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About Greece & the Greek Islands

From the very dawn of history this ancient land has played an influential role in shaping the world as we know it today. It is a country full of culture, myth and legend and a nation who is proud of its rich heritage and traditions.

Famed for the beauty of its landscape, Greece is unique, for it seems the Greek gods themselves have scattered little pieces of paradise into the sea which we so lovingly know as the Greek islands.

Whatever your interests, whatever lifestyle you choose to adopt, you can be sure of a warm welcome from the people of Greece. A healthy climate, good food and wine, a new and exciting lifestyle - welcome to Greece!

Geography & Climate

Mainland Greece consists of a mountainous peninsula extending some 500 km into the Mediterranean from the southwest corner of the Balkans, with the Aegean Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

In addition to the mainland, Greece is surrounded by no less than 1400 islands of which just 169 are inhabited. The islands are divided into six groups - the Cyclades, the Ionians, the Dodecanese, the islands of the North-Eastern Aegean, the Sporades and the Sorinic Gulf islands.

The Greek Islands constitute about one-fifth of the countrys land area - all with something special to offer but each one truly unique with its own history, culture and physical attributes.

The climate is typically Mediterranean, with the winters wet but mild (except in the north, where they can be very cold), and the summers hot and dry but cooled by seasonal breezes. The average January temperature in Athens is 10°C (50°F) and the July average is 28°C (82°F).

Standard of Living

Over recent years Greece has transformed itself from an agricultural country into a prosperous consumer society with an ever rising standard of living. It has never lost, however, the style, simplicity and warm hospitality that characterise village and rural life throughout the country.

Greece enjoys an enviable European standard of living whilst the cost of living remains low in comparison to worldwide standards.

Education

Education is provided free by the Greek State from kindergarten to university level, including tuition and textbooks. The years of compulsory education include six years of primary education and three years of secondary education (Gymnasium). After graduating from the Gymnasium, students continue with a three year course in the Lyceum which prepares them for higher education.

Children attend school from the age of 6-18, five days a week, from approximately 8:00am. to 2:00p.m. Summer vacation runs from end of June to mid September.

There are 17 State universities, schools of higher education and technical colleges. Admission to universities is determined by competitive examinations held simultaneously throughout Greece.

Banking Standards

There are some 50 domestic banks operating in Greece which are divided into two groups - commercial banks and specialised credit institutions, both supervised by the bank of Greece.

Greek banks are usually open from 8am to 1:30pm on Mondays to Thursdays and from 8am to 1:30pm on Fridays, although hours can vary from town to town and even from branch to branch. Some branches in main cities and resorts have longer opening hours, which may include evenings and weekends.

The Euro has been the currency of Greece since 1st January 2002. All major credit cards as well as Euro-cheques are recognised and accepted. Stickers in the front windows will advise you as to which cards are acceptable. Traveller's cheques issued by all the major companies are widely recognised.

Taxation

Greek residents are taxed on their worldwide income, subject to certain treaty exceptions, although citizens of most countries are exempt from paying taxes in their home country when they spend a minimum period abroad e.g. one year.

The Greek government has double taxation treaties with many countries, including Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus and Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany,Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA.

If you are not living in Greece but have assets there, you are usually obliged by law to file a tax return listing your assets and any income received from them.

If you plan to live permanently in Greece you should notify the tax authority in your present country. You may be entitled to a tax refund if you depart during the tax year.

If you move to Greece and take up a job or start a business, thenyou will be liable for income tax.

If in future you decide to sell your property then capital gains tax is applicable as follows:

  • 20% if the sale is made within 5 years from the purchase of property
  • 10% is the sale is made within 5-15 years from the purchase of the property
  • 5% if the sale is made within 15-25 years from the purchase of the property
  • No capital gains tax is paid if the sale is made after 25 years frm the purchase of the property.

Inheritance tax is applicable but generous exemptions apply.

Practical Information for Living in Greece

Domestic Appliances

Greece works on the 220 voltage system and sockets of the two pin variety. If you are planning to bring appliances to your new home, you will need plug adapters which are readily available in Greece.

Alternatively, there s a whole range in leading brands of domextic and electrical appliances available locally at reasonable prices.

Medical services

The health services in Greece are very good with high qualified physicians and surgeons covering every field of medicine. Residents of EU countries are eligible to receive free emergency medical care. Medical insurance is always a good idea for additional cover.

A recent study by the World Health Organisation ranked the Greek health system as 14th out of 191. In 2001 the Greek government went ahead with a major health care investment in which the sector was given a considerable boost with an 11.5% increase in health spending.

Shopping

Shopping in Greece and in particular the islands, is never the rush and strain it is in many other European countries. It is casual and enjoyable, filled with friendly conversation and the offer of many a cup of the famous Greek Coffee.

Shop the handicrafts, wines, rugs, pottery, lace, embroidery, icons and jewellery - of particular interest is the gold jewellery with Greek designs and beautiful silver jewellery set with precious stones.

The currency in Greece is the Euro (€), which is divided into 100 cents. The notes and coins currently in circulation are as follows:
Banks Notes: €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5.
Coins: €2, €1, 50 cent, 20 cent, 10 cent, 5 cent, 2 cent, 1 cent

Weights and measures used are of the metric system.

Greek Cuisine

Its unique tastes, the good fresh ingredients, the judicious use of herbs and spices, the famous Greek olive oil and its basic simplicity are some of the things which set Greece apart. Contrary to common belief you will soon discover that Greek cuisine does not solely consist of mousaka, soulvlaki and horiatiki salata.

As lambs and goats in Greece are free-grazing and the pastures are very rich in herbs, the meats have a unique taste not to be found anywhere else in the world. Seafood from the Mediterranean Sea is by far more tasty then that from the oceans. In the Aegean and the Ionian sea the waters are crystal clear and abound with fish.

The Greek meal experience, namely the combination of what you eat and where you eat it, cannot be repeated, exported or duplicated. It is just something you can only find, taste and enjoy in Greece.

Wines and liqueurs

Greek wines and liqueurs are quite distinctive and strong. The anise-flavoured liqueur, ouzo, is often drunk with water. Metaxa is a commonly found brandy. Wines vary widely in taste and quality.

The last two decades have seen a renaissance in the age-old Greek wine-making tradition. The introduction of new vines and the use of better techniques have resulted in some excellent reds and whites on par with the world's best wines.

Air and Sea Travel

Greece has seven major international airports, (Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Heraklion, Chania, Santorini and Corfu) and 22 national airports which are hosting regular or charter flights.

In March 2001, a state-of-the-art airport was delivered in terms of technology and equipment, with focus on safety, user-friendliness and service excellence. Europe's southern gateway to the world, the Athens International Airport has been one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Greece.

There are direct flights to and from the USA, Canada, Australia and various Asian cities. Cheap charter flights are available from London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris to Athens, Thessaloniki and some of the islands.

The beautiful islands of Greece are usually reached by ferries. In the summer season some 100,000 passengers and 20,000 private vehicles travel to and from the islands every day. There are three types of ferries: the ordinary ferries, the high speed catamarans and the hydrofoils.

The network has been distributed in order to connect major cities with the islands and the islands themselves.

Communications

Postal, telephone and internet communications in Greece are both efficient and economical.

Basic telephone services are offered through a variety of providers to 5.4 million subscribers with analogue and digital switching systems.

Mobile telephone services (voice, fax and modem at low transmission speeds) are offered by a large variety of providers.

In the area of internet services, ther are a number of providers, with the largest market shares held by Forthnet, OTEnet, Hellas-on-Line and Compulink.

In satellite communications, Greece participates in the satellite organisations INTELSAT, EUTELSAT and has also promoted mobile maritime satellite communications through INMARSAT given the large Greek shipping market.

Language

The Greek Language is probably the oldest in Europe with an oral tradition going back some 4000 years.

Greek is the local language but English is spoken practically everywhere and most people will be very willing to help you.

Religion

Ninety-four percent of the population in Greece is Christain Orthodox. Chrisianity, often blended with ancient tradition, is celebrated in many religious festivities during the year.

There are several Catholic and Protestant churches and eight synagogues in Greece.

Residency

All citizens of the EU enjoy their flights and privileges as UE citizens, including the right to establish residency, buy property, open a business and work in Greece.

For non-EU citizens, the granting of a Residential Permit is based on the level of foreign income available to support oneself. Silverhouse Property will assist you in obtaining the relevant information and guide you through the formalities.

Moving your possesions

Silverhouse Property will put you in touch with a number of overseas specialists to help you with your relocation and shipping of your possessions. Furthermore, Silverhouse Property can assist you with all formalities and procedures for customs clearance.

We are here to help you with all decisions, big or small, that will need to be made once you purchase your home in Greece.

Utilities

Buying from Silverhouse Property means that you do not need to worry about getting connections for electricity and water. All such connections are taken care of by our company when your property is delivered.

The charges for electricity and water are billed bi-monthly and one should expect to pay around €50 per month for electricity, local taxes and television license.

Provisions for telephone lines are delivered as part of the property.

Family Pets

It is compulsory for pets from EU countries to have an EU passport for movement between member states, which enables the pet to be clearly identified and its health status to be checked. Movement from a non member state will require an additional official EU certificate.

Silverhouse Property will assist you in obtaining the relevant information and with all formalities.

Driving Licence

Visitors driving in Greece temporarily do not need an International Driving Licence provided they hold an appropriate valid European Union driving licence and identity card. Foreign motorists driving their own car must obtain adequate insurance for Greece from their insurance company. The Motor Insurance Bureau in Greece has a department serving foreign drivers.

The holder of a driving licence issued in a member state of the EU has the right to exchange it for a Greek driving licence without taking a driving test. The application must be made within one year of taking up residence.A Greek driving licence remains valid until the holder reaches the age of 65 years, after which an application extension is required.

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