A land where ancient history and modern charm converge, Greece offers a unique blend of idyllic landscapes, friendly Greek people, and a delicious Mediterranean diet with its own regional flair. It’s no wonder that moving to Greece is on top of many people’s bucket lists.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with an overview of everything you need to know about making the move to the stunning Hellenic nation. Many non-EU citizens live comfortably after they enter Greece, whether in one of the many popular tourist centers, along the many beautiful beaches, or even in a small inland town.
Do I need a visa to move to Greece?
Relocating to Greece can be a relatively simple act, but it largely depends on what passport you have and for how long you want to stay. Citizens of countries that have visa exemption agreements with the Schengen Area, which includes Greece, can enter and stay in Greece and other Schengen countries without a visa for short stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
However, this is for tourism, business trips, or family visits and does not grant the right to work or reside long-term in Greece. There are several different methods if you want to move to Greece permanently, the most common being a temporary or permanent residency permit.
Moving to Greece as an EU Citizen
The EU has a principle of freedom of movement that allows citizens of EU countries to freely live, work, and study in any other EU/EEA country. When EU citizens arrive in Greece, they are allowed to stay for up to three months without any formalities other than the requirement to possess a valid identity card or passport.
If you plan on staying for more than three months, you will need to register with the local authorities and obtain a registration certificate and residency visa. This process typically requires proof of employment, adequate financial resources, or enrollment in an educational institution if you are a student.
Moving to Greece as a Non-EU Citizen
If you are not a citizen of an EU country, things can get a bit tricky. However, it is not impossible, as you only need to apply for (and be granted) the correct visa. As with most European Union countries, Greece offers visas that cover everything from remote working to retirement and investing in the country.
Moving to Greece on a Golden Visa
Like most European countries, the Greek economy has been through some tough challenges over the last few decades. For that reason, the Greek government welcomes investments to help it ease out of the financial crisis.
As with many other European countries, the Greek Golden Visa program is a residency by investment scheme that enables non-EU/EEA nationals and their family members to acquire permanent residence permits in Greece. It is one of the most successful investment programs in Europe.
To qualify for the investment program, applicants must first have a clean criminal history and place an investment in Greece with a current minimum value of €250,000 – if placed in real estate.
The Greece Golden Visa €500,000 qualifying real estate investment applies to purchases in northern and central provinces, the South Athens Attica region, and the municipalities of Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini.
A Greece Golden Visa holder can be granted Greek citizenship by naturalization after seven years of continuous residence in Greece with at least 183 days of physical residency for each of the seven years. Greece’s naturalization process also requires applicants to demonstrate they can speak Greek.
Benefits of the Greek Investment Visa include:
- Inclusion of immediate family members: Residency extends to the entire family, which includes children under the age of 21 and dependent parents of both the applicant and their spouse.
- Access to excellent healthcare: Permanent residence visa holders can access Greece’s highly-rated healthcare system (if they meet the eligibility criteria to apply for it) and benefit from free and equitable services, as well as incredible medical insurance spread across the public and private sectors.
- Access to an excellent education system: Children of applicants can benefit from Greece’s well-respected education system, which is available to all residents and citizens.
- Visa free travel in Europe’s Schengen Area: As part of the European Union and a member state of the Schengen Area, Greek residence permit holders can travel without hassle within the EU and the Schengen Area.
- Tax deductions and benefits through the non-dom regime for investors: Greece Golden Visa’s tax implications can be reduced through the Greece Non-Dom tax regime. It is a unique scheme allowing foreign nationals who transfer their tax residence to Greece to avoid paying tax on foreign income by paying a lump-sum annual tax. Greece also has double taxation agreements with 57 countries worldwide.
- High returns on investment: Visa holders have the option to rent out their purchased investment property or hold shares in a company registered in Greece and receive dividend income. This means they can continue to have positive cash flow while maintaining their investments.
Moving to Greece to work
Launched in 2021, the Greek Digital Nomad Visa is a travel authorization document that enables non-EU and non-EEA citizens working remotely to establish residency in Greece and legally work there for up to 12 months, provided they meet the visa requirements. It also permits them the right to bring along their immediate family members, albeit for an additional fee.
You must meet the following eligibility requirements to be eligible for a digital nomad visa:
- Not be employed by a company registered in Greece
- Have clients or be employed by a company based outside of Greece
- Be able to provide your services and complete your work obligations using a stable internet connection and a laptop.
- If self-employed, you must demonstrate proof of your business activity, corporate purpose, and business address, noting that your businesses can’t be registered in Greece.
- Prove you meet the minimum monthly financial requirement of €3,500
However, if you want to move to Greece to work for a formal employer, the process is significantly different. The process starts with your prospective employer applying for a work permit from the Greek Ministry of Labour. Once the work permit is approved, you can then apply for an employment visa at the Greek embassy or consulate in your home country.
The visa is specific to the type of work and the employer stated in the permit, and any change in employment or job type requires a new application. Once you arrive in Greece, you must apply for a residence permit to live and work in the country legally and the residence permit is linked to the employment visa.
Moving to Greece to study
Greece provides a study visa for non-EU/EEA students who intend to pursue their education in Greek educational institutions. This visa is particularly for those who have been admitted to study at a Greek university, college, or other accredited educational institution.
Since it can take several years to achieve a degree, a study visa is usually granted for the duration of the study program. If the program lasts longer than one year, the visa can be renewed annually. Similar to the work visa, students are required to apply for a residence permit, which allows them to stay in the country for the duration of their studies.
A Greek study visa also allows students to work in the country part-time for a Greek employer, and there are restrictions on the amount of hours that can be worked in a week. This generally means that students can find temporary employment in the hospitality and entertainment industries.
Most Popular Areas in Greece for Expats
Santorini is a stunning Greek island located in the Aegean Sea that is known for its breathtaking sunsets, white-washed buildings with blue domes, and dramatic views. The island was formed by a massive volcanic eruption, which created a crescent shape that cradles a caldera, offering breathtaking vistas from towering cliffs.
The island is famous for its picturesque villages like Oia and Fira, and it perfectly combines natural beauty with ancient history. Santorini’s volcanic soil nurtures distinctive vineyards, producing acclaimed wines.
The island boasts unique beaches, including the Red and Black sand beaches, which add to its allure. Santorini is not just a scenic wonder, but it is also a fusion of history, culinary delights, and romantic ambiance.
Athens, the capital city of Greece, is a vibrant metropolis that’s steeped in history and culture. You cannot miss the tall iconic Acropolis, with the Parthenon temple as its crowning glory. The city perfectly blends its rich historical heritage, evident in ancient sites like the Agora, with a modern, lively urban environment.
There are numerous museums around, including the National Archaeological Museum, showcasing Greece’s vast history. You’d love to explore the city’s streets which are alive with bustling markets, contemporary art, diverse cuisine, and a lively café culture. Athens is the gateway to exploring Greece, offering a unique combination of antiquity and contemporary urban energy.
As the largest of the Dodecanese islands, Rhodes is most notable for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The island’s capital, Rhodes Town, is encircled by impressive medieval walls and features the Palace of the Grand Master, a highlight of the UNESCO-listed medieval old town.
Rhodes also offers a diverse landscape, from ancient ruins and castles to sandy shores and lush forests. The island’s blend of historical sites, vibrant nightlife, and natural beauty makes it a popular Mediterranean destination.
Crete, the largest island in Greece, offers a fascinating blend of ancient ruins, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Renowned for its rich history, Crete was once the center of the Minoan civilization, and the famous archaeological site of Knossos stands as a testament to its ancient past.
The island’s diverse terrain ranges from fine sandy beaches like Elafonissi to the rugged White Mountains. Crete’s culinary scene is a highlight, offering delicious local cheeses, olive oil, and wines, which provide a unique taste of Greek cuisine.
Charming towns like Chania and Rethymno mix Venetian and Turkish architecture, while Heraklion, the bustling capital, is a gateway to the island’s treasures. Crete’s mix of history, culture, and natural beauty provides a quintessentially Greek experience that you won’t forget.
Frequently Asked Questions about Moving to Greece
Do US citizens need a visa to move to Greece?
US citizens don’t need a visa to visit Greece for less than three months, as Greece is in the Schengen visa zone. But if you want to relocate to the country for a longer period, Greek authorities require you to apply and obtain one of the residency visas.
Do you need private health insurance when living in Greece?
As a tourist, it is essential that you have some form of travel insurance. However, many Greek citizens make use of state-provided healthcare and don’t have private medical aid. So, foreign residents can also benefit from state medical care after a certain time.
Is there a language requirement to become a Greek citizen?
When you move to Greece, you won’t be expected to know Greek, but you’ll significantly reduce the frustrating language barrier if you at least learn Greek words that are commonly used. However, when you apply for citizenship, there is a language proficiency requirement.