Retiring in Greece and how to do it properly (updated 2022)
- Are you close to retirement and thinking about how you are going to spend it?
- Are you panicking about what you are going to do with all the free time you are going to have suddenly?
- Are you looking for the perfect place to spend your retirement years?
- Have you ever considered living in Greece?
If so, you are in the right corner of the internet. Retirement seems to be a scary next step for a lot of people, while others expect it with enthusiasm. The following guide will help you embrace this upcoming big change in your life, by providing useful tips. It aims to give you perspective on how to spend your hard-earned carefree years. Moreover, just in case you are thinking about retiring abroad, you will find vital information regarding life in Greece, one of the most preferred retirement destinations.
You should not waste any time in fear. Many think that retiring means they are getting old, or they might feel they do not know how to fill their days. However, it is a perfectly normal stage in one’s life and a time that comes for everyone sooner or later. Think of it as a reward, a chance for a new beginning in life. A life in which you do not have to work and instead, have plenty of time to do whatever you want. How you see it depends on you, while your time is what you make of it. So
Figure out what you want to make of your free time. It may seem hard at first, when you are overwhelmed by the transition from a full time job to no job and it might take a while to adjust to the new circumstances. The transition period though, is a good opportunity to evaluate the past and envision the future. Everyone expects different things from their lives. The years of retirement are your perfect chance to do the things that you always wanted but never had the time to.
Reconnect with your family. Many people choose to spend these years with their loved ones, since they grew apart due to lack of free time. Catching up with your close people will make you feel loved and useful. For instance, lending a hand with raising your grandchildren is a very fulfilling, much appreciated and absorbing activity.
Travel. Now is the time to explore all the places you dreamed about while working. Find a travelling buddy, make a list of destinations and begin your journey. Get to see the world, fill up on new experiences, meet new cultures, get inspired and make new connections. Travelling is one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time, especially when you have plenty.
Devote to your hobbies. If you did not manage to do it before, now is your chance to indulge completely in your leisure interests. But even if you did not have any in the past, why not take up something now? Getting involved with new activities can be very refreshing. What is more, finding an activity that suits you will give new meaning to your leisure time and will help you set a routine. You will also meet and connect with people that have the same interests as you. Friendships are always valuable, while it is never late to discover your talents!
If you are not the traveller type, or you do not have a family that needs you close by, perhaps you should consider relocating. Leaving the past behind and making a new start in a totally new environment is one of the most liberating decisions one can make. Do some research for a country with better living conditions, such as more hospitable climate, lower costs of living, favourable tax regulations, benefits for expats, welcoming people etc. Look for a city that will cover your current needs and that befits your lifestyle. If you have never visited that place before, plan a short trip first in order to get a taste of how life is there and to make sure that it is a right fit for you.
RETIRING IN GREECE
As we mentioned before, Greece is one of the top destinations as far as retiring abroad is concerned, for a variety of reasons:
- It is famous for its hospitality and Greeks are very confident and friendly with foreigners. Most people are average English speakers.
- The climate is mild Mediterranean, which means that the weather is mostly warm. It is easy to adapt to it, since extreme temperatures never occur.
- The big cities have nothing to be jealous of other modern European urban centers. In addition, the Greek countryside consists of diverse graphic landscapes, combining beaches and mountains for all season trips and outdoors activities.
- Greek cuisine is a one-of-a-kind mixture of middle eastern and Mediterranean traditions, along with modern, evolving gastronomy. The food is cheap and high quality in general.
- Due to the country’s beneficial geographic location, the Greek airports are connected to numerous destinations, inside or outside Europe, making it easy to travel fast and cheap.
- The costs of living are relatively low, especially compared to Europe’s most states. The lifestyle seems quite affordable to most foreigners visiting, inversely proportionate to its quality.
- Culture is a major part of Greece’s everyday life. You will find plenty of museums, theatrical plays, artistic exhibitions and cultural happenings of all kind.
- Safety – you will feel comfortable anywhere in the country including the major cities. The “sketchy” parts are very few and are easy to avoid.
You can get further information regarding the Greek lifestyle in our guides: Becoming a Digital Nomad and Working Remotely from Greece and Golden Visa for Greece.
Looking into the technicalities, there are some things you need to take into account as a retiree, before expatriating to Greece:
Tax laws in Greece state that foreigners who stay in the country for more than 183 days in any one-year period, are required to file an annual tax return. Consequently, people who reside in Greece have to pay tax on their income, regardless of the state the income is sourced from, and of the fact that they are also taxed on that income in another country.
Nonetheless, Greece has signed double taxation treaties with 57 countries, in order to prevent double taxation issues. Furthermore, income tax paid abroad can be deducted from Greek tax up to the amount of tax attributable had the income been Greek-sourced, according to the tax credit method. The taxpayer can apply for foreign tax relief as long as they:
- file an annual tax return as a Greek tax resident
- can provide the original required documentation, officially translated
- and the country of origin has the authority to apply tax on the income
Aiming to attract foreigners to relocate, Greece has launched some advantageous taxing programs for foreign pensioners. Provided that they transfer their tax residence to Greece, they can benefit from an alternative tax regime, allowing them to be taxed at a 7% flat rate annually, on their non-Greek sourced income. The prerequisites are as follow:
- the taxpayer should not have been a tax resident in Greece during the past 5 years
- and the previous tax residence is in agreement to cooperate with the Greek state in matters of tax regulation
Said rate is applicable to total foreign sourced earnings, including rents, pensions, investment interests etc. Keep in mind that you would need to issue a taxpayer id number (AFM) first.
Additionally, be aware that the Greek state relies a lot on indirect taxes, the most important being the VAT (Value Added Tax). The VAT is collected through goods and services of all kinds at a 24% rate (with certain exceptions).
Coming to Greece as an expat you would probably seriously consider buying some property. Greece has been a foreigner’s dreamland for owning property, especially since the introduction of the Golden Visa program. Through buying property worth at least EUR 250,000, you can secure a residence permit for Greece (for further information on the program, check our Golden Visa for Greece guide). Here is some advice on buying a house in Greece:
- Before you start looking for property, take a moment to set some solid criteria. For example, be clear on how you are going to use the property. Are you looking for something to live in yourself, or to rent it out? Do you imagine yourself living in a villa, or in an apartment? What is your budget? Is it wiser to split it between two or three more economic properties, than buy one more luxurious? It is essential that you are definite about your property needs from the beginning, in order for the search to be easier and more effective.
- Study the property market carefully. In the case of Greece, it is one that has been growing rapidly since the 2009 economic crisis, whilst even more in the weak of Covid-19. Despite the growth though, do not rush. Keep an eye out for a good opportunity.
- Visit the areas you are interested in, to see for yourself if they are a good fit. Check for conveniences, access to means of transport or any other amenities that you would require from your neighbourhood.
- Do not hesitate to negotiate. Ask for a better price or a more advantageous contract. The owner might seem reluctant at first, but having examined the property carefully, you can point out its weaknesses in order to be in a stronger negotiating position.
- Beware of scammers. You should not rush into decisions, such as depositing money before seeing the property. Getting the right assistance will help you avoid any premature moves. A real estate office will make it a lot easier for you to get through the procedures. AS & U specialises in property related matters.
Looking to buy a beach front property? Have a look at the nicest seaside communities in Attica.
Retiring definitely has its challenges, though perhaps not if you look at it as a fresh start. It is time to do all the things you have been postponing because of work! If you are looking to move abroad, we hope this article managed to give you a glimpse of a retiree’s life in Greece. Follow our guidelines and you will have no trouble finding your dream house in Greece!
We are located at the beautiful seaside town of Porto Rafti, only a 15-min drive from Athens International Airport. We love the area, so feel free to contact us anytime, even if it is just to discuss. Not convinced? Read more about what it’s like to live in Porto Rafti.