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Expats report about living in Greece: Story by Tony & Tess

Can visiting or permanently living in Greece change your life? Do you feel at home here or have problems with the different way of Greek culture? What are the biggest challenges a foreigner has to deal with when on short or long term visit? KTG asked its readers to submit their own stories. And here is one by Tony and Tess

Apart from several holidays, our first real experience of living long-term in Greece was in 2005 when we spent our first winter in Greece living aboard our sailing yacht. That first winter was on Corfu, an island that is cold and wet for much of the winter, sadly we found most of the local people there equally cold. It didn’t help that Gouvia marina is a long way from Corfu town and in a tourist area that is mostly closed in the winter.

Winter 2006 we spent in Agios Nikolaos marina on Crete, and what a difference! Crete is not just much warmer and dryer in the winter, but the Cretan people are so warm and welcoming. It seemed to us that every Cretan you meet sees you as his (or her) friend until you give them reason not to be.

We have spent every winter since then in Agios Nikolaos marina and after only a couple of winters the locals began to see us as residents. We were warmly welcomed by ‘old’ friends each time we returned, they were equally sad when we left the next spring to sail elsewhere in Greece.

We very quickly felt more at home in Agios Nikolaos than anywhere we have ever lived and we had no hesitation in making it our permanent home when we moved off the boat into a local apartment almost two years ago. Now we really are residents, though we’re very well aware that we can never be ‘locals’, only those born here can claim that distinction.

The culture is very different. The laid-back attitude, the way that ‘avrio’ doesn’t really mean tomorrow it just means ‘not today’, and the very relaxed attitude to time-keeping (GMT means Greek Maybe Time) are annoying at first to those of us used to a more organised society, but it doesn’t take long before you to realise that life here runs to a different clock, a much more natural clock. Once you ‘go with the flow’ and accept that here they do things a little differently you begin to relax and enjoy life so much more.

The language is by far the biggest challenge, but not because of the different alphabet – that’s quite easy to get your English head around. The problem with Greek is that you must pronounce each word exactly correctly with the stress on the right vowel or people genuinely don’t know what you’ve said. That makes it very hard for beginners to practice their Greek with locals, and since many people here speak excellent English that’s what we end up using.

Here on Crete we are really living, and not just existing. Life in Greece is a joy, and not just because of the warm weather, the blue seas and blue skies. It’s a joy because of the more natural pace of life, the genuine warmth and friendship of the people here and the very real sense of being welcome. Thank you Greece!

Tony & Tessa Cross

Read also and see poll results: “Visiting Greece can change your life,” says expat after 25 years on a Greek island

If you want to submit your own experience from visiting or permanently living in Greece, send your story at:

Email ref title:Greece life expats

Some 500 words would do fine. Shorter or longer make no difference. KTG will only have problems if a text is above 800-1000 words. It i sup to you to decide whether the experience is published with your real name or nickname – just mention this on your e-mail.

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