A cave to call home…

“If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love,

you have to find the courage to live it”

It was a sunny morning in June 2006. After 20 years of looking for a house in Santorini I was on the island to look at a house I had been negotiating for almost 6 months. I finally went and saw it when I arrived and once again… it was disappointment. I went back to Niko’s office (the hairy, charming Greek-Canadian with whom I had been exchanging emails for almost a year – much more about the charming Niko in later posts) and told him that I wasn’t interested in the house we had been discussing for months. He took it well….saying “I didnt think you would”. I asked him to show me what else he had in his books and he immediately sat at his computer and started to go though some photos of houses he had for sale.

He was flicking through them quickly and while I was drinking his terrible Greek coffee my eyes caught a glimpse of a pink/blue house in Oia, which looked sad and totally derelict….but for some reason I saw some charm that appealed. I told him to go back to it and he said “its just an old cave-house in Oia”. He clicked back to it and I immediately asked him the magic question….”is it facing THE VIEW”?  To my surprise he said yes, IT IS !

The next day I was taken to Oia by a young guy called Saki (as in Japanese drink…..Niko’s business partner). We drove to Oia and he took me to another house first. It was facing the sunset view (away from the caldera) which for millions of people would be a dream….but for me it wasn’t right. It wasn’t what I wanted…what I had dreamed about for so many years. I pretended to be interested but asked Saki to take me to the next house. We walked up steps…down steps…up steps and them down more steps. At one point THE view opened up to my right as we got close to the house. I pretended not to look (knowing that most local people in Santorini take the view for granted) and kept walking. We got in front of the house and I just stood there looking at it. I turned to Saki and said “are you kidding me….this is it”?

I cant tell you how hard it is to contain yourself when you have found what you’ve been looking for after 20 years. After seeing literally hundreds of houses, dozens upon dozens of caves, it was like someone finally whispering in your ear the password to heaven. I stood there facing this little cave house, completely ignoring what was behind me (read: THE VIEW), and saying to Saki “this will cost more to fix than it will to buy it”. He looked at me dissappointed and said “yeah….its not much”. My mind was racing… trying to think of all the negative things I can say about it. I told him its too far down the steps, its too small, its too old, it needs too much work…its just not what I was looking for.

In typical local style and being only a part-time real estate salesman, he never even mentioned the view. I hit him with so many negatives about the house that the USP (unique selling point) was never brought up. We left and drove back to Niko’s office where I repeated my lines all over again and told him that I had wasted another day looking at “rubbish”. As I was leaving his office I turned and said to him “by the way….how much do they want for that dump in Oia?”

He looked concerned…he hadn’t heard me raise my voice before. He looked up at me like a little boy and said….

But that would be telling you too much too soon ;-)


The first of the two cave houses we bought….as it was that sunny morning on first glance.

The following three pictures are of the view (that was  n e v e r  mentioned during the sale ). They were taken in sequence from left to right…shown here first to last.




The house looks very different now, but that’s more pictures and words in future posts.  Do drop in and follow the adventure of how two abandoned caves on the cliffs of Oia  became a family home ;-)


BTW, If you want to see more of the beauty of Oia click on the moving slideshow below….sit back, turn up your volume and relax for 9 mins.

Its worth it…enjoy !!!  (AND LEAVE A COMMENT)

PS:  :-( Sadly  only the first part of the soundtrack has been uploaded for some reason…we’re working to rectify it….meantime take a peak anyway .

::    ::    ::    ::    ::    ::    ::    ::

If you’re interested in finding a house, shop or property in Oia you can contact me on:  oiadweller@yahoo.com

31 responses to “A cave to call home…

  1. I have been reading your sad story of having found
    a renovation nightmare and am prepared to take it off your hands in order to save you from this horrible view you have to put up with every day.
    I am prepared to offer you a one way ticket back to Australia as compensation and a 9-5 job.
    I think that is a fair deal!

    Billy Herald

  2. may i add that my boyfriend and i are willing to team up with Billy above….
    just leave it….to us

  3. wow ! i have to go over your other posts and see what happens to the house/cave…

  4. I love the quote at the top of your page, well add your home.


  5. That last message should have been ….well and your home.

  6. CRAZY that you had to use donkeys and mules. must have taken forever — and what heros they are! :)

  7. i’m looking at doing the same thing. help please i need to have a break from australia and don’t know where to start

  8. What a leap of faith and imagination! Fabulous… look forward to seeing this progress as I scroll through your blog. I am visiting for the first time in Mid June so it will be interesting to see what has been done since April.

  9. All I can say is WOW!!

    We stayed in Andronis suites for our honeymoon last September. By any chance…is your cave house the derelict house next door? We often looked at it and imagined the possibilities.

    Congratulations for living the dream!

    • Hi Nikki… no it’s not next door to Andronis, the house is further down in the heart of old Oia…
      below lotza cafe. You’re a lucky girl to have stayed at Andronis suites. They worked all winter last year to get it ready and Miltos did a great job in renovating and redesigning what was an old derelict hotel on the site.
      Thank you for dropping by and leaving your comment…. I’m sure we will see you back in Oia soon ;-)

  10. Ciao Michael,

    what a story !
    Unbelievable how you played the game… their game!

    Looking forward to more stories and pictures, can’t see enough of them and this blue !!!

  11. What is the soundtrack/music that is playing during the slideshow. Love it.

  12. I envy you ! And this is from someone who actually lives in Greece, but on the mainland. I’d been to Santorini twice in the last 4 years, and could not help but think of wanting a place there. I think EVERYONE who has been there has dreamt of owning their own house there.
    I checked out the photos and slideshow above, but no matter how many pictures one looks at, or the many different angles, they cannot by no means capture the actual feeling of being there. Santorini is not just a visual experience; you have to breathe it !

    • you are right Gus… I have said before in this blog that the camera that can capture Santorini hsn’t been made yet…and the photographer that can do the same hasnt been born yet.
      Thanx for your comment and hope you visit often ;-)

  13. Nicely put !
    If you are ever on the mainland, Igoumenitsa to be precise, or on your way to another lovely island that goes by the name of Corfu, feel free to drop by. Just send me an email to the addrees above.

    See you,

  14. Your persistance and “homework” are paying off!
    I love the blue colors in the video!!! Nice work!

  15. Lovely blog. You’re a great writer and you should consider writing a book about this adventure one day.

  16. Michael…glad I spent some time reading your older posts and came across this one about maybe writing a book about life in Oia. No pressure….but I think it would be a great story. As an obsessive reader, ( so many books..so little time ) it would be on my list.

  17. I live in Ct. I was in Santorini 10 years ago on my honeymoon..you write so well I look forward to reading everything about your great adventure….

  18. Hi Michael! Wow I’m completely addicted to your blog : ) I lived in Oia last season and worked for Nikos the photographer and actually became friends with your daughter Courtney (I got your link from her facebook page). Knowing thats its the begining of the season I’ve been thinking of Santorini so much and just loved looking through all your pics / blogs! They look amazing and bring back lots of memories : ) Keep up the good work!! Alana : )

  19. shaun and jenni

    M, i have to disagree with you about “no camera has been made that can capture Santorini”. I was lucky enough to discover your island with my gorgeouse wife (nothing wrong with a bit of buttering up !) and we’ve visited twice, i only have to close my eyes and can see your Caldera in all its ORGASMIC greatness. The only problem is you have to have visited this greatest of natural wonders to have taken the picture in your mind in the first place. I feel soooo sorry for anybody that hasn’t or can’t (no such word as) get there to see it. We have a dream and its nice to know that with a little persistance (20 years) it can come true. I also have to tell you that as i’m writing this i’ve got tears rolling down my cheeks just at the thought of returning to a place of magic that you have the greatest of good fortune to call home.

  20. shaun and jenni

    PS. we’ll definately be visiting your blog again and again it’s quite simply the greatest piece of insperation we’ve found on the net. KEEP IT UP.

  21. I must admit that we share the same passion. My dream was also to own a cave house in Santorini. Although i live in Athens i faced the same difficulties to achieving it, so your story recalls me so many memories. Me too, after almost a year, managed to fulfill my dream. From now on, my mind is focused in the future renovation and decoration of the cave. Looking forward to watching your progress, i wish you good continuity and a pleasant staying !

  22. Where’s the finished man cave? I got lost…i live in winterville so if you are still not happy with the snow there let me know…i’d be happy to swap … must be terrible to be you right now…

  23. by the way, i forgot to ask…what is that style of architecture the white walls, greek ocean blue and the curves, plaster? what’s it called..i want to see if i can recreate a mini greek house in my basement….thank you!!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing! I have a question for you, I traveled to Santorini 2 years ago on a costa cruise ship and have always wondered what was behind the blue windows in the cliff that you see to your left when you take the tram up to the top? Is it someones house, is there anyplace that I can learn of the history. I am currently living my dream, I moved from the cold snowy winters of Wisconsin USA to the South Eastern Coast of North Carolina USA to a little island called pleasure island:~) Carolina Beach, NC…. I get to see my dream view of the ever changing Atlantic ocean everyday. Hopefully someday we will be able to return to explore your little island more! Until then, I will keep dreaming Thank you….Sincerely, Rev. Shannon Mackay

  25. Maureen Fergus

    Could u let me know if u received
    my e/mail regarding long term
    rental of a small cave house.
    Please reply.
    Much appreciated
    Many Thanks

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