Digital nomads in Greece

Many people these days choose to work from their laptops or any other mobile devices and move around the world freely. One government after another realises the benefits of letting these digital nomads stay in their countries, Greece being one of them.

In this article, we shall clarify what the term stands for and explain the requirements for a digital nomad visa in Greece. We shall then review the cost of living in Greece and mention some of the best places for remote workers to live in this country. 

Remote Workers

Technically known as digital nomads, these people earn their income via their mobile electronic devices, which allows them to live and work anywhere in the world and, at the same time, places them in a peculiar position when it comes to applying for visas.

They do not immigrate, in the strict sense of the word, nor do they enter the country for employment purposes. In fact, they might not even care to apply for a permanent residence permit. Yet, their benefits for the government of a destination country are obvious:

  1. Remote workers are financially viable, contributing to Tax Revenues without being dependent on public funds.
  2. Digital nomads will also contribute to the national economy by spending money on local products and services without occupying vacancies best reserved for the citizens.

If you find yourself in such a position and meet all the specified requirements for obtaining a visa, the Greek government bids you a hearty welcome to the country. 

Self-Employed vs Remote Workers

Many people struggle to understand the difference between the self-employed, freelancers and digital nomads. The truth is that, for all practical purposes, there is little, if any, difference between these concepts.

Strictly speaking, the digital nomad refers to a person who can, though being formally employed, perform his work duties remotely and is, therefore, not tied to a physical location, his mobile device being his workplace. The self-employed (or freelancer) means the person has no job contract, offering his professional services directly to his clients or making his living in some other way.

However, you do not have to be concerned with those technical differences when you go to the Consulate. What they really want to know is that you:

  • have sufficient income to support yourself and your family,

  • seek no employment in the country,

  • pay your taxes,

  • are not engaged in any criminal activity.

If that is your case, they will not care much for your employment status, and you will have a good chance of obtaining the right visa for the purpose. Whether they label you a digital nomad or self-employed will make little difference if all you want is an opportunity to reside legally in the country. Still, a nomad visa is a good choice since it entitles you to a 50% tax rebate, which we will discuss later in this article. 

Visa Requirements

Unlike all other types of entry permits, a remote worker visa is all about the money. More specifically, you will have to confirm a monthly income of at least 3,500 in euros. The actual source of income will be irrelevant for the purpose, as long as you do not seek employment nor freelance in the country.

In addition, you should not have been a tax resident in Greece within the previous five to seven years. You will also have to confirm an additional monthly amount of 700 euros for your spouse if they have no income of their own. If they do, they will be subject to the same taxation policy as yours. And prepare to have 525 euros more per month for each underage child or dependant.

You and your family can apply for the visa in any Greek consulate, and the application fee will be 75 euros per applicant. The visa will be valid for one year, after which you can apply for a remote worker residence permit for another three years.

As soon as you come to the country, you will have to get yourself a Greek tax number, an account in a Greek bank and, for some obscure reason, a local SIM-card. Opening an account is pretty quick and simple, but you may want to come to the bank with a native speaker, just in case.

In the bank, you will have to show them:

  • any identification document,

  • your residential address in the country,

  • proof of your foreign income,

  • your local telephone number,

  • your Greek tax number.

Taxes for Remote Workers

There are three levels of taxation applicable to remote workers in Greece, depending on their types of visas and duration of stay in the country: 

1. Tax Exemption

You will not have to pay taxes at all if you spend less than six out of twelve months in Greece. Attractive as this option may be at the start, you should be aware that, being exempt from paying taxes, you will also deprive yourself and your family of the opportunities to use public healthcare and educational services. 

2. Tax Residency

If you spend more than six out of twelve months in the country, you become a tax resident, and you will have to pay the income tax. Greece applies a progressive income taxation system, which breaks down as shown in the table below: 

Monthly Income

Income Tax

Below €12,000

None

€12,000–16,000

18%

€16,000–22,000

24%

€22,000–26,000

26%

€26,000–32,000

32%

€32,000–40,000

36%

€40,000–60,000

38%

€60,000–100,000

40%

Over €100,000

45%

3. Digital Nomad Tax

However, the good news is that the Greek government has decided to make life easier for remote workers by introducing a 50% tax reduction for them. In other words, all you do is apply for a digital nomad visa and agree to reside in the country for at least two years. If you meet the specified requirements for the visa, you will have to pay half the rates from the table above for the following two to seven years, depending on your particular credentials.

Cost of Living

Your monthly expenses will vary greatly depending on where you choose to stay. As a rule of thumb, you may expect to pay the most in tourist areas, resort towns and busy commercial districts, closely followed by upmarket parts of big cities.

Next come the small well-to-do towns, most of which are located on the islands. One more step down the ladder is the middle-class residential suburbs in the cities and the remote towns away from the traffic of tourists.

The cheapest option is to stay in the sticks, of course. Incidentally, this option is also the best way to immerse yourself in the national traditions and lifestyle.The biggest drawback of moving to a village or even going 100% wild is that you will be far away from the modern infrastructure, and the internet connection will probably be very bad, or it might not even be there at all.

The tables below show several samples of average prices for various products and services, just to give you an idea of how much you should prepare to pay for living in this country.

All prices are quoted in euros and are valid for 2021/2022. 

Accommodation 

One-bedroom to rent in the centre

350–400

One-bedroom to rent outside the centre

300–350

Three-bedroom to rent in the centre

650–700

Three-bedroom to rent outside the centre

530–570

Flat to buy in the city centre

100,000–400,000

House to buy in middle-class suburbs

70,000–90,000

House to buy on the islands

50,000–100,000

Food and Drinks 

Bread

Vegetables

Fruits

Cheese

Milk

Cigarettes

Wine

0.75–1.25

0.5–1.5

1–2

7–9

1–2

4–6

6–8

Transport 

One-way bus ticket

1.5–1.7

Monthly ticket

32–35

Cab (per km)

1.1–1.8

Decent second-hand car to purchase

1,500–3,000

Petrol (per litre)

1.85

Eating Out 

Fast food

9

Lunch in a low-profile restaurant

12

Dinner in a middle-class restaurant

20

Healthcare 

Visit to a public doctor

Free 

Visit to a private doctor

35–40

Education

(per year) 

Kindergartens

Pre-schools

Secondary Schools

Undergraduates

Postgraduates

6,000–8,000

7,000–9,000

9,000–14,000

9,000–12,000

2,000–4,000

Internet Connection

Of particular concern to remote workers are the availability and quality of the internet connection in a destination country. Well, we may safely say that Greece does have the internet, even though it is not always there when you need it, nor is it always fast enough either. It all depends on where you are. There will be little trouble finding it in the big cities, and it will only cost you about 30 euros per month.

But if you decide to chill on remote islands or in the countryside, you can easily cease to be a digital nomad and become a vagabond instead. On the other hand, Greece is so strongly tourism-orientated that you are bound to find some hotel nearby, wherever you are, and there you are online again. Plus, food and transportation are pretty cheap, so you can work from the hotels' restaurants until you are in the proper coverage areas again. 

Hot Spots for Remote Workers in Greece

This country is exceptionally beautiful and diverse, in its landscapes and cityscapes alike. Depending on your tastes and preferences, you will be able to choose between ancient cities, ultramodern business districts, vibrant cultural centres, remote tranquil villages and pristine desolate islands.

It would probably take volumes just to mention all the great spots in this country. Whether you prefer a cool climate and mountain views or dream of drifting away on hot white-sand beaches near green-blue waters, you can be sure to find an ideal place for you here, no matter what your idea of a perfect life is.

The best way is, of course, to come and see them for yourself before you make up your mind on where to settle down. Plus, there will be no shortage of accommodation, wherever you go, and food, shelter and transport are pretty cheap too. So you may as well start your digital nomad experience in Greece by spending three to four weeks travelling around the country to see which place suits you best.

The list below only shows a few locations most favoured by digital nomads and expats in Greece, representing different lifestyles available in this country. There is no need to stay on the beaten track, though, but if you are looking for some place to start from, these hot spots will suit the purpose perfectly:

  • Athens,

  • Thessaloniki,

  • Corfu,

  • Santorini,

  • Crete.

Final Words

The most difficult part of obtaining a digital nomad visa in Greece (or any other country, for that matter) is to become a remote worker, in the first place. In other words, the first step is to find some means of earning your income via the internet. Once you do that, everything else is a matter of legal formalities.

Consult your lawyer, travel agent or the nearest Greek Consulate to make sure you have all the necessary documents to apply for the visa. Travel around the country to find the best spot for your preferences, get yourself a Greek tax number, open an account in a local bank, pay your taxes and enjoy your freedom in one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.

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