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Expats report about living in Greece: Story by Lisette

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. Here is the story by Lisette Amelia Gorton.

I came to Greece in 1992 when I had just turned 16. I arrived on the Island of Corfu one sunny afternoon with my mother , we were taken to our hotel which did not impress us one bit as it looked somewhat like a hospital and we were surrounded by Germans ….. first impression not good ….. so we unpacked and made our way to the tourist resort to see what was on offer. Again … not impressed !!! Thankfully we managed to make lots of friends and this made things bearable for us.

This summer was to be the stage when I would encounter my first romance … I know , I know …. heard this all before??? Greek romance for me , tears and heartache of a naïve, gullible 16 year old!!! At the end of our 10 day holiday we returned to England, I , convinced that I had found the love of my life (never having being involved with a man before… logical isn’t it???) So the days passed for me , slowly and painfully , I could not concentrate at college and decided to give everything up and return to Corfu to find my “true love”, and be together forever , mistake number one!!! …. Unfortunately he did not feel the same way as he had a wife and child at home!!!

Obviously, I felt dreadful , but I remained and found a job and went on to have so much fun . To cut a long story short (as short as is possible) I stayed on the Island , having met my future husband-to-be (whilst having all that fun).

A couple of years went by , during this time I journeyed back and forth until I finally decided to take the plunge and get engaged…. Mistake number two!! I can say the first years with my Greek husband were acceptable , then after marriage things started to get difficult. The culture here was and still is very different to ours and the concept of a woman’s status and equality between the two sexes leaves much to be desired, for that the Greek mothers are to blame as they treat their sons like some sort of higher beings… almost like Gods.

You are expected to work long hours , with your kids in tow and then go home to take care of that too… then there are the dreaded olives ….. depending on how many trees are in the family … I still cannot bear to look at olives! After years of difficulties and being basically treated as a slave I decided to do a very brave thing and ask for a divorce , to leave my husband and take our two children along with me, not to leave the country , just to live a calmer life still on the Island…..this, however proved to be very difficult, having a husband who drank quite heavily and was often violent.

You have to be very strong to get out of a Greek family; it is almost like the mafia. They cannot accept that anyone would leave them , to them it is just not acceptable.

I made the move…. Managed to escape and started from scratch with a lot of help from non-natives. I did exams in the Greek language, got my diploma from the University of Ioaninna and have been teaching Greek to ex pats for the last 5 years. I am also a zumba/aerobics and pilates teacher and yoga teacher.

I feel happy, glad I stayed although things were so tough; I think I can say that the support group of British has been a lifesaver to me. The Island is beautiful, although I feel the locals do not see this and don’t treat the environment with the respect it deserves. Greek Corfiots are also very well known for their slyness, they really are not what they seem and you must always be aware of this.

I have lived here for 26 years, basically grew up here and could not picture myself in any other country, I am not saying that I would never leave Corfu , I would love to live on the mainland where there is more life but my children were born here and moving them would be too upsetting.

Conclusion ……. Many times I regret the day I came here, when things are hard, but things can get hard wherever you may be, I chose this life so I make the best of it. When I feel down I take a look around me and see the beautiful landscape, the sea , the never ending blue sky and think there are not so many places on earth like this.

Lisette Amelia Gorton

Has Greece changed your life? What was the biggest challenge? Read article 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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  1. I will be keeping an eye on this topic.
    Moving to Ialysos, Rodos in Oktober.

  2. Greek men are the biggest mama boys in the world. Let’s hope Greece never goes to war with Turkey. Can you imagine these soy boys in the battlefield.
    Plus all of Greece survives on slyness (PORNIGIA).

  3. @ Nick – Funnily enough neither Roosevelt, Churchill or Hitler would have agreed with you.

  4. What this woman has written, is obnoxious. Through her comments, she has destroyed the people of an entire island simply because the fairy tale she travelled across Europe to find, did not exactly have the happy ending she had imagined it would have.
    Nobody forced her to move to Corfu and marry the first person she met, and nobody obliged her to challenge customs that have been around forever, and which seem to work just fine for the people who are from there and who invented them in the first place.
    Further to her initial racist comment about not being impressed because they were “surrounded by Germans”, it is clear that this woman who is now in her mid or late 40s, has such hatred and resentment inside her that she was driven to write an article generalising about the people of an entire island, in a most narcissistic way.

  5. Hecataeus Miletuss

    @Tamara, some of what you say is true. But, look at it this way, we Americans get a bad rap sometimes as tourists too. I will always remember a Greek interview on a beach on one of the channels where they were asking the Local Greek women what they thought of American tourist guys on the beach. Most were unflattering but one remained was one girl wrote “They are all kseneroti (like turn-offs hahaha). Ok, I’m sure there are some of us like that, but not all of us.. I didn’t really pay much attention to it since I know I wasn’t Kseneroti but yes I suppose (KTG) might find me annoying from time to time.

    Case in point, if you take everything with a grain of sand, and let it blow off your back, life is better. And over the years, I’ve met plenty of Americans and Germans who live in Greece and love it too, even though we may not always have a good name 🙂

  6. @ Hecataeus Miletuss I agree with your “Case in point, if you take everything with a grain of sand, and let it blow off your back, life is better.” – Something which the writer of the article did not do.
    Enjoy that beautiful country! 🙂

  7. Nick Try watching some videos of the Greek military service that all boys are obliged by law to do. Maybe it will change your mind about how brave the Greek men are. As a mother of 3 kids, 2 boys, yes, they are mamas boys because I love them, have doted on them and cherished them since birth and I will continue to do so until my dying breath because Greeks believe in family forever, not family until you turn 18 and then out the door! FYI I am a born and raised Canadian who moved here as a naive 19 year old.