Most of the people we’ve met since coming to live on Syros were not born here. So why are Yiannis, an engineer from Thessaloniki, Pierre, a retired doctor from Paris, and Janet, an English writer, living here?
Most say they came on holiday once and fell in love with the island. They returned many times over the next decade until they felt the need to buy a holiday home on the island. Their “holiday home” quickly turned into living year-round on Syros.
The same is true for tourists who visit in the summer. A recent study by a hotel association showed that Syros receives more repeat visitors than any other Greek island. Why does Syros exert such a pull on the hearts and minds of people from other places?
There are obvious answers like perfect weather, low entry price for housing, sea views, and the low cost of living. But I believe the welcoming spirit of our local community of Syros islanders is the main reason.
Greek islands are all lovely. But most Greek islands are not livable year round. Most people’s idea of a Greek island is Santorini or Mykonos. Islands with blue and white churches, glamourous bikini bodies reclining under umbrellas drinking cocktails, endless sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. You can certainly find all of that on Syros. The difference is those brand name islands are on everyone’s bucket list, which means they are packed with cruise ship visitors, package tourists and day trippers. On hot summer days the beaches become uncomfortable. There is also very little else to do but go to the beach or shop.
Syros is completely different. You can have beach bar excitement if you want. But you can also find empty remote beaches, hills to climb with breathtaking views, and streets to walk on that aren’t jammed with tourists all taking the same Instagram shot.
This is a real island. People live, work, grow vegetables and make their own olive oil here. It’s self-sufficient for food, which means our restaurants and tavernas serve only local, fresh ingredients. There are many sea and land sports you can play, available year round.
What I personally love are the Arts events all year. Particularly the Aegean Festival, the Classical Festival and the Jazz Festival. The Film and Animation Festivals are on in late summer, but we also have films year-round in our cinema.
Our restaurants stay open in town and the shops cater for a resident population of over 26,000 people. It is a successful and fairly wealthy island. The tradesmen and businessmen who manage and run the tourist islands like Santorini and Mykonos all live on Syros.
Ermoúpoli is full of stunning aristocratic buildings built from 1820 onwards devoted to the accordion, organ, guitar, tango, jazz and video art. Most of these buildings were started by nonresidents who fell in love with the island. It’s a story I hear over and over again and it applies to me as well. Visitors are enchanted by this island and feel they must find a way to come and live here. We have found a place we really feel at home.