I don't know what brings you here but anyway... Welcome to our Greek land searching Odyssey.
I’m writing this blog post mostly to put together all the puzzle pieces we’ve gathered so far in regards to buying land in Greece, on a Greek island. If this helps somebody going through the same thing, great!
If you’re also looking into buying a plot in Greece, especially on a Greek island, grab a coffee, take 15 minutes off whatever you’re doing and keep on reading.
We are sharing our insights, and everything we’ve learned so far. This blog post sums up all our personal analysis and logic for such an important purchase. We only have one shot, so we need to choose wisely.
Our goal is to buy an affordable plot in Lefkada (between 10.000 – 20.000 EUR). Haven’t found it yet, but we feel we are getting closer and closer.
One of our Facebook followers said she wants the good, the bad and the ugly 🙂 We’ll try to do that for you Zoe 🙂
Keep on reading or take a shortcut
Our chosen location
Ok, let's put a pin on it. This is where we are now and where we're still actively searching for buying a plot.
We finally moved to Greece a bit more than 2 years ago. We settled down in Lefkada Island, one of the beautiful Ionian Islands on the West Coast of Greece.
Yes, it’s the turquoise. I’m a sucker for turquoise seas and I can’t help it. This is what allured us to this island in the first place. But since then, we’ve been discovering all sorts of other particularities, that made us love Lefkada more and more, with each passing day.
Lefkada Island in a few pics that I made:
Our ultimate goal is buying an affordable piece of land in Lefkada and build a small (90 sqm) one-level house. And making the most fruitful garden ever. With tomato varieties from all over the world that we’d grow for us and our friends. And enjoying the silence and privacy. And having lots of barbecues. And cooking some ancient Greek dishes in our summer kitchen in the open air. Mainly that’s it.
Our previous experience
We've done this before. But in the wrong country.
Buying a plot and building a house is not new to us. We’ve dealt with the whole fun of searching for plots before. Bought one, built a house and learned a huge amount of information along on the way:
- dos & don’ts;
- problems that can be avoided in the first place;
- smart solutions;
- budget efficient with keeping the quality;
- what we think we need and what we really need;
- building according to our own needs, not to the architect’s or designer’s needs…Things like that.
The house proved to be almost perfect. There was only one big fat problem with it. It was in the wrong country :). Therefore, we sold it. Now we want to put together a much smaller one, in what we think is the right country :). That’s Greece for us.
Buying or building a house in Greece?
For us, there was only one answer.
People are asking us “Why don’t you buy a house instead of building one?“. Our answer: There’s no ready-built house that would be the one for us. We know too well what we want and need from a house. And we’re not afraid of getting our hands dirty and working on the house ourselves.
We so much prefer this and be left with a cozy house, fitted to our needs, and most importantly, without humidity. We’ve done one before. Now we have much more info and experience. No way we’re buying a ready made one. Plus we can’t afford that anyway 🙂
Our logic behind building
Our logic when it comes to building a house.
The way we’ve built our first house, like everything we do, was not the easy way. But the cost-efficient way. According to our particular everyday life needs way. We hired an architect, an engineer and a team of workers to build. Not a building company, but a small private team.
We were on the construction site daily, managing everything, supervising everything, taking the decisions that could make or break our project. Also, keeping costs under control.
That kind of approach saved us a lot of money and created the opportunity to invest the amount saved into the quality of the construction.
With the amounts saved, we made sure the materials we used are proven in time, durable and high quality. We made sure the house had proper insulation. That it doesn’t lose heat in the winter nor lets heat in, during summer. That we had quality windows and doors and that the heating source was a proper one for cold winters.
We made sure there is no humidity in the house. (And that’s a huge problem with the houses we rented in Greece and Spain). We made sure our monthly utility bills are small. Everything was perfect with our house, plot and garden. Except for the country 🙂 Good execution. Poor choice of location.
Things to consider
Back to Greece now. Things to consider before buying a plot in Greece. Realising what we really want, what we need, what we don't need, what we can afford.
Ok, now you have the context. You know where we stand in regards to our background with building a house and buying the right plot.
We realised it’s important to know what we wanted. We began our search for plots with a beautiful sea view. We thought this is what we needed.
Meanwhile, during the last 2 years, we have lived in 3 rented houses, all with beautiful sea and mountain views. Which was nice of course, but we learned something new about ourselves.
Sea view is nice to have, but it’s not the thing that fills our hearts with joy. Having a mountain view, our own veggie garden, our own fruit trees and shrubs, our privacy, our tranquillity weigh a lot more for us than just having a sea view. Plus it can get quite expensive (for us, at least).
First, we looked at all kinds of plots and we liked even the inclined ones. Obviously the view was impressive. You feel on top of the world. But when it comes to building costs…. They skyrocket. So, again, not for us. Also, usually these kind of sloppy plots are rocky and growing a veggie garden in these conditions implies a bigger investment in making terraces, bringing good agricultural soil, etc.
We learned on the way that we would prefer to build a South-oriented house. And that we would have 2 terraces, the North one would be for hot summers and the South one would be for late autumn, winter and beginning of spring. We know how to deal with making an efficient house heat/warm-wise, so we would deal with our own methods with the heat coming from the South and with the cold and humidity that comes along the North side of the house.
Things to avoid
We knew well what we don't want. And these things are still on the table. Hence, note to self... Things to be avoided when looking for a plot (for us):
- Crowded or highly circulated areas. Avoid especially proximity to the main road.
- Future hotel, resort, block of flats, farm, amusement park, and other buildings of that sort that could possibly be built in the future close to us.
- Plots without utilities or far away utilities (for example, electricity more than 150 m from the plot – it may take forever to bring it and brings up the cost).
- Plots in floodable areas with a few exceptions (there are some interesting floodable areas to consider, because there is a form of drainage already present in the area).
- High humidity areas (You have no idea how much we hate humidity). This means it would have to have a South breeze in the summer and protection from North cold winds during winter.
- Plots that only allow building a North Oriented house. Makes fight with humidity tougher.
- Extremely rocky plots. It would be much harder to grow a vegetable garden here.
- Plots with unpleasant or inexistent views.
- Plots without car access (building your own road is not something that I would like to spend money on).
- Plots that would not offer the possibility to build some privacy around the house.
Affordable. A talk on that.
Is land in Greece affordable? Yes, yes, and yes. We intend to buy one priced at 10.000-20.000 EUR.
Affordable is subjective. For Western Europeans a plot in Greece is probably considered quite affordable. For Eastern Europeans, I guess the prices would be more or less the same. For the US, it’s probably considered almost free 🙂
Affordable means different things for different people. Price for plots in Greece vary depending on a few real estate factors.
These are the factors that make the property prices go up (our subjective conclusions):
Area (Mainland or Greek Islands). I honestly don’t know much about Greece mainland, as our dream is building on the island. So let’s talk islands only:
- The more popular the island, the higher the price. That’s obvious.
- With the Ionian Islands, the situation is a bit twisted: Corfu, Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Lefkada. Their popularity goes from high to low, exactly in that order. I’d imagine that the prices for land and property would be accordingly to popularity. But no, Lefkada, the less touristic one seems to be the most expensive one. Counterintuitive. Maybe it’s because it’s connected to the mainland with the floating bridge and no ferry is needed to go on the island. Maybe it’s because most property is still Greek-owned and they are not so keen on selling.
- The location within the island – again related to how close the plot is to touristic places on the island or to the main city on the island.
- The sea view – this is highly-priced everywhere.
- Distance to the sea – the closer it gets to the sea or the beaches, the higher the price.
- How much building permission you can get for the sqm – highly valued by the owners selling.
- Utilities on the plot or at a short distance (50-150m) is highly valued.
- Future investment developments planned for the area (such as ports, resorts, and so on…)
Where do I start?
Ok where do you start with looking for plots on the Greek Islands? The research.
We actually started looking for plots in Greece while we were still living in Spain. We actually worked on the Spanish real estate market. You can easily find everything online. Communication is easy if you speak a little Spanish and English. Well, that’s just not the case for Greece and especially when it comes to property.
You will find some plots listed online. And these are the Greek real estate online places where you can start looking for a plot in Greece.
The most popular real estate websites in Greece that I know:
- Spitogatos.gr – real estate listings from agents and private owners (available in English and Greek)
- Spiti24.gr – real estate listings from agents and private owners (available in English and Greek)
- Topspitimou.gr – real estate listings from agents only (available in 8 languages)
- Xe.gr – a general website including real estate, all Greek language (you’ll need to translate it with your browser)
The local real estate listing websites:
The local real estate listings websites from the island you’re interested in. Each island should have at least one website with listings from all over the island. In Lefkada for example such websites are Lefkadarentals.com and Lefkadaslowguide.gr .
Local real estate agents websites:
These local businesses know the market and the places. They offer a limited number of listings, usually, the ones which they represent and get commission from both the buyer and the owner in case a sale happens through them.
For us, this is not an option as we can’t afford paying these commissions. Also we can do the running ourselves. If you’re not here in person to look for plots and you don’t have a friend on the island to run for you and send you pics and details, working with an agency is probably the way to go. But comfort comes at a cost. If can afford it, go for it.
Facebook Marketplace & Facebook groups:
From time to time … Social Media does some smart things. Not that smart. But it’s a start. A few years ago Facebook launched Facebook Marketplace. It’s supposed to be an online bazaar with all sorts of things that peple want to sell, exchange or giveaway. Both new and used things. It includes real estate. In my opinion, it is still primitive but you can check it by choosing the area that you’re interested in. See what kind of listings would there are in the area of interest.
Advantages of Facebook Marketplace in Greece:
- High chances the listing is posted by the owner himself
- You can communicate immediately with the seller by messaging the profile who posted the announcement.
Disadvantages of Facebook Marketplace in Greece:
- Most of the listings are in Greek and few of them would answer back to you in English. Most of them prefer speaking on the phone, not writing messages. That’s if you know Greek. You could try and communicate with the seller’s profile with the help of Google Translate.
- There are no pictures or very few pictures, usually low quality ones. That’s because the owners do not really bother with taking pictures when they want to sell something. I know it’s weird. But that’s the way it goes around here. It’s rare to find a listing with quality pictures or at least decent pictures to know what you’re asking about in Greece. Got so frustrated with this matter that I made this blog post for my friend who wants to sell her house here in Lefkada:)
A friend or a person you trust locally
No explanation needed here. This is comforting and very helpful as locals have their ways of finding out about plots for sale that you won’t find online. Plus this person’s probably going to do all the running for you if you’re not here.
Our approach. Just ask around.
The way we think we're going to find our land: living here and asking EVERYBODY we know and EVERYBODY we don't know.
We already live here. We got to know a bit better what parts of the island we prefer. We told all our friends on the island what kind of plot we’re looking for and what our budget is. We kindly asked them if something comes up, to let us know.
We started getting phone numbers from Greeks that have some plots for sale and even mouth-to-mouth old fashioned way, that somebody knows somebody else who’s selling a plot. If you don’t want their plot, these guys are kind enough to recommend you to their uncle, sister or friend who have plots for sale.
Only when we started doing this, physically going in all the villages and asking people on the street if they know a plot for sale, things started happening. Luckily, I already speak some Greek. Basic. Learnt it on DuoLingo mobile app :). Without it, honestly that kind of person-to-person search would not be possible. At least here where we are now.
We ask everybody, the people managing the local stores, the car mechanic, the people with bars and taverns, old ladies we see on the street (“yayas” – meaning grandmas).
And finally we are seeing plots that are within the budget and in the areas we like. This was the only method that worked for us. It’s the only way we are seeing plots that are getting closer and closer to what we want. If we hadn’t had so many boxes to tick we would have bought one till now. We only have one shot and we are forced to fire it in the right direction :).
Wonderful things happen
This personal approach develops new connections on the island and other wonderful things.
Besides seing plots, we get to meet people. Real people, old inhabitants of the island, or younger people with good English. People that generally know the place much more intimately than we could ever get to know it.
They are aware of the problems and advantages of each area. They know if a plot is overpriced, or if there’s something wrong with it. Locals tell us everything they know. We feel, they care about our well-being and would receive us with open arms in the village.
Some invite you to their homes to meet their families or just to drink a tsipouro. Like Yannis and Angeliki. Some will invite you to their homes and give you a good-bye gift from their own production. Such as Mixalis, who gifted us one of his lovely homemade lemon essential oil.
Funny things may happen also. Such as going to see a plot of a friend of a friend, only to find out 2 days later… that the price has more than doubled 🙂 The friend who took us to see this plot was so nice, so kind… and at the end so bothered by his friend who doubled the price 🙂
Greeks have their preferences when it comes to building. And they will share them with you. When seeing 2 plots, one flat, one sloppy, our Greek friend told us: I would definitely go for the flat one. Making terraces to such a sloppy land is going to cost a lot. Maybe the same as your house. 🙂
None of the sellers are desperate sellers here. If the right buyer comes, all right, but we haven’t heard of anyone, till now, being in a hurry with selling a plot on this island.
Greek owned plots are usually passed away from generation to generation. You see, they have also sentimental value. I understand. It’s difficult to put a price on that.
The red tape
The paperwork, the lawyers, notary stuff, laws and regulations. It's all very confusing.
Oh, this is next level fun. I didn’t even touch this subject yet. Because if you’re here, you’ve probably already went through a lot of articles about buying property in Greece. They all start with: “hire an English speaking local lawyer, do not buy anything until all papers are clear, and be mindful that it takes time”.
Ok, I guess you are passed this moment when everything becomes scary. It’s paperwork. We’re all full of paperwork anywhere we live. In some places it’s less, in others it’s more. That’s how it goes. But do not in any way, let yourself get intimidated and stop the search. If living in Greece is your dream, just do it.
There are many rules and regulations for building a house, like everywhere. Certain things matter in regards to how much you can build on a given land. There are regulations how far away from the borders of the plot you are allowed to build.
There are rules about the road opening. About what kind of road it is, agricultural only or public. There are many. If there is a request for this, we will write about these when we are positive that we have all the info. Theoretically, the engineer should inform you about all you need to know.
About paperwork… 🙂 Welcome to wonderland. It’s a roller coaster. A slow one. But it works in the end. I like to think it’s the price you need to pay for a ticket to paradise. You need to have your patience game on, your Greek friend, or a hired translator, your lawyer to verify if the plot is eligible for building before buying. And that’s it. It’s going to happen in the end.
But we’re not there yet, so we’ll be able to write more on that as we get there.
I think, that even before going into legislation, paperwork, etc, you need to be sure about the area and to start seeing plots. The rest will be all figured out along the way.
Congrats on making it to the end of my longest blog post yet. My efforts in keeping it short and simple are futile. I am a bit sorry.
I wish you luck in case you’ve made your decision of relocating to Greece. You’re on your way! I wish for you to have a smooth relocation! It’s the start of a beautiful journey! It’s probably not the easiest one, but if you value the things Greece has to offer (almost for free), it will probably be the best decision of your life.
PS. We are seeing lots of plots these days in Lefkada. We’re only going to buy one of them in the end. Drop a line we can help you find one along the way. We are doing the back and forth anyhow. It would be easy for us to ask around for you as well.
That’s it for now. Feel free to drop a line below, or just say hello! Cheers! Time for some Alfa.
PS. On my Instagram account called Hello From Paradise you can see more of our Lefkada photos.