However, you never know what is in store for you and my husand “retired” or was rather forced to retire from the army when he was only 50 years old. At that time I had already opened a bookstore, so he would help me there for some years. Business was not going well but I had to keep it running for a few more years until I could apply for early retirement.
If I wanted full pension I would have to keep the business until I became at least 60 years old in order to retire. Fortunately, for me there was a law at the time that if a woman at the age of 50 had at least been working for twenty years and had three children, the youngest being under 18 she could qualify for reduced pension. Selling the bookstore was out of the question, although we tried but who would buy a business having no substantial profit and getting a job was also impossible at my age, as the unemployment rate in Greece is very high and even young people can’t get a job. So I closed the shop just before Evangelia (Elia) turned 18 and I applied for early retirement. Although it took almost 2 1/2 years to be approved but I was lucky enough to benefit from this law as shortly after, this law was annulled. That’s the time when I started blogging as a hobby.
Now that we were both “early pensioners” and free from obligations, I started telling my husband how great it would be if we could move to the countryside after Elia would turn 18. The idea matured in our heads and two years ago we started looking for a plot where we could build a small house where we could retire.
The seashore suburbs of Attica were out of the question for a few reasons. One was that the land was too expensive but also becauce the suburbs are now so crowded that it’s just like living in Athens and living in an apartment near the seaside was out of the question. I wanted a house with a garden which would not be far away from the seaside but also not very far away from Athens.
We didn’t want to move too far away because our children would still be living in our house in Athens, so we decided to search within an area of two hours’ drive.
Our first choice would be the region around Nafplion. When Elia was still in elementary school, her school organised an excursion there and it was love at first sight. We started dreaming how great it would be if he manged to get transferred there but although we had applied many times, it was not in the cards, at least not in the near future.
During the past two years we have been traveling to Nafplion, every now and then meeting with real estate agents and we were so close to signing twice, when something went wrong just at the last minute.
The first house we really liked was one of a complex of three small houses. Each one was 65 sq. metres and had two bedrooms, one bathroom and the rest of the house was an open spaced kitchen with the living room.
However, it had a huge porch but most of all, each house had 1.500 sq metres land of its own, with an open view of the Argolic citrus orchards in front of us.
This would be perfect to be used just as a summer house, as it was rather remote to live there year round. We liked it for several reasons, the first being that it was within the limited budget we had set, it was only ten – fifteen minutes’ drive to Karathonas beach, it had a huge area to have a garden with lawn, it was partly furnished, all rooms had air-conditioning, it had a fireplace and it even had an inflatable, family sized swimming pool and part of the garden was cemented and arranged for the pool.
Before signing, we asked our lawyer to look into the legal formalities but to our disappointment, he advised us that although the property was big we were not allowed by law to build anything else or expand the present building, as it was outside the town limits. Furthermore, the contractors were not in compliance with certain formalities of the law, so we had to reject it.
We continued searching and kept arranging appointments with real estate agents every now and then. They showed us maisonettes which were small like pigeon holes, plots that were very far away from Nafplion, or in degraded areas where there were a lot of gypsies and thefts were a usual phaenomenon, others with existing small old houses which needed a lot of money to be renovated and other plots which we liked but were much above our budget. The ones near the seaside or even with a distant view of the sea were very expensive. Each time we left without finding anything, we were very disappointed.
In one of our visits, after over a year of searching, we finally found a second one we immediately liked. It was a plot of land which was rather far away from Nafplion about 20 km but it had a fantastic view of the Argolic Gulf. Nothing was built, except for a couple of houses in the far distance and the closest village was a couple of kilometres away. The closest beach was Myloi, a seashore village about 15 km away but the beach was not so good as Karathonas but the view was fantastic and a little more effort getting to a decent beach was worth it. The price, however, was high and after visiting a second time and bargaining we finally reached an agreement and we shook hands, which was almost like signing. However, this was also too good to be true. Just before signing we found out that the law changed and those plots were no longer in the town plans and were excluded from the building area.
Most of the weekends, we continued making trips around Athens, towards Evia, Sounion, Corinth, Orea Eleni, Epidavros etc., but we did not like what we saw.
On one of our visits to Nafplion, after an exhausting day seeing many real estate agents, we were very disappointed for one more time and were thinking to give up. Fortunately, the last one, who was the owner of the land and a contractor had an orange orchard in Assini which he decided to cut into building plots, I think they were about sixteen and he showed us the last two which were for sale. Each plot wasn’t very big, it was only 350 square metres big, but at least we could build a 100 sq. metres house plus a semi-basement.
We liked it as it was only 2 km away from the beach and without any hesitation, we shook hands.
We returned back a couple of days later and signed the contracts early July 2010.