Greeks who Fled the Crisis Speak Out



It is estimated that at least 420,000 Greeks; half of which hold university degrees, left their homeland since the onset of the economic crisis in 2010, according to a 2017 Bank of Greece study.

Naturally, most of them communicate with their friends and speak of their experiences abroad, on social media. Many say they have a good life where they are, but they never cease to be homesick. Others say they don’t like where they are because life does not resemble the way they used to live in Greece. Some think of coming back, while others are so content where they are that they don’t even think about returning to Greece.

Greek Reporter spoke to many Greeks who left their homeland first hand, or through social media. Some are laconic in their answers, others go in detail about life in a foreign land.

Giorgos, for instance, who left for London in 2013 and is working as a web designer, was very short and to the point in his response: “I feel like an idiot for not leaving 10 years earlier.”

The majority of Greek economic migrants choose the United Kingdom and Germany; both  robust economies, with the advantage of being relatively close to home.

Antonis left Greece in 2014. As an architect, he had a hard time finding a job in his country. When he foresaw that SYRIZA was coming to power and “the country was going to jump into the void”, he decided to leave for Germany. Now, he wrote on Facebook, “I live in an organized state, I have all the social benefits I need, I can plan my future, I know that I will get a pension when I retire… Maybe I will return to Greece as a pensioner.”

Grigoris was more humorous. He left his homeland in 2002 and has worked as an accountant in the United States and Britain. When asked whether he will return to Greece, he replied: “Only as a ghost! With income sources outside of Greece, with no business activity, no bank account, no real estate property, no car with Greek licence plates. Then I will return.”

Stavroula left for the United Arab Emirates with her start-up in 2016. She told the Brain Gain initiative that the overall state of the economy and heavy taxes forced her to leave:  “In our company we were dealing with online advertising and the situation year after year worsened. So we decided to leave. We found funding and we left for the Emirates… We have zero taxation in the Emirates, and here (in Greece) we have to pay 50% tax in advance on a company that will make profit in a couple of years.”

Michalis left Greece in 2015 and went to work in digital marketing in Malta. “I want what is self-evident. I want to get paid on time and get paid well for my job. That’s why I left… If they do not pay me, I want to be able to go to the ‘Labour Inspection’ or the courts and not to have to wait for my case to be resolved in 10 years. And I want to return to Greece when this uncertainty ends,” he concluded.

Konstantinos left Thessaloniki for London in July 2016. He speaks five languages and has a degree in Political Economy. Why did he leave Greece? “Lack of job opportunities, no advancement, no meritocracy,” he said.

“Now in London I am able to claim everything I dreamed of for my life.”

Stavros chose Austria, where he said he found better employment conditions and more respect for the worker. “There, the state helps you advance and makes your transition easy. As a citizen I feel more secure and I think I have more social benefits,” he noted.

Although the last year the Greek economy stopped contracting, the unemployment rate in Greece continuous to be more than 20%.


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