We have been living what for most people in cold countries is perceived as “the dream” for three years.
Slightly by accident, as most things happen with us, three and a half years ago, after an unsuccessful stint of trying to live in Greece, we decided to return back to Northern Ireland.
But not before we made the decision that we liked Greece as a holiday location and we secured a place where we could return every year.
How were we able to do that?
We were “lucky”, as the financial crisis had already hit the country and the rental properties were hard to let out and, in consequence, much cheaper than they had been.
We moved our furniture from the house from which we had tried to made a home into a much smaller and cosier apartment in the vicinity and locked it for the next 9 months.
At 350 euro per month (approximately £250), we realised that it was quite the intelligent solution for making our dream of hot summers possible.
According to a survey published by Lloyds Banking Group in 2014, a family pays an average of £1,404 per person for an overseas holiday. For a family of three, that would mean £4,212 for a week in the sun, usually in a crowded resort, with touristy prices and limited options for entertainment and cultural exposure.
We both like figures and things that make financial sense so we soon realised that an apartment would cost us less to keep for a whole year than booking a holiday for a week somewhere.
Plus, we would be in a local neighbourhood, with plenty of supermarkets to shop in, two open air markets to buy our fresh fruit and vegetables in and the sea, only a short, 10-minute walk away!
We chose Perea, a small town 30 minutes from Thessaloniki, which has the intimate and secure feeling of a village but all the advantages of a town. As I said, shops, markets and the sea are in close proximity but being that bit further away from a busy town it means we don’t get the noise, the dirt and the stress a city entails, especially in summer months.
Last year, when our Georgie was sick and the money was scarce, we decided to sub-let the place. We had two sets of tenants, a fact that you may want to consider if you want to keep a holiday place throughout the year and use it only for the summer months.
We were very lucky one time and less than that the other, when it comes to tenants.
The first guy, a Greek bachelor who still depended on his mother emotionally and financially(like many do here, as part of the Greek culture!), left the place after a few months with electricity bills unpaid and in an awful mess( we had to bin bedding, pillows…etc as he had been plain dirty!).
Our second set of tenants, a housewife and her hard-working man, in their mid-40s, tended to the place beautifully, were extremely grateful for the furniture we left in the apartment(as Greek properties come most frequently unfurnished) and left the place spotless for us when we arrived this summer.
We have also chosen a place from where we can easily access the airport, which allows us freedom of movement during the summer months. The proximity to the Thessaloniki airport(we are a mere 15 minute-drive away) and the brilliant campaign Ryanair launched at the beginning of July, made it possible for us this summer to enjoy short trips to Athens and various islands in Greece.
I know that I have painted a very rosy picture of our summers in Greece and talked about advantages so far.
What I need to add, to make the picture realistic, is that our summers in Greece are spent as a local family.
Yes, we do travel but most of our weeks are spent living life as any Greek family does, with our days regulated by the mighty sun (it is too hot to be outdoor between 12 and 19, so we hide behind white shades and in air-conditioned environments) and the need to work from home, to keep the dream happening!
Hubby and I do take turns in the office to stay on top of our work and blogging and most afternoons, it is only daddy and Emma going out for a swim, while mummy stays home and works!
We are in our mid-30s, early-40s and we dream of owning our own place here in the future.
A place where we can spend our summers for now and retire when we grow old.
But for now, we are content.
Living la vita bella is possible, even in one’s youth, if compromises are made and expectations adjusted.
Has my post encouraged you to consider living your summer months abroad? Are you living your version of vita bella? If not, what is preventing you from making it happen?