The country evokes images of glorious summer sunshine and cobalt blue skies, endless white sandy beaches, picturesque whitewashed villages and deserted islands, sleepy harbours and colourful fishing boats, friendly people (the Greek work for ‘foreigner’ is the same as ‘guest’), and a simple, relaxed way of life.
Greece is largely unspoilt with little industry and few high-rise buildings outside the major cities – the islands in particular have escaped the scourge of indiscriminate development common in many other Mediterranean countries. The country also enjoys one of the healthiest diets in Europe, consisting largely of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and wine.
Greece is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and a holiday paradise with more than 1,400 islands (relatively few of which are inhabited), over 15,000km (9,320mi) of coastline and some of the finest beaches in the world. It’s also one of Europe’s last ‘undiscovered’ paradises for holiday homeowners and retirees.
As a location for a holiday, retirement or permanent home, Greece has much to offer, and in addition to a wide choice of properties and good value for money, it enjoys a mild climate with over 300 days of sunshine a year. There are many excellent reasons for buying a home in Greece, although it’s important not to be under any illusions about what you can expect from a home there.
The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is exactly why you want to buy a home in Greece. For example, are you seeking a holiday or a retirement home? If you’re seeking a second home, will it be mainly used for short holidays, e.g. one or two weeks, or for lengthier stays? Do you plan to let it to offset the mortgage and running costs? If so, how important is the property income? Are you primarily looking for a sound investment or do you plan to work or start a business?
Often buyers have a variety of reasons for buying a home abroad; for example, many people buy a holiday home with a view to living abroad permanently or semi-permanently when they retire. If this is the case, there are many more factors to take into account than if you’re ‘simply’ buying a holiday home that you will occupy for just a few weeks a year, when it’s usually wiser not to buy at all! If, on the other hand, you plan to work or start a business in Greece, you will be faced with a completely different set of criteria.
Can you really afford to buy a home in Greece? What of the future? Is your income secure and protected against inflation and currency fluctuations? In the ’80s, many foreigners purchased holiday homes abroad by taking out second mortgages on their principal homes and stretching their financial resources to the limit. Not surprisingly, when the recession struck in the early ’90s many people lost their homes or were forced to sell at a loss when they were unable to keep up their mortgage payments.
Buying a home abroad can be a good, long-term investment, although it’s possible to get your fingers burnt in the occasionally volatile property market in many countries, including Greece.