Cost of Living in Greece
The country's economic difficulties have resulted in the overall cost of living in Greece actually becoming cheaper, largely as a result of a significant drop in housing and rental prices. This is reflected in Athens dropping from 40th place in the Mercer Cost of Living survey for 2010, to 77th place in 2012.
Not all expenses in Greece have gone down, however, as rising fuel costs push up the price of transportation and heating. The government has also applied increased VAT rates, in line with austerity measures, which has meant that the price of consumer goods and services have not dropped as much as property.
This doesn't change much for Greeks struggling with rising unemployment, lower salaries and significantly reduced purchasing power. It does, however, present an opportunity for expats who can afford it to save precious Euros on property in Greece, especially as the government attempts to attract foreign investment.
Jobs in Greece are hard to come by, particularly for expats, since Greek legislation requires employers to prove that any position filled by a foreigner cannot be filled by a Greek citizen. Most expats in Greece that aren't in low paid jobs are retired, teach English or are in the country due to an intra-company transfer.
For those who find a way around the comparatively low salaries, living costs in Greece are much cheaper than other major European cities. For instance, a month's expenses, including rent in Athens, can cost as little as half of what it would in London. It is, however, far more expensive than a city such as Mumbai.
As with other destinations, the cost of living in Greece varies between different areas. The mainland is generally cheaper than the Greek islands when it comes to fuel and certain basic goods. The countryside is generally cheaper than cities but often offers a much smaller range of products and services. Athens's northern and southeastern suburbs are the most expensive areas on the mainland, while the most expensive islands are those which attract the most tourists. Chief among these are Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu and Crete.
According to Numbeo, living costs in Greece can roughly be broken down as follows:
- Rent – 10.55 percent
- Groceries – 28.3 percent
- Utilities – 9.66 percent
- Transport – 12.67 percent
- Restaurants – 17.31 percent
- Clothing – 3.9 percent
- Sport and Leisure – 6.87 percent
- Other – 10.73 percent
Social security and tax in Greece
Social security contributions and income tax in Greece have traditionally been high. In the past, this was offset by the associated benefits; however, in the age of austerity, budget cuts in the public health system have resulted in a decline in quality or, at least, reputation.
As a result, many of those who can afford it opt for private health insurance and private hospitals, and expats in Greece should be prepared for this expense.
Tax legislation introduced in April 2013 has also impacted Greek pockets, eliminating tax exemption based on income in the process. Under the new law, tax in Greece starts at 22 percent and goes up to as much as 42 percent after 42,000 EUR.
Cost of accommodation in Greece
Buying and renting accommodation in Greece has progressively become cheaper since 2007 and, since April 2013, foreigners who invest over 250,000 EUR in Greek property have the right to apply for residency. This hasn't benefited most locals but it does present an opportunity for expats to purchase a house or apartment that suits their needs at a reduced price. It is, however, recommended that those looking at moving to Greece rent first.
Cost of food in Greece
Greek food is world famous and food in Greece is generally quite cheap, which makes for a happy combination. Austerity measures have resulted in some of the highest VAT rates in the EU, meaning that the costs of basic products are not as low as one might expect. At the same time, however, the VAT rate for food is lower than other goods and the wide range of locally grown produce means that eating cheaply and well is not difficult.
Cost of transportation in Greece
Driving in Greece is notorious for often being somewhere between challenging and perilous. For expats who do intend on driving their own vehicles, car insurance is a must and is included with almost all vehicle rentals. In the case of hiring a car in Greece, it is important to check what kind of insurance is on offer, or the costs of hiring a vehicle may be more than was budgeted for.
Most people who take public transport in Greece take a bus, which usually costs around 4 EUR for every 60 miles (100km) for travel between cities. Taking the bus in Athens costs 1 EUR for a transferable ticket valid for 90 minutes and 10 EUR for the week. In addition, a 24-hour unlimited usage ticket in Thessaloniki costs around 2 EUR.
Cost of education in Greece
Given that public schools in Greece use Greek as their medium of instruction, the children of expats who are not staying for the long-term often go to a private international school. Some expats do elect to put their children in Greek public schools, especially if they intend on staying in the country. Owing to the standard of many schools, Greek parents who can afford it have also been known to spend thousands on private tutors.
Private schools in Greece cost more than public schools, prices differ between individual schools, and prices go up as children progress through their school careers. At a prestigious international school, prices can range from 5,700 EUR a year for pre-school to around 11,000 EUR a year for the latter part of their school career.
Cost of living in Greece chart (2013)*
|Furnished two bedroom house||EUR 600|
|Unfurnished two bedroom house||EUR 500|
|Furnished two bedroom apartment||EUR 500|
|Unfurnished two bedroom apartment||EUR 400|
|Dozen eggs||EUR 3|
|Milk (1 litre)||EUR 1.14|
|Rice (1 kg)||EUR 1.40|
|Loaf of white bread||EUR 0.80|
|Whole chicken||EUR 12|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||EUR 4|
|Big Mac meal||EUR 6|
|Coca Cola (500ml)||EUR 0.96|
|Bottle of beer (local)||EUR 4|
|Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant||EUR 40|
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)||EUR 0.30|
|Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)||EUR 19|
|Basic utilities (Average per month for standard household)||EUR 150|
|Taxi rate/km||EUR 0.90|
|Bus fare in the city centre||EUR 0.60|
*Based on Thessaloniki and surrounding suburbs