Bloomberg: Greek retirees migrating to the poorest country in the EU

8 November 2018
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A Bloomberg article titled “Greek Retirees Are Moving to One of Europe’s Poorest Countries” explains why Greek pensioners are opting to move to Bulgaria, the poorest country in the EU with the lowest consumption expenditure index for 2017.

Although the authors of the piece make it clear that the number of Greek retirees moving to the north is anecdotal, they claim it is a rising trend as the Greek government has slashed their pensions to a great degree.

Greek pensioners have seen their payouts slashed so much, some of them are moving to one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Greece, which is among retirement destinations for other Europeans, is finding its own citizens — like George — are now looking to live out their senior years in the country’s cheaper northern European Union neighbor after seeing their pensions cut at least 20 times during its protracted debt crisis.

They may be glad they made the move as pensioners again find themselves in the cross hairs of Greece’s potential clash with creditors, its first since exiting its bailout in August. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras risks creating the impression of backsliding on reforms as he tries to avoid implementing pension cuts that are scheduled to come into effect next year.

In the meantime, Greek pensioners are making a rational choice by moving to Bulgaria. In 2017, according to Eurostat data, Greece’s cost of living was almost double Bulgaria’s — which was the lowest in the EU.

Although there is little data to show how widespread the phenomenon of Greek retirees heading north is, anecdotal evidence suggests it may be picking up. Gasoline costs 1.15 euros per liter in Sofia, compared with about 1.60 euros in Athens; a home Espresso coffee costs 2.30 euros while the same brand in Greece has a 4.70-euro price tag; a metro ticket costs 80 cents compared with 1.40 euros. Cell phone charges are half those in Greece.

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