How expats experience “three years Greece in the crisis” (Part I)

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Two days ago, I wrote an article to “celebrate” the anniversary of then prime minister George Papandreou announcing that Greece had to ask its rescue from international lenders, especially from the international Monetary Fund.  The article “23 April 2010 – 23 April 2013: Greece under IMF – Not saved yet?” got positive feedback and I requested expats living in Greece to write their impressions from the crisis. Keeping this blog for three years, I have come to hear quite a number of personal stories, whether by Greeks or expats. I know that the majority of us is suffering.

Together we have experienced the IMF-shock, the income cuts and tax hikes, the shortages and the long queues. The massive job losses in the private sector. The one loan agreement following the next. And the many protests and strikes. We heard politicians’ promises before two elections rounds and tried to look at them right in the eyes…

The financial crisis affects us all: locals and foreigners alike.

Below is a story submitted by Phillip:

“I haven’t been shielded from the crisis, but I might be fairing better than others. At least I have work. I lost my job in March 2010 but started freelancing straight away, and although I’d like to have more work, I have enough to pay the bills, even the added expense of making my own TEBE* contributions as a self-employed person, which is almost as much as my rent. I’ve seen my savings erode somewhat, but I think I might be able to recoup my losses eventually, if I can hold my breath long enough.

That said, my partner works for the public sector and has seen his salary slashed 40%, and as a result, we can’t go anywhere or do anything, except cook at home, watch films, go for picnics, go to local crowded and usually not-clean Attica beaches in the summer. It could be worse, it could be better.

I celebrated my 40th birthday in Corfu last fall, and that was nice, but because of my partner’s salary cuts, I had to foot most of the bill. Not that I’m complaining about paying for my partner, but because the government cut his salary, I’m having to pay for what we would normally be able to fund together, and it’s getter harder for me to do it alone because of taxes and lost income from the lack of domestic freelance work (I survive on international work alone).

It gets depressing, having to decide if we’ll go out for dinner this month, or to the cinema, or maybe out for drinks…but not all of the above. It doesn’t seem fun anymore, but I’m holding out for better. I feel like it might be around the corner if I listen to Stournaras on replay a hundred times.”

*TEBE is the social insurance fund (health care & pension) for self-employed.