The places where Greek locals can call home are changing – and, in some cases, disappearing – as short-term holiday rentals cannibalise long-term housing arrangements.
Colette Nolan fell in love with the island of Paros 28 years ago when she moved there from the UK with her Greek now-ex-husband. “All my grandchildren were born and raised here,” the 60-year-old says. “I love being by the sea and the laidback lifestyle.”
But Nolan’s time on the picturesque Cycladic island – famed for its blue-and-white painted houses – may be about to come to an end. Her landlord and landlady are asking her to leave the apartment she has lived in for five years so they can rent part of the property on Airbnb.
“They’re an elderly couple and they stay in the apartment above me for a month or two each summer,” she explains. “They told me they want my apartment back because they are struggling with the stairs. But when I suggested I move upstairs instead, they said their son wants to turn it into an Airbnb.”
Two-bed apartments like Nolan’s in her area of Paros average about 80 euros a night, versus Nolan’s 100-euro per month rent. That makes earning potential for landlords much higher, especially throughout the high season of June, July and August. This income disparity is one of the reasons that, although Nolan’s contract doesn’t end until next April, they are taking her to court to force her out earlier.
She is struggling to find a new home. Nelson lives across the road from her daughter, Katerina Bamboulis, and sees her every day. However, if she can no longer afford the cost of living, she says she may need to return to the UK for better work opportunities, and leave these close ties behind.
Housing challenges like these are becoming increasingly common in places where tourism is thriving: the number of short-term rentals is eclipsing the number of places where locals can live.