wanting to move family to crete

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wilcockathome
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wanting to move family to crete

Postby wilcockathome » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:27 pm

Hi, I am new to all this but myself and my husband have decided that we would very much like to move to Crete.

We have four children aged 7, 6, very nearly 3 and 1. I know there is the European School in Heraklion which would suit our two older children if they could get a place and obviously the younger two would hopefully pick up enough greek to go to a greek school.

However, I was looking for general help and advice on whether we would be able to find somewhere to rent reasonably near the school and if so what sort of price we would be looking at?

I was also wondering what sort of thoughts everyone had on finding work for myself and my husband.

I am about to take up a TESOL course so hopefully being able to take up some kind of english teaching but I was wondering how easy would this be? In England I have worked for 10 years as a Probate Executive for a firm of solicitors and also 4 years before this, with Barclays Bank.

My husband is a scaffolder by trade but the kind of hard working person that is willing to do anything. Does anyone have any ideas what sort of work may be available for him, if any?

I would be grateful for all help and guidance.

Many thanks.

Elka[/b]

Carolina
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Postby Carolina » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:27 am

Hello Elka.

The European school is based in a Greek school in a residential area and I don’t know the area myself as I live on the other side of the island, but generally there are always a number of houses and apartments to rent in most areas.
These are mostly advertised in the local newspapers (in Heraklion, the ‘Patris’) but the problems are likely to be 1) having to search on the spot 2) the listings are all in Greek and 3) most rentals outside of the resorts are unfurnished. Alternatively many estate agents now have a number of property rentals on their books and you may find something through them beforehand. Prices vary according to the area plus the size of the accommodation and the facilities. Looking at the ‘Kritikes Aggelies’ (Cretan Classifieds) website http://www.kritikes-aggelies.gr prices range from about 400 to 600 euros for 3 bedroomed places.

So what about work and financing ? Realistically it will be very hard to support a family of six by working in Crete. Greek families with 3 or more children get a lot of extra help from the state – child benefits, housing, tax free cars and loans etc – as well as, usually nowadays, both parents work. As a non Greek family you are not entitled to anything.

As a start up teacher you may earn around 800 euros a month teaching at a frontistirio (private school) from 5pm to 10pm daily (note - these are the private school hours – evenings). It shouldn’t be too hard to find a teaching job as there are many many frontistirio, but be aware that most English teaching jobs finish at the end of May, when children take their exams, and start again in the new term in September, so that’s three months off with no pay. Assuming your husband finds work in the building trade, or in real estate or tourism etc he will probably be earning a similar amount, and both incomes together should cover the basics of rent, bills, food etc for a family of six. Add in costs for childcare and private Greek lessons for the children and you start to struggle. If you work in the evenings and your husband works days then I guess childcare would be covered, but it’s probably not the life together that you envisaged! I would think very hard about the practical everyday reality of such a situation.

Obviously this doesn’t apply if you can support yourselves without working or if you have some other form of income.

Either way you should come prepared to support yourselves for the first
couple of months.

wilcockathome
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Postby wilcockathome » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:58 pm

Hi Carol

Many thanks for replying.

We were thinking that we would be selling our home in England and would buy a property in Crete with the proceeds of sale, thus having no rent.

In the meantime however, we planned to rent giving us time to decide where exactly we wish to live and to find an appropriate property. I will be in receipt of Incapacity benefit from England for about 26 weeks which should cover the rent and also the sale of our car and various other items should cover living costs until work is found.

So hopefully living rent and mortgage free, we should be able to earn enough to cover living costs.

Apart from Electric, telephone and Helthcare insurance, are there any other important living costs to take into account?

Many thanks for your help, much appreciated.

Elka

P.S. How long does purchasing a property take roughly?

Carolina
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Postby Carolina » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:29 pm

For living costs don't forget heating in the winter, running a car - petrol, tax, insurance, mot etc. - costs of flights 'home' for 'holidays'.
One thing that immediately strikes me is the cost of educating 4 children in Greece. The older two will need private Greek lessons - and later the younger ones too. They may well need extra English lessons too, I don't know how much is taught in the European school and I believe some of the lessons are taught in Greek.

DaveG may be able to tell you more about the school, and his experiences, if he reads this.

Buying a property - it can take from a few weeks to a couple of years depending on what and where you buy. Buying an existing property with a clean title can be done in a few weeks. Buying off plan and having a house built will normally take about a year.

A word of caution - I would advise you not to sell up at home before you have rented here for a while and see how you like it and how you, and the children, cope. What are your reasons for wanting to live in Crete? A laid back, relaxed lifestyle? The reality is that many Greeks work two jobs in order to support their families as the wages are low and the cost of living increasing all the time. Add to that being in a foreign country with four young children and no support.. then the 'laid back' lifestyle can be rather elusive.

If you invest everything in a move and it doesn't work out it can be difficult to sell up (find a buyer and get a good price) and move back. And a good number of expats do move back after a year or so as they decide that it is not the life for them in the long term.

Sorry if this is all negatives, but I think they are important things to seriously consider and you should be aware of them. Of course there are many positive aspects of living in Crete, but I'm sure you have an idea of those already!

I hope others will add their comments to this for you.

paulh
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Postby paulh » Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:44 pm

Couple of points you don't often see written but need consideration.

You come over here and at first you are thrown together almost 24/7 whereas in the UK perhaps one of the parties was out at work 5 or 6 days a week. Whats more at first you do not have a circle of friends to retreat to or to distract you. It can put up quite a strain and of course you can get over it with time and if you expect it then so much the better, its when it is happening and all you feel is the increased strain and wonder what is happening to you that it gets a problem.

Second point is similar to the first and gets some people but misses others. In the UK you spoke the language and could get things done.....you are in "control". Here you either don't speak the language or speak it like a child and you feel you are being treated like a child. It gets very very frustrating. Getting some form of work and feeling you can see a realisable future solves a lot of the above but it can cause tensions until you get to that point

filippos
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Postby filippos » Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:58 pm

I would advise considering Carolina's comments very carefully along with some others that she has not mentioned.

If you do not speak Greek well you will find it difficult to obtain work outside the tourist industry, estate agency or hard physical work. Immediately before we came here my wife, a teacher with over 30 years' experience obtained a Cambridge TEFL qualification (and did well enough to be invited to teach at the college where she qualified). Although in the fortunate position of not needing to work, because she enjoyed teaching, we told many people about her qualifications and experience. Almost without exception people were dismissive of her ability to teach English to Greek children (or adults) simply because she was not fluent in Greek. In London she had successfully taught Spaniards and Koreans knowing nothing of either language.

My wife did not seek to work in a frontisterio but, if you can find any work at all I suspect that, initially, it will be on a part-time or trial basis and take a considerable time before your ability is accepted. Then you may, gradually, be able to build a private teaching practice that will be better paid than working in a language school. Then, of course, out of your earnings you will have to pay IKA or it's equivalent (similar to National Insurance), pay tax etc.

In various parts of the island there are jobs available in the construction industry but that is grindingly hard work and in high temperatures that many Northern Europeans find especially difficult to cope with. Labouring jobs are generally lowly paid and below average as there are many immigrant workers from southern and eastern Europe who are prepared to work for lower wages than most Greeks will accept.

To have any chance of learning in a Greek school your older children will certainly need tuition in Greek as the schools make no concessions to foreigners who do not speak the language and there are no "remedial" Greek classes. Without the language older children are at risk of becoming isolated from their contemporaries and becoming bored and learning nothing at school. Younger children should pick up the basics of the language if they mix with Greek children, particularly if this is at a nursery (which is likely to be expensive).

To survive at a very modest level I think both adults would need to work, possibly having three jobs between them (many Greeks have two jobs even when one is quite well paid - e.g. we were recently talking to a teller in our bank and he casually mentioned "my other job is teaching English ... ... "). If both of you are at work at the same times and you don't have the support of an extended family you'll need to pay for childcare which, again, is expensive. Alternatively, one works days and the other works in the evenings. When do you spend time together? When do you both get time with the children?

Before deciding to leave the UK at this stage of your lives think very carefully especially about the future of your children. I would also think in terms of supporting yourselves for a couple of years rather than the couple of months Carol suggests (although Carol may be better informed than I am as she's lived in Crete for many years).

Carol also warns about selling up in the UK to buy property here and what happens if things don't work out here as you hope. In some areas there are increasing numbers of resale properties coming on to the market and in many instances they are being undercut by developers anxious to sell their new-build properties. The result is that resale properties frequently take a long time to sell and probably not at the price hoped for.

We are currently trying to sell our property (too big for us now) but are in the fortunate position that we don't need to - it's a matter of choice - which is just as well since it's been on the market since last August at a price that several agent have told us is low. What's more, we won't be trying to get back into the UK housing market as the plan is to downsize here.

Please think carefully before making the decision as sometimes dreams can become nightmares. If you do decide to make the move after careful thought then I wish you the very best of luck and hope it works out for you.

Filippos.

wilcockathome
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Postby wilcockathome » Mon Apr 30, 2007 1:07 pm

Many thanks for your replies.

So many things to think about!!

What everyone forgets, is that life with four children is quite a struggle in this Country, but this is part of the package that comes with having a large family.

We are not expecting to move to Crete and be wealthy, just to swap our hardworking lives here, for one in a nicer Country.

I am currently learning Greek and can speak, read and write a little, with the hopes of working towards becoming fluent and hopefully opening many more opportunites for us in Crete.

I will be researching all aspects further.

What I would like to ask is, realistically, provided both myself and my husband find work, and we had no rent to pay, could we lead reasonable lives?

All comments appreciated.

Elka

Carolina
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Postby Carolina » Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:09 pm

I understand what you are saying about life being a bit of struggle with four children anyway (!) but the system is very different in Greece, and I’ll try to explain a bit more about it. Here the older 2 children will need private Greek lessons, and keeping up with their English is very important too. If they wish to do sport, art , music, dance or any other activity then you will have to pay for this too – the normal school curriculum is very basic and barely touches on these. Greek children who wish to take up a sport or musical instrument etc go to extra out-of-school private lessons.

The (junior) school day runs from 8.15 to approximately 1.30pm. Many junior schools now have ‘all day’ school which finish at 4pm, and in which they do not do any extra lessons but are helped with their homework (from day one at 6yrs old they have one or two hours homework daily), and this is mostly to help working parents.

Private Greek lessons, plus English lessons, plus any activity will need to be fitted in after school hours.

The State Nursery schools do not take children until they have reached their 4th birthday. The nursery school then runs for two years from age 4 to 6. At 6 years old children start infant/junior school. The nursery school hours for children aged 4 to 6 years are 9am to 12pm only.

There are private nurseries which will take babies from a few months old, up to children aged 5 or 6 and the hours they are open are generally from 8 am to 4pm

So the costs - Private Greek and English lessons ( keeping up their English is very important) for the 2 older children will cost from 300 to 500 euros a month, childcare for the 2 younger children around 400 to 500 euros per month. Then add in the cost of any activities – maybe one of your children wants to play football, another learn ballet, art, take swimming lessons etc etc – and you are talking of total costs of over 1000 euros per month. Most Greek parents pay at least 200 to 300 euros per month per child (often much more, especially for an only child) for extra tuition classes, a foreign language class or two, and an activity class. As the children get older the costs continue as children attend private tuition schools and language schools throughout their teens. All this is the norm in Greece today in order to attain a high school leaving certificate at age 18yrs. More on the teenage years on this thread:
http://www.livingincrete.net/board/viewtopic.php?t=84


Don’t forget that the children have 3 months off school in the summer holidays, and if you are both working you will have to pay for childcare. Other school holidays are 2 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks at Easter, as well as numerous Bank Holidays, plus days off for church holidays, teachers strikes (!) etc – this averages close to one day off every other week and is a real pain for working parents – however most have their extended families to fall back on.


Basically if you want your children to receive an education in Greece then you will have to pay for it, and with four young children it will be very costly. This is just one aspect of living in Crete that you may not have thoroughly considered, and there will be many others. Some of them have been touched on in the previous replies – read them again and seriously consider all the points that have been mentioned.

I’m sorry that I can’t reassure you that you will manage, which is why I advise you not to sell up and invest everything in a move. A ‘trial run’ of at least a year, with funds for the first couple of months, should help you decide whether or not it is really going to work, and that will give you the option of going back whenever you wish, if you wish!

lshall05
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Postby lshall05 » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:12 pm

Just intrigued to find out if the wilcockathome family eventually moved over. Does anyone know?

Only brought this up because I saw Carol's reply to someone in interkriti. It's scary how much it could cost - I'm so glad we're child free (and will remain so)!!
Living in Crete!!

kloist
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Hi Elka

Postby kloist » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:07 am

Ive only just joined "livingin crete" & I was wondering whether you moved there yet as Im thinking the same & if so do you have any advice for me with regards to the European school & living in Heraklion. Thanks Klo
Klo

jeansy
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wilco

Postby jeansy » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:37 pm

I am sorry but I think you really need to sit back and think about your proposed move, work here is not easy to find, your hubby is a scaffolder, no chance all Greek builders hang off a piece of 4 x 2 . The kids school will not be easy, you need to speak really good Greek for your job, insurance will be a nightmare on elm street for you.
I live here love it but do not have kids, have a job and a business I am lucky think hard and think carefully before making the jump, it ain't all sunshine and wonderful people all year.
Paul

MovinForward
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Postby MovinForward » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:19 pm

Carolina wrote:I understand what you are saying about life being a bit of struggle with four children anyway (!) but the system is very different in Greece, and I’ll try to explain a bit more about it. Here the older 2 children will need private Greek lessons, and keeping up with their English is very important too. If they wish to do sport, art , music, dance or any other activity then you will have to pay for this too – the normal school curriculum is very basic and barely touches on these. Greek children who wish to take up a sport or musical instrument etc go to extra out-of-school private lessons.

The (junior) school day runs from 8.15 to approximately 1.30pm. Many junior schools now have ‘all day’ school which finish at 4pm, and in which they do not do any extra lessons but are helped with their homework (from day one at 6yrs old they have one or two hours homework daily), and this is mostly to help working parents.

Private Greek lessons, plus English lessons, plus any activity will need to be fitted in after school hours.

The State Nursery schools do not take children until they have reached their 4th birthday. The nursery school then runs for two years from age 4 to 6. At 6 years old children start infant/junior school. The nursery school hours for children aged 4 to 6 years are 9am to 12pm only.

There are private nurseries which will take babies from a few months old, up to children aged 5 or 6 and the hours they are open are generally from 8 am to 4pm

So the costs - Private Greek and English lessons ( keeping up their English is very important) for the 2 older children will cost from 300 to 500 euros a month, childcare for the 2 younger children around 400 to 500 euros per month. Then add in the cost of any activities – maybe one of your children wants to play football, another learn ballet, art, take swimming lessons etc etc – and you are talking of total costs of over 1000 euros per month. Most Greek parents pay at least 200 to 300 euros per month per child (often much more, especially for an only child) for extra tuition classes, a foreign language class or two, and an activity class. As the children get older the costs continue as children attend private tuition schools and language schools throughout their teens. All this is the norm in Greece today in order to attain a high school leaving certificate at age 18yrs. More on the teenage years on this thread:
http://www.livingincrete.net/board/viewtopic.php?t=84


Don’t forget that the children have 3 months off school in the summer holidays, and if you are both working you will have to pay for childcare. Other school holidays are 2 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks at Easter, as well as numerous Bank Holidays, plus days off for church holidays, teachers strikes (!) etc – this averages close to one day off every other week and is a real pain for working parents – however most have their extended families to fall back on.


Basically if you want your children to receive an education in Greece then you will have to pay for it, and with four young children it will be very costly. This is just one aspect of living in Crete that you may not have thoroughly considered, and there will be many others. Some of them have been touched on in the previous replies – read them again and seriously consider all the points that have been mentioned.

I’m sorry that I can’t reassure you that you will manage, which is why I advise you not to sell up and invest everything in a move. A ‘trial run’ of at least a year, with funds for the first couple of months, should help you decide whether or not it is really going to work, and that will give you the option of going back whenever you wish, if you wish!


Many apologies for the lateness of my response, but I seriously appreciate the honest advice everyone has provided. As someone who's struggling to make ends meet in this country, I seriously considered moving out of the country as well. There are a bunch of graphic design work in Greece and I seriously considered attempting to make it out there. I graduated 3 years ago with a graphic design degree, but haven't been able to find a job. I'm not sure what makes me think I'll find a job out there, but I figured maybe some other country would see something that no one here saw. I'm definitely talented. . .it's just that there's no work to be found. No FULL TIME work anyways.

Is there perhaps a way to learn the local vernacular WHILE studying abroad via internship? Just curious. If I can successful learn the language, maybe I can buy property and open my own studio. Not sure how expensive or cheap it'll be, but sometimes life is about taking risks, no? ANY further suggestions would be sincerely appreciated. Thanks! =)
Last edited by MovinForward on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mitsy

filippos
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Postby filippos » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:58 pm

MovinForward wrote:As someone who's struggling to make ends meet in this country, I seriously considered moving out of the country as well.
If you're struggling financially in the UK I'd suggest that you'll struggle even more here, assuming you won't have a dependable income, e.g. a pension or private means.
There are a bunch of graphic design work in Greece and I seriously considered attempting to make it out there. I graduated 3 years ago with a graphic design degree, but haven't been able to find a job. I'm not sure what makes me think I'll find a job out there,
Despite EU directives you'll find that your degree will not be recognised in Greece [even Greeks with foreign degrees have this problem]. You'll also find that, by and large, design studios in Greece and, especially in Crete, are small businesses that are not likely to take on any employees let alone non-Greeks, especially in the current financial situation. I know a very talented graphic designer here, Australian Greek so fluent in Greek and English, who struggled to cope with the volume of business three years ago and is now considering working from home to avoid office costs.

There's also the Greek/Cretan attitude to hiring. Exaggerating only slightly the process goes something like this. Do I have a sibling that needs work? No. A cousin? No. Coumbaros [best man or child's godparent]? No. A close friend? No. Any friend? No. And so the process continues with non Greek speaking foreigners at the end of a long list.
. . .it's just that there's no work to be found. No FULL TIME work anyways.
There's not much full-time work for anyone without their own business or a job in the civil service, banking etc., let alone a business service regarded as a luxury. Most Greek businessmen will have a cousin or friend for practically any goods or services they need.
Is there perhaps a way to learn the local vernacular WHILE studying abroad via internship?
I'd wager relatively few Cretans would comprehend the idea of internships. As for the local vernacular .... do you have a talent for languages? "Proper" Greek is hard enough and the local vernacular is equivalent to the English spoken in a Glasgow pub when they don't want to be understood by an English visitor. My wife and I have been struggling to learn the language for several years, still have lessons but are far from fluent.
... maybe I can buy property and open my own studio.
In present economic circumstances property should be relatively cheap to buy but don't expect rent for business premises to be cheap. Also, setting up your own business legally can be an expensive, time consuming, bureaucratic nightmare.

If you believe you can cope with such a challenge then Crete is a great place to live. Fortunately, having reasonable pensions, we don't need to earn money to survive. Had we needed to we might not have settled in Crete.

Apologies if I sound like Jonah.

bobscott
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Postby bobscott » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:43 pm

Now is not the right time to come to Greece! Have you been reading the papers or watching TV lately? Stay in the UK and stay safe!!
Yesterday today was tomorrow. Don't dilly dally!

jet
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Postby jet » Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:40 pm

Carolina wrote:For living costs don't forget heating in the winter, running a car - petrol, tax, insurance, mot etc. - costs of flights 'home' for 'holidays'.
One thing that immediately strikes me is the cost of educating 4 children in Greece. The older two will need private Greek lessons - and later the younger ones too. They may well need extra English lessons too, I don't know how much is taught in the European school and I believe some of the lessons are taught in Greek.

DaveG may be able to tell you more about the school, and his experiences, if he reads this.

Buying a property - it can take from a few weeks to a couple of years depending on what and where you buy. Buying an existing property with a clean title can be done in a few weeks. Buying off plan and having a house built will normally take about a year.

A word of caution - I would advise you not to sell up at home before you have rented here for a while and see how you like it and how you, and the children, cope. What are your reasons for wanting to live in Crete? A laid back, relaxed lifestyle? The reality is that many Greeks work two jobs in order to support their families as the wages are low and the cost of living increasing all the time. Add to that being in a foreign country with four young children and no support.. then the 'laid back' lifestyle can be rather elusive.

If you invest everything in a move and it doesn't work out it can be difficult to sell up (find a buyer and get a good price) and move back. And a good number of expats do move back after a year or so as they decide that it is not the life for them in the long term.

Sorry if this is all negatives, but I think they are important things to seriously consider and you should be aware of them. Of course there are many positive aspects of living in Crete, but I'm sure you have an idea of those already!

I hope others will add their comments to this for you.


I know several Brits and Germans who say that it is very much cheaper to live in their own country rather than live in the expensive Greece where prices have reached the Scandinavian level


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