Greece and its islands are increasingly popular as retirement locations. Corfu has always been a top choice for British and international buyers, but what does a retirement in Corfu offer? We spoke to Diana at Corfu Home Finders about lifestyle, weather, making friends and what you’ll pay for your home!
It is almost like retiring to two countries – the summer one busy and active, and the winter one quiet and more relaxed. All, however, are beautiful.
Corfu is different to the islands further south. Being in the northern part of Greece it has milder and sometimes wet winters (the year-round greenery has to come from somewhere!). But it also has balmy springs and autumns (think UK summers). Summers may be hot be you can always find some shade in the olive groves, or air-con in a cafe!
Compare that with Crete, much further south, that is hotter for longer but the incessant high temperatures can prove challenging for some people.
What will your retirement be like in Corfu?
The most important question must be – how do I want to live when I retire?
In the summer months life and activities tend to revolve around the beach. There are hundreds of beaches, many with tavernas on them, offering a chance to while away the days by the sea. In spring and autumn, the climate is perfect for walking, the range of wild flowers is limitless and the clear views are stunning.
Read our free Viewing Trip Guide and stay in control when visiting properties in Corfu.
In the winter months, life changes, the visitors all but disappear, the main towns come into their own and many a pleasant day can be spent wanted around looking at the old buildings, visiting museums, sitting in the park, having a coffee by the harbor, all in the most relaxed way.
When you move to a new country it is always a worry: how to make new friends? Where do you even start? No worries on this score! In Corfu, activities are readily available. Every area has its own interest groups, from walking to music, poetry to sewing, pottery to baking. Practically every interest is represented so it is easy to meet people with whom you will have plenty in common.
From walking to music, poetry to sewing, pottery to baking, practically every interest is represented
There are also many charitable groups who are highly involved with the local community. Indeed, without the local overseas community, many of these would struggle to survive. International volunteers are incredibly appreciated.
Sporting activities are high on the agenda too. In summer it’s all about swimming, sailing and diving. Even the onset of winter needn’t necessarily limit these activities. Outside of high summer walking is most popular, as well as bicycle and horse riding, golf and tennis. The average sea temperature rarely dips below 14 degrees so many people swim all year round.
Need to raise a little more money to buy your dream home in Greece? Read How to Pay for an Overseas Property. It includes equity release and lifetime mortgages too.
Corfu Town has architectural influences from so many conquering nations that you could spend days just walking around, looking up! In the summer season the towns can be hot and busy, but early mornings and evenings are always delightful.
In the winter there can be no better way to spend a day than a leisurely bus trip into your local town, pottering around the shops and markets (having a coffee on the way) and later a leisurely lunch. Then return to your own peaceful haven along quiet roads.
How is the weather?
Greece and the islands have a huge combination of micro-climates. Of course they are hot and dry in summer, but fresh and sunny in spring and autumn and cooler – often rainy – in winter. Temperatures in Corfu rarely drop below 8 or 10 degrees and are often 14/15 degrees. So while you do need heating/electric blankets etc. you are never going to freeze!
The best thing about winter in Greece is that it is short! This year in Corfu, we had temperatures into the 20’s throughout October and most of November, and even as I write at the end of November the daytime temperatures are around 16-18 degrees. The most ‘wintry’ of the winter months are January and February, and then the days start to get longer, the sun pops out more, and spring is with us again.
The property market
The property market in Corfu has remained pretty stable. Since there are virtually no big developments, and all properties are completely individual, there are no truly reliable per square metre prices for properties. You’ll just need to come here and have a look!
Prices vary according to build quality and location (closer to the sea carries premiums). In Corfu, the prime area is the northeast coast. Many properties on the island are village houses, either renovated (usually starting from around €50,000) or in need of renovation (starting from about €20,000).
Apartment developments are few, but among what is currently on the market, a one-bedroom apartment in a seaside resort such as Glyfada is €98,000, whereas a newly renovated studio in Barbati on the northeast coast is €139,000.
There is a good selection of villas with pools in the Barbati area for around €350,000 all with stunning views, and walking distance to the sea. Alternatively in a more rural location is Rose Villa – quiet and peaceful yet only 5 minutes drive from shops and tavernas.
There is an excellent choice of property from €200,000 – €350,000 offering all types of properties, in a variety of locations, although property prices can go up to €5,000,000 for absolutely prime properties in the most prestigious locations.
How to negotiate abroad is the guide to put you back in control: