Friday, April 15, 2022

Road to Residency ~ Land of Limbo

Here we are. . .back on the Road to Residency! And once again it is leading us through the Land of Limbo.

The Road to Residency always something new along the way

As our regular readers know, we are American expats who've now been living almost full-time in Greece for the better part of five years.  For that reason, our rural slice of the Greek Peloponnese feels like home. We have our routines and chores, we have our friends and social life. We  have our doctors and dentists. When you are recognized at regulars at a beauty shop, you know you've settled in. 

The Scout and The Scribe on an ancient kalderimi (road)

Our rhythm of life is so set that it now seems a jolt, a major disruption in our norm, to go through the motions of reapplying for permission to continue living here, but that is one of the rules of the game when you lead an expat life.  

This residency renewal comes at a time when just a couple countries away from us, people who had a rhythm of life and a norm, are fleeing their country to stay alive. It is a stark contrast and one that puts the hurdles of the renewal process in perspective, but yet, doesn't make the process any easier or less stressful.

Photo credit: Onet Wiadomosci

Road to Residency Route Changes

No trip on the Road to Residency has been the same. There has always been just a 'little something' that needs tweaking or clarification or additional information so we are embarking on this journey alert for possible road blocks and detours. 

Greek detour notice - Stoupa village

One of the first changes we've encountered was the length of time for which the permit is valid. When we initially applied back in 2017, it was offered in a two-year increment, with a three-year renewal option followed by a five year permit.  By the time we applied for our three-year permit, the five-year renewal had been discontinued. Now the three-year permit is also history and we are back to a two-year permit.

However, the application fee which was 300 euros ($324US) per person back in 2017 went up to a 1000 euros ($1,081US) per person three years ago and remains that now.

No need or desire to work in Greece

We know of a number of you who reading this are contemplating a move to Greece and without Greek heritage, which takes you down a different path, you will all be expected to travel a road to residency; each route slightly different depending on the type of residency you are seeking.  We have the retired-don't-want-or-need-to-work version, which is called the Financially Independent residency permit.

Road to Residency in Greece - always an adventure

While the cost of application can take your breath away, one major money- and time-saving change is that we no longer needed to travel back to Washington State to gather and then get documents apostilled. Apostilles are like notary stamps, but at the government level certifying the document. In recent years a number of agencies in the US have developed a process of obtaining apostilles for those who are overseas and find themselves in need of such documents. It is still costly at $150 per page, yet far less than a trip back to the States.

Apostilled documents are part of residency permit process

And while on the topic of technology, a huge change is that the residency permit process has all gone on-line in Greece. No more trips to the Immigration Office where we sat in a stark waiting room for our turn to present our packet of papers to an official.

What hasn't changed, is the requirement for each applicant to provide documentation showing: a monthly income of 2,000 euros ($2,163US), have proof of medical insurance (the amount is determined by the Greek government), proof of residency (house purchase contract or rental agreement) and copies of each page of our passports.

Land of Limbo - Lockdown

Bologna at Night

Once the application process starts, which happens when our documents are submitted, as ours has now, we are no longer able to leave the country (except back to the US).

Authorities construe any travel outside Greece as abandonment of our application and our permit renewal could be denied.  At least three US friends who have been summoned to the Immigration office to pick up their residency cards have had their passports scrutinized by officials there before being finally issued their new cards. That is one of the reasons for our whirlwind trip to Italy two weeks ago (which I will tell you more about in a future post) - it will be the last of such getaways for many months. 

No cruises anytime soon while application process is active

It appears the computerization of the application process hasn't made it any faster.  Several Americans in our area are still awaiting permanent permit cards now many months into the application process.  One was summoned for an interview before a panel of six. Others have been asked for additional documentation. Two finally received their cards last month only to realize they expire again this coming November!

Our world. Agios Nikolaos.

As I said in the opening it is not a journey to be taken lightly - there is no fast-lane, direct route.  But we all agree, the destination, Greece and the life we have created here makes it worth taking.

That's it for this week. Our wishes for safe travels to you and yours. And good luck if you are among those of us in the Land of Limbo awaiting residency permits.  Welcome to our new readers, it is great to have you with us!

Linking soon:


  1. It looks like a great trip. Beautiful photos!

  2. Hope the road to residency isn't too bumpy this time around!


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