US Citizens Move to Greece
How to Move to Greece: Guide for US Citizens
Table of Contents
How to move to Greece from USA?
Greece has emerged as a highly sought-after destination for numerous US citizens seeking to establish themselves in a new country. The process of emigration demands thorough preparation, including gaining insights into the target nation and its immigration laws prior to relocation.
In this article, we aim to elucidate the most convenient pathways for relocating to Greece, while addressing frequently asked questions regarding job prospects, necessary documentation, and preferred expat locations within Greece. Our objective is to provide comprehensive guidance, facilitating a seamless transition from the USA to Greece.
Before explore further, it is worth mentioning the key factors that make Greece a popular choice for those seeking a new home. If you are still contemplating your relocation destination, this section will undoubtedly pique your interest.
Quality of Life
Greece is renowned for its stunning cities, picturesque landscapes, comfortable living conditions, and healthy cuisine, all contributing to a laid-back lifestyle. The sun graces the country with its presence for most of the year, while winters are mild with rare rainfall or snowfall, and summers are pleasantly warm rather than scorching hot.
The country’s geography is as diverse as its cityscapes, offering an array of choices to suit your preferences. Whether you crave snowy mountains, pristine white-sand beaches, rugged stone deserts, or tranquil vineyard countryside, everything is within a day’s drive from home.
Likewise, Greece presents an abundance of living options. Whether you seek solace in a quaint, peaceful village, immerse yourself in the charm of antique architecture, museums, and theaters, or dive into the vibrant modern nightlife, Greece offers it all on a silver platter.
Moreover, Greece boasts a relatively high Human Development Index, providing exceptional medical and educational services that adhere to international standards. The population enjoys a comparatively low crime rate, good health, high life expectancy, and impressive literacy rates.
Cost of Living
Living Greece offers a significant cost advantage compared to the United States, with expenses ranging from 29% to 50% lower. Additionally, when compared to other European countries, Greece stands out as a more affordable option, thanks to its favorable real estate market. Whether it’s rental rates or purchase prices, the local market presents attractive options. For instance, you can find a comfortable three-bedroom apartment in the heart of Athens for $650-700, or even purchase a spacious house in Crete for just $250K.
Greece offers the most favorable conditions for obtaining a residence permit within the EU. This permit allows you and your family to extend your stay beyond the 90 visa-free days. Additionally, it grants access to select schools, clinics, and public funds, all with minimal restrictions on the duration of your stay in the country.
Permanent Residence in Greece
Unless you have Greek origins, are married to a Greek citizen, or have family ties in the country, there are four efficient methods to acquire a Greek residence permit:
- Official employment
- Retirement visa, and
- Private property acquisition.
1. Employment in Greece
Job opportunities in Greece may be limited, and wages might not be as favorable. However, finding a decent job in Greece is not impossible. You can explore many employment agencies on the internet even before relocating.
Keep in mind that to secure a job, you will need to have at least an intermediate level of proficiency in Greek. It may be advantageous to start learning the language while you are still in the United States. If you prefer to learn in Greece, there are numerous reputable language schools available. However, be prepared for the possibility of being unemployed in the meantime.
The amount of income tax you are required to pay will vary based on your wages, as indicated in the table below:
In addition to your application for an employment visa, you will need to provide the following documents, which must be translated into Greek and certified by a notary:
- Your work contract
- An invitation letter from your employer
- All your qualifications to demonstrate your eligibility to work in the specified field in the EU
Upon arrival in Greece, it will be necessary for you to open a local bank account. However, please note that this requirement is not exclusive to your situation, which is why we will discuss it separately in the following section.
2. Financial Independence
Another method to acquire a Greek residence permit, commonly referred to as a retirement visa, involves confirming a stable income from outside the country. It is not necessary for the income to stem from formal employment; even pensions or investments will suffice. The income must be of a sufficient amount to convince government officials that you will not rely on the federal budget or seek employment in Greece.
The required monthly income is €2K, excluding rental expenses and medical insurance, with an additional €360 per child. If you meet these criteria, you and your family members will enjoy the full benefits of permanent residency, such as access to public schools and polyclinics, freedom of movement within the EU, and the possibility of obtaining Greek citizenship in a few years.
Furthermore, you will have the right to operate a private enterprise in Greece, as long as you do not have any formal employees.
Alternatively, you can establish a stable income as a freelancer, self-employed individual, or remote employee, as long as you don’t earn money within the country. However, the terms and conditions will vary slightly in this case. For instance, if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to demonstrate a monthly income of €3.5K, excluding taxes, along with an additional €700 for your spouse and €525 per child.
This specific visa type remains valid for one year, granting you and your family the opportunity to apply for a two-year residence permit once your self-employment visa expires. All the privileges and requirements that apply to residents are equally applicable to this visa.
To apply for both self-employment and retirement visas, you will need to have the following in addition to a Greek tax number and a local bank account:
- Your identity document
- Confirmation of a stable income from outside the country
- A Greek telephone number
- Proof of a local residential address.
4. Greece Golden Visa
Purchasing private property in Greece offers the most convenient and efficient path to obtaining permanent residency in any European state. With a minimum investment of €250K in the Greek private real estate sector, you can secure your permanent residence permit within two months.
Renewable every five years, Greece Golden Visa allows you to maintain your permanent resident status as long as you retain ownership of the property. This entitles you and your family members to all the privileges of permanent residency. After seven years, you may even be eligible to apply for Greek citizenship.
To apply for the golden visa, you’ll need a few documents besides proof of property acquisition. These include your identity document, a Greek bank account, a Greek tax number, and medical insurance.
Moreover, as a golden visa holder, you have the option to seek employment in Greece. However, you’ll need to meet the requirements for a work permit and fulfill your income tax obligations. Additionally, if you reside in Greece for more than 183 days per year, your foreign income will also be subject to taxation.
Investing in Greek real estate not only grants you a permanent residency opportunity but also opens the door to a wealth of benefits and possibilities for you and your family.
Our team of highly skilled legal professionals in Greece is dedicated to facilitating a seamless and transparent process for acquiring real estate and investment funds.
Feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable team members for any inquiries or further assistance you may need. We are here to help!
Private Property Acquisition
The Greek government imposes minimal restrictions on foreigners acquiring private property. In practice, the only limitations are on properties near national borders and specified military bases. However, these are typically not desirable locations for most individuals. It is important to note that property tax must be paid, and the amount is determined by the total value of the property, as illustrated in the table below:
Value of Property
Over €2 million
Best Places to Live in Greece
Tastes and budgets differ, and you will decide for yourself which place in Greece suits you best. The following are the most popular locations among US expatriates to buy private property and settle down:
Regardless the method you choose to obtain a residence permit in Greece, you will need to personally visit the country to complete at least one step. These may include opening a bank account in a Greek bank or submitting necessary documents to government offices. Luckily, with proper preparation and ideally with the assistance of a lawyer, it is possible to accomplish all these tasks in a single day. However, it is important to note that unless you are fluent in Greek, you will require the services of an interpreter.
If you are a US citizen, you can stay in Greece for up to three months without a visa. Therefore, if you have the means, it is advisable to take your time and familiarize yourself with the country. Explore popular destinations, discover your preferences, and perhaps even make some new friends. It is always advantageous to have acquaintances in a new country before making it your home.
Although Americans have 90 visa-free days in Greece, there are still certain requirements that must be met, including:
- Ensuring your passport is valid for at least 90 days beyond your departure date.
- Providing proof of €50 per day for the duration of your stay in Greece, with a minimum total of €300.
- Possessing an onward or return ticket.
If you are a US resident, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa. The application process will involve submitting the following documents:
- Your travel document.
- Copies of your accommodation arrangements and your return or onward tickets.
- Medical insurance coverage of at least €30,000.
- Proof of €50 per day for the duration of your stay in Greece, with a minimum total of €300.
- Bank statements for the past six months.
- Proof of your marital status, even if you are traveling alone.
- Two 35×45 color photos, taken within the past six months.
By following these guidelines, you can navigate the process of obtaining a residence permit in Greece effectively and efficiently.
Opening a Bank Account
If you plan to sign a work contract, purchase property, or apply for a residence permit in Greece, opening a bank account in the country is a requirement. To fulfill this, you will need the following documents:
- An identity document
- A Greek phone number
- Proof of income, whether it’s local or foreign
- A Greek tax number
- Confirmation of a residential address within the country
The process is quick and straightforward, and can typically be completed within a few hours, provided that you are proficient in Greek or have an interpreter with you.
Before deciding on the best course of action to move from the USA to Greece, it is advisable to reach out to the nearest Greek Consulate for more specific inquiries tailored to your circumstances. In case you encounter any difficulties or have questions during your time in Greece, feel free to contact either the US Embassy in Athens or the US Consulate in Thessaloniki.
Alternatively, you can visit the official webpage of the US Embassy & Consulate in Greece, where you will find a wealth of emergency numbers and assistance services for various types of situations:
We hope that our article will assist you in taking the initial steps towards a smooth transition across the Atlantic to your new home in Greece.