Greece:
Step 1: Visa & Legal Information
If you want to live and work in Greece and you are already a member of the 28 countries within the EU or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, then you have that right with no restrictions. However, if you are an American, Canadian, Australian or any other non-EU citizen with plans to immigrate, then you will have to apply for residence/work permits.
There are two main types of visas that you can apply for with the desire of entering the country:
1st type: Schengen visa
This visa grants passage/entry to all of the 26 countries that have signed the 1985 Schengen agreement which includes Greece. Although some citizens of some non-EU countries such as America, Canada and Australia can enjoy visa-free travel to the counties that have signed the Schengen agreement, most non-EU citizens will have to submit an application to the Greek Embassy.
Another possibility would be to submit an application through the Greek Embassy in your country. For example, in counties such as America, there are various Greek Embassies situated in Chicago, Texas, Washington, Los Angeles and various other cities. The same goes for other countries such as the UK where a consular office of the Greek Embassy can be found in London.
*The temporary time period of a visa can vary between one week and 90 days maximum and it is highly recommended that all passports have at least 6 months validity left before used for travelling.
This type of visa is a transit/short stay visa- most ideal for individuals who are willing to stay in Greece for a short period of time. For more information concerning countries included in the Schengen area, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/schengen/index_en.htm
2nd type: National visa
However, people looking to stay for a longer period of time or permanently, should apply for a national visa and/or a permit. A permit is needed to legally work and stay within Greece.
A national visa is perfect for:
- Potential students looking to conduct their studies within Greece
- Individuals wishing to conduct business within Greece
- Individuals who potentially want to immigrate to Greece
There are two classifications by which you will be judged when applying for a national visa.
The first is your eligibility: your background, family ties, current employment, etc.
The second is your intention to visit or stay in Greece: depending on whether it is for business, pleasure, education or something else will determine whether you will be granted a work visa, tourist visa, student visa or stay visa.
Both Schengen and National visas grant entrance into the country, but they do not grant individuals the right to work in Greece. This is obtained through a permit. For more information concerning different types of visas, please visit: http://greece.embassyhomepage.com/greek_visa_information_greece_visa_service_cheap_flights_greece_hotels_athens_travel_insurance_greece_embassy_london.htm
Residence and Work Permits for Non-EU Citizens
Non-EU citizens who wish to stay in Greece for more than the allowed 90 days will need to apply for a Residence Permit. In order to apply for a residence permit in Greece, one has to do so at least two months before the expiration of the visa that granted them entrance into the country in the first place. Consent to legally work in Greece can be obtained through certain residence permits, rendering, in some cases, work permits as unnecessary.
Applications must be made at the municipality office/town hall and should include:
- Visa from a Greek Consulate or Embassy
- Copy of passport
- Two passport-sized photos
- Proof of medical insurance
- Health certificate from a Greek public hospital, proving that no contagious diseases are present (all fees are paid by the applicant)
- Proof of local residence
- Proof of sufficient financial resources to live in Greece
- Proof of payment of the required fee to the national tax office
- Employment contract (if applicable)
All documents must be translated into Greek and delays for residence/work permits are quite common. However, the wait is usually worth it as residence permits can last up to 5 years until they have to be renewed again.
For more information on work permits, please visit: http://greece.angloinfo.com/working/work-permits/non-eu-citizens/
Step 2: Accommodation
When it comes to deciding on where to live in Greece, your options seem endless. With so many various regions, each with their own unique culture and history, there are a lot of different factors to consider. Here is a short look into the different possible regions one can move to:
(Macedonia) Thessaloniki: This is the second largest city in Greece. It has a reputation as a youthful and vibrant city which rings true as it is renowned for its cultural events ranging from musical festivals to film festivals. It has been named the 2014 ‘European Youth Capital,’ which holds a large element of truth as the city’s main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece. This inevitably results in a more youthful population which exceeds 1 million, creating a vibrant lifestyle and environment to live in.
(Epirus) Giannena: This is the capital and largest city of Epirus with a small population a little over 110,000. One of Giannena’s most distinguished attractions includes the Cathedral of St. Athanasius, (built upon the foundations of a burnt cathedral) a Byzantium Museum and an islet tourists can visit by boat situated on Lake Pamvotis. Two main elements Giannena is famous for are its silverwork, taking form in beautiful jewellery or other decorative items, and its simple, quaint and charming community.
(Thessaly) Larissa: As the largest city in Thessaly, Larissa has both strengths in its agriculture as well as its transportation links, which include both road and rail links connected with Athens, Thessaloniki and the port of Volos. Larissa is a city that unlike others, can experience very high temperatures throughout the summer, reaching somewhere between the mid 30’s to the mid 40’s at times. Interestingly enough, according to Greek mythology, Larissa is the birthplace of the legendary warrior, Achilles.
(Thrace) Komotini: This is a very multicultural city with a small Muslim society taking up the population. These Turkish speaking individuals account for around 40% of the population. This multiculturalism is made larger through the city’s university, Democritus University, which attracts students from all over Greece into the city as well as international students.
(Peloponnese) Patra: This is the third largest city in Greece and has a large student population. It boasts one of Europe’s largest carnivals full of colour, creative costumes and a festive environment appealing to everyone. Patra is situated at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon and its port serves as a link for trade with Italy and other western European countries.
(Central Greece) Athens: This is the capital of Greece and is the home of many famous and important monuments such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon. The city has the best of both worlds such as the quiet, suburban life by the seaside as well as the busy, cosmopolitan lifestyle of the city centre, filled with endless bars and restaurants and island inspired walk ways.
(Ionian Islands) Kerkira: Known as ‘Corfu’ in English. According to Greek mythology, Kerkira is an island named after the woman Poseidon, god of the sea, fell in love with. This is a very popular tourist destination, especially throughout the summer months due to its numerous beaches that punctuate the sometimes steep and dramatic coastlines. Corfu is rich in intellectual and artistic roots with a history of major Greek figures, such as Ioannis Kapodistrias, a distinguished diplomat and Greek politician.
(Aegean Islands) Chios: This is the fifth largest island of the Aegean Islands and is known worldwide for its production of ‘mastiha hios’ or, mastic. Traditionally produced on the Greek island of Chios, mastic is also known as ‘tears of Chios,’ as is produced by droplets or ‘tears’ from a tree. Chios enjoys a calmer lifestyle throughout the year attracting tourists who are history lovers as its main attractions are its medieval villages and notable monasteries.
Step 3: Transport
There are several efficient ways to travel within Greece:
Flights: As Greece is neither a large country nor a relatively small one, flights are not one OF the most popular means of transport for Greeks. The best Greek airlines to fly with are Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines and Astra Airlines. Other popular foreign airlines that fly to Greece include British Airways, Easyjet, Air France and Vueling Airlines. In order to compare flight costs, visit: http://gr.skyscanner.com/flights-to/gr/cheap-flights-to-greece.html
Rail: The main rail service provided in Greece is by a company called OSE. This is a group of companies that supply Greece with a series of railway services connecting different cities and regions of Greece to improve transport and inner city communications. Trains are quite common and efficient when travelling to another city and are relatively cheap to take. Both the metro and the tram are under constant construction as plans to extend communication lines are in the process of being carried out. A typical train ticket can range between 9-25 Euros and the average price of a metro or tram ticket can be a little over the price of 1 euro. For more information concerning OSE, please visit: http://www.ose.gr/en/Home.aspx
Bus: There are numerous bus links that run throughout different cities and various coach companies as well. Buses are very cheap; however, they are very seldom on time or follow their schedule which can lead to complications. Buses in Greece often do not follow the legal limit of people permitted onto the vehicle, which can result in overcrowding. An average ticket can range from: 0.70€ (student) to 1.50€.
Car: This is one of the most popular means of transport as are motorcycles, perfect for use in the summer months as they are very practical for parking and inexpensive when it comes to filling up their tanks. There are various reputable car rental companies in Greece. In order to select the one that best suits your needs or to compare prices, please visit: http://www.travelsupermarket.com/c/cheap-car-hire/greece/
Boat: Although there are many different ports in mainland Greece, the central port of Greece is called ‘Pireaus’ where most tourists leave on their way to different Greek islands. The length of boat journeys can vary but the cheaper the ticket, the longer the journey will be. It is always safer to book a seat with your ticket as boats can become overcrowded in peak tourist seasons, resulting in people sitting on the floors or standing throughout the entire journey as there are no seats available. Prices can vary, depending on the time on the trip, the location, and whether it is a single or return ticket. For more information concerning boat tickets, please visit: http://www.openseas.gr/openseas/index.html
Step 4: Working in Greece
Applying for a Job
Greek CV’s are usually very detailed and written in chronological order. For graduate jobs, all companies require a first degree, and a masters will improve your chances as a future employee. Practical experience and foreign languages are also very important skills.
Interviews are a popular primary choice as a selection method in Greece.
The average working hours in Greece is 40 hours a week and the minimum days of holiday are 20. It is important to note that foreign residents working in Greece are only taxed on Greek income.
In order to legally work in Greece, a non-EU citizen must apply for a visa and a work permit. Once this is achieved, there are several avenues you can take for example:
EURES – European Job Mobility Portal: The European Commission provides this site with various information about job vacancies, living and working conditions, and labour markets in Greece. Visit the site here: https://ec.europa.eu/eures/page/index
Work placements and internships
An organisation that can aid in the discovery of work placements and internships is:
AIESEC Hellas: They have strong links with employers and organise job fairs and events for foreign students. Visit the site here: http://www.aiesec.co.uk/
Learn 4 Good: This is an international search engine for active employers seeking employees in various different job sectors. ‘Greece’ is on the list of employers and once it is clicked, one can choose the industry they are interested in (marketing, PR, finance, etc) and view job listings. For more information on this search engine, visit: http://www.learn4good.com/
Just Landed: This is another search engine that can be used to find active jobs in Greece. For more information, visit: http://jobs.justlanded.co.in/en/Greece/
The Greek Yellow Pages, available in both Greek and English, also advertise a small number of employment agencies.
*The Greek minimum wage is €683.76 per month.
Step 5: Health
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers EU citizens visiting Greece for most of their medical care, but doesn’t cover non-emergency situations. EHIC’s are available from health centres and post offices in the UK. If you are a non-EU citizen, find out what policy covers you and if your insurance plan covers overseas health expenditures.
Pharmacies are very common in different neighbourhoods and plenty can be found in the city. Most Greek pharmacies offer cheaper over the counter medicines that usually need a prescription in the United States and Canada. If one is closed, there will usually be a sign hung up on the door stating the addresses of the pharmacies that are open.
No vaccinations are necessary when travelling to Greece but doctors will always recommend certain precautions.
*To call an ambulance, dial: 166
For more information concerning the EHIC, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=563
Step 6: Money and Bills
As a member of the European Union since 1981, the currency used within all of Greece adopted in 2001, is the Euro (€). There are a variety of different forms within the currency: there are cents (from 0.01 – 0.99) and then there’s the 1 euro (100 cents) and 2 euro coin (200 cents). In paper money there are a 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro bill. Here are the average costs in Greece:
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 10.00 €
Cappucino (regular): 3.10 €
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): 1.35 €
Water (0.33 litre bottle): 0.50 €
Milk (regular, 1 litre): 1.20 €
Oranges (1 kg): 0.95 €
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro): 4.00 €
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff): 1.00 €
Gasoline (1 litre): 1.71 €
1 Pair of Nike Shoes: 85.01 €
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre: 268.62 €
Price per square meter to buy apartment in city centre: 1,653.24 €
Average monthly disposable salary (after tax): 715.02 €
For more practical information on costs and money, please visit: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Greece
Step 7: Food
When it comes to Greece, its Mediterranean cuisine is one of its main attractions. Offering a balanced and healthy lifestyle, Greece’s foods are acknowledged internationally and celebrated worldwide. Although there are a range of international restaurants and take away hubs available in Greece such as KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Dominoes, their availability are usually subject to location. These multinational corporations are usually found within cities but not other regional areas away from city centres. This, however, is what adds to the Greek charm as the traditional and popular food called ‘souvlaki’ or ‘gyro,’ the Greek equivalent of cheap, fast food, is available everywhere. Interestingly enough, although this can be considered as fast food, it is relatively healthy.
Small, little restaurants can be found offering a variety of refreshing salads as well as meat and vegetarian platters. Dips and fresh loaves of bread are very common to eat throughout Greek meals as are a variety of red and white wines. Fish taverns or, ‘psarotavernes,’ are very popular, as fresh fish caught off the coast are grilled or fried and are eaten with fresh lemon juice. This is a very famous dish to have throughout the summer months.
There are different foods that each region specialises in. For example, Kalamata is famous for its olives and Crete is famous for its ‘dakos,’ a hard, dry bread used in salads, almost like the Greek version of croutons.
Step 8: Social
All around the world, Greeks are known for their friendly, open and affectionate demeanour. Greeks have their own social etiquettes. For example, when you first meet someone, it is usually customary to kiss them on both cheeks or shake hands with them. When invited over to someone’s house, it is polite to bring a gift, usually a dessert or a bottle of wine. In Greece, table manners are very relaxed and people serve each other and pass food around with a light and open approach.
When Greeks are friends with each other, there is a certain level of comfort between them and sometimes a certain level of affection. Greeks are very friendly people, but do not have the tell tale signs of, say, British or Canadian people, who usually apologize profusely for small things. Greeks are different in that sense; they have prides and find it hard to apologize for things, even if they are in the wrong.
Step 9: Sightseeing
Greece is known for its charming beauty from coast to coast. Here are some of the best sights to see in Greece:
Acropolis & the Parthenon: Both of these creations draw in immeasurable amounts of tourists every single year as the Athenian Acropolis is home to one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Parthenon. Decorated with beautiful sculptures, the Parthenon was built for the Greek goddess, Athena. Enriched with history and ancient architecture, Greeks view the Acropolis and the Parthenon as one of their many and great achievements. Drawing upon both Ionic and Doric style of architecture, the Acropolis’ monuments fully represent the character of Ancient Greek civilization and spirit. For more information, please visit: http://www.acropolisofathens.gr/aoa/
Sounion: Sounion is a beautiful location just outside of Athens situated on the coast. It is home to many fish taverns, a few beaches and the ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon, a grand monument overlooking the sea. It is a very popular spot for tourists and photographers, as there is a stunning view of the sunset over the Aegean Sea at dusk that cannot be missed.
Meteora: Essential to Greek heritage, Meteora is an awe-inspiring religious site that should definitely be on your list of places to visit when in Greece. Meteora is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, where six monasteries are built on dangerously tall rock pillars, creating a breathtaking view for some and a terrifying nightmare for those afraid of heights! All monasteries are accessible by staircases. For more information, please visit: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/destinations/meteora_the_most_photogenic_spiritual_site_in_greece
Santorini: This is a very famous island where a lot of couples, both Greek and foreign, come to get married. However, one of its main attractions is the volcano situated on the island which also holds the record for creating one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded. Historically, this is called the ‘Minoan eruption’ or the ‘Thera eruption.’ The volcano has become a tourist attraction, as various trips to and from the peak is made despite the long climb needed to reach the top. Photographs of the landscape are very popular as are visits to its beaches that have a variation of black, white and red sand.
Mount Olympus: Lying between Thessaly and Macedonia, Mount Olympus is the tallest mountain in Greece, with its highest peak, ‘Mitikas,’ rising to 2,917 meters high. This is a perfect destination for those who enjoy a challenge or for passionate hikers and nature lovers as the mountain is rich in tree and plant life. Tourists take in the beautiful scenery as well as the peak’s history as according to Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was home of the 12 Ancient Greek Gods. Being the highest mountain in Greece, the Gods lived at the top, high enough to look down upon and watch over the people.
Step 10: Culture & Language
When it comes to Greece, although multiculturalism is slowly seeping into the Greek society due to an influx of foreigners from neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Albania, the vast majority of the population remains to be Greek. The majority language spoken is also Greek, although different regions sometimes tend to have their own dialects which can be hard to follow if one is only knowledgeable of Modern Greek. For example, islands such as Crete have their own dialect. However, being a country that thrives on tourism, the population is very keen on learning new languages, especially English, French, German and Italian. Most tourists will be surprised at the fact that the majority of people in Greece acquire basic, English language skills, or just enough to communicate between each other.
A popular program in Greece is the ‘Odysseas Project.’ This program offers online courses for both Modern Greek and Ancient Greece. For further information, please visit: http://www.odysseasproject.com/index.html
‘Angloinfo’ is another organisation that lists different qualified Greek tutors to help foreigners grow more accustomed to the language and improve their grasp of the language. http://athens.angloinfo.com/af/311/athens-greek-lessons-and-language-schools.html
When it comes to reputation, Greece is a very beautiful country with an ancient history and interesting, friendly people who are as warm as the Mediterranean climate.