Greek Island Life From $1,085 a Month

Arillas Corfu
Kavvadádes is located just short distance from Arillas Beach. |©iStock/CCat82

By Leena Horner

As I sit on my private roof terrace, watching the setting sun light the landscape golden, kissing the snow-capped peaks of distant Albanian mountains, and sparkling on the blue waters of the Ionian Sea… I reflect on my new life here on the Greek island of Corfu, and know I made the right choice.

In the summer of 2021, my husband Mike and I sold our home in Boulder, Colorado, and embarked on this new adventure in Greece. We had visited Arillas, a small village in the northwest area of the island of Corfu, and intended to make it our new home. 

We were ready for a more relaxed pace of living. So I left my job as a physician, and my husband retired at age 60.

Visas and Residency

Before we left the United States, we obtained our one-year Greek visa at the Greek consulate in Los Angeles. Upon arrival, we began the process for a Type D (financially independent) residence permit. 

This process was complex, so we hired a Greek lawyer to make it easier. After three months, we had a two-year residence permit and were legal residents of Greece. 

Later—after purchasing a home in late 2022—we applied for the golden visa, which lasts for five years and is renewable as long as you continue to own your property. The golden visa has the added benefit of being able to apply for Greek Citizenship after seven years. 

Finding Our Home

The area of Greece that we wanted to call home is quite popular with a large expat community. 

Initially, we rented a two-bedroom home for around €925 ($1,000) per month at the summer rates, which are much higher due to the increased demand for rental properties during the tourist season. Winter rental rates are much more affordable at around €510 ($550) to €600 ($650) per month. 

We were determined to find a home or land to buy, with the plan to settle permanently. 

Being such a popular expat destination, desirable properties in the area sell quickly. We looked at many homes and in January of 2023, after a solid year of looking, found a home in Kavvadades, Corfu, that met all our requirements. 

Even better, the purchase price of €‎250,000 ($270,826) qualified us for the golden visa. 

Pro tip: If you hope to obtain a golden visa, purchase your property using Greek banks, or you will be ineligible for the golden visa. 

Our three-bedroom, three-bathroom home is on a hilltop with sea views in three directions. Our favorite areas of the home are the outdoor spaces. The back garden is a delightful sanctuary with a covered outdoor pagoda. It has windbreaks on two sides and a wood-burning stove, so even in the winter, we can sit outdoors comfortably and enjoy the views and our garden. We also have a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the Bay of Agios Georgios. 

The view from Leena's garden at sunset.
The view from Leena's garden at sunset.

One of the bedroom/bathroom combinations has a private entrance and is perfect for visitors. Then there's the beautiful sunroom on the north side of the house, so it's charming to sit on the sofa in the sunroom and read a book on a rainy day. 

Social Life in Corfu

Our Greek neighbors are very friendly, and brought us fresh eggs and olive oil as a welcome when we first moved in.

Our social life is very active, and every day brings new encounters and adventures. Every Saturday evening, we attend a spiritual discourse and a community dinner with friends. On Monday mornings, we're in a dharma meditation group.

I also love hiking in the area with friends, attending community dances, and hosting friends at our home for dinner. My husband has coffee with friends 2-3 times a week, and he's involved in a chess club and a men's group on Thursday evenings. We also enjoy painting classes, yoga classes, and local concerts.

Summer in the area is very lively, and many European tourists visit for weeks at a time. The seaside is within walking or biking distance, and I love to ride my electric bicycle down to the sea to meet friends and go for a swim. 

Many of the local restaurants and businesses are closed in the winter season (mid-October to late April), so the winter has a very different feel and is much quieter. I actually enjoy it more than the summer because of the peacefulness and tight-knit community on the island.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is much less than what we spend in the United States. We live lavishly on about €3,000 ($3,200) a month, including dinners out several times weekly. You can live for much less, and we have friends living on their pensions at less than €1,000 ($1,085) per month. 

The cost of the local tavernas is very reasonable, and dinner with an appetizer, wine, and an entree will cost anywhere from €25 ($27) to €50 ($55) total for two people. 

We also feel fortunate with the local health and dental care. My husband saw the local cardiologist, and the doctor saw him for over an hour and did the EKG and Echocardiogram himself at the same visit. The entire cost was €100 ($108)—our international health insurance costs us about $250/month.

We decided on one car and an electric bike for transportation. The area is very walkable, and it's a short stroll to the veggie store, the market, and the post office.

There's plenty to keep active with locally, and I love visiting Corfu Town—the largest town on the island. Wandering the Old Town's tangle of narrow winding stone streets packed with fun shops, restaurants, and bars all housed in stone Venetian buildings… It's fun getting lost in this area of town. 

Corfu Town especially comes alive during Carnival and Easter week, which are big holidays on the island and always a cause for celebration. 

I can't fully express all the gratitude in my heart for our new life in Greece. We are relaxed, having fun, and have felt very welcomed by the community. 

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