The history, myths, year-round sunshine, picturesque ports and villages, bewitching beauty of sea and countryside, and luscious landscapes of the Greek islands sweep visitors off their feet. Whether you're looking for a tranquil escape or the buzz of island life, you'll find it here.
But if you decide to build your own Greek island paradise, there are six things you should know:
1. Handle with care tips from well-meaning expat friends living on different islands; each region in Greece--including different island groups--has its own construction rules.
2. If you don't build directly on the coast, you'll have more freedom when choosing the color and style of your house; Greek coastlines have always had building restrictions but now they're strictly enforced.
3. Be prepared to wait. Building permit approvals take time; certainly months, maybe years. (Once you get your permit, you have to publicly display the permit number and the year of issue; you then have four years to build your house.)
4. Beware "forested areas". You can't build on a lot if it's considered a forested area, which it may be, even if you can't see a single tree. Check official records.
5. Hire a surveyor. Many Greek islands are not mapped out and some don't even have a land registry office. Don't take any chances on who claims to own what.
6. Buy in winter. Generally speaking, people need money in the off-season, so that's bargain time. In summer, you can expect prices to go up.