Aha Greece! So you dream of living in Greece and therefore becoming another Brit in Crete.gr? Then this is the website for you. Firstly, let me say here and now, we live in the European Union. That stands for something meaningful in Greece. So what are you waiting for come on over...
If you are a UK or Irish national, or from any of the other 27 EU states, you have the right to be living in Crete or living anywhere in Greece for that matter that is not off limits - for example, near a military zone or restricted border area. Despite the economic downturn, Crete is still an attractive hotspot for British and Irish Ex-pats! For anyone wishing to buy a property in Crete, there is no better time than now with endless choice. For new property developments, "A Place in the Sun Live" Overseas Property Exhibition in March in ExCel London or in September in Birmingham are great places to start doing your homework. But hey, if you are not thinking on purchasing a property overseas, still keep reading and plan for visiting Crete with view to the home rental market.
The "system" here in Crete is very relaxed. Rules are rigid, but lightly enforced until someone snitches, then the police must act. This is generally the case and just the way it works. It means the police do not get over worked, and life is somewhat peaceful. No concerns about safety for the kids or even for the oldies. You can let them out without a leash. Make sure your dog is on one though. Roaming dogs are not appreciated in villages. Just watch out when driving, above all else, for a traffic cop having a bad day, usually on a motor bike. If you are stopped, then speak clearly, in slow deliberate English and do not speak out of turn. If you are over the booze limit, you are in deep crapola if you are stopped and breathalized! P.S. No "Mooning" when intensely happy. One young Bristol guy in the sun, sand and sex resort of Malia several years ago dropped his shorts to his ankles and drew the wrath of an offended Cretan lady. She became a local heroine for her actions. Suffice to say the young Brit is coping with the aftermath and luckily he has kept all his bits. Just..
Working in restaurants, bars pubs etc -- where food is handled you will need to get a health clearance paper from the local health authority. Outside of the tourist sector, making an income can be very difficult unless you are creative and/or willing to do things you would uncharacteristically do back home.
Never use personal cheque books. Ask around, you'll know why.
If you are over 60 years old, you definitely are in the seniors category. That is a plus. Greeks can't work after pension age. If you are taking your UK pension in Greece then you must register as a resident. A tax thing. You do not want to be double taxed.
Being 60+ and retired also means something in Greece, especially in healthcare. If, in the event you need hospital support and are a registered resident it is OK to just go to the prefecture hospital, passport in hand, and an E121 if you have it. Or better still get the local "IKA" Social Security book as soon as possible that waves you past public hospital bureaucracy. If you retire from UK and at the time are already resident in Greece you will be given the necessary papers by DWP to immediately get Greek healthcare.
If you need to go to hospital unexpectedly, you go, not to an Accident & Emergency Department (A & E) initially - they don't have them usually, but to "Pathology". Just follow the crowd after you check in with hospital reception. Most medical terms in English are taken from Greek. Therefore, you will soon fathom out the hospital signs. Many doctors did their internships in Britain, North America or South Africa. While they speak English with regional accents to match, back up and nursing staff may not.
You do not have to satisfy your neighbours and / or Brit or Irish friends' inquisitiveness (nor new found acquaintances) with your medical history or any other confidential matters ... Crete can be like a sieve where confidentiality is concerned. But that also means you soon become part of the 'greater community'. Go to any government office and you will know what I mean about privacy. Keep stumm on anything you do not want bandied about. Yet, officially, Greece has the best privacy laws in Europe and at state level respects them.
And, just in case you are a little confused, Greece drives on the right, with left hand drive - the opposite to the UK and Ireland. At times it does get confusing - when too much of the local strong stuff, raki (distilled grape must) gets consumed.
This is the simple message I give to all of you dreaming of living in Greece. Leave your UK and Irish "mindset", well, in the UK and Ireland, at the time you leave British and Irish shores. That applies to all intending Ex-pats in Greece - put aside life in your home country after you arrive in Greek. There is another world out there. It is called: Greek Life.
In fact, the best way to move to Crete happily, is adjust to local time (I do not mean GMT+2 ) I mean, just slide in and blend -- go with the flow. Adjust to the slower pace. Follow the paper trail, if you have to. It is not just foreigners who have to face it and do it. Greeks bemoan the bureaucracy all the time. Do not rush any decisions, unless a government official is on your tail. Then think long and hard before acting upon it.
Get to know the Greeks, they are generally a great and caring lot, especially in a village. The way it is here, is the way it is.
You'll find Creta is very, v-e-r-y quiet for the most part in winter. That is a great time of year to pursue those pastimes you never have had enough time for before in your working life, such as bird watching, painting, and other pleasurable pursuits including hiking, riding, just being close to nature or if you are a Samaritan, do it. The list is as long as your imagination. In winter time, there is nothing quite like the smell of a real log fire either burning Olive or Carob wood. So in winter, be active and set yourself things to do. You'll be fine.
A quick plug for our web sites: I hope you will check out the Brits in Crete Forum and post questions about your future here. One of the most visited sections regards employment:
Note: If you are an employer, post your job offerings in this section.
If you are a job seeker - tell employers you are looking (it is free to do so).
It is best to come and rent for a while and to see if you like the area you are staying. Then make longer, lasting decisions.
Turn your dream of living in Greece an ex-pat reality. Follow these simple basic pointers that apply to Crete or in fact anywhere in Greece and you will be living the good life, very quickly. Remember, in Greece, money talks. If you want to be a hermit, look to be a rich one, regardless if you are British or Irish or any other nationality.