Retire in Greece Guide
How To Retire in Greece - The Complete Guide
Table of Contents
Deciding where to retire is a significant and challenging choice. Some prefer retiring in their home country, while others seek new destinations. When selecting a retirement location, various factors come into play. You desire a country that offers specific advantages to reap the rewards of your hard work. These benefits include:
- Pleasant climate
- Breathtaking beaches
- Welcoming locals
- Affordable real estate
- Exquisite local cuisine
- Convenient travel opportunities
- Advanced healthcare facilities
- Favorable tax programs
Finding a single place that encompasses all these aspects may seem impossible, but it’s not. Allow us to introduce you to Greece, a retirement haven that ticks all the boxes.
Greece, a country nestled in the southeastern part of Europe along the Mediterranean, has long been a beloved destination for travelers and retirees alike. What makes Greece truly remarkable is its idyllic waterfront properties, basking in year-round sunshine and picturesque beaches, coupled with a laid-back lifestyle and welcoming locals. Not only does Greece boast a high standard of living, but it also offers incredible tax benefits and a wealth of historical treasures.
In essence, Greece pulsates as the vibrant heart of our world, being the birthplace of modern philosophy. It seamlessly blends a rich tapestry of history, culture, and contemporary living, creating a unique experience that is unparalleled elsewhere.
What Is The Cost of Living in Greece?
Greece stands out as an affordable destination in comparison to other European countries. A couple can comfortably sustain a monthly budget of €2,500, thanks to the country’s low cost of accommodation and services, without compromising on the high living standards.
To put things into perspective, many Americans residing in Greece have reported spending 30% less compared to their expenses in the US. In the sections of this article, we will delve into a detailed breakdown of the costs of services and goods in Greece.
Now, you might be thinking that all of this sounds too good to be true. However, in this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about retiring in Greece. By the end of this guide, we are confident that you will come to realize that Greece is indeed the heavenly paradise on Earth that you’ve been envisioning for your retirement.
Who Can Retire in Greece?
Retiring in Greece is relatively staightforward easy. Due to the country’s very active tourism sector, Greek visas are generally easy to obtain. There are always some edge cases, where the process might be a bit more elaborate.
For EU Citizens:
Citizens of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland do not require a visa to retire in Greece. You simply need to present your passport or identity card upon entry. Additionally, if you plan to reside in Greece long-term, it is recommended to obtain a Tax Identification Number to streamline certain processes. Detailed information on Greek taxes and bank accounts will be discussed later in this article.
For Non-EU Citizens:
Non-EU citizens are required to obtain a three-month entry visa, called the “D” type visa. To obtain this visa, you must visit the Greek consulate in your country and provide the following documents:
- Valid passport, with a minimum validity of three months beyond the visa expiration date
- Biometric passport photo
- Completed application form in English or Greek
- Medical certificate issued by a licensed doctor
- Proof of medical insurance valid in Greece
- Penal record excerpt from your country of origin or current residence
It is necessary to personally visit the Greek consulate for an interview and to provide biometric data. Please note that these visas are valid for 90 days.
For US Citizens:
US citizens can visit Greece for up to 90 days without a visa or permit. However, if you plan to stay in Greece for longer than 90 days, you will need to obtain an entry visa.
The process of obtaining a residence permit in Greece may take some time. You need to apply for a permit while residing in the country. Therefore, if you are a non-EU citizen, it is advisable to obtain an entry visa first, as mentioned above.
The required documentation for a residency permit are as follows:
- A Valid Passport
- Proof of a current and continuous valid medical insurance with coverage in Greece
- Proof of your regular income of at least €2,000 per month, or
- Bank savings of at least €24,000
For non-EU citizens, the Greece Golden Visa Program is a popular and convenient way to acquire permanent residency in Greece.
The Greece Golden Visa
The Greece Golden Visa is a residency by investment program that was launched in 2013. It offers permanent residency in Greece through investment in the Greek real estate market. This program is an excellent option for those considering retirement in Greece.
One of the key reasons why this program has gained immense popularity among investors and retirees is its low minimum investment requirement, which is the lowest among all Golden Visa programs. For just €250,000, you can become a permanent resident of Greece.
Upon entering this program, you will immediately receive a five-year permanent residence permit in Greece. This permit can be renewed every five years, as long as you maintain your investment. The greatest advantage of this program is that after living in Greece for seven years, you may qualify for citizenship. It’s important to note that there is a minimum annual stay requirement of 183 days and a citizenship exam to pass.
There are several ways to qualify for this program, including:
- Purchasing real estate anywhere in Greece for a minimum of €250,000.
- Purchasing multiple real estate properties in Greece, with a combined cost of at least €250,000.
- Renting a timeshare or lease in a hotel or a furnished tourist accommodation for a minimum of ten years.
- Owning a legal entity with real estate valued at €250,000, provided that you are the sole owner of the entity.
Furthermore, multiple investors can invest together, as long as each individual invests a minimum of €250,000.
This program offers several benefits, such as:
Retirees who wish to relocate to Greece with their families will appreciate this perk. Within two months, you and your entire family, including your spouse and children under 18 years of age, can become permanent residents of Greece. Additionally, if you have children over 18 who are studying full-time and financially dependent on you, they can also be included in the program.
Visa-Free Travel in the Schengen Zone
As a Golden Visa holder, you will enjoy the freedom to travel within the Schengen zone. Imagine the convenience of weekend trips to Paris or attending an opera in Austria while having a second home in Greece.
At Greece Visa Homes, where we specialize in helping global investors and families find their dream property in Greece. Our team of expert advisors is here to provide you with comprehensive guidance on property acquisition and ensure you understand all the associated tax obligations. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions; we’re here to assist you every step of the way.
To embark on this exciting journey, CONTACT us today!
Taxes in Greece For Retirees
When retirees or pensioners consider relocating to a new place, taxation always becomes a concern. It’s completely understandable as nobody wants to be burdened with double taxation and unnecessary fees, putting a strain on their hard-earned money.
In July 2020, Greece introduced an enticing initiative to attract retirees. This initiative was presented in the form of a draft law to be presented in parliament. According to the proposed draft, individuals who shift their tax residence to Greece will be subject to a flat 7% tax rate.
To be eligible for this opportunity, retirees should not have been tax residents in Greece for the five years preceding their relocation. Once the application for foreign pensioners is approved, all income earned from abroad will be taxed at a flat rate of 7% for the following ten years.
This favorable tax rate will apply to various sources of foreign income, including rents, business activities, dividends, and pensions.
When this law comes into effect, it will present an incredible opportunity for retirees. We highly recommend taking advantage of this exceptional tax deal, as finding a better option in a whitelisted country would be exceedingly rare.
Taxpayer Identification Number
The taxpayer identification number, also known as AFM, is a crucial requirement for various purposes like opening a bank account, setting up utilities, and accessing benefits like the 7% flat rate for pensioners. The process of obtaining this number is relatively straightforward.
Simply visit the local tax office and complete an M1 form, while ensuring that you have your passport with you. Occasionally, the tax office may request additional documentation, like proof of residence and a bank statement, to complete the application.
Healthcare For Retirees in Greece
Retirees in Greece can take advantage of a robust healthcare system. Greece provides its citizens and residents with access to public healthcare at minimal or no cost. The unified healthcare system in Greece, known as EFKA, ensures that both citizens and residents receive free healthcare services.
The public healthcare system, called ESY, is available to EU citizens, expats, and the unemployed. If you are retiring in Greece, you will need a residence permit, as mentioned earlier, which grants you access to the ESY system. One notable feature of this system is that you can schedule an appointment directly with a specialist without needing a referral. However, it is worth noting that there may be long waiting lists to see specialists.
In Athens, most public health institutions have English-speaking staff, but they may be less common in smaller cities or on the islands. The public healthcare system in Greece offers a range of services, including surveillance of public health, environmental health control, health promotion, control of infectious diseases, general and specialist care, hospitalization, discounted drugs and medicines, laboratory services, maternity care, medical appliances, and transportation.
When retiring in Greece, it is highly recommended to explore private healthcare options. Private healthcare facilities are equipped with advanced amenities, surpassing those of public institutions. Furthermore, private hospitals often employ English-speaking staff, ensuring effective communication.
Moreover, select private hospitals have established partnerships with American and international healthcare providers. This means that your current insurance coverage could potentially be extended to include medical services in Greece.
Private health insurance is widely favored by both Greeks and expats due to its superior services and shorter waiting times. You have the flexibility to choose a plan that complements the public healthcare system or opt for an all-inclusive coverage.
What does private health insurance cover?
It provides comprehensive healthcare coverage, including essential services and additional benefits such as:
- Access to Greece’s top-tier hospitals
- Advanced dental treatments
- Cosmetic surgeries
- Specialist consultations
Several international health insurance providers offer coverage in Greece, including:
- AXA PPP Healthcare
- BUPA International
- Exeter Friendly Society
- International Health Insurance
Note that most hospitals and clinics affiliated with foreign private health insurance schemes are primarily located in Athens or Thessaloniki.
Cost of Living in Greece
Now, let’s address the crucial question: “Is Greece an expensive destination?” While it’s true that Greece has relatively lower salaries compared to other European countries, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. In fact, the average cost of living and services in Greece are significantly more affordable than in other parts of Europe. With a monthly budget of €2000, excluding rent, most retired couples can comfortably enjoy their lives in Greece.
However, it’s important to note that the cost of living varies depending on where you choose to reside and your preferred lifestyle. For instance, the islands tend to be pricier than the mainland when it comes to fuel and essential goods. On the other hand, the countryside offers a significantly more economical living option compared to the cities.
Accommodation in Greece
During the economic crisis, accommodation prices in Greece experienced a significant decrease. Although they are gradually rising, they still remain quite affordable. If you are considering retiring in Greece, you have the option to either rent or buy a property.
Greece stands out in Europe for its abundance of rental and property opportunities. Those who take advantage and benefit of the Greece Golden Visa program understand that this market is on the rise. Therefore, there is a good chance of experiencing capital appreciation on your property.
Rental Prices in Greece
Below is a table showcasing the average rental prices in Greece:
|1-Bedroom||Outside City Center||220-400€|
|3-Bedroom||Outside City Center||330-800€|
Property Prices in Greece
Below is a table showcasing the average property prices in Athens, Greece:
|Average price per square m|
|Outside City center||850-2500€|
Internet and Utilities:
For utilities such as gas, electricity, and water, the average cost ranges between 150-300€. This may vary depending on the size of your house, your usage, and the season. The monthly cost for internet is approximately €20.
Cost Of Food
The Mediterranean diet boasts a bounty of olives, olive oils, cheese, and locally sourced produce. Recent studies demonstrate that this dietary approach promotes longevity and reduces the likelihood of heart disease and diabetes. Greece, renowned for its exceptional homegrown cuisine, offers these delectable delights at affordable prices. Refer to the tables below for the average costs of various food and beverage items.
|Price in Euros|
|A dozen eggs||3|
|Pack of Rice (1 kg)||1.70|
|A loaf of Bread||0.80|
|Fresh Milk, (1 liter)||1.21|
|Feta Cheese, (0.5kg)||2.45|
|Chicken Fillets (1kg)||6.75|
|Water (1.5-liter bottle)||0.82|
|Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||6.20|
Greek culture, is centered around family and company. People love to go out for dinner and drinks and its considered part of culture. Food is both delicious and very affordable.
|Price in Euro|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||40|
|Big Mac Meal||7|
|A bottle or pint of local beer||4|
|A can Coca Cola (330 ml)||1.60|
|A Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||6.50|
|Street Food (Gyros)||3.5|
Greece boasts an exceptional and affordable public transportation system. City buses are readily available in most cities, while Athens offers a comprehensive metro system. If you prefer to have your own car in Greece, it’s essential to obtain car insurance. Here are some transportation and vehicle prices to consider.
|Price in Euros|
|Price of Gasoline (one litre / 0.25 gallon)||1.47|
|Monthly Local Bus Transportation Pass||30|
|Single Use Bus Ticket||1.40|
|Taxi Ride, 8Km/5Mile||12|
|VW Golf (new)||18,640|
|Toyota Yaris (new)||13.450|
Banking in Greece
Having a bank account in your country of residence is always a prudent decision. Fortunately, the process in Greece is relatively straightforward. Simply visit the bank with your passport and taxpayer identification number (AMF). Keep in mind that different banks may have varying requirements, so it’s advisable to check with your chosen bank beforehand.
Eurobank is among the many options available to retirees in Greece. Its website boasts a user-friendly interface, while its English-speaking customer service is exceptional. Moreover, Eurobank facilitates bill payments through E-banking, making it incredibly convenient.
Another popular choice for expats is the National Bank of Greece, which offers a virtual prepaid card for online shopping, adding to its appeal. Additionally, Greece is home to other notable banks such as:
Best Places To Retire in Greece
Greece presents a unique challenge: wherever you venture, you’ll encounter bustling crowds eager to embrace the Greek lifestyle. While Athens and Thessaloniki are feasible options for retirement, you might yearn for tranquility away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
When seeking guidance on retiring in Greece, the typical response is “one of the islands.” However, once should considered some charming villages in Greece.
Retirement Age in Greece
In Greece, the minimum required insurance period is 15 years, while the general age limit for eligibility is 67, with a minimum of 4,500 days of employment. To receive a full pension, individuals generally need to be at least 62 years old and have completed 40 years of insurance (equivalent to 12,000 days of employment).
Furthermore, dependents may be eligible for an additional monthly allowance under specific circumstances.
How Can I Retire in Greece?
If you’re considering retiring in Greece, it’s wise to consult with a professional and address any concerns before embarking on this journey. Depending on your individual circumstances and specific requirements, an advisor can offer valuable guidance, helping you save both time and money.
Should you require assistance with property search or obtaining residency status in Greece, we would be delighted to lend a helping hand. Please feel free to reach out to us to schedule a call.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much money do you need to retire comfortably in Greece?
To live comfortably in Greece, a couple typically needs a monthly income of around €2000, in addition to covering the cost of rent. The amount of rent can vary depending on the location and size of the home.
Is moving to Greece easy or difficult?
Relocating to Greece is a relatively simple process. EU citizens can freely move there without the need for a visa or permit. Non-EU citizens, however, are required to obtain an entry visa. Furthermore, once you arrive in Greece, it is necessary to apply for a residence permit. By following these steps, you can successfully establish yourself in Greece.
What are some of the benefits of retiring in Greece?
Greece’s retirement benefits have become increasingly appealing thanks to the implementation of the new tax law for retirees. The introduction of the 7% flat tax rate has created a tax program specifically designed for foreign pensioners who choose to make Greece their home. To be eligible, obtaining a relevant residence permit in Greece is necessary. Fortunately, the Greece Golden Visa program provides exactly that opportunity to acquire a residence permit.
Read also our guide on new tax breaks for retirees in Greece.