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Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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Finance • Legal Tax Reduction

How to Live in Greece and Pay Low Taxes

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Greece is a country that doesn’t disappoint.

Just like in Willy Russell’s romantic comedy Shirley Valentine, where the lead character rekindles her childhood dreams and youthful love of life, a visit to Greece is so much more than a holiday. For many, it’s a life-changing experience.

With stunning beaches, fantastic weather, mesmerising landscapes and hospitable locals, there’s a tremendous amount of charm to the place.

The cradle of Western civilisation, Greece is also a country of mythology and legend. From the beaches of Crete, Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes to the historical and cultural landmarks of Europe’s oldest capital, Athens, Greece is a land of legendary hospitality, incredible cuisine and fascinating tradition. 

Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine a year with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. More than 2000 islands make up the Greek nation and around 170 of these are populated. 

A Glimpse into Greece A Brief Overview

One of Europe’s most rugged countries, Olympus is Greece’s highest mountain and said to be the seat of the twelve Olympian gods of Greek mythology. According to legend, when the gods created the world, they sifted soil through a giant sieve. The fine soil was used to create the world, while the coarse soil and leftover stones were used to create Greece.

The result was a rugged, mountainous and spectacular country. Just ask anyone who’s spent the afternoon in a Greek taverna nibbling on feta cheese, baklava or fresh seafood and enjoying a glass of its distinctively delicious wine.

Along with the friendliness of the Greek people themselves, these are just some of the many reasons Greece is considered a great place to live. And of course, let’s not forget the generous tax incentives the Greek government has introduced as a way to attract wealthy foreigners. 

However, before you can avail of Greece’s favourable tax regime, you will need to become a resident of the country.  

How to Get Residence in Greece

Unlike Italy’s scheme, which requires investment in a start-up, those more comfortable buying real estate favour Greece’s Golden Visa. It’s one of the quickest Golden Visas to obtain, usually taking around two months. 

Many people choose the Greek Golden Visa as an alternative to Portugal’s because that program was on hold for a long time, is very bureaucratic and takes a long time to process. 

Here at Nomad Capitalist, we’ve encountered people waiting up to two years for their Portuguese Golden Visa to be approved. People often use it as a backup residence if they don’t necessarily want to live in Greece but do want to get a foothold in the European Union (EU). 

Alternative Tax Residency Regime for Pensioners Relocating to Greece Requirements

Currently, Greece’s Golden Visa scheme requires a minimum investment of €250,000 or €500,000 in real estate, depending on the region where the property is located. The minimum property value of €500,000 applies to certain areas, such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Glyfada, Mykonos and Santorini.

However, in February 2024, the government announced plans to increase the minimum amount of investment required for foreign property buyers to be eligible for a Golden Visa to €800,000 in those in-demand areas. The proposed move comes on the back of pressure on highly sought-after housing markets.

Real estate can be commercial or residential and any number of real estate purchases can be combined to make up the target figure of €250,000.

There are places with a minimum investment of €500,000 where investors are limited to buying a single property. However, an exception applies whereby the applicant can buy two properties in the same building.

Alternatively, Golden Visa applicants can contribute at least €400,000 to bonds, shares or funds based in Greece. It’s also possible to make a minimum term deposit investment of €400,000 in a Greek bank, though this figure increased to €500,000 from January 1, 2024.

Greece’s Financially Independent Person Visa

The second option is the ;Financially Independent Person; visa for those who don’t have enough money to invest in a Golden Visa.

To access this scheme, applicants must demonstrate a minimum income of €2,000 per month. This can be proven via an overseas pension, bank account statements, title deeds or lease contracts. Dependants can be included with the monthly amount increasing by €400 for a spouse and €300 for each child under 18 years old. With this option, you cannot be employed or have any independent economic activity in Greece.

Like any other residence visa, it requires you to show proof of income. The attraction of this option is that it’s (theoretically) very quick and can be granted within 10 days.

Getting Citizenship in Greece 

Greek citizenship is possible after seven years of permanent residence in Greece, but you must know the language and spend 183 days in Greece for each of these seven years.

There’s also a requirement for men up to 45 years of age to do military service. Under Greek law, all men over 18 years of age must serve in the Armed Forces for a period of 9–12 months. Women cannot be conscripted. This applies to any individual that the authorities consider Greek, regardless of whether the individual considers himself Greek, has a foreign citizenship and passport, or was born or lives outside of Greece.

Obviously, this makes Greece less attractive from a citizenship point of view unless you’re over 45 years old. However, if you obtain residence at the age of 40 and don’t get citizenship until you’re 47, you can avoid it. People who have served in the military in their own country are exempt. 

Securing Tax Residence in Greece

You are considered a tax resident of Greece if you maintain a permanent residence or centre of living interests, namely personal, financial or social relations in the country. If you are present in Greece for over 183 days, including short periods of living abroad, you are considered a tax resident in Greece. 

The other crucial factor used to determine tax residence is the centre of your ‘vital interests’. This includes ownership of assets in Greece, citizenship, social security registration, and whether your children are schooled or your family lives there.  

Greece’s Flat-Tax Regime

If you live in Greece for six months or more, you become a tax resident and avail of its special flat-tax regime. This program is ideally suited to those who earn over €1 million per year in offshore income. For any income sourced in Greece, regular income tax rules will apply. Greece has progressive income tax rates ranging from 22% to 45% on income over €40,000. 

The flat amount of tax you pay is €100,000, regardless of how much foreign income you generate in a year. An additional flat-tax amount of €20,000 is levied for other adult family members, though no taxes apply for minors.

The regime lasts for 15 years and there is no physical presence requirement. Nomad Capitalist founder, Andrew Henderson, talks about this here.

The Little-Known Greek Tax Loophole

To take full advantage, it’s necessary to earn enough to justify the €100,000 payment, so it won’t suit those whose income fluctuates. In addition, applicants must invest at least €500,000 in an apartment, house or business in Greece. There is the option to invest in securities and bonds of similar to the same value. The investment should be made within three years of the application.

If someone has already invested in a Golden Visa, they have already fulfilled this criterion. Proof that you still own the investment is required from time to time to keep the flat-tax regime active.

Tax Regime for Pensioners Relocating to Greece

Greece is specifically going after foreign retirees by offering a tax incentive to transfer their tax residence to the country. Anyone who moves to Greece to retire can avail of a flat tax rate of 7% for ten years. The 7% rate applies to any income, such as rents, pensions, dividends and so on so will make a healthy dent in your total tax bill.

However, it only works for pensioners from countries with a double taxation treaty with Greece. As well as the US, UK and most European countries, tax treaty partners include Bosnia, China, Malaysia, Iceland, India, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia, among others. 

Flat Tax Regime in Greece

US citizens should note that availing of this incentive will involve more work because you will remain a tax resident in the US unless you renounce your citizenship.

The process is very straightforward for EU citizens as long as your home country has a tax treaty with Greece. If you are from a non-tax treaty country, you will have to apply for residence via the two routes discussed above. 

There are three eligibility criteria for this option:

  • You should not have been a Greek tax resident for more than one of the previous six years prior to application.
  • You must shift your tax domicile from a state with a valid agreement on tax issues.
  • You must prove with valid documentation that you receive a pension from abroad. 

Who is Greece Most Suitable For?

Whether you find yourself in central, northern or southern Greece, or flitting between the islands of the Aegean Sea, most people will enjoy the Greek lifestyle with its Mediterranean climate, amazing culture, incredible food and relatively low cost of living.

Geographically, it’s a location that EU and UK citizens like because it’s close to home. But others can also enjoy the many benefits on offer there, especially if they also desire access to the rest of Europe. 

Whether you want to live in Greece full time or merely spend a few weeks or months there each year, there are residency options that allow you to achieve both. Greece also makes sense as a back-pocket residency option you can rely on if circumstances change.

There are clear advantages to Greece’s flat-tax regime for those who live in Greece for six months or more each year. Likewise, for those who want to hold onto more of their hard-earned pension, Greece is very competitive when compared to other more traditional retirement destinations. 

Whatever the case, this is all about choosing your own tax rate and legally reducing your taxes while living your desired lifestyle: maximum freedom with minimum tax. 

It’s what we call ‘going where you are treated best’.

Here at Nomad Capitalist, we help successful investors and entrepreneurs legally reduce their tax bills, diversify and protect their assets, become global citizens and maximise their freedom. We’ve created and implemented bespoke, holistic strategies for over 1,500+ high-net-worth clients. Become a client today

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