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Complete guide to obtaining a Greece retirement visa, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

The land of stunning islands, pristine beaches with clear blue waters, green valleys, and breathtaking landscapes offers everything you could want for retirement. 

Great food, history, sunny weather, safety, and low living costs make Greece a great place to retire on an affordable monthly budget. 

Unfortunately, Greece does not have a retirement visa or retirement program for foreigners wishing to retire here, but there are other alternative ways you can reside in Greece.

How Can I Retire Permanently in Greece?

Greece does not issue retirement visas, but there are other ways you can retire in Greece. Two of the most common and effective retirement options in Greece are:

  • Greece Golden Visa. This type of visa is issued to financially independent individuals with the necessary financial resources to make and maintain an investment in Greece. The Greece Golden Visa is valid for five years and can be renewed every five years. The Golden Visa is one of the quickest ways to obtain citizenship.
  • Greece Residence Permit. A residence permit is required for everyone who plans on staying in Greece for a year or longer. You can get permanent residency after living in Greece for five consecutive years. 

NOTE: Holders of Greece Golden Visa are not allowed to participate in any gainful activities but can set up a business in Greece.

What Are The Eligibility Criteria for Retirement in Greece?

To be eligible for retirement in Greece, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have enough financial resources to provide for yourself during your stay in Greece.
  • You must be a beneficiary of monthly passive income from a source outside Greece.
  • You must not be considered a threat to the national safety of Greece and its citizens.
  • You must have a clear criminal record.
  • You must have health insurance valid in Greece.
  • You must be in great health conditions and not possess any life-threatening diseases. 

How Can I Apply For Retirement In Greece?

Depending on how you plan on retiring in Greece, you need to check if you need an entry visa to visit Greece. Certain countries do not need a visa to enter the country for 90 days stays; however, for longer stays, like in this case, you need a Greece Visa to enter the country.
Once you are issued the visa, you can enter the country and apply for a Greece Residence Permit or Greece Golden Visa

Can US Citizens Retire In Greece?

Yes, US citizens can easily retire in Greece. As an American citizen, you can enter Greece  without a visa for 90 days and apply for a residence permit during this time while in the country. However, if you plan on staying longer than 90 days, you need a Greece Visa.

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire in Greece?

Although Greece has a reputation for being expensive that is not entirely true. Places like Mykonos and Santorini are considered to be some of the most expensive islands in Greece due to their popularity among tourists. Still, there are affordable islands where the living costs are relatively affordable, like Lefkada, Hydra, or Kavala.

Generally, the estimated monthly expenses for one person are around $700 for things like water, electricity, heating, etc., whereas a family of four can live well with around $2500 per month. When it comes to renting prices, in different areas, you can find apartments for as low as $230 to $600, or higher prices, $500 – $1200 for bigger apartments. 

Here is a presentation of the average living costs in Greece:

ACCOMMODATION (rent)Monthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$400
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$335
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$700
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center $645
ACCOMMODATIONPRICE per m2
Price for purchasing an apartment in City Centre$2020
Price for purchasing an apartment Outside of Centre$1720
FOODCOSTS
Milk$1.30
Rice $1.80
Eggs$3.20
Tomato$1.60
Potato$0.90
Apples (kg)$1.70
UTILITIESMONTHLY COSTS (85m2)
Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage$180

Healthcare in Greece

Greece has a universal healthcare system which is provided through national health insurance and private healthcare. The National Healthcare Service or ESY( ΕΣΥ) is the healthcare provider in Greece which aims to provide free and equal access to high-quality healthcare services for all citizens. 

The ESY system consists of public and private health service providers, which are divided into primary, secondary, and tertiary tiers of service delivery.

The Greek public healthcare system includes medical services such as:

  • Treatment of infectious diseases 
  • Hospitalization 
  • Laboratory services
  • Maternity care
  • Medical appliances
  • Transporation 
  • General and specialist care, etc.

Although Greece provides free healthcare to its residents, around 15% of the population has private health insurance coverage. Foreigners moving to Greece should choose health insurance policies with international coverage

Why Should I Retire in Greece?

You do not have to think hard about why choosing Greece as a new home is a right choice. Here are some of the reasons why Greece is the best choice for retirement.

  • Healthcare. Greece offers its citizens free access to healthcare services. The National Healthcare Service allows Greeks to seek treatment in modern health facilities without paying enormous amounts. Both public and private institutions offer high standards of healthcare with a number of specialized doctors.
  • Housing. The housing market in Greece is not what you would expect. In fact, the cost of housing in Greece is relatively low, and with a nice budget, you can afford a great apartment in the heart of Athens. Purchasing a home in Greece might be the best option for foreigners.
  • Safety. The country has very little serious crime; therefore, you shall feel safe wandering around the beautiful streets. 
  • Nature. There is no doubt Greece has some of the most breathtaking landscapes the human eyes have ever seen. The mesmerizing country is very diverse with many beautiful mountains, forests, rivers, caves, and volcanoes, but the best part is the pristine beaches with crystal clear waters,
  • Cuisine. Greek cuisine is known for being healthy and has a heavy use of olive oil, fish, lean meats, and vegetables. Greeks love to eat and feed others, so you will never feel hungry. You need to try some famous delicious dishes like moussaka, fasolada, koulouri, and souvlaki to experience the tastiest flavors.

What Are the Best Destinations for Retirees in Greece?

Greece is among the most beautiful countries in the world, and each part of the country is unique. Here are the top places to retire in Greece:

Santorini

Santorini is the most famous island in Greece and the number one tourist destination during summer. The natural beauty of the island is one of a kind, and the mesmerizing view is worth moving from the other side of the world to Greece. One of the reasons why Santorini is a popular destination is that life on the island is easy, and there are no worries. Although it might be a bit expensive, Santorini has everything you could wish for.

Corfu

Corfu is a beautiful island on the northwest coast of Greece, surrounded by mountains and a resort-studded shoreline. It is the perfect place to get away from everything and enjoy a quiet and relaxing life. The island is home to beautiful green scenery, idyllic white-sand beaches, historic landmarks, and great food culture. 

Besides the laid-back lifestyle, there are many outdoor activities you can do in Corfu, like hiking, swimming, diving, boat trips around the island, snorkeling, sailing, etc.

Athens

The capital of Greece, also known as the heart of Ancient Greece, is a great retirement destination for foreigners who are looking for a place that offers great life quality and low costs of living. Athens is safe and a very peaceful place that holds history and culture in its heart, and there is so much to see and do that you will feel like you do not have enough time.

Rhodes

Spend your retirement in the sunniest place in Greece, under the warm weather and sunshine. Rhodes is a large island that offers the ideal climate to enjoy a great retirement. The island is known for its vibrant nightlife, bars, and cafeterias, dramatic scenery, and luxurious cuisine. Rhodes has many hot spots you can visit and explore and offers many activities for everyone. 

Crete

With mild weather, pristine beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and hiking paths, Crete makes a great retirement destination. Crete is the largest island in Greece and has a unique history and culture. It is a top tourist attraction and welcomes thousands of tourists every year. 

The pristine beaches are perfect for swimming and relaxing while tanning and enjoying a glass of wine. 

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