A Summer in Greece - Everything you need to know.
Sorry this write up took me so long to finally post, I get messages all the time about my Summer in Greece and advice for those of you wanting to do the same. I had written a couple blogs mid last year when I was there and so I have integrated those in with this one with all the questions I get asked on a regular basis and some more about my time there so that anyone wanting to do the same can.
If you have any other questions please do get in touch, ps this particular post includes my own pics.
Last year I was lucky enough to live a Summer on the beautiful island of Ios in Greece.
Ios is an island known for its partying, the far-out beach club pool parties and so many beautiful private hidden away beaches. It is not for the faint hearted and is full of people that are just as crazy as me if not even more so. Eat, sleep, rave, repeat is a massive part of lifestyle there but there is also the best food I have ever eaten, hidden private beaches, infinity pools, cocktail bars, the friendliest people and so much culture.
Why did I choose Ios over other islands?
One of my best friends Emily met her partner Jon when visiting Ios back in 2013. She fell madly in love with him and with the island - and then basically never left. They spend every Europe summer there (May-October) running and working from the bars they own and then they live back in Australia the remaining months of the year. So, for me Ios was the best option, I had also visited a few years back when I first went on my OE.
Where did I work?
I was lucky that knowing Emily and Jon I already had my job lined up before moving over. I worked in one of Jon's bars called Circus Bar… and it was a completely crazy time. Some nights I felt like I was out of a coyote ugly movie scene dancing on the bar, serving drinks, singing, dancing etc, basically being paid to have a fun time and keep people hyped up (and I love to party so it was fun).
Other nights I hated people and being treated badly so I would get a little sassy and have to push past annoying drunk people who yell Swedish at at me, try grab my bum and stand on my feet… but 90% of the time it was fine. (Being 6 foot blonde, I was spoken to in Swedish almost every night whichwas actually quite funny, sometimes I would nod and pretend I was Swedish just for fun + I learnt some Swedish words to say back).
Almost my entire work team was Australians and everyone I worked with was so super nice and friendly. I feel lucky to have gotten one of the best jobs on the island. The people I worked with are just like me and have ‘regular’ jobs back home - teachers, therapists, electricians back in their hometown, but were living in Ios for a new experience and an adventure filled Summer.
I basically worked every single night and then during the days I would go to the beach, lie by a pool and just enjoy the island. I think I had 4 nights off the entire time I was there which is kind of just how it goes. Everyone works all the time.
Bar life is a lot different to NZ, there are next to no rules. You can be drunk at work or drink while you work, customers don’t get kicked out for basically anything (except fighting) and the crazier you are the better as long as you are still doing your job.
Here is our work squad at one of our themed beach nights whooohooo.
Landing a Job:
Jobs on the island vary from bar staff to restaurants to promo people. A lot of the work is night work because tourists come to party. My suggestion is if you want a job to go early in the season around the mid - end of May and start walking into bars and introducing yourself for a job. The earlier you are there the better as then you’re the first ones on the island before it starts to get busy and first in for everything.
Your job is pretty important to your life in Ios, because you will end up hanging out with people who do the same hours as you or work with you because this is where you spend a lot of time. A lot of places are Greek owned by Greeks, but many of the main bars are also owned by Australians - these I think are the best places for a Kiwi to work. You need to be outgoing, hardworking and open to a crazy work life to survive.
Working nights can definitely take its toll though and be hard on your body. I worked from 11pm-3/4am and my job was one of the good ones. Most people work 10.30-4/5am, or if you were at a later bar you would work until 6/7am! So you can imagine your're up all night especially if you go out after. We would often be out until 9am haha. Your body clock is different though, you sleep until early afternoon and then siesta (nap) most evenings between dinner and starting work again. Then of course there is the odd day your're just so tired you stay inside sleeping allllll day. Long term I couldn’t do this, working then sleeping maybe 5 hours a night then napping for 1-2 hours later, but for the time I was there it worked fine. Of course if your not about the party scene as much or don’t want to work evenings you could get a hospitality job and do days, but then you miss out on doing a lot as you don’t have every day free to explore, swim etc.
Having a work Visa?
Ok so you didn't hear this from me, but you don't actually need a visa... yes legally you should have one but a lot of places will hire you under the table and don't actually care. You can stay up to 90 days in Greece without a visa and if you wanted to stay longer then you just need to leave a certain zone in Europe for 5 days or more and boom you've cheated the system. Did I have one... hmmm.
Where did I live?
I stayed with Emily and Jon when I first moved over and then started the house hunt on arrival and moved into a small room share with one of the new friends I made on the Island (Nat, she was from Sydney and we started working together). A lot of people come and stay at a cheap backpackers when they first arrive before finding longer-term accommodation. You don’t have to know someone to go to Ios, you just need to be a little prepared in case you don’t find a job or accommodation right away.
Our little house cost us 10Euro each a night each and I stayed there for the remainder of my season. When I say house I really mean one bedroom room that we had two single beds facing outwards from each other in. Then with a small bathroom and tiny fridge, our room had character but was nothing flash and it smelt old and musty almost all of the time. I’m 6 foot tall and our shower was so small that every time I showered in it I had to actually bend over haha. Often I used other pool or hotel facilities to wash my hair as I hated the shower so much haha.
We had a fan (no air con) but this did the job and you only needed a sheet or no sheet to sleep with as it was so hot. We bought this for about 40Euro from the hardware store, it was one of the last ones to buy at the time and I am so thankful we had it as I would not have survived without a cooling device.
My bedroom pillow cost me 10Euro in the village which was a mish to find anywhere with pillows and then Nat and I actually ordered some bathmats and towels online that were from H&M Europe (one of the only places that delivered to Ios). The stores on the island are very limited so you didn’t have access to much at all, I’ve written some more below about what to take.
We were pretty lucky with our room to only share between two of us, a lot of people on the island shared rooms with anything up to 6 others in bunks or singles lined up bed to bed. Its just about getting there earlier in the season and if your not happy with your accom then just take what you can and keep searching for something else. Honestly I think you just can’t be picky unless you have more money saved to get something better, our little house was totally part of the experience though.
Our landlord was a Greek man named Andreas, he was great, we paid him one month in advance in cash and he would sometimes come out partying with us which was super funny also.
Nat & I just outside our house with my best ever real tan! Ahhh we were so brown, missing it!
What do you need to take?
Even though Santorini is only an hour away by ferry you are limited on the island to a lot of things as you cant buy them so here is a few things you will need to take that you cant get:
- Underwear & socks
- A good shampoo and conditioner, if your blonde like me then you might use purple shampoo and you cant get anything like this on the island, so go stocked up.
- Makeup, even though you hardly wear it you cannot get anything only a couple cheap mascaras at the service store so you need to make sure your're equipped.
- A decent multi vitamin, trust me your body needs it.
- European plug adapter.
- Your NZ driver’s license only allows you to drive a quad so if you plan on hiring a scooter at all you need an international drivers license which is really easy to get from the AA or NZTA. I walked or bused everywhere so didn’t get this.
What you don’t need to take?
- A jersey, it was sunny and hot every single day and I never saw rain, you don’t need anything warm literally you will live in your bikini, shorts and singlets and that’s all.
- Heels or flash clothes. You wont wear these, everyone is so beachy and natural you will hardly wear these things. Maybe nice dresses or things for a special night out or dinners but think relaxed and casual. I didn’t even wear makeup most nights (but you also have a killer tan so don’t need to).
Transport and getting around the island…
Ok so some people hire scooters for the entire season, this might cost you 600-1000NZD to do depending on how long you stay. If I went again I would probably hire a scooter, not because I needed one or I’m lazy but sometimes it would have been handy to save time walking or get somewhere quickly. I walked everywhere or caught the bus, which was easy and cheap. Also when I had friends visit the island or I did an adventure day with friends we would just hire a quad for a day to take around the other side of the island which was 40Euro a day so between two only 20euro. Doesn’t sound like much but if your living off just your wages then every dollar counts.
Do you make lots of money?
Ummm short answer NO not at all, but it’s not about that. It’s a lifestyle and experience choice. I made kind-of just enough to live on, and you don’t need much besides food and drinks as there isn’t really anything else to buy. Its non materialistic on the island which is a refreshing change.
The average wage might be anything between 25-40 Euro a night, which is very little. This depends on your job and if you have a Visa also.
From my wage I paid my rent, food and then had little to spare. That’s why its good to go with some savings or extra money if you do want to do extra things. We could drink whatever we liked at work every night so if your wanting to go out partying you wouldn’t spend money on drinks as you just drink at work then go out after.
How did I afford it/ How much money to take?
Flights can be anything from 2000-3000NZD returns, depending on your deal. You need to fly into Santorni or Mykonos and then Ferry to Ios as there is no airport there.
I suggest taking more spending money so you don’t feel limited for what you can do or eat + if you don’t get a job right away or you don’t make much. I spent a few thousand additionally to what I made. Also if you travel after or around Europe more, of course you would need more, I regretted not having more money as I had met some amazing people I really wanted to go to Sziget with or travel more with but I just didn’t have enough funds.
Day to Day:
Your day to day life is pretty amazing, you eat fab food, lounge by a pool and get the legit best tan of your life or go exploring. This is a lot of what my pictures showed on Instagram.
There are loads of stray cats around, Nat and I had one that used to come to our doorstep every day that we started feeding and named him Darren. They don’t like the cats very much as they are considered a pest because there are so many, but we did. When I first arrived Emily and I even saved a very small kitten we found, we named him Ed… he can’t have been more than a few weeks old when we found him by a rubbish bin. He was covered in fleas and ticks so we took him home bathed him and feed him for a couple days, sadly he died as he just must have been so sick.
Emily with baby Ed.
Churches: Ios has 365 churches total over the island! Which is pretty crazy because it’s a smaller island. The Greeks had a church for every day of the year and a lot of them are family churches, your family would have a church that belongs to the family.
On Saturdays shop owners would repaint the sidewalks with white paint, I don’t know why only Saturdays but it was just what little shop owners did. So many of the sidewalks got a paint top up on Saturday morning.
We had famous people come through the island when I was there sometimes, too. Sometimes a famous model or Instagramer. I saw famous grammer Lauren Bullen @gypsea_lust at dinner one eve, I've followed her for a while so that was cool. Then I was friends with Hayley Anderson @haylsa who was also working on the island (if you don’t follow her you should, her photos are amazing and her following is over 150k). As well as a bunch of other Instagramers who passed through. Spencer Matthews, some other made in Chelsea stars, Joey from Essex, Holly from Geordie Shore + others I didn’t know were also on the island in my last 2 weeks. They were filming a new series for MTV called Celebrity Hotel, which was pretty funny. We watched them film scenes around the island (all scripted and planned of course not actually a reality or real). One day we were at the beach club and they filmed some scenes that we sat in the back of, still waiting for my big break – jokes.
They also came into Circus Bar where I worked drinking most nights and all got pretttty crazy, so funny to see.
Hmm what else can I tell you… I have so many stories and memories that I don’t for one minute take for granted.
I guess just that if you are thinking about it, seriously do it. One day you will become setup or settled and unable and I don’t for one minute regret my Summer away.
“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people who dream and support and do things."
"Money fills the pockets, adventure fills the soul."
"She was beautifully out of place.
Sometimes I believe she intended to be.
Like the moon during the day."
"If you don't know where to go, then it doesn't matter which path you take."
"You were wild once, don't let them tame you."