Safety in Greece
Safety for expats living in Greece should not be a dominating concern, as most foreign governments consider Greece to be largely peaceful and safe; however, as a result of (imposed) Greek austerity measures, rising unemployment and spreading poverty, there is a possibility of increasing crime rates. While the majority of expats will be safe most of the time, it is always better to be aware and to be prepared.
Strikes in Greece
The majority of protests in Greece are peaceful and mainly take place in Athens or, to a lesser extent, other major cities such as Thessaloniki. In Athens, most demonstrations take place in Syntagma, Omonia and Exarchia squares, as well as around university campuses. In Thessaloniki, protests are most likely to occur in the Kamara area, around Aristotle University and at Aristotle Square.
In the majority of cases, protests are restricted to these areas, and locations associated with tourism remain unaffected. While there generally isn't any major cause for concern, there is always a risk of demonstrations turning violent and foreign governments strongly advise their citizens to avoid them.
The most likely consequences of protests in Greece are the disruption of transport and work stoppages in the sectors involved in them. At times, certain sections of the city may be closed off to the public.
In the case of transport sector strikes, it may become more expensive and more difficult to travel since expats using public transport will have to use alternative transport such as taxis.
Crime in Greece
As with anywhere, if expats are alert and careful they should be safe in Greece. At the same time, with rising unemployment, there is the chance that crime rates will increase.
In Athens, crime is generally restricted to petty theft such as purse snatching and pickpocketing, and violent crimes such as physical and sexual assault are generally rare. Most crime is likely to occur in areas popular with tourists, some shopping areas and on public transport – particularly the Metro. The same generally holds true of other major cities.
There has, unfortunately, been an escalation in violent attacks and harassment against people who are assumed to be foreign migrants because of their skin colour., and property-based crime in Greece has also been increasing - some expats elect to employ private security firms to assist them with home security.
Safety tips for expats in Greece
Expats should be particularly vigilant when walking through crowded areas or taking public transport. Criminals often work in groups and employ a variety of methods.
Thieves have also been known to take trains coming from the Athens airport to take advantage of tired travellers.
Given the high number of people travelling in Greece, it is very possible that expats will be mistaken for tourists and criminals may attempt to take advantage of them. One popular scam involves the victim being invited for a drink at a bar by a stranger, being met by some of the stranger's friends and then being forced to pay a bill much larger than they had anticipated.
Emergency numbers in Greece
As with other EU states, the emergency telephone number in Greece is 112. Calls are answered in Greek, English and French. Below are other local numbers that can be used in case of emergencies:
Fire brigade: 199
Emergency medical service: 166
Coast guard: 108
Emergency social assistance: 197