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.