Have you ever dreamed about a long holiday on the Greek islands? If yes, you are like 99% of the people. However, over the last few years more and more people are obsessed with the idea of living there permanently. Bright sun, blue and cloudless skies, endless white beaches, picturesque rural landscapes and fragrant olive groves. This is a short common description of the thousands of islands that are scattered amidst the waters of the warm Mediterranean Sea. However, there is a big difference between spending two weeks somewhere as a tourist and living there as a permanent resident.
To live somewhere means that you should become part of the local society and culture.
The first step in this adventure is to ask yourself whether you are ready for such a great change in your life or no – to call this place your home, to rent a home or to buy one, to get to know the lifestyle of the local community.
Also, you have to become familiar with the health and education system, to learn more about the public transport system, to learn how to pay your bills and where, to read more additional information about what are the job and business opportunities, how to receive and declare dividends from other countries, etc.
For this reason, you should think carefully and analyse the possibilities. It is good to know that there is not always a match between the best places to spend your holidays and the best places to live.
Expats on the Greek islands
People from different countries in Northern Europe, such as Britain, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands and the countries from the Scandinavian Peninsula, have always been interested in living on the Greek islands.
The popularity of the islands is understandable given the huge climate differences between the North and the South of Europe.
In most cases, these are people who want to change their lives in a radical way. They are looking for better climate, cleaner environment and place to escape from the stress of everyday life.
The people who want to settle down on the Greek islands are very different when it comes to age, culture and interests.
Some of them are young families, whose job is not related to a specific place. Others are retirees who want to live in a peaceful place with pleasant climate.
There are also young people who are looking for adventures and want to taste the Mediterranean lifestyle. Some people want to invest in a new house, while others simply prefer to hire a small apartment.
Living on the Greek islands has its numerous advantages. First of all, crime levels are incomparably lower in comparison to any major city in continental Europe or North America.
To some extent, this is due to the fact that most people who live on the smaller islands know each other.
However, life is very quiet even in the larger and more populous islands, because most of them are well-known tourist destinations with a very good reputation.
Do not forget also the higher life expectancy, which is the result of healthy climate, high quality food, sea food consumption, physical activity, fresh air and clean environment.
Among the good sides of living on a Greek island are the warm sea, nice weather, relaxed atmosphere and the fact that you live on an exotic island without to leave Europe, which should not be underestimated.
Along with many advantages, however, for some people is difficult to accept the thought of living on an island.
This may be related to limited opportunities to reach the mainland, higher prices of some goods and services or fewer entertainment options during the winter months when most of the Greek islands are too quiet.
During the summer months the islands in Greece look like the center of the world, but winters are very different.
The islands become very quiet, many restaurants, bars and shops close up until the next season, the sea water temperature becomes cooler, the weather is sometimes cold and rainy, and the crowds of visitors almost disappear.
In fact outside the large and crowded capital Athens and the second largest Greek city of Thessaloniki, all settlements have less than 300,000 inhabitants.
Where to live on the Greek islands?
Corfu is a very popular place for expats from different parts of the world. In fact, Corfu is the island with the largest percentage of foreign settlers in the country.
The British community is the largest group of expats on the island, but there are also large groups of foreigners from other countries such as Germany or Russia.
Corfu is located not far from Albania, in the extreme northwestern part of the country and is known for its lush nature. The island’s capital Kerkyra (or Corfu Town) is quite busy city center.
For this reason, Corfu is a good place to live all year round. One of the advantages of the island is the proximity to the coast of mainland Greece. The island enjoys a regular ferry connection with mainland Greece.
Some of the foreign residents of Corfu leave the island during the winter months but some of them prefer to stay here year round.
When talking about the most popular Greek islands, we cannot miss the famous island of Crete. It is known for its large territory and extremely diverse landscape.
The island enjoys greater popularity overseas in comparison with the other Greek islands and is quite popular in the United States and Canada.
Some people compare the island of Crete and Southern California, and indeed, there are a lot of similarities – climate, scenery, sunny weather, villas with swimming pools and attractive sea views.
However, the sea along the coast of Crete is usually much more quiet compared to the ocean surface along the coast of California, and the water is quite warm and transparent.
On the north coast of the island, you can find the fourth largest city in Greece – the city of Heraklion.
Also, do not forget the warm weather – the island is located in the southern warmer part of Greece and enjoys an exceptionally mild climate, particularly along the south coast.
The South of Crete enjoys wonderful days with temperatures of around 18 – 20°C even in January.
There is not actually a real winter season on the island. It is difficult to call “winter” this beautiful season when most of the flowers and fruit trees blossom.
Rhodes is truly exceptional. It is a combination between an exotic island and a modern 21st century destination. Along with the ancient ruins of past eras, the capital of Rhodes is one of the most modern and shiny cities in Greece.
The island is very diverse and within just a few kilometers you can see very different landscapes – from semi-arid areas to dense and fresh deciduous forests.
However, when it comes to living on a Greek island, Rhodes is undoubtedly one of the best places in Greece, because the largest city on the island remains busy and vibrant even in the midst of winter.
There are regular transport connections between Rhodes and mainland Greece throughout the year.
In addition, the island is located off the coast of Turkey, so you will be able to visit the country whenever you want. If there is a place in Greece to compete the island of Crete in every respect, it’s Rhodes.
Spetses is a beautiful island, and one of the largest advantages is its location, just 1 hour and 45 minutes by ferry off the coast of Athens.
If you get bored of Spetses during the winter season or just need to buy or do something, you could always get to the Greek capital for a day.
Since the island has a small area, the winter season is a great time for you to explore the entire island even on foot – something that is quite difficult in summer given the Mediterranean heat and extremely high summer temperatures in this part of Europe.
If you are looking for a good place to live year-round on the Greek Islands, Lefkada, which is located in the Ionian Sea, is a great choice. The island is one of the largest in the country, and Lefkas, the capital city, is quite busy.
The island is much quieter during the winter months, but at the same time, it is a lovely place during all four seasons.
Lefkada offers everything you need to live here throughout the year. Many people say Corfu is a more attractive and vibrant center. Even if this is true, Lefkada has a charm which other Greek islands can only dream of.