Are You Serious?
If you are seriously considering moving and living, and even working, in Greece, then do consult the British Consulate Athens, via the official website here. It has some important information you need to know. Also, if you are definitely moving to Greece, even if for a temporary period, then you should always register with the British Consulate, especially for reasons of declaring your exact location and contact details, should any friends and relatives wish to contact you in a crisis, or for other important reasons.
Also, moving to Greece is a really big decision, so location and where you want to live must be based on clear-headed practicalities. Never allow yourself to get carried away on a fantasy raft of idyllic dreams and pipe smoke - reality is never the same. Everyday life must fit your personality and demeanour. The house or dwelling you live in must be viable (ruins are great but just where will you live?). Whether you are gregarious or introverted, sociable or otherwise: this is a basic reality you need to consider in the context of place, aspect, situation, and infrastructure, as well as social and cultural elements. Questions you need to ruminate on are: will you be overwhelmed by the locals or left lonely and ignored? How will you react and, importantly, how will you deal with the inexorable and unavoidable 'culture shock'(check Wiki article)? If there is an emergency, do I know enough basic Greek or for that matter, are there adequate local emergency services that will reach you in time? If you have your own insurance, where is the nearest private hospital, or for your animals, a qualified vet? If I am ill, how far away is a local shop or pharmacy?
Always, according to collective wisdom, choose a location that provides all the amenities and basic services you may ever need, including the obvious like good hospitals, vets and other vital services. In addition, living near or next to a larger town or city is, as a new arrival, much more favourable work issues and your professional schemes. Think about that. If I were moving Greece I would deliberately choose a place like Rhodes Town, for example, or at least within a few miles of its environs. I would need the reassurance provided by a relatively fully serviced and equipped conurbation. Getting away from it all is not necessarily the ideal in practical everyday living concerns.
If you do decide to live in the middle of nowhere, then that in itself can include a whole host of problems that may prove impossible to overcome. Be realistic and never get yourself. Having said that, if you understand the native language, are gregarious and reliable and have a talent the Greeks can't do without - then you've got it made!
Extract from the British Consulate Athens website:
Information can be obtained by contacting the local office of the Greek National Health Service: IKA, www.ika.gr. Appointments to see an IKA doctor may be made by calling 184.
The Greek National Health service provides a native NHS to Greek NI contributors and has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service. Visitors to Greece should obtain a European HI Card (EHIC - for certain free hospital treatments)) before leaving the UK.
The EHIC is available free of charge through most UK post offices or from the UK Department of Health via their website at www.dh.gov.uk or by calling 0845 606 2030 to obtain the leaflet “Health Advice for Travellers”.
The EHIC entitles you to emergency treatment on a par to treatment received by Greek Nationals. You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and health cover before travelling abroad. There are many public and private hospitals and medical centres of varying standards around Greece. The level of nursing and after-care may differ from what is normally available in Britain.
From 1/10/2009 everyone (regardless of age) who lives and works in Greece is required to obtain an AMKA number. AMKA is citizens “Identity” Social Insurance Number. It is an eleven digit number and the first six digits reflect the holders’ date of birth. It is essential for those who plan to a) work b) be insured c) obtain medical and hospital care and d) receive a pension or benefits. Your AMKA number can be acquired at your local KEP office.
British residents in Greece should apply to the Pensions Service for the following forms when they require long-term health cover; if you are in receipt of a state pension then you need to apply to the UK Pensions Service for an S1 form (previously known as the E121.) When you receive this, you should complete it and take it to your local IKA office. You will be issued with an IKA health booklet in exchange. This booklet can then be renewed by IKA each year. Usually, the person who receives a pension is entitled to name his/her spouse as a dependent and this renders the dependent person eligible to apply for an S1 from the Pensions Services and therefore obtain a separate health booklet. Unlike the UK, Greece, at the present time, does not recognise partnerships - be it man & woman or same sex - so it is therefore not possible for a partner to be listed as a dependent.
If a person has worked in the UK for the past 2-3 years and plans to take up residence in another EU country, he/she can apply to the UK Pensions Service for an E106 form. This form should then be taken to the IKA office where it will be exchanged for a health booklet, which will only be issued for a maximum of 2 years. The number to call for these services is (0044) 191 218 7777. A person coming to look for work in Greece, who was previously unemployed in the UK, is entitled to free medical treatment in Greece provided he/she produces an E119 to their local IKA office. This may be obtained by calling (0044) 191 218 7652.
Furthermore, to enable a pension to be paid directly into a Greek Bank Account, a form must be obtained from the Pensions Service. This needs to be completed by the pensioner giving all his/her Greek bank account details and sent back to the Pensions Service who will then make the necessary arrangements.
For information on medical benefits you can contact The Pensions Service, Medical Benefits, Tyneview Park, Newcastle NE98 1BA, Tel (0044) 191 218 1999 – website: www.thepensionservice.gov.uk
Important Update: As of 01 May 2010, the E121 is now known as an S1. All E121 forms already issued will remain valid. Entitlement to healthcare will not be affected by this change.
If you receive unemployment benefit in the United Kingdom and wish to move to Greece in an effort to find work, you may continue to receive unemployment benefit in Greece from the local Manpower and Employment Organisation Office (OAED) for a period of three months. Before your departure from the UK, you need to let your local Jobcentre Plus (Tel: 0800 055 6688) know of your decision in good time so that they can give you the necessary forms to fill in prior to your departure. According to Greek regulations, you will have to have remained at the disposal of Jobcentre Plus to look for a job for four weeks after you have registered the commencement of your unemployment.
When you move to Greece you must register yourself with your local OAED office, as unemployed, within 7 days of leaving the UK. You will need to submit the E303 form to OAED, issued by your local Jobcentre Plus in the UK. For further information on the documents required you should refer to your local OAED office (Tel: 210 998 9000, www.oaed.gr). If you do not find work within three months you must leave the country.
Useful links: www.oaed.gr
Going to live abroad is a major decision to take. It makes sense to get a wide range of information and advice to help you plan and make sure the move goes smoothly.
Before you go, you should:
The following pages are all extracts from the excellent Peter Reynolds book 'Going to Live in Greece', available from Amazon - see Books About Greece page©Peter Reynolds
Ya Sas (hello) and Herete (welcome) to Greece, situated at the crossroads of three continents in the southern part of the Balkan peninsula in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a beautiful country, when you get to know it, encapsulated in this quotation from the novelist Henry Miller: 'In one way or another, at some time or other, we have all been there, even if only in a dream.'
Greece has a total area in excess of 130,000 square kilometres and consists of mainland and islands, which occupy approximately 20 per cent of the total area and contribute to Greece's severely indented coastline of over 15,000 kilometres. Greece borders on the north with Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and on the north east with Turkey. It is Europe's closest link to the Middle East. With the European Union operating as a single market, Greece is ideally situated as an entry port to the EU from the Middle East, North Africa and most of the north-east Balkan countries. Greece is surrounded on three sides by sea: the Aegean in the east, the Ionian in the west and the sea of Crete in the south.
Over 80 per cent of Greece's land space is covered by mountains, the highest of which is MountOlympus at 2,917 metres in the east central region. The principal mountain range, Pindus, runs north to south in western Greece. Less than 30 per cent of the total land is cultivated. Expansive plains abound in Thessaly and Macedonia and to a lesser extent in the north west of the Peloponnese, a peninsula which was connected to the rest of the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth. The Corinth Canal, completed in 1893, makes an artificial island of the Peloponnese.
History of Greece
Prima facie evidence would suggest that the recorded history of Greece covers a period in excess of 3,000 years. Many early relics of Greek civilisation are to be found in the various museums in Athens and Thessaloniki, although there have been a number of findings going back some 5,000 years to the Iron and Stone Ages.
Introducing the Geometric and Archaic Period
This period from the 11th to the 8th century BC is known as the 'Geometric period' because of the geometric designs which were dominant in Greek art at the time. The Geometric period was followed by the 'Archaic era', which covers the 8th to the 5th century BC. This era was of great importance to the ancient Greek cities, particularly Athens and Sparta, which pioneered developments in the years immediately following.
Moving into a Classical Era
The 5th and 4th centuries BC are regarded as the 'Classical years' during which the ancient Greek civilisation was at its mightiest. After a series of successful battles, the Persian attempts to conquer Greece in the years 490-479 BC were finally thwarted and the Greek cities enjoyed a period of peace and tranquility, during which the arts flourished. This was the period when the theatrical tragedies of the poets Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides provided the foundation for classical drama, whilst the writings of Aristophanes introduced satirical comedy. The letters of Socrates and his pupil Plato illustrate the great debates of knowledge and meaning. During this time the monuments of the Acropolis in Athens were built, of which the most important is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, whose construction lasted from 447-432 BC. The Parthenon, gradually fading away and now closed to the public, remains the premier landmark in Athens today. It has been roped off from the public since 1983 when the Parthenon Restoration project commenced, funded by the Greek government and EU funds.
The Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431-404 BC) resulted in the loss of power in towns and states of southern Greece. This gave birth to the ascendancy of Thebes and defeat of Sparta in the northern state of Macedonia, whose King Philip managed to unite all Greeks. Macedonia became the lynchpin in Greek affairs during the 4th century BC. Philip was succeeded by his son Alexander the Great, who set about defeating the Persians and effectively progressing the influence of Greece throughout the Middle East.
Progressing through Hellenistic years
After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the 'Hellenistic years' were born, during which Greek civilization went through a revitalisation not only in Greece, but also throughout the Middle East where Greek monarchies were installed. However, on-going civil wars reduced Greek powers further and the country was eventually overcome by the Romans in 146 BC.
Moving the seat of the Roman Empire
Constantine the Great transferred the seat of the Roman Empire in 330 AD to a new city named after him, Constantinople. In 395 AD the Roman Empire was divided between the west and the east with Constantinople as its capital. The eastern Roman Empire under the influence of Greek civilisation was gradually Hellenised and developed into the Byzantine Empire, retaining language and culture as its hallmarks. The Byzantine Empire came to an abrupt end in 1453 AD with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Crete was the last bastion to fall to the Turks, surviving a further 400 years.
Stealing the Marbles
Many relics and artefacts of the Byzantine era can now be seen at the British Museum in London, where you will also find the Parthenon sculptures or 'Elgin Marbles' removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin, in 1806 and transported back to England, after he acquired the sculptures from the Turks to prevent them being crushed for building materials. At the time Lord Elgin was criticised for removing priceless national treasures. After a ten year struggle he persuaded the British government to buy the marbles and place them in the British Museum. The chief pieces by the 5th century BC master Phidias are from the frieze and tympani of the Parthenon. Until the death in 1995 of Melina Mercouri, the film star who became the Greek Minister for Culture, there appeared to be a chance, albeit a slim one, that one day the tablets would be returned to their rightful resting place.
Getting into hot water
In recent years, the Elgin Marbles have become a leading issue in the international debate over restitution of cultural heritage. Concerned about their care and cleaning, the Greek authorities are pressing relentlessly for the homecoming of ta marmara. The dispute now revolves around the unfortunate 'over-cleaning' with chisels and scrapers in 1937-38 arranged by the art dealer Lord Duveen. The somewhat over-zealous rubbing was carried out to fit in with the then notion of positive whiteness. However, as soon as the damage was discovered the work was stopped.
Undergoing the Wars of Independence
Greece remained under Ottoman rule for nearly 400 years until the outbreak of the Greek revolution in 1821 and the ensuing War of Independence which led to the creation of the modem Greek state in 1827.
The Greek War of Independence (1821-33) liberated the city of Athens from the Turks and made it the capital of modem Greece. Previously Nafplion on the Peloponnese with its wonderful Venetian fortress had held the honour of capital city. Athens was largely rebuilt during the reign of King Otto (1832-62) by German architects, notably Eduard Schaubert.
It took well over a century and successive Wars of Independence for the northern states of Greece to overcome foreign rule and rejoin the southern states as a united independent country.
As a UK/EU national, you have the right to live and work in Greece without a work permit, sharing the same rights as Greek nationals for pay, working conditions, access to housing, vocational training, social security and trade union membership. Your family and immediate dependants are entitled to join you and enjoy similar rights. However, there is a difference between theory and practice and you will find that a work permit is often expected. Beware the unscrupulous employers who will have you believe that, without a work permit, you are operating illegally and therefore the rate of pay will be depressed to compensate for the employers' risk.
Making the Most of the Network
The Government Employment Service in each member country of the EEA (European Union countries, Norway and Iceland ) publish details of vacancies supplied via the EURES network. EURES is a partnership of all the employment services in the EEA, to promote free movement of workers. This network is fully computerised, allowing access to up-to-date information on living and working conditions in each EEA member state. There are over 500 specially trained staff who update the information; they are called Euroadvisers and specialise in local employment issues.
Visiting Youth Hostels
Surprisingly, this is an extremely good source of local knowledge, mostly for casual and seasonal work. You would always hope to run into English speaking Europeans in a similar situation to your own.
Assessing Job Centres
UWEU nationals also have free access to the services of the Greek employment service, which is managed by the Manpower Employment Organisation Organisimos Apasholisseos Ergatikou Dynamikou (OAED). The address of the nearest post office can be found in the telephone directory (tilephonikos odigos). Further information required that cannot be provided by your nearest OAED should be addressed to the European Employment Services section at OAED head office.
Contacting Private Agencies
With few exceptions, private employment agencies are forbidden by law in Greece. Those allowed to operate are called Grafia Evrksseos Ergassias and are listed under that heading in the Greek equivalent of Yellow Pages, Chryssos Odigos. Some UK employment agencies that deal with work abroad are registered with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (RES). If you write to RES outlining the type of employment you are looking for, they may be able to provide a list of suitable agencies that are licensed by the Department of Employment. There may be a notional charge for this service.
Getting further information
A useful directory for professionals, executives and managers is the CPEC Recruitment Guide which lists recruitment agencies and search consultants in the UK. Many of these deal with overseas assignments and some have offices abroad. Your local public reference library may have this guide. It can also be purchased directly from the authors.
Using the Press
Major Athenian newspapers including Ta Nea, Eleftheros Tipos, Eleftherotipia and Apogevmatini all carry job pages. In the north of Greece the Makedonia is the dominant newspaper. Word of mouth remains a very powerful medium for job hunting in Greece.
An English language newspaper, Athens News, also carries vacancies. Vacancies sometimes also appear in the UK press but these are usually with UK based companies. International newspapers such as the International Herald Tribune carry managerial, technical and other professional staff vacancies. Professional journals and magazines available in the UK may also be a useful source of jobs, especially if a journal is world renowned. Benns Media, a directory listing all UK trade magazines and journals, is available in public reference libraries.
You can also advertise yourself in newspapers by either contacting the newspaper direct or using an agency such as Publicitas .
Writing to Professional Associations and Unions
Another source of contacts could be the professional association or union that you may belong to. Such organizations may well have contacts with counterparts in Greece who could provide information useful to your job search. The directory Trade Associations and Professional Bodies of the UK may be useful in this respect. This directory should be available at a local public reference library.
Finding Chambers of Commerce
This is a possible source of company information. For further information on UK companies operating in Greece contact the British Chamber of Commerce in Athens or Thessaloniki.