Shanghai family finds “a brand-new perspective on life” in Greece

By Fang Tian, Uglobal Immigration Magazine Staff

Sally Zeng, a Chinese native who moved to Greece three years ago through the Golden Visa programgot a reality check when visiting a friend in Shanghai recently.  

much-anticipated get-together ended up being cut short after only half an hour. Zeng’s girlfriend had to hurroff to pick up her kindergarten-aged son from an English language school and drop him off for a math tutoring class – on a Sunday. 

Zeng was reminded about what a different, relaxed life she was living in Greece.  For her friend, Sunday was just another hectic day for a mother living, working and raising children in Shanghai, one of the world’s busiest cities. Stress and pressure to perform academically are normal ways of life. 

By contrast, living in Athens with her family, Zeng now spends most of her time enjoying a slower pace of living with beautiful weather and golden beaches along the Aegean Sea.  

Instead of having to worry about complex math problems at an early age, Zeng’s two daughters, ages 3 and 6, are learning innovative thinking, problem-solving and teamwork through recycling and organic farming classes taught in English and Greek. 

“Moving to Greece has given me and my family brand-new perspective of life, said Zeng. “Life is not just about surviving anymoreWe’ve learned to enjoy it.” 

THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY OF LIFE 

Zeng attributes her exciting new life to the Greek Golden Visa program, which grants applicants and their families permanent residency with a minimum real estate investment of 250,000 euros.  

Raising her family in Athens, Zeng feels relieved that she doesn’t need to deal with heavy traffic, exhausting commutes and the fast pace of metropolitan life anymore.  

Zeng is also satisfied with the high standard of education her two children are getting in Greece. Enrolled in an international school in Athens at an affordable price, her children are quickly learning English and Greek. Zeng appreciates the Greek education system that puts greater emphasis on social development and character building of young children than on their academic test scores.  

Zeng believes her children are experiencing a less stressful and more complete childhood than their peers in China, while gaining an upper hand in terms of language skills, critical thinking and problem-solving techniques. 

“A happy childhood for my children with greater preparedness for the future – that’s what motivated me to migrate in the first place,” said Zeng.   

As a former career consultant at a vocational training school in Shanghai, Zeng has seen how too many adults suffer from stress after having sacrificed much of their childhood to achieve better test scores. Despite their hard work, many still have a hard time standing out in the highly competitive job market 

“Anxiety and stress have become constant states of mind for many people,” she said. “My husband and I are already victims. We wanted a change for our children.” 

So when Zeng’s second daughter was born in late 2015, she started weighing her options on investment immigration programs. The Greek Golden Visa program caught her attention for its affordability, the straightforward procedure and the fast speed of case processing, she said.  

CHOOSING A NEW PATH FOR THE FUTURE 

The low uncertainty of the program was another crucial factor that drove Zeng’s final decision. She described it as a “one-step” program - permanent residency can be granted right after the case approval with no conditions attached and no need to apply for extensions.  

“As an investor, I feel more secure to invest in such a program,” she said. 

In the summer of 2016, Zeng was referred to Anastassiadis Group, an Athens-based real estate company. She paid a short visit to Greece to conduct due diligence on several properties under the company’s management, and set her mind on a spacious, modern apartment in northern Athens.  

After returning to China, she transferred 250,000 euros to the property seller and had her application submitted by her attorney.  

In less than three months, Zeng and her family received permanent residency in Greece.  

The entire process was smooth and efficient, Zeng said. “It is so fast that I didn’t even have time to feel nervous about it.” 

Having lived in Greece for almost three years, Zeng said the European country keeps bringing her delightful surprises 

Back in 2016, when she applied, Greece was still in deep waters with the debt crisis. Many of the Golden Visa investors who applied around this time were simply using this program as a steppingstone to other EU countriesand few considered settling down, she said.  

However, Zeng chose to stay and has witnessed the rapid economic recovery and rebuilding of the country.  

“Streets are being renovated; the subway network is being expanded; many infrastructures are under construction,” she said. “I find myself growing fonder of this country every day. 

SETTLING IN GREECE 

With the accelerating development of the local economy, more and more foreign investors flock to Greece for its reasonably priced real estate market, cost-effective education, quality health care and the carefree island lifestyle 

To better accommodate the mounting demand and tackle the backlog of unprocessed applications, the Greek government now allows investors to submit their applications to immigration bureaus in any municipalities across the country, instead of being limited to the municipality where they make the investment. 

“Many of my friends are now considering Greece,” Zeng said. “And they don’t simply view it as a springboard. They are seriously considering living here.” 

As for Zeng and her family, they see a future with great opportunities in the Mediterranean country.  

Thanks to the low cost of living in Greece, Zeng has resigned from her previous job and her husband has ceased the operation of his trading company in Shanghai, yet the family manages to live comfortably in Athens on their monthly income from several rental properties they purchased.  

With the local economy improving, new business ideas are brewing for Zeng and her husband. 

The entire Greek society is regaining its vitality,” Zeng said. “We’ve seen many good opportunities here for a new business. We’re confident that we’ll have a good life here.”  

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About the Author

Uglobal Staff
Uglobal Staff
Uglobal.com, along with its peer-reviewed magazines and conferences series, focuses on the global investment immigration market, offering the latest trends and analyses. Uglobal.com is a media platform built to provide professionals involved with global programs with the most comprehensive and credible sources of information in digital, print and seminar mediums. The platform was created out of the need for marketplace transparency and to more efficiently connect individuals interested in learning about the global programs - either as a potential capital source or as a solution for their immigration needs. The Uglobal publication collaborates with a network of leading experts and an authoritative board of advisors to uphold a high standard in all content delivered and events hosted by the organization.

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