British Journalist Living in Greece
New series interviewing expats Living in Greece, started on the blog! The mission is to share as many expats stories as possible. To inspire other people who would like to move to Greece. As a Greek Expat in Scotland, Qatar, and France, I was always wondered how difficult is for an expat to live in Greece. Are you are an expat and you want to relocate to Greece? Then this is the place! In addition, if you are interested in to be interviewed as an expat in Greece, please contact me!
The first Interview is with Lorraine, a highly respected journalist, writer and editor from Homeless but not Hopeless charity and Greece’s Daily Bulletin Board who is living in Greece, Athens. She first moved to Greece because of her job in 1987 and she still enjoys her time 🙂
Read our interview to find out more about expat life!
Where do you live in Greece and when did you move here?
I moved to Greece in 1987 and lived in Glyfada for 3 years. Then got married and moved to Petroupolis where I still live today. Also have a summer home in Tolo, which is just outside Nafplio.
Why made you start living in Greece and did you move alone or with family?
As I mentioned above, I was given the opportunity to work at the Athens branch of the company I worked for in the UK. The office was in Kolonaki. I moved here alone because I was sent from a company in the UK to work here for a year, but I ended up staying. My parents moved out here a few years later and now live in Nafplio.
How did you find the transition?
Well, I had traveled many times to Greece as a child and also had Greek friends back home. I was single and at an age where everything was exciting and a challenge so really, it was quite easy.
What do you do for a living? Tell us about your business and what do you offer?
I am a journalist, editor, and copy-writer. I also do PR for companies here and abroad.
How easy is it to perform your business in Greece?
I love my job as it gives me the opportunity to meet all kinds of people. I see it as a hobby so there are basically no real problems because of the kind of work I do.
Do you speak Greek? If yes, how difficult was to get familiar with?
Yes, I do speak Greek fairly well but it isn’t perfect of course because the grammar seems difficult to me. I should in fact after all these years speak it fluently. I picked a lot of Greek up when my children were young as I had to learn it.
Do you need a Visa to live in Greece? No, I don’t.
Life in Greece
What are the negative and positive things living in Greece?
Well, like most countries, there are good and bad things. On the positive side, I love the slow pace of life and the fact that Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine, which means that you can spend a great deal of time outside in your free time even during the winter months. Also, I love the cuisine, which is much healthier than in other countries. You can eat out very cheaply in restaurants but also visit local markets for fresh produce to make your own nourishing meals.
On the other hand, I believe that things in the public sector are very unorganized because people tend to have a laid-back attitude, which is very frustrating at times. Also, the educational system here leaves a great deal. It is quite different from the UK with students spending less time learning at school and more time having to go to private institutions in the evenings to gain a basic education. The way it works leaves no time for youngsters to enjoy their childhood or take part in after-school activities.
Name one thing that you absolutely love and one thing that you hate about Greece.
I love the freedom to be able to do so many things in one day but I hate the changes I have seen in recent years and the misery I see in people’s faces due to the crisis.
What is your opinion about Greek people?
Greek people have changed since I first arrived. They used to be much more hospitable, open and carefree. Today, they seem withdrawn, unwilling to help others and keep to themselves more. Of course, I cannot generalize, but the economic crisis has a lot to answer for regarding the way people act nowadays, including myself. We have all been affected in some way or another.
How do Greek people treat you as a foreigner? How easy is it to make friends?
It has always been easy for me to make friends because I am very sociable. As a young woman, I was always treated well and people went out of their way to make sure I was OK. However, there has been some….. let’s say disrespect in recent years, especially in the public sector. For instance, having to fill in forms at health offices. Again, I put it down to the times we are living in……people are not so patient.
What are the main differences between Greece and your country?
Hahaha, most definitely, the pace of life, the food and the lack of organization and time-keeping here in Greece compared to the UK.
What’s your opinion about public transport, healthcare and working conditions?
I use public transport all the time and I find it to be very efficient. Buses and trains run on time, it is clean and considerably cheap if you compare to other countries. As far as healthcare is concerned, despite having some of the top professionals working in this sector, hospitals, etc, need completely refurbishing and there needs to be more staff, equipment, and medicine. Working conditions vary depending on what occupation you have although I think that they could be a lot better for young people, who are not being given a fair wage.
Cost of living
What’s the cost of living compared to your home?
I think the cost of living is cheaper here in Greece, especially when it comes to food & public transport. However, in the UK, there is much more entertainment and people can enjoy themselves with a lot less money.
Name a few things that you wish you could find here.
Well, I can find most things that I would have missed here at BR Foods which stocks loads of British supplies. I have a sweet tooth so I would have been missing confectionery such as Pear Drops, Jelly Tots, and Fruit Salad chews plus Cadbury’s Cream Eggs if it were not for George and his wife who own the shop.
What do you think about the crisis in Greece?
The crisis in Greece has affected everyone and I think that all of our lives have changed in some way or the other. I run the ‘Homeless but not Hopeless’ group here in Athens and I have seen a huge difference in the number of people who are now living on the streets, especially young families.
I don’t want to get into the reasons why I believe Greece is in the situation it is in today because I do not want to talk politics. However, many people are suffering through no fault of their own and that is tragic.
Are you Vegetarian, Vegan or following a Healthy Lifestyle?
No, I’m not and despite the strict protein diet that I started recently, up until then, I was not leading a healthy lifestyle at all. It is not possible when you love sweets and chocolates.
How difficult is it to find all the food supplies you want? Are they different from your home?
I would not say it was difficult at all. We are not living in the stone ages here in Greece, we can find virtually anything that we need. I do buy more fresh vegetables to make soups and sauces than I would have if I was living in the UK. I think that is a big difference for me personally rather than buying packet sauces or a 2 minute ‘cook in a bag’ Spaghetti Bolognese like I did when I was studying hahaha.
Do you cook or normally eat outdoors? How difficult is to find good eating places in Greece?
I do both and I love doing both too. If I eat out, I choose something from the menu that I do not usually cook at home. Regarding eating places, Not difficult at all. Greece has a variety of excellent restaurants serving home-made Greek food and International cuisine. My favorite places to eat is along the coastlines during the summer and tucked away in small picturesque villages in the colder months. Some village restaurant owners even roast meat over the open fireplaces and serve it straight to your plate.
Do you think that Greek people know about various foods? How do they react to your requests?
As I mentioned above, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from so you can order whatever you prefer to eat. I love Chinese, Indian and Mexican food for example and visit restaurants in Athens.
Is anything missing from the dining places and what’s your favorite Greek dish? Not that I can think of and without a doubt, Mousakas!
What is your recommendation for future expats about living in Greece? List the top 5 expat tips.
- Get to know the locals – they can be very helpful when you need a plumber, painter, electrician, etc.
- Make sure that you take out private healthcare insurance in case you may need costly surgery etc.
- Keep extra cash which you can get your hands on quickly if need be due to the instability of the country.
- Make friends with other expats in the area where you are living – it is always nice to be able to speak in your own language and share news.
- Last but not least, ask government employees to write down on a piece of paper what is exactly needed when you are required to take in forms or fill documents out before arriving – Always smile during your visit….. they hate it hahaha
Find out more about Lorraine here -> Lorraine Journalist, You can also read her interesting article about Coming in from the cold: Homeless but not Hopeless gives compassion a new meaning.