Being a freelancer in Greece is like being in hell

First of all, let’s be clear with this: there are no jobs in Greece.


Unemployment is rising every month — reached on October 27.8% breaking again all records and taking Greece to the first place of Europe’s Most Unemployed [I hope we get a prize or something for that].

Suicide rates have been increased from 2009 to 2013 by 45%.

Homeless people have increased — you can see whole families in the centre of Athens searching in the garbage and sleeping in the cold streets.

Death rate has also been increased, because lots of people employed and unemployed cannot afford even public health insurance, or access to drugs.

The few people who actually have a job, they are either underpaid due to extensive cuts or unpaid for months, even years.

That is the general picture of people in Greece.

Poverty, repression, state oppression and a general social numbness.

Startup companies can provide some income, working as a freelancer, but in the end you find out that the net fees are less than pocket money.

So a freelancer struggles to work on various startups, find clients from abroad — because in Greece there are no clients, no investments, no job opportunities — and try to make a living.

But wait, there’s more!

If hell had office services, that would be exactly like Greece’s bureaucracy.

In other words, if you want to make your own freelance business in Greece you have to get involved with a bureaucratic state for months!

Yes, months.

When you finally open the champagnes and celebrate your independence, you become aware that the “free” part of “freelancing” is not that free after all.

As a freelancer, you have to pay VAT to the state every 3 months. If for some reason you delay the due date of the payment [even for one day], you are fined with 100% of your sum due.

Isn’t it swell living in Greece?

As a freelancer you are obliged to pay 23% of your income [VAT] every 3 months, your health insurance every two months [which does’t correspond to the yearly income, the state gives you a number and you are indebted to pay it] and 26% tax.

So in the end what you have left in your pocket are enough euros to buy a carton of milk or a pack of chewing gums.

Extremely high taxation was established for freelancers because the Greek state doesn’t know how to catch tax evaders, like big-shot doctors and lawyers.

Pretty neat huh?

So, a hard working freelancer, who has to make enough money to pay the electrical bill — for once — and doesn’t tax evade and always pays in time his/her VAT and every ridiculously high indirect or direct taxation, is punished.

But wait, there’s more!

It’s not only the hellish state you have to struggle with as a freelancer, it’s also the clients.

If by any chance you become lucky and find a Greek corporation — yeah, we have some of those left, you know, the ones who tax-evaded for years and now the people of Greece are paying their debts with troika’s austerity measures — to do some freelance work, you might not get paid, or paid after 4 to 6 months.

Fantastic right?

Here’s how it works with large companies in Greece:

To get paid from freelance work, you have to first give an invoice to the client.

The client might pay the whole sum in 6 months, or in a year, or never.

Meanwhile, like stated before, you have to give to the state the 23% [VAT] of that fee [that you never got].

Got the picture?

Turning to the justice system, to demand your fees is not an option. The justice system is made in such way that only the rich can afford the delay fees. If you actually have the guts to drag your client to court you will both go in debt — court fees are extremely hight — and vindicated in 5-10 years [very democratic — not].

And all this talk is about a freelancer with not debts and no mortgage payments.

I suppose a freelancer who has mortgage or other debts will probably become homeless, or go to jail, or both — with the new 2014 legislation that calls for house foreclosure if there was no payoff for state debts.

Not mortgage debts, not debts to companies and private services [well, that too] but for debts to the Greek state.

Now I can recall with a clear mind that famous quote that hundreds of international newspapers stated in 2009 as an “argument” for Greece’s debt: “Lazy Greeks”.

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1 Comment

  1. I am so sorry to hear of your hardships. I have always loved your icons and designs. I’ve been an independent designer for 26 years in the UK and times have been hard the last few years. I count my blessings that my difficulties are nothing compared to those faced by you and your family and friends. If any opportunity arises to send work your way, I will happily do so. Please connect with me on LinkedIn.

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