British couple happy with their new expat life in Greece despite euro crisis

by Ray Clancy on July 6, 2012

Greece continues to attract expats

There are lots of stories of people leaving Greece because of the country’s weak economy but British couple Ken and Val Povall have just moved to Crete and started their expat life.

The couple from Runcorn, Cheshire, bought their house in the village of Kalidonia, western Crete, in 2009, with dreams of moving permanently to the island once their house in the UK was sold.

But with the UK property market in the doldrums they had to wait until now before they could move permanently to the Greek island.

The Povalls decided to buy a new build property close to the picturesque fishing village of Kolimbari in western Crete and have now settled in.

‘There is a mini market a minute’s walk away, two tavernas if we want to eat out and a regular bus service into Chania and or Kastelli so we are not dependant on a car,’ explained Ken.

‘While moving here was always our dream, we did consider what could happen if Greece left the euro. Our pensions are paid in sterling, so we would probably have more spending power, because Greece would have had to devalue its currency,’ said Val.

‘For us that would mean the cost of living would be cheaper. We understood our home here would drop in price, but then our house in the UK dropped by nearly a third before we sold it, so what’s the difference?’ she added.

Val has found that local vegetables and meat from the market are excellent.

‘The large supermarkets here are either French or German so they cater for both local and foreign customers and you can find most things there. If you do get withdrawal symptoms then 10 minutes away there are two English shops where, if you want to pay a little bit extra, you can buy British brands,’ she explained. She reckons that she spends about €350 a month on housekeeping, about £290, which is less than she used to spend in the UK.

But Ken pointed out that its not just about food costs.

‘With no snow or frost, the winter isn’t as cold as the UK and therefore you don’t need to pay out for heating half the year and from April until October we get boiling hot water for free from our solar water system,’ he said.

Another big saving is Council Tax. In the UK it costs an average of £1,444 a year, on the couple’s two bedroom detached Snobby built house, the annual property tax is €250, about £200. Water is also cheaper and so too is house insurance.

‘From all we hear, because of the austerity measures and inflation running at below 1%, the cost of living is being driven down so I hope this time next year it will be even cheaper to live here,’ added Ken.

Val said that friends often ask what they do with their time.

‘It’s just the same as the UK except we have glorious weather for most of the year. We walk, explore, go into town for coffee and I spend time on the roof terrace where I paint,’ she explained. Ken added that he likes watching British programmes and films on TV but he also spends a lot of my time in his workshop in the garden where he builds model boats.

The thing Val misses most is family and friends.

‘Although with Skype we get to regularly see and speak to everyone, and being in Crete means we’re a magnet for everyone wanting a holiday in the sun,’ said Ken.

‘You only live once and the quality of life you enjoy in Crete is so much more affordable than living in the doom and gloom of the UK. The positives of living here far outweigh any negatives. I’d recommend living in Crete to anyone,’ said Val.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

simon roxburgh July 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

like the article. how do you get UK tv in crete. I am planning on moving to an island further north and wonder if getting some UK TV is possible
hope you can help

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Brenda Gonatas September 16, 2012 at 9:53 am

OtE TV has some programs. You can get it with your telephone company.Most are in English and they do have some movie channels. So check out that, I find they have a fair price for their service and if you ask you may even find a special at this time. I just renewed mine with a special on my home phone service reduction of cost and some added services.

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Brenda Gonatas September 16, 2012 at 9:51 am

Greece is becoming more and more difficult to live with. The taxes are making life unbeable as the Greek homes become taxed higher and they are finding it more and more difficult to maintain low rentals . Food cost are rising and the price of fuel has also jumped. Never knowing where or not Greece will be in the euro zone in the next year, having ones money stuck in a home you can't return your investment when you are ready to leave makes it more and more dangerous. Even having the money in a bank leaves one to wonder if they find their foreign currency changed to a dracma that can not be removed from the country or exchanged. As austerity grows harder and harder the chances of Greece leaving the euro zone becomes more probable. So leaving to come to greece is not recommended and leaving has already become close to impossible if you own your own home here. Nothing is moving in the realestate market, unless you are lucky enough to find someone with cash and ready to sell very very cheap at a lost.

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Liz Scott September 28, 2012 at 2:46 am

We were thinking on leaving British Columbia Canada and retiring in Arillas Corfu, buying or building a home. Do you think this is a bad idea? We love it here in British COlumbia but the damp winters play havoc with my back. The dry heat was wonderful when we were there 2 weeks ago. Please keep in touch as its always good to hear from someone who has actually resided in greece. We are originally from the Uk but have been here 10 years. let me know what you think.
Sincerely
Liz Scott

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concertina October 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

l have lived in greece for 12 years seen good times and bad times built a house with my greek husband.never attempt to build here unless you have some one greek to help you.To read and speak for you and to stop you being ripped off,the same applies to buying.troika has changed the building laws and you will not stop dropping money.If you build make it small you must buy the land of course.l regret building and wish l had bought an existing house.Dont buy very old because of earthquakes you will see your money on the ground (rubble).5 years old ,not more than ten.and many greeks try to sell a property which has a legal problem and you may end up having to pay down the line because someone corrupt didnt tell you.l believe that living in greece (not athens) is good, the greeks are not violent people they have close family ties and religeon, two things l belive help a nation.They are not fanatically religeous and the men do not get paraletically drunk and bet others up.The food is tremendous, fresh.greek people are generally very well educated and intelligent and love to speak english.If you are fincially secure then greece is still a great place to live. they have private health clinics everywhere at very good prices.hope this has helped you,best wishes.concertina

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Liz May 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Thank you for the comments its worthwhile speaking with people who have gone through this transition. Not much is moving in the real estate market here either, only the big cities. So it might be a while before we decide anyway

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Liz May 21, 2013 at 3:18 pm

We are still considering moving to Arillas in about 5 years so we will see what is happening in Greece by then. Once you have visited there it is like a magnet………you want to go back again…..it is beautiful! I would love to holiday there again soon.

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