24 July 2024
Interviews

Meet Angelika Lessy, a Digital Nomad who has chosen to live and work in the Athens Riviera

Greece’s inviting climate, delectable cuisine, and welcoming locals make it an appealing destination for those seeking a blend of work and leisure. In particular, the southern suburbs of Athens have emerged as a popular choice for Digital Nomads looking to reside in the picturesque Athens Riviera. We had the pleasure of speaking with Angelika Lessy, a lovely young woman who has recently relocated to Palaio Faliro and is passionate about sharing her wellness classes with the community.

How did you first become interested in the Digital Nomad lifestyle and what inspired you to make the move to the Athens Riviera? 

Being a Digital Nomad in Athens has been a journey filled with discovery and transformation. My love for travel and exploration has been ingrained in me since childhood. Born in Paris to immigrant parents from Greece and Iran, my multicultural upbringing in France fueled my curiosity for the world.

From my first flight to Greece at just 20 days old to my frequent travels during school holidays, I’ve always sought adventure and new experiences.

Angelina 20 days old with her Greek great grandmother

As a university student, I eagerly saved up to explore new destinations with friends, immersing myself in diverse cultures and environments. My journey took me to London, where I embarked on an internship that evolved into pursuing a Master’s degree in Business & Finance, ultimately leading to an 8-year career in the financial industry.Throughout my career, a significant portion of my income was dedicated to traveling. Despite my success, I longed for more freedom to travel and connect with loved ones.

We tend to forget about the recent pandemic but to some it opened a new world of opportunities…

The pandemic unexpectedly granted me that freedom, allowing me to work remotely and spend quality time with family in Greece and Paris.During this time of reflection, I realized that the Digital Nomad lifestyle resonated deeply with me. Not only could I enjoy more sleep, feel more rested, and slow down to have quality time for myself, but I also had the opportunity to work remotely, allowing for increased flexibility, more travel, and cherished moments with my family and allowing me to align my work with my passions and personal values. During the pandemic, I also experienced emotional lows. However, thanks to working from home, I had the time and space to reflect, do therapy, read lots of books, and  listen to podcasts and Youtube videos, gaining clarity and knowledge along the way.

 It was during this period that I discovered my passion for spirituality and personal growth.

As the pandemic waned, I faced a pivotal moment: return to the corporate world or embrace a new path. With courage and conviction, I chose the latter, venturing into freelance world with my online Spiritual Life Coaching practice and other freelance work in the travel industry, and fully embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. Having experienced life in both Paris and London, two bustling urban centers, I sought out a place where I could retreat from the frenetic pace of city living, while still being within easy reach of urban conveniences.

This gave you the opportunity to see life from a different perspective, correct?

I embarked on a profound journey of healing, reconnecting with my true self and my purpose, learning to love myself, and reshaping my mindset to release limiting beliefs. Along the way, I delved into understanding the power of the mind, the universal laws to create the life we desire and how we can shape our reality for more alignment. Most importantly, I learned the importance of self-love and nurturing, laying the foundation for personal growth and fulfillment. This journey led me to transition into becoming a Spiritual Life Coach, dedicated to helping others become the best versions of themselves and make their dream life a reality.

And why Athens?

I decided to settle in Athens for many reasons, aside from having Greek heritage and dreaming of living in Greece since I was young. Athens offers a rich culture, a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle with delicious food and warm weather, and it’s more affordable compared to other European capitals. The city also has improving tech infrastructure, plenty of co-working  spaces, and cafes with reliable Wi-Fi. Additionally, there are stunning landscapes and nearby islands to explore, providing a perfect balance between work and leisure for digital nomads. Athens has a growing community of foreigners and digital nomads, offering networking and collaboration opportunities. 

And let’s not forget, Greeks are incredibly warm and welcoming people. Settling in the Athens Riviera near the beach emerged as the perfect base for my new chapter, I found a balance between work and leisure, surrounded by natural beauty and a welcoming community. Personally, I thrive in warm climates and love the energy of summer, especially since my birthday is in August. So, Athens felt like the perfect fit for me. It’s been a year since I chose to make the southern suburbs of Athens my home, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I wholeheartedly recommend it to others.

Can you describe a typical day in your life as a Digital Nomad in Athens ? How do you balance work and leisure activities in such a vibrant city?

My daily routine as a Digital Nomad can vary greatly from one day to another.

Most mornings, I prioritize getting enough sleep to start my day feeling refreshed. Then, I kick off my morning routine with a calming ritual on my balcony, where I enjoy a cup of tea, or lemon water, or celery juice while taking in the serene view of the sea. I make a conscious effort to disconnect from my phone during this time, allowing myself to fully embrace the present moment.Afterwards, I typically engage in some light stretching or yoga sometimes, followed by a meditation session to center myself for the day ahead.

Once I’m ready, I settle into a few hours of focused work from the comfort of my home. However, I often break up my workday with a refreshing walk along the Riviera in Palaio Faliro, soaking in the sights and sounds of the beach. Sometimes, I work until late in the evening, while other days, I only work half-days. I often find myself doing some work on weekends as well. Each day tends to blur together for me, but I appreciate the flexibility to adapt my schedule as needed. Other days, I like to schedule meetings or meet up with friends at Marina Floisvos or at a coffee place on Leof Agiou Alexandrou. 

Other times, I opt to work from various coffee shops, enjoying the company of fellow digital nomads or friends. Although these settings can be more social, I make sure to balance productivity with networking opportunities.

I take care of my physical health by attending Pilates sessions at Pilates Bow Studio in Palaio Faliro, and I work out at home with the guidance of my online personal trainer, Myrto Kalogeropoulou. During weekends, I embrace the opportunity to explore central Athens, dine at local restaurants and bars, embark on scenic hikes, or relax at the beach, depending on my work schedule and the season.

What challenges have you faced as a Digital Nomad in Athens, and how have you overcome them? Are there any specific resources or communities that have been particularly helpful to you in your journey?

To navigate any challenges, I rely on friends in Greece who are either Greek nationals and can advise me, or other Digital Nomads that have lived here for longer. We exchange best practices and offer support to one another. I’ve joined various communities and Facebook groups where I can connect with new people and explore Athens together. One of them is the ‘Athens Digital Nomads Meetup’ Facebook Group, and I also use its various whatsapp group chats.These groups often host meetups and share valuable information for digital nomads. I highly recommend joining such groups as they provide opportunities to network both professionally and socially with like-minded individuals.

Although many Athenians speak English, language barriers may arise in certain situations, particularly when dealing with administrative tasks or interacting with locals. Especially, a few years ago, the entire society primarily operated in Greek, including supermarkets, shops, and customer services. However, there has been significant improvement in recent years, with a more inclusive approach toward foreigners.

This is a great incentive for more foreigners to move to Greece, but don’t you think it’s always better to learn some basic Greek?

I would suggest learning basic Greek phrases or use translation apps to facilitate communication, and consider joining language exchange groups to improve your language skills (but not necessary). I’m fluent in Greek, which has been incredibly beneficial. Working remotely can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially if you’re far from friends and family. This is why building a support network by joining digital nomad communities, attending networking events, and maintaining regular contact with loved ones is crucial.

Any advice for the new  “settlers”?

Aside from having to adjust to a new city, adjusting to a new apartment with a decor chosen by someone else can be unsettling for individuals like myself who are sensitive to their surroundings. I recommend adding a few decorative pieces and plants to personalize the space, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Also, While Athens generally has good internet connectivity, you may encounter occasional outages or slow speeds, especially in remote areas. I would advice to invest in a reliable mobile data plan and consider using backup internet sources, such as a portable router, and coworking spaces or cafes with high-speed Wi-Fi, to ensure uninterrupted work.

Athens is more affordable than many other European capitals, however the cost of living can still be a concern for digital nomads, especially if income is in a different currency. 

I would advice to create a budget, prioritize expenses, and explore cost-effective living options, such as shared accommodation or cooking at home, to manage expenses effectively. Overall, these challenges are quite common in many cities, prompting us to cultivate resilience and adopt a solution-oriented mindset. Fortunately, Athens benefits from a growing community of Digital Nomads, which significantly enhances my living experience here, provides invaluable support in overcoming challenges, and makes it much more enjoyable.

How do you stay motivated and productive while working remotely in a new city? Are there any tips or strategies you can share with others considering a similar lifestyle?

Keeping motivation and productivity levels high can be challenging for Digital Nomads. I won’t deny that I’ve encountered struggles in this area myself at times. For individuals who already struggle to concentrate while working from home, the allure of beaches offered by the Athens Riviera, exciting excursions, or exploring a new city can make it even more difficult to stay focused. 

Below are a few tactics I’ve put into action to stay productive and motivated:

  • Switching to a proper desk chair and working at a table instead of on my sofa has significantly boosted my productivity.
  • I’ve discovered that practicing meditation or hypnosis for focus and productivity before beginning work is extremely helpful. It helps me stay productive and avoid procrastination.
  • I identify my most important work tasks and allocate focused time to complete them efficiently. Prioritizing tasks helps to stay productive during work hours, allowing me to enjoy leisure time without worrying about pending deadlines.
  • I use time management and productivity techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique or time-blocking to allocate specific time slots for work tasks and leisure activities.
  • I use the various coworking spaces Athens offers, such as the Impact Hub Athens or Pi55, where we can work alongside other professionals in a conducive environment which helps separate work from leisure and stay motivated, while having networking opportunities that can contribute to business growth. 
  • I’ve arranged flexible work arrangements with my freelance clients. While my coaching clients can directly book appointments in my up-to-date calendar, reflecting my availability. This flexibility allows me to adapt my work schedule with my personal life.
  • I incorporate short breaks throughout my workday to recharge, and prevent burnout and I use breaks to grab a matcha latte at a local cafe, or take a walk by the beach to refresh my mind and boost creativity.
  • I plan my leisure activities ahead of time and strive to resist spontaneous invitations from friends during my designated working hours.
  • I set boundaries between work and leisure by disconnecting from work-related devices and notifications during leisure time. This allows me to fully immerse in leisure activities without distractions from work.
  • Self-care is also essential for boosting productivity and motivation. By prioritizing activities like meditation, exercise, relaxation, and proper sleep, individuals can reduce stress and anxiety, leading to a calmer mind, increased focus, more creativity, better problem-solving skills, and more motivation.

That’s why I launched my  Monthly Wellness Events in Athens (with  zoom access). It’s aimed at helping Athenians prioritize self-care and spiritual practices, manage stress, and foster connections between mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to promote positive mindset, emotional resilience and well-being, work-life balance, physical health, and ultimately, a happier, more fulfilling life.

Having a job that aligns with your passion and purpose is the ultimate way to stay motivated and productive at work. 

Can you elaborate?

When you’re passionate about your job and believe in its purpose, motivation comes naturally. You’re more likely to immerse yourself fully in tasks, experience a state of flow, sustained focus and energy, enabling you to maintain high levels of productivity and creativity. Pursuing passion encourages continuous learning and development and fuels your motivation to perform at your best and make a meaningful impact. 

Tell us more about your coaching program

Numerous individuals struggle with childhood trauma, feeling disconnected from themselves, and living lives that are not aligned. Moreover, dealing with an unregulated nervous system significantly affects how we enjoy life and stay motivated to achieve our goals. I personally experienced these challenges before, which inspired me to develop my two 3-month coaching programs, each featuring 1:1 weekly video calls. One program aims to guide clients unlock their potential and align to their dream life, while the other one focuses on guiding clients Discover their Dharma (life’s purpose).

By implementing the above strategies, I managed to effectively balance work and personal life, stay productive and motivated as a digital nomad in this lively hellenic city, and enjoying both professional success and a fulfilling lifestyle.

What advice would you give to aspiring digital nomads who are interested in living and working in the Athens Riviera? Are there any must-see and Digital Nomad friendly places that you recommend exploring in the area?

Firstly, to find the perfect spot for your Digital Nomad lifestyle, familiarize yourself with the Athens Riviera, explore the different neighborhoods, amenities, and lifestyle offerings. I would advise to rent Airbnbs in various locations before committing to a lease to get valuable insights into the area’s suitability for your needs.Joining Digital Nomad communities and networking groups in the southern suburbs is a must, it offers invaluable opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and gain insider knowledge about living and working in the area.

Although Greece, in general, offers Digital Nomads  an incredible experience with its rich culture, traditions, and diverse array of destinations to explore, I highly recommend living in the Athens Riviera , compared to the city center, for many reasons.You can benefit from a variety of cozy coffee shops and restaurants where you can set up your workspace and make the work environment more enjoyable. I highly recommend checking out Floisvos Marina, which boasts numerous coffee spots and restaurants. There’s also Edem Restaurant right on the beach. For coffee, you can’t go wrong with Guru The Coffee House,Mercato (where I go for my matcha latte), Cafe CharaCoffee n’Roses and Spiaggia are ideal to enjoy the sea view. Another hidden gem is the top-floor restaurant of Poseidon Hotel, offering tranquility and breathtaking views of the sea. Ark Restaurantis another fantastic option—a chic and comfortable cafe and restaurant by the sea. In Voula, Oven  is great for coffee, brunch, and bakery delights place, while in Vouliagmeni Aqua Marina offers a traditional Greek cafeteria experience with delicious food and desserts. For sea views while you work, head to Cohen restaurant in Piraeus or Nalu in Alimos, which offers beachside relaxation along with great cafe and restaurant facilities.

You’ll also have access to a wide range of outdoor activities in the Athens Riviera , with the beach just a short drive away—personally, I’m only a 2-minute walk from the beach! There are plenty of sports and recreational facilities, including athletic centers like the one in Palaio Faliro near the Marina, where you’ll find tennis courts, Padel, and a swimming center, or South Club Voula. Plus, don’t miss Parko Flisvos, where you can enjoy an amusement park, Christmas market, seaside promenade, and various activities for all ages. And for some rejuvenating beachside yoga or meditation sessions, sunrise or sunset, is simply magical.

I’m a regular visitor to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which serves as a fantastic workspace with great amenities. It’s a perfect spot to grab coffee or food, take a leisurely stroll around, enjoy the fountain show, and join the cultural activities happening there.

Living in the Athens Riviera not only means being close to the beach and leisure facilities but also enjoying quieter neighborhoods with larger streets, less traffic compared to the city center. It’s a more relaxed lifestyle overall.

Additionally, living in the south gives you easy access to the port of Piraeus, making weekend getaways and island trips a breeze. The Athens Riviera  is lined with both public and private beaches, offering plenty of options for swimming and relaxation. From popular spots like Bolivar and Akanthus  to hidden gems like Lake Vouliagmeni,  where you can swim all year round, there’s something for everyone. And for a touch of luxury, head to Astir Beach. Summers in the Athens Riviera come alive with vibrant nightlife, as many beach clubs transform into nightclubs with DJs and live music. And for the ultimate Greek party experience, check out the bouzoukia clubs.

After a day’s work, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and tavernas to satisfy your cravings. Some of my favorites include Faliraki for chicken and meatballs, Nop Fresto for seafood with a view, O Italos  for great pasta and Babis taverna for authentic Greek cuisine.

And for those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss the local bakeries like Alma patisserieFilodina balkeryTasos, and Dimo’s Bakery. You’ll also find plenty of organic shops and high-end supermarkets for all your grocery needs.

When it comes to dining out, the south offers a diverse range of options, from fine dining restaurants like TartareTartare and Labors Seafood Restaurant   to seaside gems like Ithaki restaurant  Restaurant.And for some retail therapy, there are plenty of shopping options along Agiou Alexandrou, in Glyfada, on Leof Vasiliou Pavlou and Leof Vouliagmenis.

Finally, if you’re a nature lover, you’ll love exploring the mountains surrounding Athens, with hiking opportunities. Whether it’s a hike up to Prophet Ilia’s  in Glyfada, Lofos Voulas , or Mount Imittos, there’s always an opportunity for outdoor adventure and scenic views.

Looks like you know the Athens Riviera by heart!To conclude, what is your Digital Nomad philosophy?

I believe that living abroad expands the soul by exposing us to new cultures, perspectives, and experiences. When living in a different country, we are often immersed in unfamiliar environments, languages, and customs, challenging us to adapt, grow, and cultivate a deeper understanding of the world and an open mind. As we step outside our comfort zones, confront our biases, and embrace diversity, we create opportunities for self-discovery and learning to overcome obstacles with resilience. Moreover, living abroad often involves forming connections with people from diverse backgrounds, allowing us to broaden our perspectives and appreciate the richness of human diversity.

The Digital Nomad lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone and this is totally fine; it requires comfort with uncertainty and instability. It’s a lifestyle choice that offers fulfillment to those who value flexibility, adventure, and the opportunity to travel while pursuing their careers or passions.

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