Why Greece Could (or Should) be your Next Digital Nomad Destination
Most of us have enjoyed a holiday in Greece before. And some of us - having watched Mama Mia multiple times - might have secretly dreamed of moving there indefinitely. But is the country of picturesque islands and dancing the sirtaki also a good place to work remotely from?
I didn’t think it would be, as my research for European digital nomad destinations mostly brought up popular places like Valencia, Malta and Lisbon. My assumption was that the internet connection would not be stable enough, and the infrastructure not welcoming for remote workers.
Until I came to read about Chania, a Greek seaside town on the island of Crete. A place large enough to enjoy great facilities, but small enough to provide easygoing island vibes. A place where even a coliving and coworking space have set foot. And a place not yet overflooded with crowds of digital nomads and remote workers. I decided to head over to Chania with my laptop and, as a digital nomad, try the place out for 3 months. Here’s what I found.
What´s Crete like?
I might have been one of the few who never vacationed in Greece before, so I didn't really know what to expect besides plate-smashing and feta cheese. When I arrived in mid-March, I was slightly surprised that the weather was still chilly and the trees bare. This quickly changed over the weeks, with rain showers causing the island to bloom and awaken from its winter sleep. And wow, I had almost never seen an island as green and colourful as Crete by the time that I left.
Crete in March also showed a quiet island with hardly any tourists, empty hotels, and beach bars and taverns still closed. A very interesting time to explore, meet locals and get to know the various parts of the island. I do have to admit that I preferred the months of May and June, when the sun revealed itself and Chania really started to come to life.
What I loved most about Crete was the ease of life - everything seems to go a little slower on the island. Lunches last for hours and people treat you with kindness and a smile. English is widely spoken but a few words of Greek are always appreciated. My favourite activity was driving around, stopping for lunch in a small town, napping on a picturesque beach after, and driving home in the evening sun. Not bad for a regular Sunday.
The digital nomad setup | Housing & Internet in Crete
Besides hogging preceding weather reports and making sure I’m not picking a rainy destination, accommodation and internet speeds are the conditions I research most before travelling. I was pleasantly surprised with the Chania offerings on Airbnb, although prices were relatively steep and most accommodations slightly outdated. Expect standard (1- or 2-bedroom) accommodation to range between €800 and €1800 a month in shoulder season, depending on the location and size of the place. It's good to be aware that rent will increase significantly when travelling in June, July and August. Want to broaden your search? Then post your wishes in the town’s digital nomad Facebook group, where plenty of accommodation owners list their properties off-record.
Aside from a comfy chair, couch or bed to work from, there is another aspect that can make or break your digital nomad adventure: internet reliability. Luckily, I soon found out that Chania offers high-quality services when it comes to internet and cell phone coverage. Still, even though I never had any issues in my accommodation or any of the surrounding coffee shops, I recommend checking the upload- and download speed with your landlord before confirming your rental. Were you not properly informed or did you get hit by an electricity blackout? Then you can always rely on Workhub Chania to fall back on - a wonderful coworking space that includes private offices, phone booths and designated work areas.
Transportation options in Greece
Greece’s numerous ports, airports and stations make the country an accessible place to travel to. The island of Crete is even home to two airports, Heraklion and Chania, creating plenty of opportunities for travellers to come and visit. I also soon discovered that there are dozens (or probably hundreds) of car rental companies available all over the island, as well as plenty of buses covering large parts of Crete. If you have the resources, I definitely recommend renting a car, as it will let you discover the more hidden beaches and towns that public transport will simply not bring you to.
Greece’s digital nomad visa
What many remote workers might not yet know, is that Greece offers a Digital Nomad Visa. The program, available since 2021, allows non-EU remote workers to enjoy the perks of Mediterranean life for up to one year. The application process involves proof of a minimum monthly income, payment of a minor fee and a visit to your nearest Greek embassy or consulate. Sounds appealing? For detailed information and the latest updates, I encourage you to check out my blog about digital nomad visas below.
Cost of living in Crete
Coming from The Netherlands, Crete turned out to be a very affordable place in many ways. Clearly, everything depends on your spending habits. But I think it’s fair to say that daily life in Crete (and - apart from the very popular touristy places - Greece in general) is cheaper than most Western European countries. This is an average of what I spent while living in Crete with 2 persons from March to June 2023:
(Large two-bedroom, centrally located house with rooftop terrace and all utilities included)
€1,600 a month | Total price for 2 persons
Average dinner in a restaurant
€20 - €30 including a bottle of wine | Per person
€250,- a month | Per person
€380,- a month + approx. €70,- for gas | Total price for 2 persons
€50,- a month | Per person
€135,- for 10 days | Per person
As I lived close to the city centre of Chania and had my own car, I didn't use public transport or taxis during my stay. A one-way bus ride supposedly averages around €2,50. I’m guessing that the costs for a taxi ride depend on the driver (there are no Ubers in Crete) so it’s wise to negotiate a price beforehand.
Conclusion | Why Greece should be your next digital nomad destination
Having lived and worked in Chania only, I’m hesitant to draw conclusions about Greece as a whole. I can say however, that during the entire time I lived on the island of Crete, I experienced a very welcoming and friendly vibe, great amenities, wonderful food, a fairly affordable lifestyle and plenty of things to do. The island offers lots of gorges, beaches and hiking trails, and there’s always the opportunity to grab a boat and explore nearby islands. And while Chania’s digital nomad community might not be as large as the one in Lisbon or Valencia, the local coworking space and digital nomad WhatsApp group offer plenty of opportunities to meet fellow remote workers. This is, together with the great internet connectivity, a big plus for digital nomads searching for their next destination in Europe.
Would I come again or did I feel tempted to stay longer than three months? I would say no. Even though I truly enjoyed my stay in Chania and recommend the town to any other digital nomad, I found three months to be enough. The vibe on the island was great and the city itself very lively, but I did miss a bit of excitement and felt eager to explore a new destination once my time came to an end. And even though I enjoyed great temperatures and plenty of after-work beach fun, there were more rainy, windy and cloudy days than I expected (this could have been bad luck). I can also imagine that summers in Greece become pretty unbearable with temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 degrees Celsius on a daily basis. For travellers and digital nomads, I therefore highly recommend visiting during the months of May, June, September, and October. And why not combine a trip to Greece with nearby upcoming digital nomad destinations like Albania, Macedonia and Serbia?
These were my personal findings in regards to living in Greece, thanks for sticking it out till the end! Did you like this article and do you want to stay updated on more digital nomad destinations, stories and tips? Then simply follow me on Instagram or click the link below to sign up for my mailing list. Would be great to see you there soon!