Staying connected to others is important when living overseas – whether this is being an active part of your local community, staying in touch with relatives and friends in other countries, or a combination of the two. Community is an important part of life on Crete, so whether you want to get to know and keep up with other expats, or immerse yourself in local life, there are a number of ways you can get involved.
If you have moved to Crete from the UK, or are spending a considerable length of time here throughout the year, you will also want to ensure you are in regular communication with your friends and family back in Britain.
There are so many different ways to communicate across countries nowadays – the world seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Here are our top tips for getting and staying connected – both locally and further afield.
Make use of the Internet
There are many online opportunities to communicate, keeping you in touch with people both near and far. The different social networks available, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn for business matters, are a great way to keep up to date with your social circle, loved ones, and business networks.
Video call technology, such as Skype and FaceTime, allows you to speak to people face to face, meaning that you can be in touch with the people that matter to you at the touch of a button, or click of a mouse – as long as you have an Internet connection, this is for free, or at very little cost. However, it’s important to ensure you have everything set up so you can make the most of these communications opportunities, so you need to assess the different services available to you in Crete for mobile, telephone and Internet access, and establish which one best suits your needs.
Finding the right telephone and Internet deals
It’s up to you whether you feel you need a landline telephone as well as a mobile phone. For both services, it’s important to compare the different telephone deals available to find the right tariff to suit your usage, and look out for international calling offers, to save money on those long distance calls.
There are some packages available that combine a landline telephone and broadband, offering off-peak international calls, however, you need to be aware of the full terms and conditions and ensure you know exactly what is included in the offer, to avoid running up big international telephone bills.
You will need to bear in mind that it is expensive to run a UK mobile in Crete, and 4G is not widely available, although there is a variable 3G connection in most popular tourist areas. When you first arrive in Crete, you may want to look for a pay as you go mobile package –Cosmote and Vodafone both offer a range of shorter-term mobile packages and have English pages where you can look at the different options available. You can also make use of local amenities while you’re getting settled – most hotels and tourist destinations offer free WiFi, so you can at least get online to get yourself connected for the longer-term.
The two main Internet providers in Crete are Forthnet and Otenet, offering similar rates to those in the UK.
If you do not have access to a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, head for your nearest Internet café. There are still some in Crete, although they are of course becoming less and less popular as people buy smart devices.
If you are moving permanently to Crete longer and want to install a fixed line, you will need to check if your area is covered, as it is not available across the whole island. Most cities are fine, but you may have trouble in more rural areas. You will also find that the quality of the Internet connection varies from region to region. It’s worth asking people you know in the local area and those who have moved to Crete before for their knowledge of the connectivity in your chosen region and the different packages available. Also, research online for various coverage and tariffs.
Keep up to date with local and international news
Keep up to date with the latest news locally and across the island – publications are available widely, both online and in print. Use the Internet to stay in touch with current news worldwide – this will be cheaper than buying international publications that have been imported to Crete. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are also a good source of news and views on international affairs, as well as providing a hub for people and businesses based locally. You can create or join groups for different interests, participate in online chats and ‘Tweet-ups’, where people get together online to discuss particular topics, meet others in a virtual environment, or promote their businesses.
Knowing the local community
When you first move to or buy a property on Crete, it really is worth making the effort to get to know the local area and to connect with the local community. Initially, your estate agent may also be able to help you connect with other expats and the wider community, as well as recommending local businesses and suppliers.
Visit your local shops and markets and get talking to other expats and locals; and explore any societies that may be of interest to you – for example, local historical, animal or wildlife associations, walking clubs, fitness centres, expat clubs, or local places of worship. Look for opportunities to volunteer – perhaps at a local charity, animal sanctuary or hospital?
If you have moved to Crete to work, get to know your colleagues and explore the different social activities offered by your workplace. If they don’t offer any, why not take the leap and set up your own? It will give you a focus and is a great way to get to know people and make new friends.
Avoid postal delays and difficulties – buy gifts online
Posting internationally can be expensive and time-consuming, although services from Crete are pretty good. There are post offices in all the main cities and towns in Crete, offering European postage of 2-4 days. There is a registered mail service available, which means you can track that the item gets to the intended recipient, and this, as in the UK, is often a quicker service.
When buying gifts for friends or family in the UK, look at opportunities to buy online with international shipping options, which often include gift-wrapping services. You can send greetings cards online, too, using UK-based companies such as Moonpig – as these are sent from the UK, with signed-for and express services on offer, you can save time and guarantee that the recipient gets the card on or before their special day.