As we move into crunch time for Brexit negotiations, it looks increasingly clear that British people will, like other non-Europeans, need a visa to live in EU nations permanently. Whether you believe that’s no problem or a big problem, one way around it is to establish residency in Greece before 29 March 2019 – Brexit day! So just how do you move to Greece before Brexit, now less than six months away?
The good news is that you can do it. Time is of the essence, but if you can find a property before Christmas, the buying processes can take less than two months. That leaves another month or two to prove residency. And this, don’t forget, is to be resident before 29 March, the earliest possible deadline. It seems highly likely that there will be a transition period lasting as long as another two years.
Time is of the essence, but if you can find a property before Christmas, the buying processes can take less than two months.
Taking a worst-case, no-deal scenario though, these are the basic steps you should take to move to Greece before Brexit.
Finding a property
Your first problem will be finding the right property. With so many stunning islands, from Corfu in the north west all the way to Rhodes in the south east, you have a huge choice. Each has its own character, access and attractions. Don’t forget the mainland either, with the Peloponnese, Thessaloniki and Athens “Riviera” all popular choices too. All these locations are washed by the same warm, sun-drenched Mediterranean sea. In every location, too, you’ll be welcomed by just about the friendliest people in Europe.
For help in finding a good estate agent and lawyer, give the resource team a ring on 020 7898 0549 or email email@example.com.
You have some help in finding the right home for you. Firstly, read our comprehensive guide to Greek locations. Don’t forget to download our viewing trip guides too and print off some viewing trip worksheets. These will help you narrow your options and keep track of your progress.
Buying property in Greece
This isn’t difficult, despite having one of the world’s trickier bureaucracies to steer your way through. Here are the main five processes.
- Get a good lawyer. You have to employ a lawyer when buying a Greek property worth more than around €30,000 (less in rural areas), but even if buying at below this, why take the risk?
- Your lawyer prepares the preliminary sales agreement. This covers the price, what’s included, how you are paying, completion date and any other essentials.
- Ensure that everyone understands – and it is written into the contract – that the deal is contingent on being concluded in time for Brexit. If that is vital to you, of course. If not, if as buyer you pull out of the deal after and in breach of the preliminary contract, you lose your deposit. (If the seller pulls out they could lose double the deposit).
- You will also need a notary. Yes, someone else to pay for, but they could deal the done that but quicker, in time for Brexit. The notary ensures all your documents are in order and facilitates the process.
- Ensure your lawyer completes all the legal checks. A comprehensive list of legal checks when buying property in Greece is here. And remember, if you think the Greek government is slow, just wait until you get enmeshed in the judicial system! Do get it right first time.
The $64,000 question is, how long with this all take? Generally less that six to eight weeks. So plenty of time, if you start now.
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Being lawfully resident
Okay, it’s early 2019 and you own in Greece. But now you need to ensure that you’re “lawfully residing” in Greece. The key phrase that came out of the early negotiations, it should still hold good even with no deal. What do you need to do to be lawfully residing?
Financially, you would be regarded as resident in Greece if you spend 183 days there in any calendar year. With less than that until the end of March 2019, don’t panic. You should also be lawfully resident if your main home is there, if your principal occupation is in Greece, or if Greece is the country of your most substantial assets.
You must prove you have enough money to avoid being a burden on the straining Greek social security system.
Although EU citizens don’t need to register in Greece, as they do in some EU countries, to prove you’re lawfully residing it makes sense to get a residence permit as soon as you can. For this, you must prove you have enough money to avoid being a burden on the straining Greek social security system. So you will need a bank or pension statements, salary slips, medical insurance cover and a valid passport. If in English, these will need to be translated (even though many Greeks speak English), especially if time is of the essence.
Then pop down to your local municipal office (dimos) or prefecture office (nomarxia). Each area can have different rules, so this is where a good estate agent and lawyer will be a huge help.