The Greek island of Santorini really needs to be seen to be believed. Located about 200 kilometres southeast of mainland Greece, it’s the largest island of a small, circular archipelago.
Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption, which destroyed the earliest settlements on what was once a single island and created the current geological caldera. A giant lagoon, which measures about 12 kilometres by seven kilometres, is surrounded by 300-metre-high steep cliffs on three sides. Santorini’s capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff, looking down on the lagoon.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in Santorini, along with one of its neighbours, Mykonos. It sounds cliche, but I really was speechless when I first saw the island for myself. And while Fira is very pretty, my favourite spot was the coastal town of Oia, located about 15 kilometres from Fira on the north of the island.
Built on the steep slope of the caldera, the houses and restaurants are built into niches carved into the caldera on the seaward side. Tourists spend their time wandering through the labyrinth of whitewashed, blue-domed churches and charming, traditional homes, most of which are also white.
As a retirement destination, Greece is often overlooked and while there’s no doubt the country has had its fair share of struggles, none of this is really evident once you reach the islands.
Here, time slows down, the food is fresh and delicious, and everyone—locals and tourists alike—seems to be in a constant state of bliss, most likely due to the awe-inspiring views everywhere you look.
But of course, there’s more to retirement than staring at the ocean all day (although that is a big part of it for many people—and understandably so!). If you’re dreaming of an escape to the Greek islands, you’ll almost certainly spend less on accommodation than you do in Australia.
In Santorini, you can rent an apartment from as little as €859 ($1,348) a month. Admittedly, that’s for a studio, although it does come fully furnished and with a long list of desirable features and amenities, including a balcony, ocean views, secure parking, satellite TV and WiFi. Pets are also welcome.
If you’re after something a little larger, you can rent a furnished two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment for $2,826 a month. The apartment comes with a balcony and is located just 10 metres from the sea. If you’d prefer to buy, you can pick up a three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment for $314,000, or a traditional-style villa—with three bedrooms and two bathrooms—for $550,000.
While EU (European Union) residents will run into almost no restrictions purchasing property on the islands, non-EU residents need to prove both their connections to the country and their intent for property use. This application is made to the Ministry of National Defence.
One thing to keep in mind is that if the property is designated alpha (a historic home) by the Greek government, you may have little or no ability to make updates or changes.