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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I am 20 years of age with a family and a wife to be in July this year and after marriage we are looking on setting up a new life with are kids in Greece but dont have a clue where.

We have a couple of questions in mind if you could take time out and answer them we would be very greatful.

What area would be best for a family with young children?

What are schools like and are the local schools free?

What is the Cost of living i.e Rent, Bills, Electric etc?

How does Health Care work?

Can I find work easy (were do I start)?

Houses/Villa long term Rental prices

Thanks to everyone who helps out with answers cheers.
 

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I guess my first question to you would be what parts of Greece have you visited and liked the most? Not much sense in changing countries to live in a place you don't love... :)

My first point, and not to be snarky, but I think it needs to be said upfront: unless you are independently wealthy, you need to have a job lined up BEFORE you move your family and small children to a foreign country. Not to do so would be hugely irresponsible, unless I'm missing something here.

In my experience, when it comes to schools - I am not a parent, so I have no experience of that nature; my fiance is a teacher in the Greek public schools (he teaches all grades from kindergarten to high school) - on the smaller islands and in the villages, although you have the tremendous advantage of very low student:teacher ratio (in all of his classes, he has between 4 and 7 students - we live on a very small island in the Cyclades), the students there suffer because of a lack of motivation - they are not being pushed particularly hard by their parents. On the plus side, there is ZERO crime, drugs, overcrowding, etc. So if your children are naturally higher achievers it would be nothing to them to stand out in such an environment.... If they are not Greek speakers, they will pick it up very quickly, as children do - all Greek teachers are now being trained to deal with students whose first language is not Greek, but of course older teachers may not have been. The nature of the education system in Greece is such that smaller communities (outside of the major cities like Athens, Thessaloniki, Kavala (strangely), Irakleio, Patra, Peiraias, and a few others), the teachers tend to be very young and are serving out their "time" in these less-desirable communities in order to build up their "points" to work in the more desirable areas like the aforementioned cities - the result of this is that if you decide to move to a smaller community, although you will have the very healthy environment of no drugs, no crime, etc, and the very low student: teacher ratio, you will also have mostly inexperienced and less experienced teachers. In small communities/islands, you will also sometimes simply NOT HAVE certain subjects. As an example, my fiance is a music teacher. Until he started teaching on this particular island, there was no music teacher at all for MANY years - meaning that many people have missed out on this part of their education entirely - this is just the way it goes in smaller communities, and to avoid this, you stick to the cities and larger towns.

As far as the schools being free: if you go through the residence permit process, which you will, as a UK citizen it is straightforward: schooling is free from Pre-Kindergarten through high school and then there are also free options for higher education as well. There ARE private schools that you can pay tuition for, that may appeal to you for one reason or another but it's worth noting that these private schools follow the *same* government-mandated curriculum as the regular schools.

Most Greek students also attend after-school tutoring programs called frontistiria - these you DO pay for, and they are pretty widespread, however in smaller places (again - our island is an example) they do not exist at all. Your kids will have the advantage of English as a first language, but they would probably still want to go to the frontistirio for other subjects.

The cost of living: it will depend very much on where you decide to live. My fiance and I have a house (not an apartment) for which we pay rent (we are not looking to buy a place for at least 5 years as we do not know where we want to stay!) for €240 /month, electricity and water extra. Electricity is expensive so we are careful with it. In Athens and other cities, prices are several times higher than that. (I have also rented a very nice new 2BR apartment in a medium-sized town for €250/month, all utilities excluded; that was outside Thessaloniki.)

I'm not sure how the health care system functions for UK citizens as I'm an American and my fiance is Greek so I will leave that to the others.

Can you find work easily? Well, most Greeks can't find work easily in Greece, so why should it be easier for a foreigner? It is a very tough job market right now; that said, I was just offered a job last week and I took it, if you are very good at what you do, you will get a job. If you have specialized skills that are in demand, you will find something. If you do not, you will have a problem. That said, I have plenty of friends with PhDs who cannot find a job at all. As far as where to start... does your company in the UK have a Greek branch? That would be the simplest and easiest way to go. If not, heck, I have no idea. All the work I've had in Greece so far has been through American companies and paid in the US, because I don't have full work privileges yet (since I'm not from an EU country), so again, I'll leave this to the others.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for all that information. From what you have told me i'd be look at a small island or more the mid sized town/city if thats any help.

I understand jobs in any part of the EU at the moment is hard to acquire especially as a foreigner.

I have plenty years of work experince and i am skilled in many different areas from:-

Sales/Customer Service
Basic Admin
Basic Web Design
Graphic Design using software like Photoshop
Basic Joinery
Painting & Decorating
Computer software instalations
Food Handling Skills
Media Diploma
BTEC Intro Into Construction.............The list goes on!

Are you able to tell me if any of these skills may be needed? My partner also has hairdressing qualifications & was for some what years a Manager in Various Pubs Etc.

From what you have told me about schools I will discuss with my other half. We are looking to come out to Greece to look around and get to know people and see what the kids think, maybe also look at schools etc. Were, from what ive told you would you suggest on looking at as we dont really know?
 

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I currently live on a very small island, and previously lived in a mid-sized town for 3 years (near Thessaloniki), and I also have lived in (and still commute with) Athens, so I may have some advice, especially as relates to the small island thing because that's where I am now (physically and just as importantly, mentally!). Many folks on this board have a lot of experience in the larger cities (Athens, Thessaloniki) as well as some different islands.

Your list is quite impressive for a 20 year old, having a good work ethic will definitely be something that Greek employers will be grateful to get their hands on, especially outside of the cities. However - that is not going to guarantee that you find a job! Read on...

As far as which of those skills will be most needed - if you are looking into living on a small island (for the higher quality of life and the educational advantages - to which there is also OF COURSE a significant downside, which I will get into in a minute) - you would probably not find work in sales, web design, food, media EXCEPT in the summer months - and unless you are the owner of a business, summer income is only enough to survive on in the summer - it will NOT carry you through year-round - that luxury belongs exclusively to the hotel and restaurant owners!

Be careful when you think about relying on your construction skills because the smaller islands like mine are well stocked with very inexpensive SKILLED construction labor and I find it very unlikely (but this is just me stereotyping here) that a UK citizen would do construction for the pay rates that these men will do, because they are generally here as economic refugees (okay that is not the proper term but I cannot think of it right now). In other words, they are willing to work for peanuts (as we Americans say) and don't demand annoying things like health coverage or decent hours. (Here on my island, they work all days of the week, yes even on Sunday, I know because it is annoying to me to be woken up by circular saws outside my window at 8am on Sunday morning!). There is also no job security whatsoever in this field, which is why it is to their advantage to be highly mobile - easily moving from one island to another - this is not easy to do with a family that has invested in a particular school/area. Construction in the islands is pretty big business in general but is taking a hit with the economy along with everywhere else.

Web/graphic Design - this would be something you might look into - however, without knowledge of Greek (sorry, forgot to ask this - do you speak/write Greek?) you will be forced to work with a Greek colleague for all Greek sites and this will cut into your pay. As much as it is tempting to say this is work that can be done from anywhere (i.e., clients in Athens, you on a little island) keep in mind Greece is very much a face-to-face place and you will need to be able to meet your clients directly if you want to build up a client base - this is just the reality of doing business in Greece.

If you want to get into IT support and such - keep in mind that a typical highly skilled and experienced IT worker in Greece (with diplomas) will make up to about €1000/month and that is with several years experience working with the same company. I dated a man in this field in Greece; he worked for the same company for 4 years and made about €900/month and was considered indispensible and a very good worker, so do not expect to be making a lot of money in this field. Also you REALLY need to speak Greek in the field of IT in Greece, although some knowledge of English is expected, Greek (including technical Greek) is a must.

Hairdressing - this is going to be a HUGE challenge to build up a client base if your fiance is not Greek (is she?) or Greek-speaking - this just goes to the culture here. However, there could be a market if you went to the right place (like a "pretty island") for a British wedding hair stylist - someone who could take care of hair and makeup and manicures for ladies who travel to Greece to get married here - this is actually quite a lot of people, and the tour companies have wedding packages that they use - if she could get into something like that, working for British companies (I don't actually know if they employ people in this manner, I'm sorry), she may be able to avoid some of the difficulties of being a truly LOCAL hairdresser (I don't know if it's even legal to be a hairdresser in Greece without holding a Greek hairdressing diploma - I mean I really have NO CLUE but I would suspect you would need to get this diploma or a recognition of a British diploma of the same type - this will need looking into).

As far as schools go - any specific information you need, you can ask me and I will ask my fiance; he has taught in Greek schools in Athens, Zakynthos, and the Cyclades. I am sure he will be happy to help!

As far as where... well if you've only narrowed it down as far as "small islands and medium towns/cities"... that's not specific enough for me to help, but if you do think you'd like to try living on a small island, my experience is with the Cycladic islands, and I would give you the following warnings based SOLELY on my personal experience.

- small islands usually have an ENORMOUS flux of population. Our island goes from 15,000 people in the summer to 300 in the winter. This has a lot of implications, including:

- it is easy to find cheap accommodation (renting) in the off-season (assuming you arrive before everyone disappears) - but you will either get kicked out in the summer (so the higher-paying tourists can live there instead) or you will have to pay going tourist rates, which can be around €120 or more/night, especially if you will be needing multiple bedrooms (we have 1BR and pay €240/month, would pay €100/night in summer if we didn't leave, which we do).

- living in a place with only 300 residents means: infrequent ferry connections with larger islands and the mainland, inadequate medical care (some of the islands do not even have a pharmacy, instead, the clinic has the basics, and a pharmacist comes by once or twice a week from a larger island), very few dining-out options (we have about 4 year-round tavernas on our island), much higher prices for groceries (we pay about 1.3-1.8 times as much as what I am accustomed to paying in Athens with of course NO variety), no farmers' markets or reliably decent produce available (you get what's available and you eat it when you get it, but you can't pick and choose - we went about a month without garlic, for example); we don't even have a bank (just an ATM) which can make about 9 million things more difficult than necessary, there is no entertainment whatsoever

- It also means: there is literally NO traffic, you fill you gas tank 4 times / year, everyone on the island knows you and will help you out in any time of difficulty, when the ATM runs out of cash they give you your groceries on credit (not credit card - I mean they write it down in a little book and you pay when you can), there is ZERO crime, the school teachers are deeply invested in the success of each and every student, the air is so clean your lungs will be in heaven, the arrival of the ferry is a social event to look forward to, you start watching the "beaufort" weather reporting with actual interest, you try and try and you CANNOT spend money because there is nowhere to spend it except the grocery store, there IS internet (although it is kind of spotty - sometimes it goes out for a few hours at a time, same with cell phones, same with electricity), so you are not totally cut off.

We LOVE it. For two years. After our second year, we are getting the hell away from here. But with amazing memories to last a lifetime. There are always pluses and minuses, just think about what your priorities are :)

(Now, I also live on one of the tiniest islands. A place like Santorini has 2000 residents in the winter and has a lot more going on.)

Medium sized towns have very little of a downside. I'll think about it because I have a lunch date and get back to you. :)
 

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My experience from living in a medium-sized town (which I did, off and on, for about 2.5 years) in Greece:

- there actually were jobs available in sales, but it would be absolutely essential to know Greek for these jobs. I can't imagine them hiring someone who didn't speak Greek, and knowing English would not have been seen as much of an advantage, if at all.

- you don't have most of the problems that we have on the little island, but there are still some of those problems (hospital facilities are not great, but there are generally lots of private physicians' offices around; there are usually loads of pharmacies; schools are no longer going to be small class sizes - you will now get the 25-35 students' per class as per the rest of Greece; you won't have the issue we have of getting kicked out of our place in the summer for the tourists (!!), everything is open year-round, you don't rely on ferries/weather although if you are on an island in a town this may still be an issue (although most islands with larger towns have airports).

- teaching English is a possibility if one is good at it. There is always a market for this. Knowing another language like German, Italian, French, Spanish, etc would be good too if you wanted to get into this.

- you will NOT know everyone, you will know the people in your apartment building (if YOU make the effort), the people who work in the stores you frequent, at the periptero where you go, at the gym you go to, etc. You will not have that "community" feeling, unless you meet up with other expats in your town (if they exist) and create a community among yourselves.

- that reminds me: in a medium town, there WILL be a gym, there will be banks, there will be stores selling electronics, bedding, clothing, furniture, there will be a farmers' market once per week that will become extremely important to you - none of which exists on the smaller islands.

My experience was in a medium-sized town with absolutely no tourism/expat community, just all locals, all the time. In that town, there was no market for English language services, but in a larger tourist city (like Nafplio or Chania, for example) there would be a completely different set of skills that would be marketable.

So I guess what that says is you should NOT be looking for a "purely Greek" town like the one I lived in, but one that attracts foreign tourists and/or businesses, so you could have potential clients.

But getting back to schools, my fiance taught on a large island last year in a medium town and the school situation there is TOTALLY different - there again you have 25-35 kids per class, there is going to be a lot more of the negative stuff (I'm not going to say drugs and crime, because to be honest I don't think this is a problem outside Athens, Thessaloniki, and a few other major cities, but I could be wrong), but you're not living in a small community like you would be on a small island. If you like the "village" way of life, you don't get to live in a medium sized town.

If I were you, I would probably aim for either a small island (with the clear understanding that this was for the benefit of my children and not aiming to make a lot of money, but also with a clear idea of HOW I would support my family, probably through some kind of telecommuting), OR I would go for a town like Nafplio or Chania where there are a ton of foreign tourists and try to use my English skills in some way (teaching English, working in food service or hospitality).

Given what you say about yourself, I would probably shy away from going to a "Greek" town/city that didn't have any real market for foreigners' particular skills, as there really are a LOT of extremely qualified Greeks who need jobs and they are going to get first pick (and quite rightly).

And since you have small(?) or at least school-age children, I would stay away from the large cities. Even though they offer the best employment opportunities, my guess is that your aim here is to provide a good childhood and schooling experience to your children, which you feel you cannot provide them at home. I do not think that the schools in Athens or Thessaloniki (unless you sent them to private academies) are going to offer an improved experience. Here there ARE serious issues like drugs, crime, bad traffic, pollution, etc. Still not on par with what I see in the United States, but it exists.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi thanks for the advice i have a couple more isssues to address if you dont mind answering them. I am currently studying at the moment but will reply later today. Thanks for all the info again reallt greatful
 

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I would just like to pick up on one point made by wka. Says that on the small islands you wont find a gym, electronics ,bedding stores etc. We live in a village population about 6000 & we have all of that
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was just about to ask some more questions as i was watching the news at home. GREECE was the main headline and it was saying how finacially they are not surviving and taxes will rise, pay cuts on jobs and more we didnt want to hear.

Every country nearly in the EU at the moment is having finacial problems at the moment so i dont think the best move would be to somewere which is just starting to face them problems.

I need to carry out more research, thanks for all the advice and im glad you were all here to advice us.
 

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Yes, it is true that there are serious economic issues in Greece, and looking for a job in this climate is a very difficult proposition. Good luck to you in whatever you choose to do! And if you haven't yet, have a visit Greece at least on holiday :)
 
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