Living & Working in Greece

Sunshine, romance and a more laid-back lifestyle as captured in the feelgood films Shirley Valentine and ABBA The Movie.

Unfortunately, times have moved on and Greece is picking through a financial mess that has led to massive cuts in public services and job losses.

Since the onset of economic meltdown, expat job opportunities have evaporated to almost nil, with most foreign residents moving out of choice rather than for work.

Tourism is still one of the largest business sectors, and the one probably offering the most scope to expats.

However, anyone moving to Greece should consider the state of the economy and how this might affect personal finances and job prospects.

The capital Athens and Thessaloniki are the two largest cities and the prime destinations for expats working outside tourism, but most expats in retirement head for one of the myriad of beautiful islands.

Property prices vary widely across Greece. Prime property in the main cities or on a sought after island still commands a top price, but elsewhere, the cost of renting and buying is still reasonable compared with the UK.

Due to the current financial situation and falling property prices, many expats will find renting the best option until the market bottoms out.

Low rentals have made the overall cost of living affordable. Most couples can comfortably get past on around €15,000 a year - around £11,500 a year, which gives change from the average state pension in the UK.

Tax, national insurance and public services are going through an uncertain period as the government grapples with economic problems.

Food is cheap and available at the farm gate or local markets, but expat favourites imported from the Uk will come with a high price tag.

Utilities and phone bills are expensive, but can be reduced by shopping around.

Healthcare is offered by a mix of public and private doctors and hospitals - with an added SOS doctor service, who are GPs and specialists with a portable pharmacy and toolkit of simple instruments, like electrocardiograms.

Public services are under review as part of the austerity measures imposed under the Eurozone bailout of the Greek economy and many healthcare staff, including nurses and doctors, have lost their jobs.

Private health cover is available for shorter waiting times and quick access to specialists. Most global or European insurers will offer cover in Greece.

Banking and savings is a particular issue for expats in Greece. With doubts over banking stability, moving large sums of cash in to a Greek bank would seem risky until the final details of whether the country will stay in the eurozone or not are thrashed out.

Banks are protected with the standard €100,000 European Union compensation guarantee, but many expats may feel more secure with a local account for paying bills and an offshore account for holding cash. Simply transfer the money as required from offshore or spend on a card linked to the offshore account.