Vacationing in Attica

A holiday close to the sea and the city is the ideal for many Athenians. With jobs they cannot leave for more than a few days and children they cannot leave in the sweltering capital all summer, some Athenians find that renting a house in a seaside suburb is the only solution. Lagonissi, Sounion, Nea Makri, Markopoulo, Keratea, Lavrion, Loutraki, Eretria and Halkida allow a combination of work and vacation, though not always at the best prices. This year there has been heightened interest in renting seaside houses, Vassiliki Halkidou of Ef Katoikein estate agency, which operates on the western coast of Attica from Vari to Sounion, told Kathimerini. «Both demand and supply are considerably higher than last year,» Halkidou said. «Vari, Varkiza, Anavyssos and Saronida suit people who don’t want to leave Athens but who do want to be near the sea and go swimming. The Attiki Odos has played a big part in enabling many people to combine the countryside with work.» Mother of three Sotiria Nykta has rented a small house between Keratea and Lavrion for the past six years. «It suits us well,» she told Kathimerini. «It is a very convenient solution, because although I am a high school teacher and have long summer leave, my husband cannot leave his job. Instead of roasting in our Athens apartment, we decided to find a house somewhere close by so that the children and I can go swimming and my husband isn’t far from work. When the children grow up, we may not need it anymore, but for a modern family with children I think it’s the only solution.» She pays a low rent, just 1,700 euros for the whole year. But for those who choose a holiday home close to Athens for the summer only, prices are sky-high. It costs 2,000 euros to rent a 60-square-meter two-room apartment in Vravrona for July and August, and 1,200 euros for a 40-square-meter apartment in Lavrion for the same period. Prices on the Voula-Sounion route are even higher. Halkidou says that rental of a 50-square-meter furnished apartment in that area would be 3,000 euros for three to four months. By contrast, renting the same apartment all year round would cost 450-600 euros a month. Estate agents say that areas within an hour’s drive of Athens, such as Loutraki, Vrachati, Xylokastro, Halkida and Eretria, are also very popular. In Loutraki, for example, a 50-square-meter apartment just 50 meters from the sea goes for 1,200 euros a month in summer, while a 30-square-meter studio on the second floor of an apartment block is 1,250 euros a month. The latter price falls to 300 euros in September, as the owner admitted to Kathimerini. «If someone wants to rent the apartment all year round, the price is 300 euros,» she said. «But if they want it only for the season, naturally the price is much higher. I can’t keep it at the same price, because a lot of people come and tell me they want to keep it all year and a month later they’re gone. Anyone can ask what they like.» Indeed: At Markopoulo Oropou we located an 80-square-meter house being rented for 1,000 euros a month in summer, a furnished studio in Ancient Epidaurus going for 30 euros a day, a 45-square-meter apartment in Eretria for 1,000 euros for two months and a semi-basement studio in Kinetta for 800 euros a month. In Halkida, accommodation is rented at an average of 10 euros per square meter. That could be why Athenians are only interested in renting a country house in August, Dionysis Katrakis, sales supervisor at Aspis Real Estate, told Kathimerini. «While in previous years there was great interest in renting a house for three months or even the whole year, this year we have been reduced to August. In general it seems that those who can afford to do so buy a holiday house, while the rest find it hard to pay three months of rent for a house. Owners are interested in compromising on prices.» In some areas, rents have fallen. Lefteris Sergis, the owner of an apartment block in Aghioi Apostoli, thinks prices in the area have fallen to «ridiculous levels.» «It’s discouraging,» he told Kathimerini. «I rent them out incredibly cheaply – 675 euros for a month and a half and 1,250 euros for three months – and still people don’t come. Half of the 20 apartments I own are vacant, and it’s already mid-July. It was never like this before.»

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