Ioannina has one of the largest communities of digital nomads, Greeks, English, Mexicans, Dutch, Americans, living there and working remotely in companies around the world. The city has turned into a regional technological hub, the local economy has been revitalized, while many Ioannitians have repatriated.
“In what other city in Europe can you be on a ski slope in 49 minutes and on a beach in 64 minutes? What other city has almost zero crime, a teaching hospital, top-notch schools, a top university, and an unparalleled natural environment?”
A little more I would let Tasos Koutlas talk and I would pack my bags. Until today, Ioannina in my mind was ideal for an excursion, a walk on the lake, eating on the island and takeaway baklava. Listening to him, I began to think of the city not as a tourist destination, but as the setting of the perfect life. What are we doing here? Why am I spending 45 minutes of my already minimal personal time to get to the office?
In recent years, more and more people, Greeks and foreigners, have the above internal dialogue and decide: Ioannina. The mainland city has one of the largest communities of digital nomads, people who live there and work remotely at companies around the world. English, French, Canadian, Mexican, Dutch, Americans who fell in love with Ioannina or simply fell in love with Ioannina and immigrated, who searched the map for an alternative option, Athenians who wanted to change their lives and of course Ioannites who started their careers outside of Greece and are returning. Like 42-year-old Tasos Koutlas.
I called him on the phone just before 9.30 in the morning. I apologized for the time and immediately regretted it. “Is 9.30 early? The perception that the rhythms are relaxed in the countryside is outdated!”, he says and he is right. Maybe two here
Tasos Koutlas Deputy director of digital solutions in a Danish company In order for an employee to perform, he must fill the weekend with images, joy and life and return to his office on Monday full. Sira Van Zaden Sales Manager at a Dutch marketing company The biggest difference between Ioannina and my hometown is the social life, the relaxed, agenda-free life. Irene Maragos Translator and interpreter It is a lively city, with many people who came here because they can work remotely. A beautiful city, transforming for the better.
years waking up in Ioannina but remains the deputy director of digital solutions of the Danish FFW. Now he is also the co-founder of C. Ioannina, the community of digital nomads and remote workers of Ioannina. After his doctorate at the University of Ioannina, Tasos left for England where he lived, worked, raised a family.
“For years I lived in Brighton and worked for a consultancy in London. I was commuting by train, during a period of many strikes. We had just had our son, I would leave before he woke up and come back with a soul in my mouth to catch him and bathe him and give him milk. At some point I decided that this is not life and so when I looked for another job I made a condition that it be from afar”, says Tasos.
When Brexit happened, he and his wife Fani, a permanent gynecologist in the NHS, started looking for other homelands. They considered cities such as Singapore and Dubai, before settling on what now seems to both of them to be the obvious choice, Ioannina. Fani applied to the hospital, got the position and that’s how the family found themselves from Brighton to Epirus.
“No” to constant pressure
“When I arrived I found out how many things that had started had been dissolved in the crisis. 10 years ago we were doing innovative things in the city, startups had sprung up, we were doing technical meetups, a lot. On returning I saw that not only had they disappeared, it was as if they had never existed.”
He started looking for people like him, who work at a high level abroad and live in Ioannina. Suddenly by word of mouth a small community of first 5, then 10 and more than 70 people started to form, people who could have lived anywhere in the world but chose Ioannina. The group is flanked by workers in digital objects, bringing the circle to more than 200 members. “I hear about two-speed Greece, but it’s not true,” says Mr. Koutlas. “It seems that our criteria of Greeks are distorted. It’s just a world that has chosen not to live under constant pressure.” As he says, it is no coincidence that in recent years, numerous technology companies have settled in Ioannina. “They came in with the full knowledge that they want employees who perform. And in order for an employee to perform, his weekend should be relaxed, he should be able to go hiking in Papigo, be filled with images, joy and life and return on Monday to his office full.”
This is how Sira Van Zaden from the Netherlands, who has been living in Ioannina for two years, describes her life. She had been introduced to the city by her Gianniotis husband and when the idea of them living there came up she had no objection. She also continues to work as a sales manager in a Dutch marketing company, thus enjoying the best of both worlds. “The biggest difference with my home country is the social life, the relaxed, agenda-free life,” he says.
“I’ve lived here since 2011, I’m one of the oldest,” says Canadian translator and interpreter Irene Maragos. Now accepting new ones! I can’t speak for others but what I like about Ioannina is how easily you can find friends and the safety. I don’t even lock my bike. It is a vibrant city, with many people who have moved here because they can work remotely. A very beautiful city that is transforming for the better.”
Lina Giannarou Kathimerini