How We Sold Everything to Live on a Greek Island in A World of Having Time. Our Story.

We sold everything and moved to Greece to live on a Greek Island in ... A World of Having Time. Wish we had done this sooner! A life changing experience. This is our story.
living in greece as expats

Living On A Greek Island Blog. What will we be writing about?

 

Welcome to our own little world! Long story short, we abandoned city life for a life in Greece. We chose living on a Greek Island, Lefkada, as this was our all times favourite holiday spot.

Our stories are about how we, as a foreigner couple feel about living in Greece as expats. About living in a smaller community. About island life as a non-islander. About the simple things in life. About what determined us to move to Greece. About adapting to a different culture, in this case, Greece culture. Of course, it is a very subjective view, we can’t have it any other way.

living in greece as foreigners

Our Facebook page. The place we post daily.

We try posting daily on our Facebook page called Living on a Greek Island, so if you are active there, follow us:

Our story

Whaaaat? Have you gone completely nuts?

My guy kept bringing up that he’d rather live on a deserted island. Everybody around us took it literally. It was in fact, just a figure of speech. Everybody was too busy to bother to understand the whole context. Stick with me. 

This is our story. Grab coffee. Grab beer. Grab your cat. Just grab something. Maybe your wife/husband?

Greece is great for holidays. But why the heck would you abandon everything you have here and go live like Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island?

The most common question from friends & family Tweet
living on a greek island

Our answer was always very short and straight. “We had enough”. Developing the matter seemed senseless, as none of them had ever accepted having enough. 

I mean, they were accepting their own reality as shitty or boring as it would have been. They were OK with living in that world. We were not. 

Anyhow, if they insisted, we’d tease just a bit.

Enough grey, busy, noisy, filthy, concrete city. Enough chemical-pumped-food. Enough friends pretending to be friends. Enough stress. Enough pressure. Enough business-related talks. Enough is enough.

Step 1. Addmiting to ourselves that something was off.

Privately, we kept bringing up the things we disliked about what’s around our reality. 

I don’t even want to talk so much about that (but I’m gonna do it anyway later).  

The things that were missing and we desperately wanted to bring into our lives: 

  • We wanted to have wide-open green/blue views, as opposed to the grey, tight sights with boring skies and dull sunsets.
  • We wanted crowds and traffic noise to be left behind and become just a faded memory. 
  • That, screw polluted air, we want to breathe some clean air
  • We hate cold damp winters. We want sun! We want sun! We want sun! 
german shepherd playing in snow

We want to allow ourselves to pay attention to the simple things in life, which we never had time for before. 

By the simple things I mean you know just the basics: cooking, sunsets, a drink with friends without talking about money and stress, longer walks with our dog, take the dog swimming for the first time in her life, beers on the beach, gardening, spending some time in a tent on a beach, photography, and a few others. 

sunset in greece

And generally, feeling more “present” into day-by-day down-to-earth activities.

In the end, that we want OUT. 

Out of the money-making-only-rat-race-tumbledried-washed-out mindset that surrounds us in each conversation. Out of this continuous show-off, drama-oriented, superficial city lifestyle.

And bottom line, that

I don't want to grow old in the city.

Ok, so life here sucks. It's ok. I have a plan. Sell the car. Buy a boat. Sail the f... away.

4 years ago, we finally decided to do something about it. 

Our plan: we’d sell our car, buy an old sailing boat, live on it and cross oceans at some point and experience world’s cultures. And we’ll be nomads. Imagine the faces of friends & family. Again.

After watching a ton of Youtube videos on the subject of living on a boat, we were convinced this nomadic-hippie lifestyle was the one for us.

Funny not funny, we’d never slept even for one night on a boat. Not to mention we’ve never sailed before.

But we did it anyway. Desperate situations call for immediate solutions 🙂 

Sold our car and bought an old sailing boat. 

Ok. Now what? 

To summarize, we felt that we are now part of a completely different and exciting new world. We were discovering so many new things and met so many open-minded people that we thought this is it: We hit the jackpot! Whoo-hoo!

The silence, the sense of freedom, the talks in the boatyard, the way time was stretching, as if days had much more hours… We loved it more and more as days passed. That was a new wake up call. So yeah, you CAN have it another way after all.

With all the romance of living on a boat came a different sort of stress, concerns and new struggles. Like not waking up on the rocks. Sleepless nights. And how the heck are we going to get the boat to a docking spot, here when we feel the boat doesn’t listen to us? 🙂 Or, How were we supposed to handle this strong wind as beginner sailors? 

So, the moment we had a chance to take a break from boat life, we went for it. But we knew we didn’t want to go back home. 

phone call from a friend happened to lead us to Spain for almost a year for a work-related project. Ok, life in a new country. Cool, vamonos! Get the boat out of the water. Bye girl, stay safe, we’ll come back for you soon 🙂 And off we went. To Spain.

moving to spain

2 years on fast forward. Spain. Cyprus. Greece. Spain (again). Greece.

Spain was exciting, with the perfect infrastructure and we loved the language. Learned it in a few months. I feel Spanish is so sexy and charming

Work was work. But besides work, we didn’t get the feeling of ‘belonging‘.

Spain was indeed perfect. For them. 

living in spain as expats

For us, it was just 1 year of “this doesn’t feel quite right for us“. We felt we’re losing it.

Spain is indeed a magnificent place to be. But it just wasn’t meant to be for us. Mostly because we felt it had lost some of its original charm due to massive development

The beaches were not what we were used to. Where is the turquoise sea? Where’s the small private beach? I was often wondering. I didn’t even wanted to go to the beach.  

There were a lot of awesome things even for us in Spain, but not enough to balance the missing ones. 

We did eat a lot of fish though 🙂 We’ve made a few close friends and we love and miss them a lot. We learned how to cook the most delicious paella and arroz a banda ever. We learned Spanish. We flew our dog from home, we were missing her so much. At least it was again, the 3 of us.

paella valenciana

But when we drew the line… No, it’s not Spain. But guys, for most people Spain is really a great choice, so don’t stop here, go to Spain, check it out for yourselves. And generally, don’t believe a word from the internet 🙂 Judge for yourself.

Going back. Our ONLY way OUT of that long-face state of mind, was coming back to where we knew we feel okay. Greece, here we come. Again.

So, okay, back to the boat. We email the boatyard in Greece that we’d be coming and that we’d be staying on the boat, in the boatyard, till we get her back into the sea. Never bothered to call. 

2 flights later, we arrive at the boatyard. It was closed for another 2 months 🙂 And it had some dogs guarding the place, so no. We couldn’t mess with that.

Now what? Call sis in Cyprus. It would be nice to hang out after so many years apart. A warm invitation from her fiancee’s Cypriot family came within a moment. Book flight Athens to Nicosia for the next day.

visiting cyprus

It was so good. Finally hanging out with family and familiar faces. We even though about staying more and maybe live in Cyprus. But still… Nope. It was missing something. I guess it was the nature thing. We needed more of that. More trees and bushes 🙂  

a beach in cyprus

Back on the boat in Greece. With new adventures, new people. Also … stories for another time. This one’s getting too long anyhow. I am sorry, never knew how to tell a story in just a few words… My bad. I wish I had better writing skills. Nevermind, moving on.

We had a few weeks before getting the boat out on water. We were having lunch and beers almost daily at the taverna next to the boatyard. The owner (lovely guy and lovely wife) who became our friend, understood that we were looking for a place to call home. He said. “Try Crete, it’s awesome you’ll love it”. He was born in Crete. He recommended a few places to visit in Crete.

ferry to crete greece

So, off to check out if Crete could be our new home. First stop: Chania. Well, okay, Crete is starting to get a lot closer to what we’d call home. And Crete is really, an amazing place for people relocating to Greece

chania crete

Unfortunately, we didn’t find any long term rent back then. So, we just stayed for 3 weeks, explored as much as we could, met a bunch of lovely people (Hi Giannis, Despina, Antoni) and went to some really beautiful beaches and villages. We loved Chania so much! A story that deserves its own post at some point. 

I have one post talking about this hippie place in Crete called Matala. If you’re into that, here you go

Back to square one. Back to the boat. Again, adventures, again new people, again new lessons.

living on a sailboat in greece

After 3 beautiful and exhausting months on the boat, another phone call. Spain calling, again 🙂 As we didn’t want to spend winter on the boat and we weren’t even close to being prepared for sailing the world, we accepted the work project in Spain.  

Story on repeat. It proved to be just a confirmation of what we previously agreed upon. Spain was not for us. 

Another 7 months later…

1 word that changed everything. Lefkada.

Seeing me kind of let’s say unhappy… he pronounced the 1 word that could get me out of the sad-state-of-mind: Lefkada

lefkada expats

He knows me way to well. And he knew that this word is the one that would put a big smile on my face

Because 8 years ago, when we have first visited this island, I got tears of joy because of the wild turquoise situation at Kavalikefta Beach in Lefkada. And we visited Lefkada as often as we could during the years. It already felt like a familiar place.

All in? This time, hell yeah! Sell the house, sell everything. Move to a Greek Island - Lefkada.

We knew there’s no way back

By this point, we knew it’s been Greece all along. How could we have been so silly and spend so much time and money looking for another place? We felt kind of stupid for not realising this earlier.

on a greek beach

We knew we had to really do it this time. Ok, so now what? Should we do this step by step, to be on the safe side? I mean, should we go to Greece, rent a house and spend the winter and check out how we feel about it?

Well, no, it couldn’t be. Just like with the boat. 

Ok. ALL IN and no way back, so that nothing else, no phone call or who knows what could tempt us from leaving from Greece. 

So, there we are, selling our house back home over the internet and everything we owned.

All righty, we are still kinda young, in our 40’s, so we could maybe start from scratch, provided we lower our expectations?

The 3-day car trip from Spain to Greece.

Ok, so moving to Greece. We had to find a way to travel from Spain to Greece with our German Shepherd. We bought a cheap car from Spain and planned our 3-day voyage. Spain, France, Italy by car, then ferry to Igoumenitsa. 

ferry from italy to greece

Our dog seemed to take one for the team as she didn’t complain once. She had all the trunk for herself. The backseats were packed with crap we managed to gather in Spain. 

When the Greek ferry we took from Brindisi didn’t leave for 4 hours, we knew we were heading to Greece 🙂 We didn’t mind, it was just amusing 🙂 

german shepherd travelling by car

Our brilliant plan. Find a plot. Build a house. Live a simple life as expats in Greece. (Still searching for that plot after 2 years... Zzzzzzz)

We have already been warned not to move to Greece with the idea that business is doing great here. That was actually a plus from our point of view, maybe people around are not so obsessively focused solely on making money

So, the plan was to find a plot in Lefkada and build a small house that we can call home. With some space for a vegetable garden and a few fruit trees. And a summer kitchen. Maybe even a few chickens. Definitely a fireplace. It should be our sanctuary where we would have this simple life. And we want to build it ourselves. If it could have a sea view, that would be nice to have. But not mandatory, as our budget was shrinking day by day

It still is, because we haven’t found any plot till now. It’s been 2 years since we started looking..

And oh, Hello! I talked so much that I forgot to make the introductions 🙂

Hi! 

I’m the feminine side of our couple and I’m 37. The 47 years old guy that I’ve been sharing my life with for almost a decade is my love.

He’s the one who’s been next to me and my (sometimes, most of the times) ridiculous ideas for more than 8 years

She is our beloved and loyal German Shepherd

german shepherd on the beach

And these guys are some of the 1,2,3,4,5,6 adorable Greek cats around our rented house that we adopted while living on the Greek Island of our choice – Lefkada.

black kitten
greek cat
greek cats

What are we doing right now?

I’m not going to talk about professional life now. 

But I can talk about what I love doing right now

During the last years, I’ve learned myself the how-tos of photography and video creation. Because I’ve always had an uncontainable wish of sharing the little things I discover. And I’ve done it along the way in various forms. 

But this little homemade project called “Living on a Greek Island” seems to be bringing me the greatest joy. People seem to relate somehow to our stories. You guys are curious and thirsty for more. And we are really happy to be a little part of people wanting to give life in Greece a try. 

Like Chris, the Irish guy who showed us some liveaboard sailing boats when we were looking to buy one. He was a liveaboard himself. We told him: “Don’t spend all your day with us, showing us these boats. They are all lovely, but way out of budget.” He told us: “It brings me joy. Converting people to liveaboards :)”.

A big lesson learned on the way. Changing is Exchanging? Right, so what do I have to give up?

Changing countries is not necessarily an easy journey. Ask anybody who has already done it. There are almost always bumps along the road

What we’ve learned: Changing seems to be Exchanging

It’s about a trade you make with yourself. You MUST give away something you’ve already GOT. You’ve got to make space for something new. Something you consider it’s missing from your life.

It is indeed natural and tempting to ignore this side of completely changing your life(style). And to be honest, maybe it’s better now knowing all of this before you do the move. Because if you know it, maybe you’ll never do it 🙂 

The little big things that we care about.

For some of you, some things we’ll be talking about might be meaningless. But for us, they became part of who we are, so they’re important. 

For instance, being able to buy fresh sheep milk or eggs, olive oil and some other local goodies from Vaso and Vangelis. They own a little farm in the village we live in on the island. I’ve forgotten the original milk taste since I was a child. I am grateful I’ve found it again. Finally. 

But for us to have access to this milk, it meant forgetting about hypermarkets where you have a huge variety with everything you could ever crave for. Smaller markets with just a few things are just as good now.

For us, Greece is like an endless book of life where each page has a little story that maybe it’s worth being told. 

fresh oranges ionian islands

PS. I hate cold winters.

I remember my cold fingers and toes during wintertime. Grrrrr…. I hate cold weather. I guess I have brain-freeze only when I think about it.

I am deeply grateful that minus something degrees is just a faded memory now. The temperatures during winter here are always a plus number. The sun is friendly almost all year long. And that is comforting. Even though all-year-rentals in such touristic islands of Greece are almost impossible to find and we have to find another one every six months. Even though these rented houses don’t come with proper heating or cooling systems. But they do come with friendly neighbours and often with a view, we’ve never had.

lefkada rainbow

Our friends: "You lucky bastards!"

Our friends have mixed feelings about us living in Greece. Some say oh, you lucky bastards! You don’t give a damn, you live the #islandlife, life is beautiful.

Well hell yeah, this was our choice. But do not think for a second that you can have it all. Especially on a Greek Island.

Others are like: Are you kidding me, you leave this place, your family, your friends, your business, and all you’ve built here to go and live like Robinson Crusoe in no man’s land? You must be out of your mind. Are you all right? And, just to tease them, we’re like: Oh man, these guys don’t even bother to name their streets on the island 🙂 

Theoretically, yes, there are a lot of things missing from our new life. But honestly, in our own reality, very few things are being missed. Our family and a few old friends. But that’s it, mainly. 

We have purposely traded all the other things for some that have a higher place in our values hierarchy. I guess the most significant ones would be the peace of mind, the evergreen nature and a stronger grip to day to day reality

Final thoughts.

 

It was not the easiest thing we’ve done till now, but surely it feels like the best thing we’ve ever done.

With each passing day, we discover new things and find answers to new dilemmas or questions we might have. I’m still trying to learn Greek as I feel we need it, if we really want to feel at home. 

And learning Greek is quite a task as it’s nothing like learning Spanish. 

Every single day we are trying to adapt to this new culture. And most importantly, understanding the deeper reasons for Greece being the way it is. And why is it like a magnet for so many of us? 

It’s a journey. And it has no end. But do tag along if feel there might be something for you here 🙂 

Our side projects

 

The beaches of Greece are my energy drug. Not only they offer me the setting to let my mind wander around with no particular subject in mind, but they also inspired us for our photographic and videography art. 

Hello From Paradise

 

This let’s say the artistic side of us is showcased on a Youtube channel we’ve made a while ago, called Hello From Paradise Project. Showcasing a bunch of places we like to call Paradise. Mostly beaches of Lefkada for now, cause that’s where we are right now :). 

Follow Hello From Paradise on Instagram

Lefkada Last Minute

 

Our practical side couldn’t stop us from sharing tips of places tourists often go to on our island. This project is called Lefkada Last Minute and it’s my way of sharing tips and tricks I have discovered for Lefkada’s most popular beaches.

Follow Lefkada Last Minute on Instagram.

Follow our day-by-day stories on our Facebook Page
Any thoughts? Leave a comment below.

4 Responses

  1. Hi. It’s great to read of your experiences. It is our plan to spend a lot more time on Greece in the coming years. Like you, we feel a natural affinity for Greece and the Greeks.
    Interesting to see you have settled on Lefkada. We are planning to visit there this Summer for the first time – if covid allows! It certainly looks a lovely island.

    1. Hi Ed! Great, you’re coming to Lefkada 🙂 Let us know when you do, we can tell you about some lovely places (mostly beaches) to visit and get the best out of this island. We also know a few accommodation options that we can warmly recommend, as we personally know them and the owners well. We can keep in touch on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/LivingOnAGreekIsland/ Cheers!

  2. Inspiring! Thank you. I have been planning to move to Greece for a while and can now finally do it but have had to slow down due to Covid and looking after my mum for a while in Bulgaria. I hope to be on Greek soil with my doggies by June and will work the rest out. I share your view about Greece, there is something intangible that draws me to it. I first visited as a kid in the 80s and started going back 10 years ago. I just turned 50 and want to make this dream and promise to myself reality this year. Swimming every day in the clear Aegean is something soulful for me and after spending November there by myself I know it’s the right thing for me to do. Thanks for sharing

    1. Hi Carol. Thanks for dropping by and leaving this wonderful comment. I am sure it will inspire and encourage others to follow their heart. After living here for 2 years now, I really feel there’s no other better place for us. With all the differences, with all the things that are not quite what we were used to, it’s such a breath of fresh air and a constant reminder of “back to basics” life. Can’t wait to hear more about your experience. Follow us on Facebook “Living on a Greek Island” and please do share your experience. Cheers!

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