Retirement Options and Plans as an Expat in Greece

1. What are the local retirement options and plans available for expats in Greece?

There are several retirement options and plans available for expats in Greece, including:

1. Greek National Pension System: This is the primary retirement plan for Greek citizens and permanent residents, and is funded by contributions from employees, employers, and the government.

2. Social Security Agreement: Greece has signed social security agreements with several countries, which allows foreign nationals to use their home country’s social security system while living in Greece.

3. Private Pension Plans: Expats can also opt for private pension plans offered by banks and insurance companies in Greece. These plans offer additional benefits and flexibility compared to the national pension system.

4. Personal Savings: Expats can also choose to save for their retirement through personal savings or investments, such as stocks, mutual funds, or real estate.

5. Retirement visa: Non-EU citizens who want to retire in Greece can obtain a residence permit under the “Independent Means” category by showing that they have sufficient income or assets to support themselves without working.

6. Work-based Retirement Plans: Some larger companies in Greece offer their employees a work-based retirement plan as part of their benefits package.

7. Self-Employed Retirement Plans: Self-employed individuals can contribute towards the Greek National Pension System or opt for private pension plans.

8. International Retirement Plans: Some international organizations, such as the United Nations and European Union agencies based in Athens, offer special retirement plans for their employees.

It is recommended that expats consult with a financial advisor or do thorough research to determine which retirement option best suits their needs and circumstances.

2. How do retirement plans and savings differ in Greece compared to my home country?

Retirement plans in Greece typically include a combination of a state pension and private retirement savings. The state pension, which is funded through social security contributions, is based on the number of years worked and the person’s average salary. Private retirement savings can include employer-provided pensions, individual pension plans (known as “taekwondo”), or personal savings invested in stocks, bonds, or real estate.

In terms of savings, Greece has a relatively low savings rate compared to other developed countries. Many Greeks rely on their family networks for financial support and may not have significant personal savings. However, there are various options available for individuals to save money for retirement, such as mutual funds, individual saving accounts, and government savings programs.

Additionally, Greece has faced economic challenges in recent years, which have led to cuts in pensions and increased financial uncertainty for retirees. This has highlighted the importance of having diverse sources of retirement income rather than relying solely on state pensions.

In comparison to other countries, Greece’s retirement system is less well-funded and has faced challenges in ensuring long-term sustainability. Health care and long-term care expenses can also be significant factors to consider when planning for retirement in Greece.

Overall, while there are certain similarities with retirement plans and savings options in other countries, it is important for individuals to thoroughly research the specific regulations and tax implications that pertain to their own situation when considering retirement planning in Greece.

3. Are there tax benefits for expats contributing to retirement plans in Greece?

Yes, there are tax benefits available to expats who contribute to retirement plans in Greece. Contributions made to a private pension fund are tax deductible up to a certain limit, depending on the type of plan and the total annual income. Additionally, any income earned from the pension fund is taxed at a lower rate than regular income. Expats should consult with a tax professional for specific details on their individual situation.

4. Can I transfer my existing retirement savings from my home country to a plan in Greece?

In general, it is possible to transfer retirement savings from one country to another, but this process can be complex and there may be tax implications. It is recommended to consult with a financial advisor or the retirement plan provider in Greece for specific guidance on the transfer process.

5. What are the eligibility requirements for receiving social security benefits as an expat retiree in Greece?

The eligibility requirements for receiving social security benefits as an expat retiree in Greece are as follows:

1. Required minimum age: To receive retirement benefits from the Greek social security system, you must be at least 67 years old (for both men and women).

2. Minimum contribution period: You must have paid social security contributions in Greece for at least 15 years.

3. Residency requirement: As an expat, you must have legally resided in Greece for at least five consecutive years before you can apply for retirement benefits.

4. Proof of income from other countries: If you also receive a pension or any other form of income from another country, this will not affect your eligibility for Greek retirement benefits. However, you will need to provide proof of this income when applying for benefits.

5. Fulfilling tax obligations: You must be up to date with your tax obligations in Greece to receive retirement benefits.

6. Enrolment in the Greek social security system: As an expat, you must register with the Greek social security system and pay contributions if you wish to receive retirement benefits.

7. Maximum yearly earnings limit: The maximum yearly earnings limit that is considered when calculating your pension amount is €74,460 (for 2020). Any earnings above this amount will not increase your pension benefit.

8. Continued residence in Greece: Once you start receiving retirement benefits in Greece, it is required that you remain living in the country for at least six months out of the year.

Please note that these requirements may vary depending on your specific situation and may be subject to change over time. It is important to consult with a local expert or the Greek Social Security Institution (IKA) for updated and personalized information regarding eligibility for social security benefits as an expat retiree in Greece.

6. Are there any special considerations or requirements for expat retirees in terms of healthcare coverage in Greece?

Expats retiring in Greece are eligible to access the country’s public healthcare system, provided they have a valid residence permit and contribute to social security. Retirees may also opt for private health insurance, which can offer more comprehensive coverage and shorter wait times for appointments.

There are no specific requirements for expat retirees in terms of healthcare coverage, but it is important to ensure that any existing medical conditions are adequately covered by the chosen insurance plan. It is also recommended to carefully research and compare different insurance options before making a decision.

Another important consideration is the availability of English-speaking doctors and medical facilities in Greece. While many healthcare professionals in major cities speak English, it may be difficult to find English-speaking services in rural areas.

If an expat retiree requires ongoing medication or treatments, it is advisable to bring a sufficient supply from their home country until they have established a local source. This is particularly important if the medication or treatment is not widely available in Greece.

Finally, expat retirees should also be aware of any potential language barriers while seeking medical care. It may be helpful to learn some basic Greek phrases for communicating with doctors and healthcare staff.

7. Can I continue to receive pension income from my home country while living in Greece?

Yes, you can continue to receive pension income from your home country while living in Greece. However, you may need to report this income and pay any applicable taxes in Greece. It is recommended that you consult with a tax professional or the Greek tax authority to ensure compliance with local regulations and to understand any potential tax implications.

8. Are there any restrictions for expats purchasing property for retirement purposes in Greece?

There are no specific restrictions for expats purchasing property for retirement purposes in Greece. However, all buyers, including foreign nationals, must obtain a Greek tax registration number in order to complete a property purchase. Additionally, non-EU citizens may need to apply for a residency permit if they plan to stay in Greece for an extended period of time. It is recommended to consult with a local lawyer or real estate agent for any further restrictions or requirements.

9. What types of investment options are available for expats looking to save for retirement in Greece?

There are several investment options available for expats looking to save for retirement in Greece, including:

1. Pension plans: These are retirement savings accounts set up by employers or individuals to help employees save for retirement. In Greece, there are two types of pension plans: the state-run Social Insurance Institute (IKA) and private pension funds.

2. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): These are tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts that can be opened by individuals through banks or investment firms. The two types of IRAs available in Greece are Traditional IRA and Roth IRA.

3. Mutual funds and ETFs: These are professionally managed investment portfolios consisting of a mix of stocks, bonds, and other securities. Expats can invest in mutual funds and ETFs through Greek banks or brokerage firms.

4. Real estate: Investing in property in Greece can also be a viable option for long-term wealth building. Expats can buy residential or commercial properties and rent them out for additional income during retirement.

5. Stocks and bonds: Individuals can invest in Greek stocks and bonds through their brokerage accounts or directly through the Athens Stock Exchange.

6. Fixed deposit accounts: These are low-risk savings options offered by Greek banks that offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts.

7. Gold and precious metals: Investing in physical gold or other precious metals such as silver or platinum is another popular option for expats looking to diversify their portfolio.

8. Annuities: Annuities are insurance contracts that provide regular payments to an individual during retirement years. Expats can purchase annuities from insurance companies operating in Greece.

9.The National Savings Bank Program (ETE Gieksa): This is a government-run program that offers tax incentives to individuals who invest in long-term financial products such as mutual funds, government bonds, life insurance policies, etc., with the purpose of saving for retirement.

10. Is it advisable to work with a financial advisor or planner when considering retirement options as an expat in Greece?

It is always advisable to work with a financial advisor or planner when considering retirement options, regardless of your location. They can provide expert advice and help you create a personalized retirement plan that takes into account your individual goals, circumstances, and potential risks. This is especially important as an expat in Greece, as the country has its own unique tax laws and economic situation that may impact your retirement planning. A financial advisor or planner can also assist with understanding any potential tax implications or restrictions related to your pension or other sources of income in Greece.

11. Are there any government-funded retirement programs specifically designed for expats living in Greece?

Yes, expats living in Greece can participate in the Greek Social Security system. As long as they contribute to their Greek social security account for a specified amount of time, they are eligible for retirement benefits, including a monthly pension and healthcare coverage. Additionally, some expats may be able to receive benefits from their home country’s social security system through bilateral agreements with Greece. It is important for expats to research and understand the eligibility criteria for these programs.

12. How is the cost of living taken into account when determining retirement budget as an expat retiree in Greece?

The cost of living is an important factor to consider when determining a retirement budget as an expat retiree in Greece. Here are some ways it may be taken into account:

1. Researching and understanding local prices: Before making the decision to retire in Greece, it is important to thoroughly research and understand the cost of living in the country. This includes things like housing costs, food, transportation, healthcare, utilities, and leisure activities.

2. Creating a detailed budget: Once you have a clear understanding of the prices in Greece, you can create a detailed budget that takes into account your expected expenses. This will give you an idea of how much money you will need each month to maintain your desired lifestyle.

3. Considering currency exchange rates: As an expat retiree, your income may be coming from another country and therefore subject to currency exchange rates. It is important to keep these fluctuations in mind when creating your budget and planning for long-term expenses.

4. Factoring in healthcare costs: Healthcare costs can vary widely between countries, so it is important to research the cost of healthcare in Greece and include this in your budget.

5. Adjusting spending habits: If necessary, you may need to adjust your spending habits while living in Greece based on the cost of living. This could mean cutting back on dining out or other luxury expenses.

6. Monitoring and adjusting: It’s important to regularly review your budget and make adjustments as needed based on any changes in the cost of living or unexpected expenses.

Overall, it is crucial to do thorough research and carefully plan your retirement budget as an expat retiree in Greece to ensure a comfortable and financially secure retirement experience.

13. Are there any specific legal or tax implications to consider when retiring as an expat in Greece?

Yes, there are several legal and tax implications to consider when retiring as an expat in Greece. These may include:

1. Residence status: As a retired expat, you will need to ensure that your residence status is in accordance with Greek law. This may include obtaining a long-term residence permit or registering with the local authorities.

2. Income tax: Expats who retire in Greece are subject to income tax on their worldwide income if they are considered Greek tax residents. However, there are tax exemptions and deductions available for retirees, such as a 30% flat rate income tax for pension income and exemptions for certain types of investment income.

3. Property taxes: If you own property in Greece, you will be liable for property taxes based on the value of your property. These taxes can vary depending on location and type of property.

4. Inheritance tax: Non-residents are subject to inheritance tax on any assets located in Greece, including real estate.

5. Healthcare: Retiring expats should consider enrolling in the Greek national healthcare system (EOPYY) or purchasing private health insurance to cover any potential medical expenses.

6. Social security contributions: Expats who have worked and paid social security contributions in another EU country may be eligible for a state pension from both their home country and Greece.

7. Double taxation treaties: Greece has signed double taxation treaties with many countries to avoid being taxed twice on the same income. Retirees should consult with a tax advisor to determine how these treaties apply to their specific situation.

It is recommended that retirees consult with a legal or financial advisor familiar with both their home country’s laws and Greek laws to fully understand the potential legal and tax implications of retiring as an expat in Greece.

14. Can I continue making contributions to my home country’s Social Security system while working and retiring in Greece at the same time?

It depends on the specific agreements between your home country and Greece. Some countries have agreements that allow workers to continue contributing to their home country’s Social Security system while living and working in another country, while others do not. You may need to consult with both countries’ Social Security authorities to determine your options.

15. Do I have access to healthcare benefits through either public or private means, once I’m retired as an expat living full-time in Greece?

Yes, expats living in Greece full-time have access to healthcare benefits through both public and private means. Expats who are legally resident and registered with a social security number have access to the state health system, which includes coverage for visits to general practitioners, specialists, and hospitalization. Expats can also choose to purchase private health insurance policies that provide additional coverage and access to private hospitals and services. The healthcare system in Greece has undergone significant reforms in recent years, aimed at improving the quality of care and reducing wait times for treatment. It is important to research and understand the options available for healthcare coverage in Greece before retiring as an expat.

16. Are there any inheritance or estate planning considerations that differ from those of a native resident if I retire in Greece?

Yes, there may be some differences in inheritance and estate planning considerations for expats retiring in Greece compared to native residents. Some possible differences include:

1. Taxes: Non-native residents may need to consider tax implications both in their home country and in Greece when inheriting or passing on assets. They should consult with a tax professional to understand and plan for any taxes that may apply.

2. Wills: While the process of drafting a will is similar for both native and non-native residents, expats should ensure that their wills are recognized under Greek law. It may also be beneficial to have a separate will for assets in Greece and another one for assets in their home country.

3. Property ownership: Expats should carefully consider how they want their property to be distributed after they pass away in accordance with Greek inheritance laws. If they own property in Greece, it may be best to consult with a lawyer to make sure their wishes are carried out.

4. Language barriers: Some expats may face language barriers when navigating the legal system in Greece, so it is important to find a competent lawyer who can assist with any estate planning concerns.

5. Currency exchange rates: Non-native residents should factor in currency exchange rates when deciding how much money or assets to leave as an inheritance or legacy to family members back home.

It is highly recommended that expats seek professional advice from a lawyer who is knowledgeable about Greek laws and regulations regarding inheritance and estate planning before making any decisions.

17.Can an overseas person who retired as an Expat get a loan after 65 years old in Greece?

It may be more difficult for an overseas person who retired as an expat to get a loan after 65 years old in Greece. Lenders may be hesitant to lend to someone who is retired and living overseas, as they may see it as a higher risk for repayment. Additionally, at age 65, many lenders may consider the borrower too old to take on a long-term loan. However, it is not impossible to get a loan after 65 years old in Greece. Some options may include seeking out specialized lenders who cater to retirees or offering collateral or a co-borrower to secure the loan. It is important to research and carefully consider all options before applying for a loan at this age.

18.How much does it cost to retire as an expat in Greece on average?

The cost of retiring as an expat in Greece can vary greatly depending on lifestyle and location. However, a rough estimate of monthly expenses for a retired couple could range from €1,500 to €2,500. This includes rent or mortgage payments, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, and leisure activities.

19.What are some common challenges or pitfalls expats encounter when planning for retirement in Greece?

Some common challenges or pitfalls that expats may encounter when planning for retirement in Greece include:

1. Understanding the tax system: The Greek tax system can be complex and difficult to understand, especially for non-Greek speakers. Expats should make sure to research and understand their tax obligations before retiring in Greece.

2. Access to healthcare: While Greece has a universal healthcare system, the quality and availability of healthcare services may vary depending on the region. Expats should research the healthcare options in their desired location and make sure they have adequate insurance coverage.

3. Language barrier: If an expat does not speak Greek, communication can be a challenge when dealing with government agencies or service providers. It is important to have a plan in place for addressing language barriers.

4. Fluctuating economy: Greece has had economic instability in recent years, which can impact retirement savings and investments. It is important for expats to stay informed about the economic situation and make contingency plans for potential fluctuations.

5. Different cultural norms: Retiring in a new country means adapting to different cultural norms and expectations. This can take some time to get used to and may require patience and understanding.

6.Insurance coverage: Some expats may find it challenging to obtain comprehensive insurance coverage, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions or are older in age.

7.Housing costs: Depending on the desired location, housing costs in popular areas of Greece can be expensive for retirees on a fixed income. It is important to carefully consider housing options and budget accordingly.

8.Exchange rate fluctuations: Since Greece uses the euro as its currency, exchange rate fluctuations can affect the purchasing power of retirement income from other countries.

9.Social isolation: Moving to a new country can be an isolating experience, especially for retirees who may not have a built-in social network. Expats should make an effort to connect with other expats or join local clubs/organizations to combat feelings of isolation.

10.Inherited property issues: Some expats may choose to retire in Greece due to family ties or inherited property. However, navigating Greek inheritance laws and procedures can be complicated and may require legal assistance.

11.Visa requirements: Expatriates planning to retire in Greece will need to meet certain visa requirements, such as having proof of sufficient income and health insurance coverage.

12.Cultural adjustment: Moving to a new country also means adjusting to a different way of life and possibly learning a new language. This can be challenging for some expats, particularly older individuals who may have difficulty adapting to change.

13.Rising cost of living: As with any country, the cost of living in Greece can increase over time. Expats should factor in potential increases when creating a retirement budget.

14.Investment risks: Retirees may be tempted to invest their savings in higher-risk investments with the hopes of receiving a higher return. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential risks and seek expert advice before making investment decisions.

15.Medical care for pre-existing conditions: Expats with pre-existing medical conditions may find it more challenging or expensive to obtain adequate healthcare coverage in Greece. It is important to research and plan for potential medical needs before retiring in the country.

20. Are there any cultural or social differences that may affect a retiree’s experience as an expat in Greece?

Yes, there are a number of cultural and social differences that may affect a retiree’s experience as an expat in Greece. These include:

1. Time perception: Greeks tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards time and may not adhere strictly to schedules or deadlines. This can be frustrating for expats who are used to more punctual and efficient societies.

2. Family and community-oriented culture: In Greece, family is highly valued and plays a central role in people’s lives. As an expat retiree, you may feel isolated if you do not have family or a strong support network in the country.

3. Language barrier: Greek is the official language in Greece, and while many Greeks speak English, there may still be communication barriers for expats who do not speak Greek fluently.

4. Social etiquette: Greeks place a lot of importance on social etiquette, such as greetings, gift-giving, and table manners. Expats may find these customs different from their own culture and may take some time to adjust.

5. Cultural practices and traditions: Greece has a rich cultural heritage, with many festivals, holidays, and traditions that expats may not be familiar with. While this can be exciting to experience, it may also take some time to adapt to these new customs.

6. High context communication style: The Greek communication style tends to be high context, meaning that messages are often indirect and conveyed through nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and body language. Expats may need some time to adjust to this form of communication.

7. Slow pace of life: Compared to other Western countries, Greece has a slower pace of life which can take some getting used to for expat retirees who are used to fast-paced lifestyles.

8. Bureaucracy: Expats in Greece may encounter challenges when dealing with bureaucracy or government agencies due to complex regulations and lengthy processes.

9. Cost of living: While Greece may be less expensive for basic goods and services, the cost of imported items and luxury goods can be high, which may affect expats on a fixed income.

Overall, it is important for expat retirees to remain open-minded, patient, and willing to adapt to new customs and practices in order to fully enjoy their experience in Greece.