Moving out of home when I was 24 years old seemed like the scariest thing I could do at that age. A short 2 years later I would find myself moving to another country entirely!
I have been in love with the Greek Islands, specifically Santorini since I was 20 years old after I went on a holiday in 2006. I instantly fell in love with the place and hoped one day I could live there. Years passed, I got caught up with life and work and then…
In 2012, I visited the island again for 5 days and simply decided I didn’t want to leave! So 6 months after that decision my original dream became a reality and I found myself boarding a plane with a one way ticket to Santorini Greece.
This is a short run down of how I logistically moved from Sydney to Santorini, found a job, a house and made a new life.
1. Getting your Papers in Order
So this step will only be applicable for those with a European or British heritage (sorry!) I myself am half Italian and decided to see if I was eligible for dual citizenship. This involved visiting the Italian Embassy in Sydney, arranging a meeting and finally being granted my Italian Citizenship. As Greece is a part of the European Union this allows for anyone from countries in that Union to live and work within those areas.
I know some of you reading this won’t be eligible for this however late in December 2015 there was a Work & Holiday Visa agreement reached between Greece and Australia for people to travel and work abroad in these respective countries for up to 12 months.
See http://www.wyseworkandvolunteer.org/2015/12/18/australia-greece-work-holiday-visa-approved-by-greek-parliament/ And also visit the Greek Embassy’s website to find out more information.
For those of you with Italian or European heritage I urge you to find out if you’re eligible too as it does open many doors for you.
2. Renting out my Car
I’ve since sold my Toyota Yaris but back in 2012 I found a friend to rent it for $100 a week, which covered my monthly repayments. Renting to a friend I knew and trusted helped me hand the keys over, also having NRMA Comprehensive Insurance was a plus because they cover anyone driving the car aged over 25 years old without them being listed on the policy.
A simple post on Facebook will allow you to see if this too is an option for you.
3. Have your Network of Friends
Even though I only knew a handful of people in Santorini at this stage I was lucky to be supported by them when moving over. For the first week I stayed with a friend I had met there the season before. I also had another friend put in a very good word for me at one of the local bars. Having this support system when I arrived was crucial to my success in Santorini. I value friendship and family above everything else so having these kind people in my life made all the difference. I had only met them 6 months prior and that was because I made myself available to talk and get amongst the community, so when you’re travelling always be friendly and open – you could make some friendships that last a lifetime!
If you don’t know anyone and you’re heading to Santorini – message me! I’ll be happy to help out.
4. Finding a House
This one was pretty funny. I made an appointment to go and see the local real estate agent, the houses on offer weren’t exactly what I was looking for or too pricey. So I got one of my Greek friends to teach me how to ask “Do you know any houses for Rent?” in Greek. I then went to the village I wanted to live in and basically walked around the small roads and asked anyone on the street that walked past. I was shown a handful of properties and I got to know people in the community I was wanting to live in. One lady invited me in for a coffee, she couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak Greek but we somehow got along like a house on fire! A coffee I will never forget! Basically I learnt you need to let everyone know you’re looking for a house and usually something will come through. I found a room at Hotel Nicolas and moved in a day later. These days houses or rooms for rent will be around 300 – 400 euro a month & some are inclusive of electricity and water.
5. Finding a Job
As mentioned previously I had a beautiful friend of mine put a good word in at the local bar he worked at too. I started as a cocktail waitress for the summer season where we worked together. In subsequent years and sourcing other jobs for myself and friends I have found networking and talking the best thing you can do for yourself. Really put yourself out there and just tell everyone what kind of work you are looking for. My second year in Santorini I worked at another bar – unknown to me the waitress had already put in a good word for me, so when I went in to have an interview with the boss it went very well! Always be on the lookout for something that interests you and that you would enjoy.
6. Register with the local Police Station
When you move to another country its always a good idea to register yourself with the local police department if you plan on residing and working there for longer than 6 months. This process can be lengthy and full of paperwork but I recommend doing things the right way if in case something were to happen to you whist you are abroad.
Also list yourself with http://smartraveller.gov.au if you are an Australian Citizen too – even if you don’t know when exactly you are returning its a really smart move.
7.Let your Local bank know you’re leaving
This is just so they don’t freeze your bank account when you go to pull out cash when you’re overseas. Advise them of when and where you are travelling to and they will make a note to ensure this doesn’t happen.
8. Renting a Bike or Quad
After I had been on the island for 2 months with my job I had enough income to afford a quad bike (ATV). I spoke with one of the local bike dealerships and he agreed to rent one to me for the season. It was only a 50cc bike but it was a lifesaver when it came to getting a
round the island – and it allowed me to see things I wouldn’t of otherwise. The other option is buying a quad bike which can range anywhere from 500 – 1000 euros depending on if it is new or used. A valid drivers license from your country of origin is necessary to do this, if you wanted a scooter or motorbike this would need a valid bike license too.
9. Get a Local Mobile/Cell Number
Getting a local number in Greece was one of the first things I did. Visit the local Vodafone or Germanos store in Fira to organise this. They only cost 5 euro each for the sim card and then your preferred prepaid or plan costs. I chose to go with Cosmote on prepaid as most people I knew on the island at that time used their free minutes service to each other. I spend around 10 euro a month on buying credit which pretty much lasts me the whole time.
10. Make Friends and Talk Talk Talk!
My number one piece of advice is to get out of your comfort zone and talk to everyone! Locals, tourists – whoever will listen just to increase your confidence once you’ve arrived because you are starting in a new community and your friends really do become your family there. I have been blessed with the friends I have made in Santorini, ones who were on holiday, ones who live there….it is my number one favourite thing about that island. Had I not taken the leap into uncertainty and not moved there I never would of met these special souls. So I encourage you to get out there and follow your heart because you will experience things and meet people you never would’ve before.