It is not necessary to be Greek but you must have at least three children and take up residence, and then live physically on the deserted island.
At Antikythera at the moment there are 20 inhabitants, practically reduced to hermits. From 2018 the local diocese is desperately trying to repopulate it, together with the Municipality, coming to promise land and a cheque for 500 euros monthly for 3 years to large families ready to move.
The “wanted” has now been re-launched by local sites, with the summer holidays at the start. The Greek Orthodox Church this year has also put home and free food supplies on the plate. Since the initiative was launched, fifteen requests have arrived, all from families in serious economic crisis, but in the end only a couple of weeks ago the first family with three little ones in tow – the Andronikos – officially landed on the island, marking a sudden demographic surge. Accepted by none other than the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, they landed with an escort greater than the entire population, the three 11, 8 and 6 year old siblings will be the first (and for now only) pupils of the school just re-opened after 24 years!!!!
Mayor Andreas Harhalakis would like to see the island again “as it was 40 years ago, when I was a child” and about 300 people lived in Antikythera. “We are looking for bakers, masons, fishermen and [email protected] he explains. “Only these profiles can ensure a decent payday here“. The quality of life is not discussed, the problem is always work: the unemployment rate in Greece is 18.5%, the highest in Europe.
The operations of the “1-euro houses” recently held in Italy, with the same aim, went well because they were placed in contexts with reachable urban centers. In Antikythera it is more extreme, the same Mr. Andronikos still maintains his work in Athens commuting with the mainland. If you don’t find employment on the spot, only the top manager of a multinational company, used to doing business in the air between one continent and another, can live there; who has a telework contract, internet connection permitting; or a pensioner, the new “chicken from the golden eggs” of the tax and real estate market of the West. But there is the clause of the ecclesial body, sponsor of the operation: they should still have the dependent children.
The idea of living as a tourist forever ignites however the imagination and the initiative is also spoken about abroad. The LA Times starts from the memories of a 62-year-old pensioner, Vassilis Aloizos, who spends 7 months a year on those shores: “A single family makes no difference – he says – when students go to university they will leave and never come back“. It is not a country for young people: the Antikythera case proposes to scale a problem that Greece is experiencing at national level due to the decline in the birth rate, the aging of the population and the flight abroad of the boys. At the end of the II World War 1 Greek out of 10 was over 65: today the ratio is 1 in 5, in 2050 it is expected to be 1 in 3. Even tourism, the country’s main source of income, does not help Antikythera: compared to competitors, Santorini and Mykonos, its beaches are inaccessible without a boat, the coastline is jagged, ferries travel in fits and starts due to strong winds. There are no taxis, supermarkets, petrol stations, the TV signal comes and goes.