Friday, March 1, 2019

Greece ~ We are back on the Road to Residency

If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey,
most of us would never start out at all.
                    -- William Buckley Jr.

That Road to Residency was a trip to be sure. We were determined to live full-time in Greece and the twists and turns it held didn't deter us from setting forth two years ago.


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Roadway in the Greek Peloponnese


P1030082Over the months that journey spanned, we went from being tourists who owned a home in Greece to card-carrying full time residents here. Our Road to Residency led us on a winding route from the Greek Consulate in San Francisco, California . . .to  the Secretary of State in Olympia, Washington . . ..and then to immigration offices in Kalamata, Greece.

As result of that journey, we are now live in the Land of Kalamata olives. 

And we aren't the only Americans to have taken the journey. We  have three other couples from the United States among our friends here who've all traveled their own Roads to Residency in recent years and are full-time residents in our area.


How quickly the two years granted us in that first journey have passed; our
permits are set to expire in April. Many of you have been with us and recall that at the time of issue we said two years was a good test. We'd give it a try and decide at the end of that time if we wanted to live here longer. However, the time has gone so quickly the decision was simple: we are back on that Road to Residency again. 

If our permits are granted, we will be allowed to stay for another three years.


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The initial journey's end - a day of celebration



I am writing this post on February 28th. It was exactly two years ago today that we appeared at the Greek Consulate in San Francisco to make a case for why we should be allowed the opportunity to apply for residency. After gaining the much needed 'Entry Visa,'  that only the San Francisco office could issue, we were off on our  journey. 


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Like passports, no smiling allowed!

So many of  you reading this were with us back then and cheered us on as we dodged potholes on that zig-zag road to full-time life in Greece. And to all of you who encouraged us, we still thank you. 

'But, why Greece?

We are often asked that question by Greeks and American's alike.  And we have a list of reasons why with which we respond.

I think the only time we ask ourselves, "Why Greece?" is when we are embarking on this application process.  It is not for the weak of heart or the impatient.

It isn't an easy process. It is an expensive endeavor. And I've said before it is very humbling to be trying to convince someone of your worth; why you should be allowed to live in their country.  Making an application for residency in Greece as an American requires proving your worth as a human being both literally and figuratively. 




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Apostille - a worldwide outcome of the Hague Convention, Oct. 1961


The Renewal Application Packet

The amount of documents we needed to provide for a renewal has - thankfully - decreased from that initial application when we had to have everything from our US doctors' certifying  that we were healthy to  FBI fingerprint checks to assure we weren't criminals.

Those two items weren't required this time around but this time we did have to include proof of our births and that we had married.

As we are considered 'financially independent' immigrants, we must make an application for residency. We are retired and not seeking a work permit, so must prove we have an income. We are old, so must have proof of health insurance.


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The Apostilled documents must be translated into Greek


Our renewal application packet contents:

Documents from the United States that had been Notarized and then Apostilled by the Secretary of State's office in our home state, Washington.  All of these documents are then translated into Greek.

* Birth certificate - This document is a new requirement.

* Marriage certificate -  This document is a new requirement.

* Proof of income - Bank statements that show a monthly income of 2,000 euros per month per individual 

* U.S. Tax return for previous year.

* A photocopy of our U.S. Passport (every page must be copied).

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The initial application required an enormous amount of documents

Greek documents included:

* Proof of residence (the contract for the purchase of our house. Those who rent need to provide a rental agreement.)

* Proof of insurance (we have purchased Greek health insurance with coverage to match the thresholds set out by the Greek government).

* Our current permit cards. 

*Other documents we choose to submit. We added proof of the property tax we pay each year.

We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey
that no one can take for us or spare us.

                                              -- Marcel Proust

The Costs of the Journey

The application process is 1,000 euros per person, plus 16 euros per person for the cost of the identity card itself.

Attorney and translation fees can fluxuate, but are around 500 - 600 euros.

The Secretary of State's office charged $20US for each document apostilled, plus an additional $50 because we walked up to the window and had it done in person (would have been less had we mailed them in.)

Cost of notary work and copying costs about $50 US.

On the Road Again. . .

The new journey began again - not by design, but coincidence - on February 28, exactly two years to the day that we met with Dimitri in the Greek Consulate, San Francisco. This time it began in a village up the road when we handed over the packets to our attorney who will represent us in this process. 

I might add our Greek attorney, Voula, who kept us on a steady course the first time, has become a friend since that first journey of ours. So, our appointment with her was at 6 pm at a local café in the village of Kardamyli. She outlined our road map and timeline and reviewed our packets. We sipped wine as we reviewed the process. When business was completed, we dined together as good friends do. 

It was the most pleasant start to the journey.

And it provided yet another answer to that question of, 'But, why Greece?'


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The Stone House on the Hill - the place we call home

As always we thank you for being here and the time you spend with us on our journeys. While in the U.S. we were asked many questions about our life in Greece so next week we hope you'll return for a report about what is new at the Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese.

Until then, our wishes for safe travels to you and yours.


Linking this week with:





































17 comments:

  1. How do you say kol hakavod, good onya, chapeau in Greek? You deserve to hear it!

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  2. I hope you will consider writing a book someday about all the things you have gone thru to live in the beautiful country of Greece. You are amazing with words and altho your blog is well documented for yourselves and your readers, a book could reach so so many people. You have an exciting story to tell, not to mention all your wonderful photos...
    I just love looking at your stone house...I am wishing you would take a video of the inside...every sq inch. I and I know others, would LOVE to see it.
    Both of you are so cute in your new pic on your side bar...xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Many thanks BJ for your vote of confidence in our story and my storytelling abilities. I keep thinking about it but am intimidated by the likes of Frances Mayes (Under the Tuscan Sun) and Peter Mayle and his tales of life in France. I will be doing more posts about life 'on the hill' this spring. Stay tuned.

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  3. Two years gone in a flash. Hope this road to residency is a smooth one.

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    1. You never really breathe a sigh of relief until that little card is in your hand. . .so far it is taking several months to achieve that. What I didn't write is that once we turn in our current card, we are not allowed to travel outside Greece except back to our home country until the new card is in hand or we revoke our right to residency.

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  4. Jackie and Joel, I cannot believe it has been two years already. It went by in a flash. But now you are experts in all things residency related and will pass this time around with flying colors. Good luck to securing that 3 year permit.

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    1. Thanks much for the good luck wishes. As you know the rules and regs change often in Greece and we just hope we've made it over all the hurdles and through the hoops correctly this time. xxx J.

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  5. Those people who are asking you, "But why Greece?" aren't reading your blog which so clearly shows your love affair with the country! It's hard to believe that 2 plus years have passed since we were writing back and forth about applying for residency in a foreign country. However, it looks like the challenges involved in becoming full-time residents of Greece has been well worth it. P.S. I just renewed my residency visa in December for years 4 and 5 here in Portugal if you can believe it!

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  6. Hats off to you. What a daunting process and truly not for the impatient. I never question the 'why there' motives of people. I think we all have a corner of the planet we'd like to try on for size. Just amazing. Enjoy this passage in life, and in Greece!

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  7. I will not ask why. There are so many corners of the world we can choose but we get drawn to one special one. Your Stone House on the Hill is just that place for you!

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  8. I have enjoyed following your posts for the past year or more since I discovered your site through the Boomer Travel Bloggers group. If there is a previous post or two that would give more of the history of how you discovered Greece initially and how it became special enough to you to considered becoming a resident, I would love to be pointed to them... I do understand how we can become drawn to particular places in the world for reasons that we can't always fully explain. Best of luck in completing your quest for residency!

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  9. That's quite some journey to get your residence secured! But living in Greece must surely make every moment worth it...

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  10. I do, indeed, remember following along on your first journey to residency and have enjoyed the stories from the Stone House on the Hill. Thanks for the details and tips about making it happen. Maybe someday I'll follow in your footsteps -- you sure make it sound compelling.

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  11. Hello, time is flying by, it does not feel like 2 years. I have been following your post. I love your Stone House on the Hill. I am sure it will be worth all the work you have put into becoming full time residents in Greece. I would be happy just to visit there. Wishing you a happy day and week ahead!

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  12. Hello Jackie and Joel! I came by to return the blog visit and thank you for taking the time to comment on and follow mine. You have an extremely interesting life! What an amazing decision and journey. And what a wonderful glimpse for your readers into another culture.

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  13. What a beautiful story. I hope they accept you this second time. I'm so glad you have an attorney who is also a friend; I'm sure that will make the process that much easier. Best of luck! <3

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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