More than 1.5 million Greeks are considering moving from the city to the provinces, according to the results of a survey commissioned by the Agricultural Development Ministry that were made public Tuesday.
The survey, conducted by polling firm Kapa Research on a sample of 1,286 respondents in Athens and Thessaloniki, found that seven out of 10 (68.2 percent) have considered leaving the city for a new life in the provinces while one in five (19.3 percent) has already made the initial moves to relocate.
Three-quarters of the respondents who expressed a desire to move to the provinces are aged under 44. Around half said they were interested in going into farming -- with most drawn to cultivating olives or producing olive oil -- while 18.3 percent would like to work in the tourism or culture sectors. Cultivation was not the only pastime of interest to those eyeing the agricultural and food sectors. Some said they would like to work in the processing or distribution of agricultural goods.
Two-thirds of those who said they would like a new life in the provinces have been to college with a quarter of them boasting a postgraduate degree.
The majority of respondents (70 percent) said they would accept a lower salary for a better quality of life.
Presenting the findings, Minister Costas Skandalidis spoke of a “deep shift in Greek society and lifestyles, the extent of which we have yet to grasp.” He noted that educated young Greeks were increasingly rejecting the the ideal of an affluent life in the northern suburbs of Athens or climbing the career ladder and were focusing on improving the quality of their lives and personal relationships as well as enjoying a lower cost of living.
Skandalidis said that 60 million euros in state funding had been set aside for a program offering plots of land at cheap rates to would-be farmers.
An initiative launched by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, which is renting out small parcels of farmland for a nominal fee to cash-strapped Greeks who want to grow their own fruit and vegetables, has already received some 4,000 applications, Skai reported earlier this month.