Several weeks ago, the region of Crete launched the first website in Greece to attract and help digital nomads to live and work from paradise. The site, www.workfromcrete.gr, is a digital guide to help those who can work remotely take advantage of all the offers on the island of Crete.
By Phil Butler
For your information, at the end of 2020, the Greek Parliament passed a new law (No.4758) to encourage digital nomads from all over the world to come to work and live in Greece. The law called for a dramatic 50% tax reduction for digital “settlers” during the first seven years of their relocation to the country.
The campaign will attract flexible remote workers as part of the country’s green and digital reforms that officials hope will help revive the economy and restore its international image.
Greek island of Crete ideal for digital nomads
The Governor of Crete, Stavros Arnautakis, made a welcoming statement inviting digital nomads to a “beautiful and authentic place” like no other. In his remarks, the native of the village of Archanes also highlighted the region’s high-level educational and research institutions and modern digital infrastructure.
The governor also emphasized an open call to welcome, as he pointed out, millions of people who may wish to work in Heaven. Some of these nomads, Cretan officials hope, will be young people who left Crete in the brain drain after the 2009 crisis.
The perfect climate of Crete, the incomparable nature and the legendary friendliness towards foreigners make the largest Greek island a dream of place to work and live. If there is a downside to digitally connected workers moving to Crete for good, it is a fact that certain aspects of the so-called “Work from Paradise” system are the “nomad visa” delay and the incomplete 5G network. which should soon encompass the whole. Isle.
To get an update on these issues, we reached out to Nikos Alexakis, the Chief Tourism Officer of the Crete region. He offered the latest news on the progress of the Work From Crete initiative:
“Although we are not quite there with 5G, we are moving quickly to strengthen connectivity not only in the major cities of Crete, but across the island. And although COVID-19 has caused a natural shift in priorities, we are working with Athens to implement this new visa regime.
Alexakis also said the region is ready and willing to help interested digital nomads find current answers and alternatives to settle on the island for work. He said the region of Crete will continually add new resources to help those who are interested in their quest to live and work from paradise.
The pandemic has put many initiatives on hold. However, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Migration is in the final stages of drafting a legislative framework and launching the new visa category.
The new framework will also finalize many of the resources these digital nomads will need to ease their transition to life in Greece. The new website from the creators of Incredible Crete provides a lot of useful information and support. But we also researched a few other key value propositions offered by the island.
Food and accommodation in Crete
For many who are considering working remotely from Crete, the cost of housing can be one of the best motivators. Here in Heraklion, for example, the average rent for a mid-size apartment is about the same as for a studio in Athens or other areas. You can expect to get a great place for somewhere between $ 200 and $ 400 per month. For a little more, you can be a short walk from the town’s pedestrian zone or one of the area’s Blue Flag beaches, depending on your whims / needs.
When it comes to dining options, whether you are inclined to dine in or eat out, Crete is less expensive than what most outsiders are used to. Of course, it depends on your preferences. Yet in general, the cost of products and other food here is reflected directly in the stores and service sector.
Greece is affordable anyway, but Crete can be even cheaper once you get to know the people and places to shop and eat. The markets in town are great, but it doesn’t hurt to have friends who own farms, either. In other words, I haven’t paid for olive oil for four years. One thing the newcomer will quickly realize is that the islanders take care of each other. It’s kind of a “secret bonus” that most don’t know anything about.
The Minoans of Crete created an empire out of olive oil and other fine products. But today, some of the best products to be found anywhere cost next to nothing. Consider that five kilos of the most succulent oranges cost a few dollars, and potatoes the price of a cappuccino. The same goes for many types of products, the list of which is too long to publish here. Another helpful tip is to opt for wine or beer instead of soft drinks, as the latter are quite expensive here.
Ultimately, if you shop the markets and follow what the locals are doing, wherever you’ve lived before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Stay away from expensive cuts of beef and ice cream and you’ll have more money to entertain you. Oh, and restaurants and taverns can be as cheap as eating at home in Germany, let’s say. Two people can also have a gourmet-level lunch in a perfect location, for around 50 euros including wine.
Live, learn and play
Greece is an informal and relaxed place to live and work, and this is doubly true in Crete. Cretans work hard and play hard, and they have a “siga, siga” (slowly, slowly) philosophy on their pace of life and business. As an American, I can tell you that this is something that is hard to get used to. That said, digital nomads considering Crete will need some good guidance on how to integrate into society here.
For college students, singles, or couples without children, the transition will be smooth if you are patient with the pace of life from the start. Here you can find useful information on the Work from Crete website.
You will also find links to the various Citizen and Resident Services (KEP) offices, the region of Crete, etc. You can even follow the links to see a health map of Crete which shows the type and location of almost all of the island’s hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices.
For parents and students interested in living in Crete, the island is blessed with several excellent institutions of higher education, including the University of Crete, Technical University of Crete, and MBS College of Crete.
Digital nomads with young children will be happy to discover the special accredited schools that Crete has to offer. There is the Free Public School of European Education in Heraklion, Theodoropoulos International School and Mavromatiki-Mitera private schools in Chania, and progressive preschools for early childhood development like the Play & Learn Preschool and language school in Heraklion.
We met the director of Play & Learn, who offered this point of view to nomadic parents.
“Like other schools in Crete for international students, Play & Learn works to help children and parents merge with the local culture while preserving their individuality. We immerse children in an English-speaking environment and a play-based program, inspired by Reggio Emilia. This self-directed and experiential learning in a relationship-oriented environment reflects well the Cretan way of life.
Here I am inserting Liapaki’s school and methods for foreigners to see Crete in a real sense, not archaic in any sense, even though the island’s traditions are rooted in prehistoric times. Everywhere you look here, there is a fascinating union between ancient culture and refined modernity. Our son attends the European School of Education in Heraklion, which offers a program as varied as you can imagine for children from a dozen countries.
And when it comes to entertainment, few places in the world offer such diversity. Even so, the island is still a provincial location, which is a good thing. Locals find themselves in the morning sun on Cretan’s pristine beaches, having a gourmet lunch in a beautiful location, then dancing until dawn to traditional Cretan music in a mountain village.
A great resource for finding out more about the island is the award-winning Incredible Crete website, where you’ll find an endless treasure trove of media and information on hundreds of stunning beaches, gorges, villages, local traditions and more.
Movies, theater, concerts big and small, endless festivals and parties, as well as some of Europe’s most impressive archaeological sites and museums can be enjoyed here. Any activity you can think of is here in Crete. Minoan does wonders older than time, or a beach festival featuring world-famous DJs – the list is endless. Oh, and we can’t forget the coffee culture of Crete. Heraklion must have more cafes and cafes than Paris.
Work and visas for digital nomads
Crete is quite ripe for the so-called ‘laptop lifestyle’ adopted by remote labor nomads. Coffee above culture, the unparalleled diversity of nature, and WiFi connectivity almost anywhere on the island create unique opportunity and value. As journalists, writing a story from inside the venue or at an event is something writers of a generation ago could never have imagined.
The main cities of Crete have almost unlimited collaborative workspaces and remote locations where wide connectivity creates an idyllic digital workspace. Part of the report you are reading now was written from a table on a deserted beach overlooking the Gulf of Mesara in southern Crete.
The ending was written on a park bench near a famous Venetian fountain in the pedestrian zone of Heraklion. So there is no horizon for the kind of working conditions that everyone can create here.
EU citizens, their spouses and dependents are allowed to live in Greece without restrictions. However, third country nationals may need to obtain a Type D visa (or national visa) to stay more than 90 days in the countryside. A long-stay D visa allows people to stay in Greece for more than three months for work, study, university research, cultural, scientific and religious events, and professional reasons. The island has the infrastructure and the potential to support any professional who works remotely now.
Phil Butler is the editor of News Argophilia Travel