Corfu or Crete

Apart from the two major metropolitan areas in Greece, Athens and Thessaloniki, most foreigners who choose to relocate to this country land on one of its numerous islands. In this article, we will compare living conditions on two of the most popular ones, namely Crete and Corfu.

We will provide general reviews of the islands and compare their climate, safety, public transportation, cost of living, as well as medical and educational services. The article is written specifically for families with kids. Our analysis is based on extensive feedback from expat families, as well as various statistical services, such as Numbeo, Wikipedia and Lonely Planet. 

Crete: General Information

Crete is the largest and most populous island in the country, home to over 600,000 people, as well as the most popular destination among tourists and expats. However, almost half of its residents live in its six main cities. As a result, the rest of the island is actually quite serene and laid-back, while Heraklion and Chania are rocking around the clock with just about everything you might expect from city life.

Crete has something to please every family, whatever their lifestyle may be: desolate sandy beaches, gorgeous mountains, rich urban culture, well-developed infrastructure, as well as excellent schools and medical facilities. And all these options are conveniently interconnected by an advanced system of public transport which includes an extensive network of freeways, numerous ferry routes, public buses and even trains.

As the southernmost of all Greek Islands, Crete actually has two climate zones, the south coast being scorching North African style. Besides, the island is very humid, especially close to the sea. On the other hand, it rains comparatively often in the west, while some mountains are snow-capped most of the time. 

Corfu: General Information

Located on the diametrically opposite side of the country, Corfu is another beautiful and exciting blend of city life and desolate resorts. Lovely beaches, spooky caves, lots of art museums, theatres and opera houses, myriads of libraries, some of the best universities in Greece and peaceful country roads make Corfu an ideal place for family living.

The biggest drawback is a relatively mediocre system of public transport that makes the island extremely difficult to navigate, unless you have a car. On the other hand, private vehicles are quite cheap there, while the roads are good and extensive enough, and the absence of heavy traffic may actually be an advantage to some families.

Corfu is not a good place for budget living, though. Its real estate sector, in particular, is quite expensive by Greek standards, even compared to Athens and Crete. And its large network of resorts, constantly busy with rich tourists from all over the world, does not help to economise on anything.

Despite being located in the northern part of Greece, Corfu can get very hot and humid, especially in summer when daytime temperatures in July can easily rise above 30°C. However, its climate is quite temperate throughout the year, which makes it an attractive destination for expats from relatively cold countries.

Quality of Living

When it comes to assessing the islands in terms of safety, educational and medical standards, and other indices of what constitutes a good-quality life, Corfu and Crete do not really differ that much, both comparing quite favourably with many continental and especially ex-colonial countries. The crime rate is pretty low by any standards and even seems non-existent to many expats from North America.

Greece has a lot of good doctors, and their fees are fairly decent, making the country one of the busiest destinations for medical tourism. And, you will have a good selection of high-quality international schools all across Greece, especially in French and English.

Of course, there will be a difference between private and public healthcare and education, just as everywhere else, and these two islands are no exception. A more significant factor in the context will be whether you earn your income in Greece or overseas.

Cost of Living


As we have mentioned above, Corfu is definitely not the cheapest place in Greece, so a high price list for almost anything will not really shock anybody on this island. Yet, you should keep in mind that life here is expensive by Greek standards. If you compare it with LA, for example, the cost of living seems quite reasonable indeed: 







Public transport (monthly ticket)



Middle-class new car



Three-bedroom flat to rent in the suburbs



Flat to buy in the suburbs (per square feet)



Utility bills






Mid-range dinner for two



Private kindergarten (monthly)



Primary school




What does come as a surprise is that Crete is noticeably cheaper than Corfu. After all, it is a very busy place, as well as the second most significant urban area in Greece, after the capital city. Yet, the price list here is fairly decent compared to the general national standards.

The thing is, precisely because the island is so busy and popular, the variety of options here is just as great, and you can find something to suit almost any budget. Whereas Corfu is not as accommodating when it comes to the overall cost of living, and it is rapidly becoming even less so now that the place has earned its reputation among wealthy families across Europe. 

Comparative Cost of Living

Still, the difference between the two places is not that big, and it feels even less significant when you compare life on the islands to many big cities in the West. All in all, a family of four will need on average €2,500 per month (on top of the rent) for decent middle-class living in Corfu, which is about 5-10% more than it will be in Crete, depending on the category of expenses.

On the other hand, the difference suddenly becomes quite perceptible when it comes to nightlife and weekends on the beaches. On Corfu, you will easily end up spending on average 25-30% more than in Crete. But even dining out or going to cinemas will be a lot more expensive, as the table below shows: 





Mid-range lunch for one




Mid-range dinner for two


€50 43%




€3.15 66%


Cinema ticket


€9.5 31%



Both islands have excellent living conditions and provide a rich, stimulating and diverse environment for kids and adults, be it wildlife, urban culture or education. In addition, both places offer a choice between quiet laid-back and vibrant busy-bee lifestyles.

Corfu is more expensive, though, particularly its private property, entertainment and, for some obscure reason, utility bills. But the difference is not that great if you make money overseas, which is not easy to do inside the country anyway.

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