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Moving to Greece From the UK

Martha Lott

Written by

1st Jun 2023 (Last updated on 16th Feb 2024) 11 minute read

With a Mediterranean climate, low cost of living and rich cultural history, Greece is a great candidate for relocation. A laid-back lifestyle combined with warm temperatures promises an excellent quality of life.

As a testament to its appeal, 17,230 expats were living in Greece in 2019 alone. In this article, we’ll outline the appeal behind moving to Greece, the property market and the process of obtaining the correct visas and permits.

  1. Why Are People Moving From the UK to Greece?
  2. Types of Greek Visas and Permits
  3. Residence Permit
  4. Greek Citizenship
  5. How to Apply for a Greek Visa
  6. Cost of Removals to Greece from the UK
  7. Property Prices
  8. Work and Salary
  9. Cost of Living
  10. Healthcare
  11. Education
  12. Importing and Registering Vehicles
  13. Culture/Art
  14. Is it Worth Moving to Greece From the UK
Some handy facts about moving to Greece:
  • Average shipping Costs from the UK: £2,405
  • Population: 10.64 million (2021)
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Main Language: Greek
  • Number of British Expats: 17,230 (2019)
  • Number of British Expats Compare My Move Have Helped to Relocate: 45
  • Most Popular Cities for Expats: Athens, Thessaloniki, Santorini, Mykonos

Why Are People Moving From the UK to Greece?

There are plenty of reasons why UK nationals are taking the leap and moving to Greece.

For property pricing and living expenses, Greece is far cheaper than the UK. Even in Athens where prices are higher, living costs are 33% lower than living in London.

Greece has a more relaxed approach to work, which is a great pull for Brits seeking a better work/life balance. The natural beauty of Greece along with its sun-rich weather is another factor. To top it off, Greek cuisine is unique, healthy and delicious, and it is usually very affordable.

Types of Greek Visas and Permits

Greek bureaucracy does make applying a more complex process now that we’ve left the EU. All visa applications need to be submitted in person. Visa Application Centres are located in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Visa applications can take 15 to 45 days to process, so take this into account when planning your visit.

Type C Schengen Visa

If you’re looking to explore Greece for the ideal place to move, then this short-stay visa is the ideal choice. This visa allows free travel throughout Greece and the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. You can log an application between 6 months and 15 calendar days before your departure date.

In 2024, the European Travel and Authorisation Visa will replace the short-stay visa. This ETIAS will be digitalised and can be applied for through a simple online process. The whole process will cost €7 per application for individuals aged 18 to 70. Minors and the elderly are exempt from ETIAS fees.

Type D Long-stay Visa

Stays longer than 3 months will require a Type D visa for non-EU expats. Long-stay visas have 3 different types - employment, student and family reunification. Most expats will only be suitable for an employment or work visa:

  • To secure an employment visa, you’ll need to present a work contract that is verified by a public authority. The salary of this job must be at least equal to the monthly pay for unskilled workers.
  • For a family reunification visa, you’ll need to prove a family affiliation with a Greek national. You'll also need to supply proof of accommodation and a suitable income.
  • With a student visa, you’ll need to present proof of enrollment to an educational institution in Greece. You’ll also have to supply evidence of payment of fees, as well as adequate income to support yourself.

Golden Visa

A more straightforward way to get a visa and residence permit is by investing in property.

Known as a Golden Visa, anyone who invests €250,000 in a Greek property qualifies for this visa. A Golden Visa grants a 5-year visa and fast-tracked residency. This amount can increase up to €500,000 in areas such as Athen, Thessaloniki, Mykonos and Santorini.

A Golden Visa can also be secured by investing at least €400,000 in government bonds, private equities or real estate shares.

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Residence Permit

Anyone moving to Greece with a visa that’s valid for a year or longer must apply for a Greece residence permit. Besides giving the right to live in the country, a permit entitles the holder to free healthcare. This requires all the documents needed for a visa application.

Appointments to apply for a permit can be done at your nearest General Regional Police Directorate. Those living in Athens or Thessaloniki must visit their nearest Hellenic Police station. More remote island locations may need you to travel further for this.

Residence permits for employment visas remain valid for 1-2 years, with the option to renew for up to 3 more. Residence permits for Golden Visa holders are valid for 5 years. Stays of less than a year do not require a residence permit, but a consular fee of €150 must be made on top of other visa fees.

Greek Citizenship

Greece allows dual citizenship to British nationals despite the UK not being in the EU.

There are 5 different ways to obtain Greek dual citizenship:

  • If you’re the child of a Greek citizen.
  • If you have Greek heritage or have been adopted by a Greek citizen.
  • By marrying a Greek citizen.
  • Via investment/Golden Visa.
  • Through naturalisation.

The majority of expats apply for citizenship through an application of naturalisation.


Residents seeking citizenship through naturalisation must first live and work in Greece for 7 years. Tax statements, a valid passport, birth/marriage certificates and a residence permit must then be submitted. You must not be convicted of crimes in either Greece or the UK either.

All documents require two copies - the original and a translation from an officially recognised translator. The application form must also be filled out in Greek.

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How to Apply for a Greek Visa

Whilst you apply for a residence permit when in Greece, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa before you depart. Applications take a minimum of 6 days to process but can stretch as far as 15 days or more. We advise submitting an application at least a month before leaving to avoid delays.

When applying for a visa, you’ll need to present:

  • Completed visa application form.
  • A passport that’s valid for at least 3 months after the intended departure date.
  • Certified criminal record from the applicant’s country of residence.
  • A medical certificate showing you do not pose a risk to public health.
  • Travel insurance equal to the period that the visa will cover.
  • Proof of work, income, marriage or investment depending on the type of visa.

Applicants will also need an AFM tax number to work, buy property or exchange a driving licence in Greece. You can do this before moving to Greece by getting a tax representative to submit an application for you. If you choose this option, you’ll need to visit your nearest consulate to validate your ID. Before this, you must submit an application online and sign over power of attorney.

Cost of Removals to Greece from the UK

Our research calculated the average cost of removals to Greece to be roughly £2,405. This is without the additional cost of services such as packing. Packing can be added to your move for an extra £250.

Be aware that the cost of a move can differ depending on the type of freight you choose - road, sea or air. If you’d like an idea of pricing, check out our overview of international removal costs.

Our research found that shipping offered the best value for money. This is because air freight is limited by the total weight of an inventory. Road freight can be costly due to the petrol and distance covered - particularly to Greek islands.

At Compare My Move, we can pair you with up to 6 trusted international removal partners.

Data taken from Pallet2Ship, MyCheapRemovals, RemovalReviews, MoveHub, TudorFreight, CargoForce, MoverDB

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Property Prices

When buying properties in Greece, expect to pay the following prices. We include English rates for comparison:

Building typeCost per m2 (£)
Greek City Centre Apartment£1,825
UK City Centre Apartment£4,375
Greek Non-Central Apartment£1,560
UK Non-Central Apartment£3,260

From our research, apartments in city centres in Greece are 58% more affordable than English apartments. Non-central property prices are also lower in Greece, working out at 52% less.

We’ve also researched rental rates for Greece and the UK for you to compare:

Apartment Type and LocationRental Rate (£)
Greek 1-bed£305
UK 1-bed£705
Greek 3-bed£550
UK 3-bed£1,210

Using the averages above, 1-bed rentals in Greece are 56% cheaper than 1-bed rentals in the UK. For larger 3-bed apartments, Greek rentals worked out 57% cheaper.

Data taken from Numbeo

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Work and Salary

There’s quite a difference between the common employment sectors found in Greece and the UK. Greece has a large orientation towards tourism and agriculture. In comparison, the UK focuses more on business and construction.

According to the European Commission, the largest sectors of employment in Greece include:

  • Tourism
  • Services
  • Retail
  • Sales

Greece experienced a dip in average salary after the economic crisis. Wages have however increased in recent years. This is thanks to the government initiating policies to help raise worker incomes.

Statista states the average Greek salary at €16,235 (£14,104) in 2021, while ThinkPlutus puts the UK average at £25,971. Thanks to Greece featuring affordable housing and a lower cost of living, the lower salary equates to roughly the same standard of living.

Cost of Living

The average cost of living in Greece is 44% lower than in the UK. This difference matches the lower average salary for a similar quality of life.

Cost of Living ExamplesGreece (€)United Kingdom (£)
Public transport (monthly)€35£74.80
Utility bills (monthly - one person)€114£116.75
Gym membership (monthly)€38.80£33.55
Taxi (5 miles)€12£13.75
Restaurant meals for 2€38.90£50.07
1 cinema ticket€7.97£9.77
Beer (0.5L)


Chicken breast (1kg)€7.66£5.92

Data taken from

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When moving to Greece, healthcare is one of the first essentials you’ll need to secure. This is because you can’t apply for a visa or residency permit without proof of healthcare. To secure state healthcare, you’ll need to have your own AMKA number. You can obtain one by either visiting your local citizens service centre or via the KEP website.

There is both public and private healthcare available for Greek residents. State healthcare in Greece is not free. In order for expats to qualify for healthcare, they must go through one of the following methods:

  • Pay social insurance (AMKA) contributions if registered to work in Greece.
  • Using a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This can only be done when staying temporarily, such as when studying or as a detached employee of a UK company.
  • Submitting a UK-issued S1 form (which provides UK-funded healthcare).

Whilst public healthcare is available to all, you’re highly advised to secure private healthcare as soon as possible. The most common way of getting private healthcare is through a Greek employer.


Greece’s educational system is considered of great quality. Compulsory education starts at age 4, though it ends a year shorter than the UK at 15. There are three stages to education in Greece - primary, secondary and tertiary.

Primary school (Demotiko) spans ages 6-12, with secondary school (Gymnasio) taking students from ages 12 through 15. After this, pupils can pursue tertiary education via high school and then university.

The majority of the population attends public schools. Between 4% and 6.5% of students enrol in private schools with tuition fees. There are manyinternational schools for expats with children that are highly accredited. Top schools and universities in Greece include:

  • Byron College
  • St Lawrence College
  • University of Crete
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

According to MastersPortals, tuition fees for non-EU students can total around €1,500-€2,000 per year at public universities. Top-rated private universities can have tuition fees that reach up to €10,000 per year. This is roughly the same as UK universities - which costs an estimated maximum of £9,250.

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Importing and Registering Vehicles

Before importing your car, you must change your main residence at your nearest Greek consulate. Once done, your vehicle will need to undergo a technician inspection to certify it as road-worthy. After this, you’ll need to get proof of insurance to submit to the Greek Ministry of Transport.

UK insurance can remain valid on a car for up to 185 days in Greece, after which you’ll need to switch to Greek insurance. You’ll need to contact the Directorates of Transport & Communications during this time to exchange for a Greek driving licence too. You'll also need to switch your plates before the 15th of the month following your arrival in the country.

Once in Greece, you'll need to submit these documents to register your car:

  • Your passport
  • A translated driving licence
  • Vehicle registration document to certify its age
  • Residence permit and certificate of residence
  • Two years of tax returns
  • Original purchase documents
  • A certificate from the Ministry of Transport
  • Valid Greek insurance


Considered the birthplace of democracy, Greece has an abundant history and expressive culture. Greek citizens are considered friendly and welcoming, with family playing a central role in Greek life.

The arts are a particular favourite of Greek culture, with many of the first plays, poems and literary pieces stemming from Ancient Greece. There are also several artistic greats from Greece’s modern era - such as the poet Giorgos Seferis and the writer Odysseas Elytis.

Ancient Greek architecture is a big pull for Greece’s tourism sector. Sites like the Parthenon in Athens and the Epidaurus Theatre are popular choices. You'll also find equally attractive locations spotted throughout the Greek islands and mainland.

Art forms a prominent part of Greek culture. Portraits, heroes, landscapes and the human form are common themes seen in paintings. Examples of famous Greek painters include Nikolaos Gyzis, El Greco and Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas.

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Is it Worth Moving to Greece From the UK

When weighing up whether to move to Greece, these are the key points you should take into account:


  • A lower cost of living and cheaper properties.
  • A more relaxed approach to life.
  • Consistent healthcare and educational systems.
  • Beautiful landscapes and warmer temperatures year-round.
  • Better work/life balance than the UK.
  • Rich cultural history, art and attractions.


  • Average salaries are lower.
  • There are fewer employment prospects.
  • You’ll need to learn the language to integrate into society and improve work prospects.
  • Moving items from the UK can be expensive.
  • Paperwork for visas and residency can be more complicated than in other EU countries.

Stated prices were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change over time.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

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