The Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again film is the follow up to the 2008 jukebox musical based on Abba songs, and is once again set on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi – but is it an impossible dream to pack up and move to an island in Greece?
Embracing island life
While Kalokairi may not be real, the films were both shot on Skopelos, Skiathos and Damouhari Pelion so the setting is definitely within reach. These islands, off the coast of mainland Greece in the Aegean sea enjoy long, hot summers and mild winters which may seem like the ideal place to live. However, it’s worth noting that while Greece on average has a cost of living that is at least 30% less than anywhere else in the EU, that cost does rise on the islands. Tourist centres such as Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Corfu command the highest prices, but even on the lesser-known islands you may find the cost of living higher than on the mainland.
Money, money, money
While cost of living is low in Greece, the same is true for wages and unemployment is high across the country. If you’re planning to work while living in Greece, the best approach is to find a job before you leave. Alternatively, you could follow the lead of Meryl Streep’s character Donna in the movie and open your own hotel or other business. Property is affordable in Greece in comparison to UK prices, but when you’re budgeting you need to prepare for the seasonal nature of the tourist trade or develop a plan for year-round income.
Addressing the practicalities
Greece is a member of the EU and the currency is the euro. For as long as Britons remain EU citizens – that is, until March 2019 - they can enter Greece for up to three months. After this time, expats wanting to continue to live and work in Greece are required to apply for a Registration Certificate. These can be obtained by registering at a police station or at an ‘Aliens’ Bureau’. Once you’ve obtained your Registration Certificate it’s currently valid for an unlimited time, so you’ll only need to renew it if your circumstances change but it’s worth checking how the rules might change after the UK exits the EU.
The biggest caveat when considering a move to Greece is to understand that there is not a strong healthcare system. While there is a public healthcare system, it is not easily available to expatriates. In addition, it is of a basic and variable standard so it’s worth budgeting for private health insurance. This may drive up your living costs slightly, but with food, fuel and property all much cheaper, you may find it’s still worth the investment.
Still have a dream to move to Greece?
If you’re planning to move to Greece, it’s worth setting up an international payments account early in the process. This will ensure that you have the funds ready to purchase your own Villa Donna and give you time to understand the tools at your disposal for managing money across borders. As well as being able to speak with a currency expert for guidance on the foreign exchange market and how you can address fluctuating exchange rates, you’ll have access to an online account. From this account, also available as a mobile app, you can view live exchange rates, set up and track international payments and sign up for regular alerts on the currency market. With all the administration taken care of, you’ll have more time to enjoy your new life in Greece – and work on your dance routines.