Greece Fast Facts

Population: 10,773,253

Capital City: Athens

Climate: Temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers

Time Zone: GMT+2

Language: Greek

Country Code: 0030

Coastline: 13,676 km

In toy-town harbors, weather-beaten fishermen repair bright yellow nets. Donkeys clop down steep alleyways and wayward goats try to scrabble up into olive trees. White houses cascade with jasmine…cats of every color doze away on terraces…ya-yas (wizened old ladies) sit in doorways shelling peas and exchanging gossip. And the Aegean Sea is as idyllic as in Homer’s day: mother of pearl at dawn…deep blue at midday…shot-silk at twilight.

Greece is gorgeous. Of its hundreds of islands and islets, 166 are inhabited—so there is bound to be an island for you. Or consider the Peloponnese mainland—stunningly attractive, but barely known to North Americans.

Greece still holds onto a lot of its customary charm: particularly the islands, with their white-washed houses on stony hills; black-clad women delivering citrus and vegetables, carried by panniered donkeys to local tavérnas (taverns); leathery old fishermen sitting around in the sun, passing the time of day.

Even though tourism continues to make inroads into the traditional way of life, there is still something quite timeless about the whole scene. One fortuitous result of the extensive tourism trade is that many of the larger islands also have airports with connections to Athens, and (in peak seasons) with major European cities.

Speaking of the capital city, Athens—home to 4 million people—draws millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Of course the ancient ruins of the Parthenon, and other remains of Greek classical antiquity, have a huge part to play in that. Everyone should stand before these vestiges of civilization’s birth and marvel, at least once in their lives.

As with so many other Westernized countries, the Greek property market was hit by the financial crisis. Property prices in Greece had been increasing steadily since 2004, the year of the Olympics. Nationally, prices increased by 13% in 2005 and 2006. The year 2007 saw an increase of only 3.8%, with 2008 coming in at 2.6%

During 2009, the extent of the financial crisis unfolding in Greece had an impact on both mortgage availability and property transactions. In Athens prices fell by 3.1%. In Thessaloniki, the second largest city, prices fell 9.7%. Things have started to improve and prices have gone up in recent years, however.

Greece is big…and diverse. There are no square meter ball park figures. As with any country, price is driven by demand. In Athens and the major cities this demand is usually driven by employment opportunities, the most desirable neighborhoods etc. On the popular tourist islands, the strength of the demand from foreign and Athenian buyers is a major factor.


From the Archives of Greece

Crete and Corfu: For a Healthy, Simple, Greek Island Retirement

Crete and Corfu: For a Healthy, Simple, Greek Island Retirement

Editors Choice
By |
December 30, 2019

Today, the birthplace of democracy can still be a messy place—just as it increasingly is across the U.S., the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. But this, too, is Greece: A country so beautiful, calm, relaxing— and so relatively inexpensive—that it’s attracting retirees happily trading the messiness elsewhere for the messiness of a more fulfilling, often healthier lifestyle in a sunny corner of the Aegean.

Property Bargains in Europe for Less Than $137,000

Property Bargains in Europe for Less Than $137,000

By |
August 14, 2018

Pundits are divided on whether Spain’s property market will see further price falls. A huge overhang of unsold homes remains, but for the first time in seven years, sales in Málaga province showed an increase in 2013. Spain will always be a popular retirement destination for northern Europeans, and the number of U.S. citizens registered as living in Spain has increased, too.