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Frequently Asked Questions about property and living in Crete

These are some of the FAQ's we receive about living in Crete, not in any particular order. We have tried to answer them honestly so you know what you may be taking on, and hope this page will provide you with useful information. We freely admit that some dry humour may have slipped in along the way, but perhaps that's a result of living in north west Crete!

I want a renovated 3-bed house, large garden, close to a beach, for €100,000. Can you help?
Sorry, but no! This may sound hard, but apart from the unrealistic price, it's very unlikely that such a property exists. Many old houses had only four rooms in total, with little land, near neighbours - and were built away from the sea to avoid pirate attacks. If the above house existed, it would have been sold long ago, or cannot be sold because of problems with the title. It's more realistic to look for old houses in need of renovation, 3-5kms from the sea (about 3-5 minutes' drive).

What's the minimum I will need to pay for a house in Western Crete?
It depends on what you want, and where. Realistically, you will need a minimum of around €100,000 for a completed 3 bedroom property. We can of course find you a traditional house in need of renovation for less than that, but the additional renovation costs tend to be around 1-3 times the purchase price.

How much does land cost in north west Crete?
Like everywhere else in the world, it depends where it is. Right on the beach, it can cost more than €1,000,000. If you want to live 5-6kms inland, we can find land from around €25,000 for a building plot.

What's all this stuff I hear about "inside" and "outside" village limits?
It's a fairly sensible precaution against urban sprawl in the countryside. Basically, you need less land to build a house if it's inside the village limits, more if it's outside. Also, you can build at a higher density if you're inside the limits. For more information, click Greek planning rules.

How much will it cost to design and build a custom house designed for me?
   Design services (2% of construction cost, minimum €2,500)

+ Building permit (about €105 per m2)

+ Construction cost (about €1,350 per m2 including supervision)

+ IKA (statutory workers' insurance, about 7% of the house cost)

What's better - a renovated old house, or a newly-built one?
This is a very personal choice.

In our opinion, traditional houses have wonderful character, something you can't define or totally recreate from new. But they often come with constraints - odd shaped rooms, limited land, close to neighbours - and these don't suit everyone. We can only mention the houses that are up for sale - there are many other old houses where the owners won't (or can't) sell. Available, good traditional homes are few and far between, and this drives the price up. So it's difficult to find a traditional house, in the required location, with the required amount of land.

Therefore, unless you are prepared to compromise, it is often easier to find land and have a new house built in traditional style.

How long will it take to buy my chosen property?
It usually takes around 8 weeks. But if you are buying land outside village limits, you have to wait for approval from the Forestry Department, which can delay things by 2-3 months.

Will I have to return to Crete to sign the purchase contract?
Unless you have granted Power of Attorney to a friend or lawyer here, yes. You should plan your visit to allow at least 5 working days, to pay the purchase taxes and allow time for any last-minute hitches.

I don't fancy living with the dust and noise during new-build/renovations, but how do I find out what's happening?
Arrange a fixed price/time building contract with us, and stay in your home country while we supervise the building works and email you with periodic progress reports.

Why do I have to make an appointment for your property tours?
Because we need to:

- find out what type of property you are looking for

- search for suitable properties and discuss them with you

- agree which properties you would like to see

- schedule our workload, alert key-holders, plan a route in advance and prepare a property listing for you.

Obviously it's difficult for us to do this professionally without prior notice.

Why should I use your services?
You don't have to, it's just about possible to do it yourself...if you can afford the time, the flight costs and the hassle. But unless you have local Greek contacts who are willing to help:

- you would have to spend a lot of time finding out which properties are for sale, and whether they can legally be sold (and you may not discover possible problems until after you've purchased)

- negotiating direct, you are likely to pay an increased 'foreigner' price for the property, perhaps double what it should be

- you would need to find an efficient lawyer, surveyor and architect for a reasonable price
it is likely that you would need to make further trips to sort out any legal or topographical problems before buying

- you would have to obtain building or repair estimates and then find a good reputable builder

- you would have to make inspection trips during building works.

We live here, have extensive local knowledge and contacts, and can save you a lot of time, money and hassle.

Will I have to pay an annual tax on my property?
Yes, but it is very low.

How will I maintain my house if I only live there for a few months every year?
We offer property management services.

Can you rent me a property for a 2-week holiday?
Sorry, no. We no longer handle rental properties.

Can you book accommodation and a hire car for me?
Sorry, no. We are real estate agents, not travel agents.

How much should I allow for legal fees and other purchase costs?
As a rule of thumb, allow around 10% of the purchase price.

I want to renovate an old property myself, what do you think?
We really don't advise this. You will need to learn about Greek wiring, plumbing, drainage, building materials, sizes, regulations. For example:

- would you know how to connect together the pipework and valves for the solar panel, emergency water tank and immersion tank?

- how much knowledge of seaweed/soil-insulated roofs do you have?

- how would you safely create a new door in half-metre-thick stone/soil walls?

Even if you managed to do the work, you then have to persuade qualified tradesmen to certify it. You can of course study for the Greek electrician or plumber certificates but that would take a couple of years, even if you speak Greek. And if you need a building permit for the repairs, you will still have to pay the deemed IKA (Greek national insurance) on the estimated man-days labour.

How much does it cost to live in Western Crete?
Obviously we cannot provide precise living costs, because they vary with person, lifestyle, time, property and place. Generally, the cost of living in Crete is low. As a guide, current basic living expenses (shopping, petrol, mid-day coffees, evening drinks, etc.) for a single person are around €700 - €1,000 per month - less if you want to live frugally. These do not include set-up costs for the first six months or so, when you may wish to purchase a car, furnishings, equipment etc.

What's the weather like in winter, will I need heating or winter clothes?
We assume you don't intend to live in the mountains, where snow lies from Christmas until Easter. In Western Crete, we receive most of our rain in January and February. The weather pattern usually alternates between storms lasting for 3-5 days, interspersed with a few days of bright warm sunshine, then back into the next storm. The lowest temperatures are around 5C, but during the storms (sometimes up to Beaufort force 8-9) the wind-chill makes it feel colder. So yes, you will need heating for perhaps 100 evenings - and waterproofs and sweaters when you go outside sometimes. Maybe this sounds bleak, but compared to northern Europe it's a short and mild winter, and we have to get our water from somewhere!

What about hot water and central heating?
Hot water heating is provided for most of the year by solar panels and is therefore usually free between March and November. For cloudy winter days, or when demand is higher than normal, either electric immersion or instant water heaters are used to top up the temperature. Central heating is normally fuelled by diesel oil. Except on the high mountain slopes, the temperature here rarely goes below 5C on winter nights. Delivery from the local petrol station is usually fast, free and efficient - delivery the same day or next, and the minimum order is around 100 litres. The price for winter 2016 was around €1 per litre. Obviously it depends on the weather, the size of your house and the efficiency of your central heating system, but you should probably budget to heat for perhaps 90 x 4-hour evenings from mid-December to mid-March, and burn around 5 litres per hour. That works out to around €1,800 per winter.

Will I have to learn Greek?
Realistically - if you want to integrate into the community and make friends with the locals - yes. You can of course muddle through with sign language and pictures for a while, but shopkeepers and neighbours will respect you far more if you take the trouble to learn at least some Greek. In Chania and the larger towns you can probably get away with basic Greek for a while because many people speak some English. In small or remote villages, no chance! In addition to the usual online lessons, books and CDs, the State periodically provides free Greek lessons for foreigners. You can also hire a private Greek teacher at very modest rates.

Will I need a car?
As in your home country, if you don't have a car you are reliant on buses and taxis, so your choice of properties will be limited to those near shopping and other facilities. Also, without a car, you will be denied the chance to explore this beautiful island! So we advise: yes, you will almost certainly need a car.

Are utilities like water, electricity and gas expensive in Crete?
Water is very cheap and is billed every six months. Electricity charges are medium and are billed bi-monthly, with the bill inclusive of local council taxes and TV licence. Mains gas is not available in Crete.

Is it expensive to run a pool in Crete?
The costs of chemicals, water and electricity (for pumps etc.) are reasonable. Heating is normally not required between May and September. You may have to pay some tax on "deemed income" if you own a pool (even if you are retired), but it is not expensive.

I get confused with metric measurements - how do I convert back and forth?

Here are some useful conversion factors:

1

litre

=

0.22

gallon

 

1

gallon

=

4.54

litre

1

kg

=

2.22

lb

 

1

lb

=

0.45

kg

1

m

=

1.09

yard

 

1

yard

=

0.91

m

1

km

=

0.62

mile

 

1

mile

=

1.61

km

1

strema

=

0.25

acre

 

1

acre

=

4.05

stremata

1

strema

=

1,000

m2

 

1

acre

=

4,047

m2

1

hectare

=

2.47

acre

 

1

acre

=

0.41

hectare

1

hectare

=

10,000

m2

 

1

acre

=

0.41

hectare

Why do Cretans drive in the middle of the road?
A Cretan friend try to answer this for us. Apparently, apart from avoiding goats, stones and potholes, and being able to swerve into the first available parking space in the cities, it gives the driver two choices of escape in the event of an imminent head-on collision. No further comment.

Thursday November 23, 2017
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Office
Kampouri 4
Kissamos • Crete
Greece

Phone/fax
+30 28220 22585

Mobile
+30 697 445 8179 / 80

Postal address
CPH • PO Box 2
Kissamos • Crete 73400
Greece

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Registered at the Chania Chamber of Commerce
Members of Chania Estate Agents Association
for assured property in Crete
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