Greece has struggled economically during the last decade, and unemployment rates remain high. As a result, finding work in Greece can be difficult, and in most cases local workers take priority. In addition, fluency in modern Greek is a significant advantage. EU and EEA citizens may live and work in Greece without a work permit, but if they intend to stay in the country for longer than 90 days, they must register at a local Department of Aliens, and obtain a Certificate of Registration.
All other expats must obtain a visa before they may live and work in Greece, and these can be hard to obtain, unless you are married to a Greek citizen or can prove you are of Greek origin.
For a National Work Visa, you must have an offer of work within Greece or be in the process of being transferred to Greece before you can apply. Your employer must be able to prove that no suitably qualified Greek or EU national is available to fill the vacancy, and must fulfil minimum profit requirements. They may also have to supply a deposit equivalent to several months of your salary: some employers will ask you to provide this.
Visas are handled by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the application form can be downloaded from their website. In addition to a valid job offer, you must supply your passport, proof of your professional and university qualifications, evidence of valid medical insurance and a criminal background check. Applications can take up to a year to be processed and you may have to attend an interview at the Greek embassy in your home country.
You can also enter Greece on a Schengen area visa and apply for jobs while you are there. Be aware, however, that once again any employer must be able to prove they cannot find a suitable Greek or EU/EEA national to fill the position.
You must apply for a work and residence permit within 30 days of your arrival: in order to do this, you must first also obtain local tax and social security numbers from the local tax office and the Social Security Institute. The application must be supported by proof of medical insurance, address, of ability to support yourself through a job, self-employment or private income, and a certificate from a state hospital that you do not have any serious communicable diseases.
Applications take time to process and if your Schengen area visa runs out during the process, you must leave the country and start over from the beginning.
In all cases, there are fees for visas: these vary, but long-stay visas are €180 (£156/£200) in most cases at time of writing.
The cost of living in Greece runs at around 17% lower than in the UK and 36% lower than in the USA: rents are even lower. However, salaries are also low: on average, workers in Greece earn around £600/£700 a month. Expats can expect to enjoy a reasonable standard of living, but you will need to have medical insurance.
At time of writing, there are skills shortages in ICT operations and support; business and administrative management; and sales, development and marketing management.
Jobs in Greece are advertised on a number of international job websites, including Glassdoor and Reed.
CVs are expected to be long – 3-5 pages – and supported by academic and professional certificates, a covering letter, and health certificates.
Whether or not your spouse and children under 18 can join you depends on your type of employment. Anyone who is considered an executive employer can bring their family with them from the start of their employment. In other cases, you must have worked there for two years and be able to prove you are able to support them.
Your spouse and children must also apply for visas and residence permits. If your spouse wishes to work, they must obtain a work visa. Civil partnerships and same-sex marriage are not recognised in Greece and civil- and same-sex partners may not be able to join you.
Greece, a popular Mediterranean destination, is part of the Schengen Agreement. The type of visa you will need to travel there will depend on the reason for your visit. If you are visiting the country from an EU nation, you will not require a visa, but you may need one if you are from outside of the EU, and are intending to enter Greece to live and work there.
If you are a national from an EU/EEA member state, you will not need a visa.
UK nationals will be able to enter Greece for 90 days without a visa up until the end of December 2020. After that, you will need to check the UK government website for updated travel information.
US citizens may enter Greece without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. Your passport should have at least six months’ validity.
If you are not a US citizen or from a country that has a visa waiver agreement with Greece – you can check this at your local consulate – and are from outside the EU/EEA zone, you will need to apply for a visa. Most consulates operate on an appointment system, so you will need to apply in person. They can, however, then post your passport/visa to you.
In order to apply for a Schengen visa (a short-term entry visa applicable to countries in the Schengen zone), you will need to submit:
• A completed application form
• Two passport format photos
• Your passport and any copies of previous visas
• Travel insurance (including medical coverage), with confirmation of a minimum of €30,000 coverage within Greece and the entire Schengen Area
• A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit to Greece and your itinerary
• Proof of civil status (for example, your marriage certificate, or the birth certificates of your children)
• Your flight itinerary
• The address of your accommodation, including hotels
• Proof that you are able to support yourself financially throughout your stay (for example, a recent statement from your bank for the last three months, which shows funds of at least €50 per day spent in Greece, or traveller’s cheques, or proof of sponsorship)
You may need further documentation depending on your status. If you are employed, you may need to supply:
• A contract of employment
• A letter of leave from your employer
• A bank statement for the last six months
• An income tax return
• Your business license (if you are self-employed)
If you are a student, you will need to include your certificate of enrolment at the relevant educational institution.
If you are retired, you will need a statement of your pension for the last six months.
Note that you can also apply for a long-stay visa, if you are from outside the EU and are intending to remain in Greece for longer than three months. You will need to supply:
• A valid passport
• Proof of health insurance
• A medical certificate
• Your round-trip flight bookings
• Evidence of sufficient financial means
• Proof of accommodation
The standard cost of a Schengen visa is €80, but you will be exempt if you are in one of the following categories:
• A child younger than six years of age
• A family member of an EU/EEA national
Documents required for exemption are:
• Your original marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
• Your original full birth certificate
• Your EU/EEA nationals’ passport
You will also be exempt if you are travelling for the purpose of study or educational training, for example, if you are a school pupil, an undergraduate student or a postgraduate student. You must be accompanied by your teachers/professors. In addition, invited researchers are exempt.
The documents required if you are exempt for these reasons are:
• An invitation letter from the relevant Greek institution
• A letter from the university/organization in your host nation
There is a reduced fee of €35 for nationals of countries which have a visa facilitation agreement with the EU.
Fees are non-refundable and are not a guarantee that you will be issued with a visa. It is therefore essential to make sure that you supply all the required documentation when you apply for your visa, and that this documentation is in good order.
You can apply for a visa 90 days before your trip. On average, a visa application takes five working days to process, but it can take less – the Greek authorities in London say that they aim for a two-day turnaround. It is wise to make sure you leave plenty of time, just in case any hitches occur.
Residence and work permits have now been combined. If you are from outside the EU/EEA, you may find it difficult to obtain a working visa, because Greek citizens and EU nationals are prioritised, and Greek employers must prove that they have endeavoured to hire someone from these categories first.
If you intend to apply for a residence/work permit, you will need to apply for your visa at the local municipal office (Δημαρχείο / Dimarchio) within 30 days of your arrival in Greece. You will need to apply first for a tax number (Arithmo Forologiko Mitro – AFM) from your local tax office (Eforia). You will also need a social security number from the Social Security Institute (Αριθμός Μητρώου Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης – AMKA).
You will need to supply the following documentation:
• Your visa
• Your passport and photocopies
• Two passport photographs (it is advised to supply four)
• A certificate of medical insurance
• A health certificate from a state hospital (this is a declaration that you do not have any serious communicable diseases)
• Proof of your local address, such as a rental contract
• Proof of subsistence
• Proof of payment of the required fee to the national tax office (Eforia)
You will be issued with a form (bebaiosi) and can then start work. It may take significantly longer (up to a year) for you to be issued with your work permit in the form of a stamp in your passport, which you will need to collect in person.
You can renew your work permit within 60 days of its expiration date. You will need:
• Your passport
• A photocopy of all the pages in your passport
• A certified copy of your original residence/work permit
• A completed application form (in Greek)
You may also need to supply additional documents, depending on your employment status. Check with your local consulate or your prospective employer.
EU blue card
If you have been issued a residence permit for work that requires advanced skills by an EU member country, you will be eligible for an EU blue card. This is an approved, EU-wide work permit, which allows highly skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country within the European Union (excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom).
Bringing your pet into Greece
You do not need a pet passport unless you are going to travel beyond Greece, but your pet will require:
• A microchip
• Proof of an anti-rabies vaccination
• A health certificate certified by a licensed vet
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Property prices in Greece were severely impacted by the 2008 financial crisis, but are on the rise again now that the Greek economy has stabilised. Over 80% of the Greek population own their own homes, and there is a thriving rental business to support the tourism industry. In addition, many foreigners choose to purchase second homes there. Airbnbs are unregulated in Greece, and rentals on their properties can artificially inflate local rates.
All of these factors should be taken into consideration when you are deciding where to live, and whether you’d like to purchase or rent. It is advisable to engage the services of an estate agent, especially if you are not fluent in Greek, to ensure you understand fully all the nuances of the property and contractual details. However, agency fees can be expensive.
Whether buying or renting, you should set your budget and investigate your local area. The Greeks use ‘For Sale’ and ‘For Rent’ (enoikiazetai) signage, and advertise directly online and in local newspapers – generally in Greek – instead of selling through estate agents. English advertisements may be priced higher than the Greek equivalents, as they are designed to target foreigners.
The minimum period for long-term rental is three years, although you may be able to negotiate a shorter term. However, monthly costs tend to be lower if you commit to a longer period. If you stay beyond the end of the initial lease period, it is assumed that the lease will continue indefinitely until it is terminated by mutual agreement.
Generally speaking, utilities and services are only inclusive for short-term lets, so you will need to factor these costs into your budget. If you engage the services of an estate agent, you will also need to allow for their fees, which typically amount to the equivalent of one month’s rent.
The average rental per sqm in Greece for the first quarter of 2020 was €7.37. However, there were a wide range of prices. For example, properties in central Athens cost €9.44 per sqm, in the Municipality of Thessaloniki cost €7.64, and within suburban Thessaloniki cost €5.26. Prices were as high as €28.17 per sqm in the Cyclades, and as high as €31.43 in Chalkidiki.
You will be required to pay a deposit, usually the equivalent of two to three months’ rent, which is returnable at the end of your tenancy. To safeguard against potential deductions, you should take an inventory when you move in, which can then be reviewed when you move out. Apart from incidental damages and anything agreed as part of the tenancy agreement, the landlord is responsible for maintenance and repairs.
You should ensure you fully understand the details of your rental agreement, and it may help to engage the assistance of a translator if you are not fluent in Greek. Any index-linked annual rent increases must be included in your contract; otherwise your landlord can only raise rentals by going to court. Your landlord can only evict you if you don’t pay your rent, and only if they take legal action.
Property prices almost halved between 2008 and 2017, but are once more on the increase. However, it is worth taking into account the current state of the Greek economy when deciding whether or not property is a viable investment prospect.
There are no restrictions for EU residents seeking to buy property in Greece. However, all purchasers must register whether the property is for residential or investment/rental purposes. The Greek government charges an annual residential property tax (Eniaios Foros Idioktissias Akiniton (ENFIA)), which is calculated on this basis and must be declared on your tax return. Therefore, all property owners must be registered taxpayers and hold a Greek bank account.
Purchasing property in areas close to Greece’s borders, such as Crete, Rhodes and parts of Northern Greece, are designated restricted, and prospective purchasers must apply to a specially appointed committee. The approval of the local prefecture may also be required, and the process is particularly difficult for non-EU residents.
The so-called ‘golden visa’ option offers residency to foreigners purchasing properties in excess of €250,000. After five years, the purchaser is entitled to apply for permanent residency. As residency and work permits have been combined in Greece, if you do not qualify for the golden visa and are not a member of an EU country, you will need to secure your permit prior to purchasing a residential property.
Once you have identified your chosen location, it is advisable to use a local estate agent, who can address all the various elements of the purchasing process. You should also engage the services of a structural engineer, who will establish the age and condition of the property, and identify any specific zoning regulations. It is a legal requirement to hire a lawyer and a notary, and you should find someone who speaks your language if you are not fluent in Greek.
As more and more Greeks have moved into central locations, there are many properties in rural areas, which are in various states of disrepair, and a comparable increase in local renovators. Land is also available, if you decide to build from scratch. Wherever and whatever you choose to buy, you should give due consideration to earthquake-proofing.
It is difficult to secure a mortgage through a Greek bank, so you should consider using a bank or lender from outside of Greece. You will need to provide documentation detailing your funding source to ensure the money is not taxed as income.
You should factor in estate agent, legal, notary and surveyor fees, as well as an initial 10% deposit. Payment of the deposit is not a legal guarantee of the sale. Once all the relevant documentation has been approved, the notary finalises the transfer of ownership.
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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QUICK LINK: Greece health insurance
If you are working in Greece your employer must, by law, make contributions for you and sign you up with a provider. You will also need a social security number, known as an AMKA.
Greek medical insurance operates on a reimbursement system: there are several different forms of reimbursement; for example, covering only hospitalization, or treatment plus medication, or a pre-arranged fee.
Medical personnel in the public sector are not allowed to work privately, and the reimbursement system itself has not been adequately overhauled, resulting in a large deficit which periodically has to be topped up from government funds.
If you are not signed up by your workplace, you can speak to your local EFKA office. In either case, you will need to provide them with:
• an S1 form
• a photocopy of your passport
• your tax number
• two passport-style photographs
• an AMKA (national insurance) number
• a residence certificate, if you are going to be resident in Greece for more than three months
If you are working, you will need 50 days’ contributions towards EFKA before you are covered. You will then be issued with a health booklet, which serves as proof of your insurance. This must be renewed once a year in September or December.
If you are self-employed, you will need to apply to the local Insurance Organisation for Self-Employed (OAEE) office. To register, you will need:
• proof of your last three months’ insurance payments
• two passport-style photographs
• your passport or Greek ID card
Most banking facilities in Greece are very good and have improved significantly in recent years. However, there are also a number of banks in Greece that are very inefficient and slow compared to their European counterparts. Greece has around 20 local banks divided into two groups: specialized credit companies and commercial banks. The Bank of Greece (www.ethniki.gr) is the country’s central and the largest bank. In addition, it is the sole monetary authority in Greece, which regulates other banks and credit companies operating in the country.
A number of commercial banks are regulated by the state, but most of them are currently trying to merge with other banks or being privatized. The good thing about most banks in Greece is that they offer internet-banking services, which is a popular banking option for many people in the country. Greece also has a number of foreign-owned banks, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, Natwest Bank, HSBC, and Citibank.
Nearly all banks in Greece open from 8am to 2.30 pm on Mondays to Thursdays. On Fridays, the banks are usually open from 8am to 2 pm. However, banking hours may be different from branch to branch and even from town to town. Branches in big towns and resorts normally have extended working hours, which may include weekends and evenings. Banks in small towns and villages open for a few hours a day or on specific days only. It is important to carry your passport as proof of identity and be ready to wait in line for minutes or even hours whenever you want to use over-the-counter bank services. Bank queues in Greece have a reputation for moving slowly. Most banks in Greece prefer passports to residence permits. Transactions are carried out in two parts in many Greek banks. This is basically because the country wants to keep as many people as possible at work. Any withdrawal must be processed or approved at one counter. The next step will require you to queue to collect your money at the cash desk.
How to open a bank account in Greece
Residents and non-residents can open bank accounts in Greece. Many people prefer opening bank accounts in person, rather than opening one from abroad. It is important to check and compare the fees charged for services like international money transfers before choosing a bank. Talk to your colleagues, friends, or family members for recommendations.
To open a bank account in Greece, you must be at least 18 years old and provide proof of identity. You will also need to provide your local address. It is also possible to open a bank account prior to arriving in the country through an overseas branch of any Greek bank. You can also open an account with a UK or US bank operating in Greece. However, your signature will have to be ratified first before you can open the account.
You can open a wide range of bank accounts in Greece including external accounts, current accounts and foreign currency accounts. Most banks in Greece offer cash withdrawal (ATM) and debit cards with savings and current accounts. You can use your Greek debit card to make purchases outside Greece. Anyone who needs a credit card can request one but most banks may ask to see a recommendation from your bank in your native country before giving you one.
Non-residents cannot access loans since Greek banks do not offer loans to non-residents other than mortgages. It is advisable to leave your overseas bank accounts open when you are residing in Greece permanently, unless you are sure that you will not need to use them in the future. This means that you will not have to pay commissions to exchange foreign currency. Many expats in Greece have at least two accounts: a local bank account for day-to-day activities and a foreign bank account for international business.
International banks in Greece
Many international banks operate in Greece. These banks have their offices in city centers with branches spread around the country. Expats can withdraw money from ATMs in various parts of the country.
UK/US Banks in Greece
2, Iroon Polytechniou Street
210 6395 901
3, Paparrigopoulou Street
210 6124 680
210 9619 367
Barclays Bank PLC
1, Kolokotroni & Stadiou
210 8068 457
Bank of America NT & SA
39, Panepistimiou Street
210 3251 901
HSBC Bank PLC
109-111, Messogion Avenue
210 6960 000
22, Ag. Ioannou Street
210 9025 503
Cards & Travelers’ Checks
The best and fastest way to access money in Greece is to use a credit or debit card. Many foreigners residing in Greece save their money in foreign accounts and access it with credit or debit cards locally. Many hotels, restaurants, and retail stores accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. Cash is often the only mode of payment accepted in rural areas.
It is safer to carry travelers’ checks than cash when visiting Greece. Consider buying travelers’ checks in Euros when visiting Greece. Normally, they are acquired for a service charge of one percent from banks in Greece. It is mandatory for you to show your passport when banking euro travelers’ checks through banks, but there should be no charges incurred. However, rates and charges for travelers’ checks are different in other currencies.
Generally, banks present better exchange rates for travelers’ checks than banknotes. It is important to always preserve a separate file of cheque records and be aware of when and where they have been cashed. American Express offers replacement services for stolen or displaced travelers’ checks in their branches all over the world as long as you know the serial numbers of the checks. Clients who are not aware of the serial numbers of the lost checks will have to wait for a minimum of three days for them to be recovered.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Living and working in Greece will give you an ideal opportunity to learn one of the great classical languages of the world. Modern Greek differs somewhat from its ancient forbear, but it is still a rewarding language to learn, whether you will be working in a Greek-speaking workplace or simply visiting the country.
Greek (Greek: Ελληνικά, romanized: Elliniká, hence the term ‘Hellenic’) is an ancient tongue, the language in which the great texts of the Illiad and Odyssey were composed. It is spoken in a number of other places besides Greece itself: Cyprus, Albania and some other regions around the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea speak the language. It is one of the official languages of the European Union. Bear in mind that if you intend to learn the language, you will need to master a separate alphabet: Greek and Latin letters are different.
99% of Greeks speak Modern Greek (Νεοελληνική γλώσσα) but there are other languages in currency in the country too, including:
Greece has always been on a number of major trade routes, and this is reflected in its historical and contemporary linguistic heritage. There are also different forms of contemporary Greek, including many dialects and tongues such as Cypriot Greek (Κυπριακή διάλεκτος), Cretan and Tsakonian. So you will find a wide variety of regional differences.
However, you will find plenty of opportunities to learn Greek if you are resident in the country. If you are planning on visiting for only a short time, it is a good idea to master some basic phrases, such as those for:
• meet and greet
• days of the week/months of the year
• shopping and food-related vocabulary, including eating out
• some basic medical vocabulary (e.g. asking for a doctor’s appointment)
• some basic banking vocabulary (e.g. opening a bank account)
If you are intending to spend longer in the country, you may prefer to sign up with a language school or, if you want to learn the language more intensively, with one of the universities such as Athens or Thessaloniki.
Provision is wide and ranges from week-long or month-long courses for beginners, to intensive immersion courses with an exam at the end of them, such as the Certificate of Attainment in Greek. This is the national certificate, officially recognised by the Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs. It confirms your knowledge of Greek as a foreign/second language at six levels, starting from A1 for children 8-12 years old to C2 for adults.
The exam questions for the Certificate are intended for the general public and the content is of general interest: it is communication-oriented, focusing on grammatical accuracy and correctness, and on your ability to use the language efficiently in a specific place and within specific linguistic contexts, whether formal or informal. You may wish to register for courses which lead to the Certificate if you are intending to work for a Greek employer and need proof of your linguistic competency.
The language in the workplace will be Greek unless you are working for an international company, but English is widely spoken throughout the country, particularly in tourist areas and among the younger generation. Older Greeks in rural parts, away from the islands and Athens, may not speak English, although a number of Greek citizens may have lived abroad and retired back home, so will be fluent in English.
The English language is taught in schools from primary to university level. Over 50% of Greeks are estimated to speak English to some degree. Road signs will be in Greek and it is sensible to at least try to familiarise yourself with the Greek alphabet if you are planning to drive in the country.
Some English speakers may choose to go to Greece in order to teach English. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools in Greece require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work. There is a reasonably high demand for TEFL provision. Your salary will be in the region of €700-1000 per month and hiring principally takes place in the autumn and January and contracts tend to run for a year.
Ideally, you should get work permits sorted out before you arrive: some teachers do work without them, but this is not advised. You can find work directly by approaching language schools, signing up with a TEFL agency, or consulting the British Council in Greece. Note that expats report that there have been somewhat controversial proposals to insist that English teachers also have a proficiency test for Greek, but this has been shelved: keep an eye on the situation to see if it is raised again, however, if you are intending to seek work in TEFL in the country.
Translation and interpreting work is also available, but you will need to speak Greek to a high standard and may need relevant qualifications.
Greek literacy rates are amongst the highest in the world, at around 98%. State education in Greece offers many choices, particularly at Lyceum level, but it is undergoing significant changes as well as economic pressures. It is controlled by the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.
School attendance is compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Tuition is provided free, up to and including undergraduate level. College and university education are provided through direct funding of the institution.
There are several levels and choices for education in Greece. Children can be enrolled from age three in nurseries or in kindergartens, public or private. Pre-school is compulsory for the final two years. Primary school runs from age 6 – 11. Secondary school runs from age 12 – 15.
Students are then faced with a choice to continue in the academic stream – Lyceum runs from age 16 – 18 – or to enrol in vocational/technical colleges, where the duration of tuition will vary depending on the profession or occupation chosen. For those attending the vocational colleges or taking apprenticeships, there is also the chance of further advancement through technical universities, and there are many institutions for professions such as teaching.
Those studying at the Lyceum can sit a separate university entrance exam if they wish.
State education will be conducted in Standard Greek throughout, using the Greek alphabet, which might be seen as a stumbling block for expat children who may wish to enter the system.
Homeschooling is not legal in Greece, and there are reports of families who have tried this route being forced by the authorities to send their children to school.
There are a number of private schools in Greece, many denominational. These offer tuition at various levels. Their curricula will be closely aligned to the state system, with additional classes and activities depending on the philosophy of the individual school.
There are also many fee-paying international schools in several different areas, but especially in Athens, catering more specifically for expat children of all ages. Some of these have day care for infants, and education through to grade 12 or A Level. Separate pre-school kindergarten (ages 3-6) is also available privately in some of the larger cities.
Here are a few of the many international schools in Greece:
• International School of Athens (English. IBDP, additional Mandarin and Arabic lessons)
• Campion School, Athens (British curriculum, COBIS executive member. Secondary school. IGCSE and IBDP, with Cambridge checkpoints)
• American Community Schools, Athens (American, Greek or IBDP tuition program, with extra English language support)
• St Catherine’s British School, Athens (UK curriculum secondary, IGCSE and IBDP)
• American College of Greece, Athens (NEASC accredited. US undergraduate programs)
• International Community School, Larissa (IBDP candidate, IGCSE and AP)
• Doukas School, Marousi (all ages IBDP, GCE or BTEC)
• Pinewood American International School, Thessaloniki (US curriculum, college prep, boarding available senior grades)
There are many more to choose from, including French, German, and Montessori.
Extra-curricular activities will vary considerably, and need to be ascertained from the individual school. Demand for places at international schools is always high, and it is important to contact the school of your choice as early as possible. Fees will also be quite substantial, and it is always important to read the small print – additional expenses can mount up. For example many schools have additional contributary capital funds for improvements/repairs.
High school or international school graduates will have the choice to continue their studies in Greece, but many will want to pursue their higher education abroad. Successful graduation from Greek schools, public or private, will give your child an internationally recognised high standard qualification, which is generally accepted at universities worldwide without the need for additional assessment tests.