“We really love life in Greece. Now our families are moving over too”
After running a couple of businesses together in the UK, Jeanette and Phil from Manchester decided they wanted to move to Greece. Although they’d holidayed on islands such as Zakynthos, they had never been to Crete, but the largest Greek island seemed ideal for providing employment opportunities for them. After heading out to Crete to film in September 2020, I learn that quite a lot has transpired in the meantime when I catch up with them on a 23-degree December day in northwest Crete…
The property on which they were only prepared to offer £137,000 on didn’t work out. It needed a lot of money spent on it to make it work, and it lacked outside space. “We knew we had booked to come out again a month later so we could re-assess the property, and look at others,” says Jeanette, 43.
Four weeks later the couple flew out, hired a car to explore the island and viewed three properties. They fell in love with a 150-year-old Cretan house in the village of Xirosterni, about a six-minute drive to the beach in the Chania region with ‘lots of character’. “Ironically we visited the village on the TV show to have a coffee, and would have driven right past the house,” says Jeanette. “The village has a taverna, mini market, a raki distillery and a church.”
Jeanette says that the property was a ‘lot below our budget’ but the couple have spent £70k renovating it into a stylish five-bedroom house. “Because it’s classed as a monument we had to jump through hoops to get planning to agree to the changes. We’ve also got a permit to build a swimming pool but are not sure whether we’ll build one,” she adds.
The couple were overwhelmed by the warm welcome they received when they moved over a month later, with their container of furniture struck in transit, as it was only nine months into the pandemic. “We had milk, eggs, fruit, cheese, a heater left on the doorstep. The local farmer even gave us a live goat!” says Jeanette. “The wine and food kept coming.”
The couple love their new Greek island lifestyle though have been so busy renovating their property – and Jeanette’s mother’s too (she bought a property a short distance away) that they haven’t yet had time to start their business. “We are actually thinking that we also want a new project to renovate too. This house is actually a bit too big – I had thought that it would be great for all of our five girls to meet here but it’s proving impossible to get them all in the same place at once!” she adds.
- What happened next? Howard and Christine
- What happened next? Poppy and Philip
- What happened next? Jenny
- What happened next? Yvette and Agata
Their youngest daughter who’s 19 lives with them in the house but spends some time working elsewhere on the island – “she’s having the best time ever,” says Jeanette.
Besides, some more of the family are heading over – Phil’s father wants to join them on Crete, as does Jeanette’s sister and her family. Whilst Jeanette and Phil just managed to get their residency before the end of the withdrawal period [31 Dec 2020], the other family members will need to get a visa.
If they are quick they can take advantage of the golden visa option – getting a residency permit with the purchase of a property worth at least €250,000 – but this threshold is due to increase in 2023. They’ve clearly started a mini migration. “This is the life we always dreamt of – it’s great,” concludes Dave, 45.