Moving to Greece


The Acropolis in Athenis by Emilio GarciaExpats moving to Greece will be relocating to a country of archaeological marvel, rich traditions and shimmering beaches. The Hellenic Republic or Hellas, as Greece is known in Greek, consists of 3,000 islands and rocky outcrops at the tip of the Balkan Peninsula.

Often attributed with being the cradle of Western civilization, it is surrounded by Italy and the Ionian Sea to the west, with Turkey and the Aegean Sea to the east. Its southern neighbour on the other end of the Mediterranean Sea is Egypt and its northern border is shared with Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. It has long been an attractive destination for its relaxed lifestyle, its sunshine and its natural beauty; features which have drawn in expats young and old, for a variety of reasons.
 
This idyllic version of Greece is contrasted with a country that will continue to struggle with the consequences of the 2010 debt crisis and the austerity measures imposed by its European partners for decades to come. The record growth the country enjoyed before the credit crunch in 2008 is a thing of the past and its high unemployment rate means that jobs in Greece are scarce for everybody, including expats.
 
Traditionally, employment in Greece has mainly been provided by the service industry, construction, telecommunications, agriculture and shipping. All of these sectors have suffered to some extent, although, partially as a result of cheaper prices and tensions in the Middle East, tourism is the exception to the rule, and continues to provide employment opportunities for foreigners in Greece.  
 
Anybody that considers relocating to Greece should take the relatively unstable state of the economy and the severely weakened job market into consideration. Wealthier expats are, however, presented with opportunities as housing and rental prices have significantly declined in recent years, and tourism continues to bring in seasonal influxes of foreign visitors.
 
The Greek cities which attract the most expats are Thessaloniki, in Central Macedonia, and Athens, which is the largest and most diverse of Greek cities. There are also many expats living in Greece who choose to buy a villa on one of its many islands, and villages will often have a token foreigner in their midst.
 
Thessaloniki is well known for its high-tech industries and hosts the Thessaloniki Technology Park as well as the Thessaloniki Science Center and Museum. While perhaps not as multicultural as Athens, it is still home to a large expat population.
 
Athens, on the other hand, is the world-famous “city of the gods” and the birthplace of democracy, where the monuments of Ancient Greece continue to dominate the city. It is also Greece’s financial capital, houses the headquarters of many of the multinational companies operating in the country and, in the recent past, saw a wave of political protests that seemed to crest in 2012.
 
Greece has its social and economic problems, and the high unemployment rate has intensified anti-foreigner sentiment which has, in a few cases, escalated to violence. It is also notorious for high levels of corruption in politics and business, as well as its almost cruelly complicated government bureaucracy.
 
At the same time, it is a place of truly majestic beauty. Its people are warm and friendly, they value relationships, love food and are proud of their culture and traditions. For expats who can afford it, or who are adventurous enough to take the plunge, Greece remains a popular destination for its high quality lifestyle, ancient villages and the olive groves which dot the mountainous and often austere landscape.

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