What the future holds for Greece
The immediate scare is over and Greece remains in the Eurozone for the time being – but for how long?
In short, it appears that Greece has been living beyond its means for many years – since before it joined the euro. After it adopted the euro, public spending soared and public sector employment (and thus wages) practically doubled.
On top of that, money poured out of the government’s coffers and widespread tax evasion remains endemic throughout Greece. Many would say that this is the cynical result of a deep mistrust of its politicians and their unwillingness to either pay tax themselves or to police the wealthy or their fellow politicians to do so, a complaint I heard often.
When the global financial downturn hit, Greece was ill-prepared to cope and processes have had to be put in place to raise money. These include a solidarity levy of between 1 per cent and 5 per cent, a cut in the tax-free threshold, a rise in VAT rates, a tax on property owners and luxury taxes on yachts, pools and cars.
“Today many think that the emergency measures already taken by the EU and the Greek government, and indeed even those in the pipeline, cannot save the Greek economy,” says Carol Dunnning, author of GreeceBuyingGuide.com. “Slashing the minimum wage, cutting already minimal salaries – this incidentally is to continue until the country has lowered its unemployment rate from the present nearly 21 per cent to 10 per cent – seems to have had little effect. Bear in mind that lower wages also mean lower tax revenues and less consumption – and therefore less spending.”
For British people, moving to Greece without financial support or income is out of the question, but what if you can support yourself and remain drawn by the countries Med lifestyle.
“If you are thinking of retiring there, my take on it is that away from the big towns you will quite probably find very few immediately perceptible changes,” adds Dunning. “Definitely seek help from an IFA and keep the bulk of your funds in the UK, using a reliable currency company like Smart Currency Exchange to advise and help you to move money over to Greece when you require it.”
When you come to buy your property, only use a reputable, registered estate agent, employ your own, independent lawyer and never pay any money ‘under the table’: the amount you pay must be the amount on your sales agreement.
“My overall perception is that things have remained relatively unchanged for visitors to Greece,” concludes Dunning. “But my heart goes out to the local Greek people.”
To see a range of properties for sale in Greece, on the mainland as well the islands, visit the Greece listings on Rightmove Overseas. Anyone who needs to transfer money to complete a property transaction in Greece should use a currency specialist to exchange their pounds into euros. For more information, contact Smart Currency Exchange.
To understand the full step-by-step process to buying a property in Greece, collect The Overseas Guides Company’s ‘Greece Property Buying Guide’