Greece has on the horizon a new digital nomad visa that could provide an excellent entrée to Europe for folks who can work remotely and like the idea of doing it from an island escape.
It adds to Greece’s list of attractions, which already included warm weather year-round, low-cost living, superb food, friendly locals, and extraordinary historic touchstones at every turn. A new report from International Living explores why Greece is gaining traction as a destination for North Americans to live, work, and retire.
Greece has just announced a new digital nomad visa, which cements its spot on the list of expat locales to consider if warm weather, good-value living, and cultural riches appeal. Greece offers an enthralling mixture of sun-drenched islands, towering mountains, buzzing cities, and timeless traditions. Wrapped in the warm embrace of the Aegean Sea, it’s vibrant, welcoming, and full of surprises. The latest surprise is this visa program, which the country is finalizing now. It could be ideal for an expat who can earn from anywhere.
“Finally—a remote worker incentive plan that actually makes a lot of sense,” says Jeff D. Opdyke, editor of The Savvy Retiree, a publication of International Living. “The new plan that Greece is now in the process of assembling…it looks to be one of the smartest remote-worker visas I’ve come across, assuming it all comes together. That’s because under the Greek plan as currently envisioned, a ‘digital migrant,’ as the Greeks call us, will be eligible for a 50% exemption on earned income for the first seven years. In essence, you owe local taxes on only half your income. For someone who’s still in the workforce and looking to maximize their savings opportunities as they approach retirement, sharply reducing your tax burden for seven years represents an intriguing opportunity to squirrel away more money. And then there’s the cost of living that can also help you save even more.”
From housing to dining out, healthcare to hair care, the average cost of living in Greece is significantly lower than in the U.S. A single person could live comfortably on a monthly budget of $1,830 or less. It’s possible to easily rent a respectable apartment in the heart of the capital, Athens, for less than $650 per month. Buying is straightforward and legal for foreigners who prefer to own a place for their own use and/or investment.
After 15 years of living in San Francisco and working as a Certified Public Accountant, IL contributor Lynn Roulo says something deep inside her wanted to be in Athens. And so she went—with her dog, her two cats, and one suitcase. “When I moved from San Francisco to Athens, I was pleasantly shocked to learn I could rent a comfortable 70-meter apartment with a modern bathroom and kitchen, as well as a huge private roof deck with a view of the Parthenon for less money than it would have cost me to rent a studio basement apartment in the worst neighborhood in San Francisco.”
“I do most of my work online, so I was initially concerned about the technology infrastructure in Greece. While in some islands and remote villages, connectivity and WiFi can be an issue, in Athens where I live, it is not a problem at all. I run video meetings all day long without a hitch.” Opdyke—of The Savvy Retiree—specializes in finding and figuring out all the ways a smart person can profit from shifting economic and cultural landscapes, and he believes the Greek visa offers more value than some of the Caribbean alternatives being marketed to digital nomads today. I’m sure you’ve seen in recent months all the Caribbean locations that are offering special visas to Americans (and others) who want to live and work from the beach as digital nomads. These visas are good for six months to two years. Just as you’re really getting settled into your new life…poof!”
“You have to vanish. Though Greece hasn’t finalized details of its plan yet, the Greek approach looks to allow for longer living arrangements, given the seven years of tax breaks. And it just so happens that ‘long-term migrants,’ which is what you’d be as a digital worker, are eligible for Greek citizenship after seven years. This means you could apply for a Greek passport…which is an E.U. passport…which would give you unfettered access to live and work across the rest of the European Union, no different than if you were moving from Tampa to Tucson. There’s just one catch: This looks to be a one-time program available to applicants only in 2021. So, if you’ve ever had thoughts of living and working abroad, and Greece appeals to you, then keep this on your radar. The country aims to have all the rules in place before the end of the year.”
A person considering a move to Greece will want to carefully research the options for visas and residence permits. International Living’s report details the best of them for expats looking for a full- or part-time retirement in Greece, including a discussion of this new digital nomad visa on the horizon. But accessible residence is just one of the many reasons to love living in Greece. It’s an easy place to adopt a healthy lifestyle, the entire country is physically breathtaking, and the Greek people have a well-earned reputation for being friendly, helpful, and genuinely caring.
Here are four more reasons why International Living recommends Greece as a potential destination for anybody ready to move out of the U.S:
1. Good-Value Cost of Living
Greece is super-affordable, especially when compared to North America and much of the rest of Europe. Prices for daily essentials (food, transport, etc.) are at least 20% cheaper than in the U.S., and costs to rent an apartment can be as much as 70% less. Throughout Greece, expats will save money by using public transport, avoiding touristy areas, shopping at local markets, and eating out where the Greeks do. A budget-conscious expat can live comfortably in Greece for $1,830 a month or less.
2. Welcoming and Easy Lifestyle
Greece is a proud nation that emphasizes family, tradition, and a love of the outdoors. Because tourism plays such an important part in the Greek economy, English is widely spoken in many areas and the country’s infrastructure caters well to locals and visitors alike.
Expats enjoy lots of options in terms of lifestyle: from a sturdy lakefront cabin in the mountains, to a rooftop apartment on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, to a low-maintenance beachfront unit on Mykonos, residents are guaranteed plenty of sunshine and four distinct (though mild) seasons—even though the Greeks tend to think in terms of ‘summer and everything else’.
3. Excellent Healthcare
The quality of medical care in Greece is generally excellent, especially in major centers like Athens and Thessaloniki. Emergency healthcare in Greece is free regardless of nationality. Pharmacies are abundant throughout the country—Greece has more pharmacists per capita than any other nation in Europe.
Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe and has an easy-going, relaxed feel. Roulo, based in Athens, says, “As a single woman, I feel very safe living here. Crime here is significantly lower than in the United States, the police presence is strong, and there is no need for ‘active shooter’ drills in Greece.” Basic precautions with regard to personal belongings will prevent rare cases of petty theft.
The full report on Visa and Residency in Greece—including the latest information on the “Digital Migrant” Visa can be found here: Greek Visa and Residency Information