Greece offers an irresistible warm climate and gorgeous beaches for weary travelers. Often, those who come here for a vacation never leave, enchanted by the laid-back island lifestyle. Newcomers to Greece will find plenty to like in this country but careful study must be undertaken to ensure a smooth transition. The following information should serve as a starting point for Canucks who are thinking of relocating to the jewel of the Mediterranean.
Greece officially became part of the European Union in 1981 and consequently adopted the Euro as currency in 2002. Unfortunately, the economy has suffered tremendously in the past few years due to a debt crisis. Prices of basic goods have shot up, especially imported food. Local produce are cheap when in season. Commodities are more expensive in the islands compared to the mainland because of transportation costs.
There are opportunities for teaching English and other languages in various regions of the country. Work permits can be given to those who have a university degree and an acceptable proficiency in the Greek language. The Panhellenic Association of Language School Owners has more information on the matter. Job openings are currently scarce, therefore, one may need to be patient to secure gainful employment. During summer, tourist arrival is at its highest so bars and resorts employ more staff to deal with the influx of customers.
Greeks have strong family bonds and this culture spills over to business ventures. Most companies are family-owned and operated. Seniority is important so make sure to show respect to elders in the workplace. Business meetings tend to be informal, taking place over lunch or dinner. In the summer months, 2 to 3 hours of siesta are allowed in the middle of the day. Newcomers to Greece must always be courteous and avoid offending the locals.
Children can enroll in one of the many international schools which offer an English curriculum. Sending them to a regular Greek school is possible as well, but they may encounter severe difficulties with the language if they are already in their teens. Small kids may be able to adapt quickly to the changes. The Greek language is said to be among the hardest to learn, second only to Japanese.
Traffic congestion can be bad during peak hours in Athens and other major cities. People are often aggressive on the road and push the speed limits whenever they can which makes defensive driving a must. Expats may want to avoid the stress and just hire taxis to get around town. Fares are relatively cheap. Do not be surprised if the taxi driver stops midway to your destination to pick up another passenger as this is an acceptable practice in Greece.
If you are considering relocating to Greece, we at Canuck Abroad can help you. We have everything you need to make your transition as smooth as possible. We can also help you connect with fellow Canadians living and working in Greece.