Buying property in Greece can radically change your life.
Have you been looking for a place in the sun for a while? Then a holiday home in this beautiful Mediterranean country may be just what you need.
With the right strategy and a reliable local partner, what may at first seem a daunting project can quickly and efficiently become a reality.
Find below some frequently asked questions and corresponding answers about investing in Greek real estate.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why invest in Greek real estate?
- 2 Is buying property in Greece a good investment?
- 3 Can foreigners buy property in Greece?
- 4 Is now a good time to buy property in Greece?
- 5 Where is the best place to buy a holiday home in Greece?
- 6 What is the best Greek island to buy property on?
- 7 Is buying property in Greece safe?
- 8 Is it safe to invest in Greece?
Why invest in Greek real estate?
Greece is a sun-kissed Mediterranean country rich in historical and cultural treasures. In addition, Mother Nature shows her most beautiful side.
This fantastic holiday country is therefore an irresistible destination for many holidaymakers and expats.
A wonderfully beautiful destination, Greece is blessed with ancient sites and countless architectural gems.
Some examples are:
- The iconic Parthenon (temple to the goddess Athena),
- The amphitheatre of Epidaurus (dating back to ancient Greece),
- The world-famous Acropolis in Athens,
- The restored palace of Knossos,
- The impressive Meteora rock monasteries (which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites), and so on.
But as stated above, Greece is much more than just these cultural attractions.
This country offers spectacular natural sights that are truly among the top on this planet.
- The volcanic crater of Santorini,
- Corinth Canal (connecting the Corinthian Gulf with the Saronic Gulf),
- The beautiful Greek beaches such as Navagio beach (surrounded by steep cliffs and with a stranded shipwreck),
- Lake Pamvotida (also known as Lake Ioannina),
- The grey rocky peaks of the Meteora monastery complex,
- The Vasilitsa ski resort, and so on.
Is buying property in Greece a good investment?
In recent years, Greece has become a favourable investment destination for second-holders.
This is due to its pleasant and mild climate, its natural beauty and its excellent geographical location.
Greek real estate is also on the rise due to a significant drop in property prices after the financial crisis that broke out in 2010.
Many private investors nowadays regard Greece as a trendy and interesting investment destination.
Where, moreover, one can get hold of quality real estate at affordable and acceptable prices.
Many private individuals purchase Greek recreational real estate as an end user, purely for private use.
Others buy Greek property purely to rent out.
And a growing number of private individuals are investing in Greek combined-use properties (partly for private use, partly for rental) to enjoy the best of both worlds:
- Pleasure of use, and
- Return on your investment
- Investment tip: Buying a holiday home on Samos for combined use (free weeks of private use on an annual basis + contractually guaranteed rental income) is possible in a premium luxury resort with fantastic views.
Greece is a Member State of the European Union where the principle of the rule of law applies.
It is also a member of the euro area and therefore enjoys all the benefits of the common currency.
So there is no longer a risk of devaluation of one’s own currency, whereas there used to be when the Greek drachma was still the currency.
The local Greek laws on purchasing and owning real estate are laid down in the Greek Constitution and the Greek Civil Code.
Can foreigners buy property in Greece?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in Greece.
For residents of the European Union, there are almost no restrictions on investing in Greek property.
The free movement of goods, services, persons and capital is thus respected (a basic principle in the EU).
- For non-EU residents, it is less easy to buy Greek property.
- They must, in certain cases (for example, for properties in the Dodecanese, Crete, the regions of Northern Greece and Rhodes), document their connection to Greece and their intention to use the property.
Is now a good time to buy property in Greece?
When is a good time to buy Greek property? This question crops up very often among people who are fans of Greece.
Greek real estate has had a difficult time due to the financial crisis (to say the least).
But… After rain comes sunshine!
Slowly but surely out of the valley
Real estate prices in Greece are on the rise again after historic lows during and in the aftermath of the crisis.
This increase in the value of Greek real estate is due to various parameters and factors, such as:
- The refreshing liberal economic policy since the 2019 elections. This new political wind is boosting confidence and causing Greece to once again attract more foreign investors (resulting in increased demand for real estate and price increases).
- The Golden Visa Programme of Greece:
- This programme offers a permanent residence permit to foreign investors (non-EU citizens and their family members).
- Prerequisite: Buying property in Greece with a minimum value of EUR 250 000.
- This Golden Visa offers immediate residence to the investor and his/her close relatives, as well as visa-free travel in the Schengen area.
- Consequently, this programme is particularly popular with people with less desirable passports who nevertheless travel frequently (think Turks, Chinese, Russians, etc.).
- Increasing confidence in Greece by financial markets.
Even though Greek property prices are back on an upward trend, average values are still tens of percent lower than the peak of property valuations before the Greek crisis.
So what does this mean for a private investor considering buying a holiday home in Greece?
This means that you can currently buy property in Greece at rock bottom prices (which are slowly but surely climbing out of the valley).
And it is generally known that those who buy on the cheap stand a good chance of earning a nice profit in the future.
Where is the best place to buy a holiday home in Greece?
Greece has an amazing range of lifestyles, fauna and flora, local economies, geographies and climates to offer.
Greece is also a world leader in terms of nature. This country has more than 6 000 islands, of which more than 200 are inhabited!
Each island is special and different, and within the various Greek archipelagos the islands differ greatly in composition, size, geography and nature.
Greece is a medium-sized country in terms of surface area, but +/- 75% of the surface area is mountainous, which is hardly or not at all inhabited.
Fact: Given the thousands of Greek islands, Greece has a total coastline (including all the islands) that is twice as long as the coastline of Italy and as much as five times as long as the coastline of Spain.
Greece is also still quite unspoilt and relatively undeveloped.
Although there are significant peaks of visitors during the high season, Greece, for example, does not yet have the same highly developed mass tourism facilities as Spain.
In other words, in Greece you can absolutely still find your own peaceful spot, even on a pristine island paradise if you wish!
Mainland Greece versus the Greek islands
Before you start your personal Greek (property) adventure, you should decide where exactly you would like to buy a holiday home.
A private place where you can go whenever you want to enjoy the fantastic climate, the delicious Greek cuisine, the fascinating history, the rich Greek culture and the beautiful white sandy beaches and nature!
Will it be one of hundreds of islands in terms of investment destination? Or do you prefer the diverse Greek mainland?
In Greece, attractive destinations abound: From Crete in the south of the Aegean to Thessaloniki in the north (which is the second largest city in Greece).
A good idea is to divide Greek property opportunities into options on the mainland and options on the various island groups.
Read on below, get inspired and find out where you would like to buy real estate in Greece:
Best places to buy a holiday home on the Greek mainland
The central mainland of Greece feels as if little has changed in hundreds of years. So it is not at all difficult to escape mass tourism in this region.
In the centre, it is rural.
This region consists of vast plains full of agricultural fields, orchards, cattle farms and typical Greek landscapes where shepherds with sheep feel at home.
This centrally located region of Greece is surrounded by mountains, the sea and forest areas.
This region can be cold and wet in the winter months and heavy snowfall is definitely possible (as is the rest of the Balkans).
The local architecture of the houses is characterised by simplicity and a combination of locally quarried red brick and wood (carpentry).
The main sights of central Greece include monasteries built on huge cliffs, several seaside resorts on the coastline, the Pelion peninsula on the Aegean coast, the beautiful seaside resort of Parga, and so on.
Athens is the capital of Greece and has enormous international appeal.
This vibrant city offers a booming economy, several international schools and high-quality higher education institutions, a great nightlife, numerous catering facilities and an international mindset that has a lot of charm, also for expats.
Other European capitals struggle to match the qualities and overall package of Athens, a true European metropolis in its own right.
This makes it easy for residents of Athens to enjoy the beautiful beaches after a busy day at work.
With year-round entertainment, activities and well-maintained facilities, this Greek capital with a huge cultural history is perfect for young and old. Also for those who like a lively city and nightlife.
Athens is easily accessible and well connected to the rest of the world (a lot of direct international flights are available).
In terms of buying property in Greece, Athens, like any capital city, is not cheap.
Probably the most accessible and affordable option for outdoor living in Athens is a studio or flat.
Peloponnese covers a fairly large part of Greece and +/- 1 in 10 Greeks live in this region.
History drips from its walls, with sights such as Corinth, ancient Olympia (where the Olympic Games were originally held) and Mycenae.
Peloponnese is blessed with a sensational coastline, picturesque valleys, green plains suitable for agriculture, snow-capped mountains and so on. In short, Mother Nature in all her splendour.
This large central area contains many remnants of Greece’s rich history.
Moreover, this region is also a real hotspot for gourmets thanks to the delicious, locally produced products. An example of this are the locally grown and famous Kalamata olives.
Fact: Like central Greece, Peloponnese still has many undeveloped areas. Tourists or private property investors from abroad rarely come here.
What is the best Greek island to buy property on?
The Greek islands, surrounded by azure waters, blessed with white sandy beaches, authentic fish restaurants, whitewashed houses,… What more could you want?
Greece has more than 6 000 islands in total, of which more than 200 are inhabited.
In Greece, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a suitable holiday home on the right island.
There really is something for everyone, from bustling cities and rural retreats to sleepy fishing villages and picturesque seaside resorts.
Here are some of the best Greek islands to start your property search:
Zakynthos is a Greek island belonging to the Ionian Islands.
This Greek gem has it all: atmospheric hilltop villages, fantastic nightlife in several top locations, beautiful beaches to unwind on, several castles dating back to ancient times, family-friendly holiday resorts that attract families, and so on.
In short, a vibrant island, suitable for those looking for a balance between tourists and countryside.
Crete is the largest Greek island in terms of surface area and is located towards the southeast of Greece.
This island is a top destination for many foreigners from Europe to spend the winter or settle down for at least part of the year.
Chania, for example, is an area of the island with a good reputation for safety.
Crete is generally known as a large Greek island blessed with a fantastic sun-drenched climate.
In addition, Crete offers a pleasant and interesting mix of architectural styles and communities.
In other words, you will find bustling cities as well as beautiful mountain villages and quiet coastal towns.
The island of Corfu is a popular holiday destination for Europeans. Among other things, it has an old town that is on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
Corfu offers several beautiful sandy bays and lively tourist areas.
This island is located west of Greece, opposite Italy. It is a popular destination for foreigners who want to buy property in Greece.
Kefalonia is a beautiful island that is quieter than, for example, Corfu (see above).
It offers visitors fantastically beautiful and charming fishing villages, attractive nature trails and pristine turquoise/acid blue water along the coastlines.
The island of Kefalonia is especially a popular destination for pensioners. But actually for everyone who is looking for a quiet life without stress, mass tourism or noise pollution.
The island of Rhodes is a magnet for holidaymakers and is well connected to the rest of Europe.
This island offers a beautifully preserved medieval old town, as well as lively villages in the coastal areas.
Rhodes is generally an interesting place to buy a holiday home, but beware…
Buying property in Greece on the island of Rhodes is generally more expensive than on an average Greek island.
Other island options in terms of buying property in Greece
Ionian Islands, Samos (read more about it on Buying property on Samos [AVAILABLE SOON]), Ithica, Sporades and Evia, Naxos, Cyclades (including Mykonos, Santorini and Tinos), Paros, Andros, Syros, Kos, Lefkada, Dodecanese and Argo-Saronic Islands.
See even more in-depth information about interesting Greek islands on the specific page The best Greek islands to buy a holiday home.
Is buying property in Greece safe?
The turbulent Greek economy after the economic crash of 2009/2010 has made some individuals hesitate whether to invest in real estate there or not.
But provided you keep in mind the tips below to avoid scams, and seek expert advice to purchase your property, it should be as safe to buy property in Greece as in any other country.
In any case, wise property buyers do their homework thoroughly.
They avoid becoming financially overburdened by avoiding excessive loan burdens. And they also take the necessary measures to safeguard their capital.
Buying property in another country, especially if you do not live there permanently, always comes with risks and challenges.
In any case, try to keep the following potential pitfalls of buying property in Greece in mind:
Tips for avoiding scams and fraud
As is the case everywhere in the world, you can come across scammers in Greece too when you are looking for property.
Although the exact scams change periodically, there are a few important points to bear in mind when avoiding Greek property scams:
- Emphasise the importance of an inspection and demand an on-site inspection of the premises in question. If the seller refuses, this is a red flag. A reliable seller is happy to facilitate such an inspection.
- Make a thorough on-site visit to Greece, possibly together with an expert (a real estate agent with experience or a contractor, for example). Take notes and prepare an inspection document so that you can refer to it later if necessary. Do not hesitate to take photos and videos on the spot.
- The following rule applies to Greek property: Never pay a non-refundable deposit before you have met the seller and inspected the property.
- Find out from the appropriate authorities whether the seller has the legal right to sell the property in question. In other words, find out if the seller is the real owner.
- Investigate whether the property has the necessary building permits.
- Check that the current owner has no outstanding debts to the Greek state (worst case scenario, this could cause problems with the property being offered for sale).
- Check carefully what is possible in terms of renovations and improvements to the property in question. If, for example, the property is classified as a historical building or heritage site, you may be severely restricted in terms of renovations and changes.
- Buying property in Greece only follows after first going through the above due diligence procedures.
Is it safe to invest in Greece?
With the fairly recent Greek crisis and the current refugee situation in mind, you may wonder whether Greece is a safe place to invest in real estate.
Well, Greece is not only a modern democratic European member state…
It is also a country with a very strong tradition of personal property ownership.
More than three quarters of all Greeks own their own homes. Greeks are therefore a people born with a proverbial brick in their stomach.
The demand for high-quality residential property is stable there.
Fact: The Greeks, unlike several other Balkan peoples, were never deprived of their property and possessions during the communist era.
Furthermore, the Greek Constitution, Greek courts and authorities fully respect property rights in the area of real estate.
This makes Greece a safe place in Europe to invest in real estate.
In big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, the mild climate tempts people to go out until the early morning hours.
In other words, there is a bustling city life, virtually round the clock.
This usually happens very peacefully and without disturbances, in contrast to many other holiday countries.
In other words, in Greece everyone can walk the streets safely, even into the night.
If you take some basic precautions against pickpockets, Greece is a safe place to visit.
In Greece, most visitors suffer from sunburn, indigestion from all that food or heat exhaustion rather than any kind of insecurity, theft or crime.