Living in Heraklion
- Preparing to come to Crete
- Greek Language
Preparing to come to Crete
Obtaining a Visa (for non EU Citizens only)
You should consult the Greek consulate in your country, at least three months before departure, in order to get all the necessary information regarding forms, requirements etc to obtain a visa. It is important that you do this in coordination with CCTP as several times in the past, the consulate issued the wrong visa.
Note that the documents being sent to the consulate include a passport, and accordingly it will be impossible to travel until the visa is processed.
Depending on location, one may be required to submit the visa application and accompanying documents in person. By asking nicely, it may be possible to mail the materials remotely with a return envelope.
Obtaining a European Health Insurance Card (for EU Citizens only)
If you have health insurance in a country of the European Union, you should be able to have health insurance in Greece, until you obtain the local health insurance (that typically requires 4 months). This is because the Greek National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) provides short term healthcare services, free of charge, to all EU citizens who hold a European Health Insurance Card.
You can apply for this card before coming to Greece at your country’s Social Insurance Foundation.
If you are planning to live and work in Crete for more than 6 months (183 days), then you will be classified as a tax resident in Greece. Therefore, your total income will be taxed in Greece.
To avoid double taxation, you must consult your country’s tax office, before moving to Crete, and make all the necessary arrangements. In some cases and for some countries, there are binational tax treaties that regulate such cases, and you may be able to choose in which country to pay taxes.
Keep also in mind that, during your staying in Greece, you must collect all you income & expense receipts, as they are necessary for your tax declaration form.
Preparing For Life in Crete
• Ensure electronics are supported, purchase necessary adapters. Electronics and accompanying accessories can be quite expensive relative to the U.S. for example.
• The first few weeks will involve quite a bit of time on foot. Bring some excellent footwear.
• Recreational equipment for less popular activities (anything other than soccer and basketball, basically) can be difficult and/or expensive to acquire. Pack accordingly.
• Travel to/from Crete is easily accomplished by air, and is cheapest in the summer. Try to find flights that are “partnered” so that bags are only checked once. Ferry services also are available daily, throughout the year.
Start looking for an apartment immediately! It costs more to spend a week at a hotel than a month in a leased flat.
In Heraklion, you can find both furnished and unfurnished apartments. Most of them though, are not furnished at all. One typically provides his own oven, refrigerator, washing machine, etc. Often, good deals on used appliances can be found posted around the university, or from postdoctoral researchers in transit.
There are a lot of real estate agents in Crete most of which you can find online. Most apartments though are privately owned and not rented through a real estate agency. The most efficient way to locate a nice place is to spend a few days walking around desirable neighborhoods and taking pictures of the “ENOIKIΑZETAI” (=for rent) signs in front of places you might like. Get a Greek speaker to call the ads you photographed and set up a showing.
Important features to consider include: New(ish) construction, well sealed windows, metered utilities, etc. Since transportation in Heraklion can be sometimes an issue, It is likely simplest to rent a flat near a bus line with a direct route to campus.
Upon leasing, expect to pay one month’s rent up front, and a deposit typically equal to a month’s rent. Leases are commonly two-year commitments, but this can often be negotiated. In fact, almost all terms of the lease (including the rent) are negotiable, especially if you bring a friend who speaks Greek. Expect to pay around 250-300€ per month for an one-bedroom flat or 300-450 for a two-bedroom flat. Water, electricity and heating cost is normally not included in the rent.
Although Greek is the official language of the country, it is relatively easy for a foreigner to communicate since most natives speak English, and quite a few German and French, due to the fact that Greece and Crete in particular is a popular tourist destination. Greeks are well-known for their hospitality, therefore in general it is not too difficult to live in Greece.
To get around in Heraklion, buses and most streets contain signs in English and you wouldn't be too confused to find your destination. Needless to say, most scholars are familiar with the Greek script, so with a bit of training you can also read Greek inscriptions. Most restaurants have their menu in English so you can order easily your dish. For more difficult tasks, such as applying for a residence permit at the Foreigner’s Office, opening a bank account, and registering at the Tax Office or the Health Insurance Office, the CCTP provides help through the administrative procedures.
The Municipality of Heraklion - in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and Lifelong Learning - is providing free Greek language lessons, to all non-Greek citizens who are legally residing in Greece. The educational program has the following levels:
• “Greek Language I” (introductory level).
• “Greek Language II” (low-intermediate level).
• “Greek Language III and IV” (upper-intermediate and advanced levels).
The courses last for 5 months and consist of 2 classes per week (90 min lessons). Usually the start of lessons is set on October or November. For further information and registration please contact:
- Municipality of Heraklion, Department of National Education and Lifelong Learning, 2 Androgeo Str., 4th floor, Heraklion - Crete, Tel: 2813-409423 (Mrs Anaplioti).
- Through web: http://www.heraklion.gr/en
There is also a free online Greek language course, called “The Odysseas Project” (http://www.greeklanguagetutor.com).
To call Greece from another country, first dial the International Dialing Prefix (IDD) (typically “00” or + in most cases), then the country code which is “30”, and then the number. For instance, calling Heraklion city from abroad you dial: 0030 2810 394 262. When you are calling from Greece, just omit the IDD number and the country code: 2810 394262. For information on area dialing codes for Greece, look on http://countrycode.org/greece.
Cell phone numbers start with 69.
If you are calling from inside the university to a place outside, you should first dial “9” and then the number. To call internal phone numbers you just dial the four last digits of the office phone number.
In order to obtain a fixed phone line in your apartment you should address yourself to one of the following phone companies: OTE (which is the former state monopoly), Forthnet (the formerly local company created at the University of Crete, although today it serves the whole country), CYTA, Wind, Tellas and Vodafone. All of these companies also provide internet services.
Having a local portable phone number is a must, both for social and logistical reasons. To obtain a portable phone you have two options: either obtaining a card phone (pre-paid time) or one with a monthly contract. Both options presume that you have a valid Greek address. The three local providers are Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind.
Other useful numbers are:
- Police: 100
- Fire Department: 199
- Ambulance: 166
U.S. media sites like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc. are currently inaccessible from Greece (and much of the rest of Europe). Consider this.
Today the urban KTEL serves the whole city of Iraklion,the suburbs as well as the nearby villages within a 12-kilometer radius of the city. There are twenty bus lines. The first bus service departs at 6am and the last one runs at 11am The geographical boundaries of the lines of KTEL are divided two zones.The first zone includes the city of Iraklion within a radius of 5 kilometers from the bus terminal in the centre of the city and the second zone includes the suburbs which are further than the 5 kilometers with the exception of some villages. Public transport in Heraklion can be an issue. Schedules may not be posted online, but can typically be found inside a bus or on the outside of a ticket kiosk in the city center. There are two ticket colors relevant to postdoctoral researchers. Blue tickets go between the university and the city center and orange tickets work around the city center.
For information about timetables and prices, look on http://astiko-irakleiou.gr/
More precisely, there are the following types of bus tickets.
1) Zone A' (City Zone):
- - Full Price Ticket (orange), 1,10€
- - Discount Ticket (yellow), 0,60€
- - Student Ticket (green), 0,80€
2) Zone B' (Suburbs):
- - Full Price Ticket (blue), 1,50€
- - Discount Ticket (black), 0,75€
- - Student Ticket (orange), 1,10€
The route number depends on the destination. Route number 11 goes to the University of Crete. There are two bus routes to the University of Crete:
1) Airport – Pagni/University
2) Port – Pagni/University
Bus tickets can be bought in mini-markets and kiosks all over town. There is currently no convenient place to buy tickets at the University, so plan accordingly. Bus drivers are often reluctant to sell tickets on the bus, but may be convinced if presented with exact change. At worse, un-ticketed passengers will be driven to a kiosk directly, or required to purchase a ticket from another passenger on the bus.
Heraklion is also connected with the rest of Crete by regular bus lines, operated by two KTEL companies:
1. KTEL Hania – Rethymnon, which connects Heraklion with Western Crete. For information about timetables and prices, look on http://bus-service-crete-ktel.com/
2. KTEL Heraklion -Lasithi which connects Heraklion with Eastern Crete. For information about timetables and prices, look on http://www.ktelherlas.gr/?lang=en
As Crete becomes increasingly beautiful and attractive with increasing distance from Heraklion, purchasing a personal vehicle is well worth serious consideration.
In Greece, they drive on the right side of the road, while the drivers’ seat is on the left. Traffic lights cycle from Green to Red and back. It is important to wear your seat belt or your helmet when driving a motorcycle and to be sober. Police can stop your car at roadside and ask you to take a breath-analyzer test, which you cannot refuse. The minimum acceptable alcohol consumption limit is 0.50 gr. per blood litter. Depending on the alcohol that has been detected in your blood, the penalties vary from paying a fine to losing your drivers' license and being sent to jail.
To drive in Greece you need a valid International Driver’s Permit, the cover of which is written in all European languages. The permit is an official driving document that can be used in most countries and is issued by certified travel associations. Always accompany the International Driver’s Permit with your regular driver’s license. Tourists and short term visitors are allowed to drive in Greece with their International Driver’s Permit for up to three months after entering the country. Foreigners, who intend to stay longer, should convert their driving license into a Greek one if it was originally issued by an EU Member State. This can be done without taking a written or practical exam. The procedure includes:
- 1. An application been submitted to the Transport and Communications Department of the applicant’s place of residence.
- 2. The foreign driving license will be returned to the issuing country’s relevant authority by the competent Transport and Communications Department.
- 3. Paying a fee.
More information can be found at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks website.
If your license is issued from USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Africa and South Korea you still need to convert it into the corresponding Greek license. Documentations needed for this can be found at this website.
Take into consideration that, in order to convert your driving license into the corresponding Greek one, you must have a valid establishment or residence permit or other equivalent, issued at least 95 days before the application for EU, Norway and Iceland citizens and at least 185 days before the application for USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Africa and South Korea citizens.
Licenses issued by countries other than the above are not valid in the Greek state. In that case you need to take a written and practical exam in order to obtain a Greek driving license.
There are two public hospitals in Heraklion and several other private clinics. The university (public) hospital near the University campus is called PAGNI (http://www.pagni.gr), while the other public hospital is found at the other side of the city and is called Venizelio (http://www.venizeleio.gr). Before visiting one of the two, you need to check first which one is on duty that particular day. Check at http://www.heraklion.gr/en/city/on-duty-services/on-duty.html
Make sure that you take your health insurance book and passport whenever visiting them.
EU Citizens who have a valid European Health Insurance Card, can also make appointments with registered doctors in the Greek Social Insurance Foundation- called “IKA” (http://www.ika.gr/en/home.cfm), free of charge.
Almost all monetary transactions on Crete (including large sums, like rent) take place in cash. Typically, the only places that will take a card without much complaint are large supermarket chains and some large retailers.
A cost efficient way to deal with this is to keep enough money in a Greek bank. It is also possible to set up direct payments of your bills (regarding electricity, taxes etc) from your Greek bank account.
Education in Greece is compulsory for all children from 6-15 years old. It includes Primary (Dimotiko) and Lower Secondary (Gymnasio) Education. The school life of the students, however, can start from the age of 2.5 years (pre-school education) in institutions (private and public) called "Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmi" (creches). In some Vrefonipiakoi Stathmoi there are also Nipiaka Tmimata (nursery classes) which operate along with the Nipiagogeia (kindergartens).
Attendance in Primary Education (Dimotiko) lasts six years, and children are admitted at the age of 7. Along with the regular kindergartens (Nipiagogeia) and the Dimotika, there are now all-day primary schools in operation, with an extended timetable and an enriched Curriculum.
Post-compulsory Secondary Education consists of two school types: Eniaia Lykeia (Unified Upper Secondary Schools) and the Technical Vocational Educational Schools (EPAL/TEE). The duration of studies in Eniaia Lykeia (EL) is three years and two years (a' level) or three years (b' level) in the Technical Vocational Educational Schools. Mutual student transfer from one type of school to the other is possible.
Along with the mainstream schools of Primary and Secondary Education, Special Nipagogeia (kindergartens), Dimotika, Gymnasia, Lykeia and upper secondary classes are in operation, which admit students with special educational needs. Musical, Ecclesiastical and Physical Education Gymnasia and Lykeia are also in operation.
Post-compulsory Secondary Education also includes the Vocational Training Institutes (IEK), which provide formal but unclassified level of education. These Institutes are not classified as an educational level, because they accept both Gymnasio (lower secondary school) and Lykeio upper secondary school)graduates according to the relevant specializations they provide. Their level is typically low.
Public higher education is divided into Universities and Technological Education Institutes (TEI). Students are admitted to these Institutes according to their performance at national level examinations taking place at the second and third grade of Lykeio. Additionally, students are admitted to the Hellenic Open University upon the completion of the 22 year of age by drawing lots.
All courses in primary and secondary education are taught in the Greek language. This is also the case for undergraduate studies except in special cases when there are Erasmus students present.
n Heraklion city there is also the School of European Education (S.E.E.), in which there are two language sections, Greek and English. At present, all years in the Greek and English Section of Primary Education, as well as the first two years of Secondary Education in the Greek Section operate.
Children who fall into one of the categories listed below are admitted into the language sections of the Nursery and Primary cycles of the S. E. E.:
- Children of the employees of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) or any other institution of the European Union.
- Children of the employees of International Organizations and Diplomatic services that are based in Heraklion, Crete.
- Children whose parents (at least one of them) are nationals of an EU member state except Greece.
For more information concerning S.E.E. you can visit its website at: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/sefcovic/administration/euschools/index_en.htm .