Greece is one of the first European countries to reopen to tourism. Tourists desperate for a vacation wasted no time Go over there. But that shouldn’t put you off. The beauty of Greece lies in its hundreds of islands where overtourism is not a problem. Better yet, some of them are already without covid.
But with the flexibility of the workplace that the pandemic brings, why stop on vacation? Especially when the Greek government encourages digital nomads to work from the Hellenic country.
Greece works to bring more digital nomads to its islands
Thanks to legislation passed by the Greek Parliament last year, digital nomads coming to Greece can benefit from a 50% tax break for the first seven years. These are apparently Greek taxes that we are talking about, which must be taken into account. You should of course consult the tax laws relevant to your individual situation.
Why do countries want digital nomads?
Greece is of course not alone in wanting to attract digital nomads. Consider that Newton’s third law of motion – for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction – also applies to people in motion. In other words, when the pandemic has largely halted tourism in its tracks, entire governments will cartwheels to recoup lost revenue.
Before the pandemic, cheap airfares and clever marketing campaigns did wonders to fill hotel rooms and boost beach bars. But when lockdowns and pervasive apprehension pulverizes package tourism, it’s time for Plan B.
With digital nomads, the idea is to close part of the income gap left by absent tourists with a qualitatively more convincing mark of vagabonds. Someone who spends more time in a given location also tends to spend more money. Making remote working a prerequisite for getting these tax breaks almost guarantees that the nomad will spend more money over time than a typical touris.
Is Greece a good destination for digital nomads?
When countries around the world imagine new ways to attract digital nomads, why choose Greece? Is a beautiful beach sufficient? Alex Patelis, chief economic adviser to the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, says: “Greece is naturally blessed with a temperate climate, lots of sun and a combination of beaches and mountains.”
He adds that other advantages are “a strong currency, the euro and the security of the institutional framework of the EU”. On a technical level, Patelis notes that 5G networks are already operational in major Greek cities (and that they are also arriving in some Greek islands) and that “tax incentives target those who settle in Greece”.
Some countries, such as Finland and Estonia, have issued digital nomadic visas (or in the case of Barbados, a digital ‘welcome stamp’) which, sometimes for a fixed fee, allows you to live and work in. tax free in the given country. for a specific period of time, usually up to a year.
Greece’s model is a little different. “Greece is a member of the European Union, so any EU citizen is allowed to live and work freely outside Greece,” Patelis says. “Apart from that, there are traditional avenues for obtaining work permits and / or temporary stays.”
Visas and bureaucracy in Greece
Extended stays in Greece, like in most countries of the European Union, can be difficult to organize if you do not have a European passport, due to Schengen regulations. Remote workers with only UK or US passports, for example, should be aware that they can only stay in Schengen countries like Greece for 90 days out of a 180-day period. After 90 days, they must leave the Schengen area for an additional 90 days before they can return.
Like any country, Greece has its share of bureaucracy and navigation can be intimidating for the uninitiated – although the Enterprise Greece website can be a good place to start.
But whether you fancy a change of scenery after being stuck in your locked out house or just because you prefer to watch before you jump – a perfectly valid choice – you may find that “only” two months of digital switch-over in Greece, it’s already much better than a simple two-week vacation. After all, who said you need a tax break to qualify as a nomad? Once you board this plane, you are already in the realm of the new, different and maybe a little bit risky, but also potentially wonderful and productive.
All of this underscores what travel is meant to be – less on loyalty points, more on discovery. So in that sense, the administrative aspects are only part of the picture.
Which Greek island is best for digital nomads?
Consider this, though: if you’re heading to Mykonos, do you really want to spend your time working there? Did this once (although a period of bad weather helped, as the beach was not an option) and later regretted it.
Remember, Mykonos is just one of hundreds of Greek islands, and probably not the one where you’d want to spend a winter unless you find poetry in the closed shops and beach clubs.
For year-round sun there are plenty of other places like Syros, with its cosmopolitan island capital of Ermoupoli, the dream town of Corfu and the largest Greek island, Crete.
Some small Greek islands like Astypalea, which is shaped like a butterfly that landed in the middle of the Aegean Sea, even before the pandemic wooed a kind of more knowledgeable traveler who stays longer. The mayor of the island, Nikos Komineas, recently said in the Greek press that “incentives will be given, such as grants, to keep people permanently at Astypalea. And this can be done with the development of systems such as the 5G network that will make remote working easier for employees.”
Of course, if you’re the type of nomad who needs a world-class city to inspire you, there’s always the metropolis at the center of it all, Athens. In fact, the city of Athens and the Athens Destination Management and Development Agency recently launched a #BetterInAthens campaign to showcase the digital nomadic brigade in the Greek capital (stories of sun-hungry Britons who swapped Piccadilly Circus for the Parthenon).
When it comes to European cities, Athens has a relatively low cost of living, a scintillating array of cultural attractions both ancient and modern, and an enviable climate most of the year. And it should be remembered that even though Thessaloniki is the second city in northern Greece, it is still further south than Rome.
At the end of the line? Just like you would do some basic research before venturing out on vacation, do your homework before embarking on a digital nomadic odyssey.
The lifestyle goes from stuck at home (or stuck in traffic) five days a week to an alarm clock with a Mediterranean horizon glistening beyond your desk and a half-cup of rugged Greek coffee by your side – but not. too close to the computer, if you please! – is certainly an attractive option. But at the end of the day, the only person who can sort out the financial and bureaucratic tangle is you.
Once you’ve digested that, Greece’s new digital nomad tax cut comes across as a clear incentive for road warriors to get closer to the Parthenon – or maybe a cute beach ribbon on a butterfly-shaped island. – turn on the laptop and stay for a while.