Why a Globetrotting Canadian Chose Athens, Greece

I’m originally from Vancouver and love exploring new places and different cultures. In my experience, understanding a culture takes several years so my method of exploring has been to live in different countries for periods ranging from five to ten years. It’s a very slow form of travel where I get to really immerse myself in a new land.

My first departure from Canada was when I moved to Israel to study Hebrew. What was initially intended to be a short excursion turned into a five-year stay! I loved the fast-paced lifestyle, the delicious food (including the world’s best falafel and hummus topped with a spicy paste known as schug), the extensive history of Jerusalem, and the sparkling boardwalk of Tel Aviv.

After five full years in Israel, I had not only learned the national language but also obtained my Associate’s Degree in Hebrew-to-English translation. From there I embarked on a logistics career and began working for a company that buys, sells, and ships used construction equipment around the world.

From Israel, I decided to see more of the world and moved to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The “city of 100 spires” captivated me and I was very impressed by its stunning blend of neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture, romantic cobblestoned paths, and, of course, its award-winning pivo (beer).

While in Prague I continued my logistics career and began working for one of the world’s largest employee relocation firms, where I quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become an international operations manager. It was rather fitting that after having changed countries a couple of times myself, I was now helping others to relocate!

Prague has a very diverse and welcoming expat scene, and I joined many social groups for running, beach volleyball (a surprisingly popular sport in the landlocked nation), cycling, and hiking.

Another invaluable advantage to Prague—and one of the great things about Europe in general—is its close proximity to many other countries and cultures.  Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Krakow, and Bratislava, for example, are all a mere four or five-hour bus ride away making weekend getaways an attractive and affordable option. By plane, even more options open up such as Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.

After ten years in Prague, I decided to relocate once again, this time to sunny Greece. Greece offers a unique blend of European and Middle-Eastern influences and has countless beautiful islands. An added bonus for me is Greece’s proximity to Israel for impromptu visits, and it also offers relatively easy access to a number of interesting Balkan countries including Albania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia.

I have been warmly welcomed by the Greek people in Athens and have delighted in learning the language and discovering its cognates in English. With the help of meetup groups, I have been fortunate to quickly form new friend circles comprised of both Greeks and expats.

Since living in Athens, I have purchased and renovated a home that I’ve established as an all-vegan bed and breakfast.  I also work as a freelance writer, editor, and TEFL-certified teacher of English as a second language.  In my free time, I continue to pursue my athletic passions—such as running—and I’m even planning on tackling the original marathon route this November!

I live in the Nea Smyrni area of Athens which is very conveniently located between the sea and downtown Athens with a tram line that can take you to either spot in about 15 minutes. Despite being close to the center, it’s a very quiet and comfortable area. A nearby park offers beautiful spots for running and working out in the outdoor gym, and behind this park is a lively town square featuring charming fountains and a long stretch of cafes, restaurants, and bars.

A typical week for me includes my regular work schedule of teaching English online, managing my vegan bed and breakfast, and juggling my various editing projects. In my spare time, I enjoy visiting the seaside for a stroll or bike ride on the promenade, meeting friends to explore new cafes and bistros, and running, hiking, or cycling through the natural beauty of Athens. I also manage a vegan group where we get together at restaurants or private homes for potlucks, drinks, and lively discussions.

There are countless things that I love about living in Europe including its varied cultures, reasonable work-life balance, incredible architecture, nature, and the relative ease of travel between countries—so I plan to continue my stay here long into the future.

There have also been challenges involved in uprooting my life and moving to a new country, and it takes some time to acclimatize to a new culture. I’ve had to be patient with the bureaucratic hurdles I’ve encountered (such as sorting out residency status, signing up for utilities, or even opening a bank account).

Having an open mind in regards to employment has also been beneficial to me and has created opportunities to develop my skills and have new experiences, like with my vegan B&B!  It has also been important to remind myself that it takes time to develop new connections and friendships—occasional moments of loneliness can occur, especially in the early stages of relocation. This has all been manageable, however, and with each move, it has gotten easier for me to build a new life.

It’s perfectly natural to be a little apprehensive about taking the leap from the comfort zone of your home country, but I definitely recommend you take the plunge and see where the adventure leads you!

Watch our interview with Erik below:

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