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Greece marks the start of a new type of travel for me and my digital nomad journey. I’m travelling slower, basing myself in one place – and one apartment! – for at least two months at a time. And it all begins with living in Greece!
Making the digital nomad lifestyle work isn’t easy, and I want to be able to travel better and work better. Big ask? Maybe, but staying in one ‘base’ – such as Crete, Greece – and living a relatively normal life while there, is helping oodles with productivity. It also means I can enjoy the travel days fully without stressing about finding work time.
Whether you’re a faster traveller or are thinking of living in Greece for much longer, I hope this will give you a good idea of what to expect!
Why we chose to live in Greece
The short answer is… I don’t know.
The long answer is I knew I wanted a summer base in Europe. With Brexit approaching and the family plans I wanted to be able to make, I wanted to make the most of being able to live in the EU. We umm-ed and ahh-ed over several European countries – mostly Bulgaria, Ukraine and Romania – before throwing Greece out as an option.
Living in Greece as a Digital Nomad
Even though it wasn’t a well-thought out destination, Greece has turned out to be a dream. Living in Crete is surprisingly easy, with pretty much everything we need in easy distance. And did I mention just how beautiful the Greek islands are?
Working in Greece
The difference between being a digital nomad vs a regular traveller is that we prioritise the less exciting things. Practicalities like good WiFi, work spaces and business opportunities come before opportunities for paragliding off mountains, experiencing the nightlife and other truly unique travel experiences. That’s especially true when you’re establishing some sort of base.
Here’s how Greece shapes up in terms of all the digital nomad necessities.
Possibly the most important part of all, Greece has been a little hit and miss with WiFi so far. If anything, it’s the only thing that’s really let it down.
Even though the coffee shop culture here is INCREDIBLE (more on that in a minute!) the WiFi speeds aren’t always great.
The main issue we’ve faced with WiFi is upload speeds. If you only need the internet to browse and download, you’ll be absolutely fine with the set-up in Greece. In fact, the download speeds are pretty speedy most of the time!
But if, like me, you upload videos to YouTube or need to upload photos or files regularly, it’s going to require a little bit of patience. The best solution I’ve found is to use my own WiFi device for uploads.
It also seems that the WiFi can be pretty inconsistent across time and across the islands. There’s no doubt that some Greek islands (e.g. Syros) have much faster WiFi than others (e.g. Crete), and it also varies at different times of day. Once you know your area – and its peak times – you can plan your days around it quite easily.
Coworking spaces in Greece
Coworking isn’t completely alien to Greece, but it’s not a common practice. Whether it’s because the self-employment rates are low or people just prefer working from home, there’s a distinct lack of places to work.
You’ll still find a couple of coworking spaces in the main towns and cities. They’re not going to come cheap and you won’t get much more than a desk for your money, though. I’ve avoided using them and instead chosen to set-up a little home office space and make use of all the great coffee shops.
Events & Community
If attending networking events and meeting other digital nomads is important to you, you might want to skip the Greek islands. As wonderful as they are, you’ll be hard pressed to find any like-minded souls. On the mainland, however, there seems to be plenty of regular events and meet-ups.
Travelling in Greece
By far one of the best things about living in Greece is having the time to really travel Greece. Greece is such a fascinating country with loads of areas to explore – some very well-known and others undiscovered.
Getting around Greece
You’ll probably spend most of your travel time in Greece hopping around the Greek islands. The ferries make it easy to travel between them so you can pick and choose your destinations as you please.
Many of the islands are small enough to get around mostly by walking or by taxi. The main areas are all well-connected by bus, too. But if you want to get to see some of the more remote spots and treasures, hiring a car is your best bet. Car hire in Crete, where I’m based, is essential to see the island’s best bits.
International travel from Greece
There’s so much to see and explore in Greece that travelling anywhere else isn’t really on my radar. But if you’re thinking of staying in Greece for longer than a couple of months, it might be important.
The easiest places to get to are, as you’d expect, Italy and Turkey. There are regular ferries between the main ports in each country, meaning you don’t have to deal with airport security or waiting in the departure lounge for hours. Bonus!
If you do want to fly, some of the Greek islands are surprisingly well connected. I thought we would have to fly via Athens to get anywhere and, although that will give you more options, there are lots of direct flights. Crete even has two airports, with direct flight to everywhere from Georgia and Ukraine to Israel and the United Kingdom.
Cost of living in Greece
Each of the Greek islands is so different that it’s hard to give straightforward examples of the prices in Greece. The cost of living in Santorini, which is notoriously expensive, will be very different to the cost of living in Crete or Athens.
The good news, then, is you have options. If budget is an important factor for you, you might to start by researching the cost of living on different parts of Greece before thinking about anything else.
Here are the general prices and trends I’ve noticed:
This will be the biggest expense for most digital nomads, but there’s a good amount of affordable accommodation in Greece. If you’re willing to forego air conditioning and being in the heart of a touristy place, you can find somewhere to live on the Greek islands for as little as 200 Euros per month.
The other thing to consider is the season. The price of accommodation in Greece seems to skyrocket in August. If you can wait until September, there’s a good chance the cost of accommodation will be only a quarter of what it would have been in August. We found our studio apartment on Airbnb and the cost of August is more than double what we’re paying in September.
Cost of food in Greece
Even though Greece is generally one of the more affordable European countries to live in, the cost of food isn’t as cheap as you might think. That’s probably because the tax rate is set at a massive 24%, but there are some more budget-friendly options.
The good thing is the prices are pretty consistent, so you can plan ahead easily. A typical meal in the Greek islands will set you back around 6-9 Euros for an appetiser or salad, and about 7-12 Euros for a main. Soft drinks are expensive, but water is dirt cheap. Grocery stores aren’t especially cheap, but shopping at stores like Lidl will help keep costs down.
The Greek lifestyle
One of the best things about living in Greece is the weather. It’s dry most of the year and doesn’t get excessively cold in the winter months. The summer months can get very hot, so you might want to avoid moving to Greece in July or August.
One of my favourite things about living in the Greek islands is just how easy it is to live a healthy lifestyle here. There are plenty of health stores and diet-friendly menus, as well as protein products and such. Plus, it definitely helps that Greek food is pretty healthy – speaking of which…
The food in Greece may just be my favourite food in the world. (Well, after Vietnamese.)
Salads are standard and many Greek dishes are very protein heavy. Everything is chock full of flavour.
Discovering different Greek food is really fun, too. Each of the Greek islands has its own local specialities, so make sure you try some of them when you visit!
Moving to Greece
Moving to Greece isn’t as complicated as some countries, especially if your home country is in the UK. But wherever you’re from and however long you plan to live in Greece, here are some thing to consider.
Buy anything you won’t be able to get
I never really worry about packing most things because I know I can get everything in most countries. That’s even more true in Europe, but living on a Greek island have proven a bit of a struggle. While the islands are incredibly well stocked with most things, finding technology isn’t easy.
Camera gear in particular isn’t easy to come across. I really need a second (and third!) battery for my vlogging camera, but nowhere seems to be able to get hold of one – even in Heraklion, the capital of Crete. If you need any gear or other electronics to do your work, it’s best to bring them with you.
Know how long you can stay
I absolutely love living in Greece. So much that I think I could probably settle down here for life – and right now I can. As long as the United Kingdom and Greece are both part of the European Union, I can stay here as long as I like… but I guess that’s about to change.
Soon I’ll probably have to live by the same rules as Canadians, Americans and many other nationalities. If you’re from a non-EU country, make sure you check the government website so you know exactly how long you can stay.
Check your insurance is up to date and valid
Wherever you’re from, having insurance is a must. I use World Nomads because it’s designed for digital nomads and covers everything. Plus, you can renew it without going back to your home country. My guide to long term travel insurance will help you decide what insurance you need.
Living in Greece has been FANTASTIC so far. Yes, there are pros and cons to basing here, but overall it’s been a fantastic place to spend a couple of months.
The Greek Island are particularly great if you want to buckle down and work on projects while enjoying a laid-back lifestyle. Plus, it makes sense to spend a long time here since are so many islands to see.
If you have any questions about living in Greece, Crete or the Greek islands in general, drop me a tweet or Instagram message! And if you want to meet other digital nomads and travel lovers, come and join the Facebook community.