Where to find a property for sale in Crete
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is also the biggest market for British buyers in Greece. Lying so far south that it is nearer Africa than the Athens, it offers a great climate as well as good airlift, with two airports.
Crete really has something for everyone - from lively resorts, ancient ruins, the pretty Venetian style town of Chania, superb beaches, including two of the most remote yet best-voted beached on TripAdvisor - and also more new-build holiday homes than most other islands.
Go away from the busier north-west coast and you have valleys of vineyards, tiny villages, olive groves, off the beaten track beaches and plenty of pretty little village houses for sale for less than €100,000. The pace of life is slow, the cost of living affordable, and in most cases, highly traditional. For homeowners, there are low upkeep costs, and rental yields can be good - 60 percent of buyers rent out their properties.
Home buyers’ interest tends to be focused around Chania and the nearby Akrotiri peninsula, or Rethymno in the centre of the north coast (pretty Venetian old harbour with 12km long beach) and Agios Nikolaos on the north-east coast. The typical spend is around €150,000 that buys a modern three-bedroom villa with a pool - but you can get a cosy apartment for €65,000.
Design-and-build is popular because it offers a VAT advantage over buying a brand new home - if you cannot find a resale property that suits. High-end examples of this cost around €750,000 around Chania or Elounda.
Elounda is a sophisticated hub on the north-east coast, close to the former leper colony island of Plaka, and also Agios Nikolaos and the lively resort of Malia. The far north-east coast is less easy to reach from both Heraklion and Chania airports but offers more space and privacy.
Kokkino Horio is a village a little inland - 10 minutes from the beach - and there you can get a good choice of properties, from a two-bed villa for €90,000 to a larger, good-quality villa for €275,000. Sissi is another popular village, with very affordable two-bed houses, close to the delightful fishing hub of Milatos. Bestselling author Victoria Hislop owns a home in this area of Crete and has used it for inspiration.
Home hunters are spoilt for choice in Crete, probably the best island choice for year-round living, including retirement, but also a place well suited for family holidays too and plenty of sunshine. In fact, it gets a big fat Greek tick.
Use the bar above to search for a property for sale in Crete.
Where to Buy Property in Crete
In Crete there is something for everyone. Fancy a village fiver-upper? You can have change out of €60,000. Or a house with a pool, that will be €150,000; or a lovely three-bed home in trendy Elounda, you are looking at nearer €400,000.
Inland villages are also popular all over the island – Neopoli, for example, where a two-bed townhouse costs less than €100,000. But areas do differ in types and choice of property offering and there are the main areas of interest.
Property on East/North-East Coast of Crete
The east side of Crete (encompassed within the ‘Lassithi’ prefecture) is largely quieter than its western counterpart. Known for its relaxed pace of life, its 25 Blue Flag beaches (the most in Greece) and unassuming charm make a great case against mass-tourism.
The high rise developments that blight the likes of Rethymnon are nowhere to be seen here. Rather, the many traditional villages offer the chance to experience ‘the real’ Crete.
Many of the more expensive properties are located near the ex-fishing town of Agios Nikolaos. Capital of Lassithi and a hub for surrounding villages, this picturesque town is a must-see. Notably, it also provides ferry connections to mainland Athens.
The more upmarket new builds here can be significantly pricier – expect to pay closer to €450,000 for a three-bed villa. Note though that there are fewer expats here than compared to, say, Chania. The tempo of life here is considerably slower outside the summer months, where the ‘resort’ areas practically close down.
Further north, prices in sought-after Elounda reflect the resort’s glitzy reputation. It’s not unusual for modern properties overlooking the town to go for over €600,000 – though smaller, less spectacular homes are available for about €100,000.
Other villages and towns that hug this area of Crete’s coast are well worth a look. Not far from Agios Nikolaos, sea-facing resort Istron and its hillside partner Kalo Chorio offer charming properties close to ancient ruins.
Istron has drawn considerable attention from expats in the last few years. New build villas here are stylish and come with infinity pools and extensive terraces. Of course, the price reflects these factors. Three-bed properties have sold from €800,000 upwards.
It’s easy to get distracted by the number of Crete’s coastal towns in the East and West. The two middle districts, however, have plenty to offer.
The capital of the island, Heraklion (the namesake of its prefecture) offers a number of attractions. Close to the ruins of the ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos, there is also the brilliant Archaeological Museum.
Those interested in living within access of these attractions can choose from a number of villages and small towns in the Heraklion area. Surrounded by rising mountains and overlooking the sea, Kato Gouves exemplifies the sort of town found in central Crete.
A busy port town (the fifth largest in Greece) between Heraklion and Malia, its proximity to the airport and fabulous beach means a premium on property prices. The quiet village of Gouves beside the bustling port offers three-bed homes for around €150,000. Hersonissos, Stalis and Hani Hokkini are vibrant resorts also worth researching.
Similar to its adjacent prefecture, Rethymnon boasts a number of fantastic beaches and picturesque old towns. The town of the same name boasts museums, boutique shops and charming tavernas.
Property in the town ranges from traditional old villas to gaudy, new build designs (many of the latter doing little to benefit Rethymnon’s aesthetic appeal).
Nearby villages – examples include Panormos, Bali and Mpali offer picture-postcard examples of ‘old Crete’.
While this charm and proximity to beaches may reflect higher property prices (as much as €300,000 for a two-bed villa in some areas), a bargain is still a possibility slightly inland. For example, smaller one and two-bed apartments (as well as some villas) change hands for around €175,000.