Widely thought of as the birthplace of democracy, Athens is Greece's central hub and has contributed much to the worlds of art, theatre, architecture, philosophy and politics. With such a storied history, it’s easy to romanticise day-to-day life in Athens, but what's it really like to live there?
Here are a few pros and cons of living in Athens for prospective expats to consider.
Accommodation in Athens
- CON: Much of the city’s accommodation is pricey
Being a tourism hotspot, accommodation in Athens is more expensive than in other areas of Greece. Compared to other cities, there's less value for money and it can be tough to find something suitable.
+ PRO: Though harder to find, more affordable options exist
There are a few tricks that expats can use to up their chances of finding a more budget-friendly place to live. They could, for instance, make sure they start their house search in the off season which will already shave off quite a bit. A lot of accommodation stands empty during this time, which gives expats a bargaining chip that could be used to leverage a lower rental cost.
Lifestyle in Athens
+ PRO: Incredible historical sites
People come from all over the world to visit some of the world’s most ancient architecture and historical sites in Athens, but expats living there are lucky enough to have all this right on their doorstep. Exploring the attractions of Athens in the off season is a great way to get to know the city.
- CON: Crowded during holiday season
During the tourist season, Athens is flooded with visitors and can quickly become claustrophobic. Many residents of Athens find this to be a good time to take a getaway of their own to escape the chaos.
+ PRO: Amazing food
Whether grabbing a quick bite to eat from a roadside stall or living it up in a fine-dining restaurant, Athens offers countless opportunities to sample authentically Greek food, and this is just one of many lifestyle perks of living here. High-quality locally-sourced ingredients such as fresh seafood, Greek cheese and olive oil never disappoint and can be found in abundance.
Getting around in Athens
+ PRO: Robust public transport system
Home to the country’s only metro, Athens has a fantastic public transport system that also consists of trains, buses and ferries, making it easy to travel locally and regionally.
- CON: Not the best city to drive in
Driving in Athens is not for the faint of heart, and expat drivers will have to contend with a host of challenges ranging from massive traffic jams and erratic Greek driving to numerous extra expenses and a lack of parking, particularly in the city centre.
Cost of living in Athens
- CON: Expensive compared to other parts of Greece
While not the most expensive European capital, Athens is still far from the cheapest. The city’s status as a tourism hotspot drives the cost of living up, giving Athens the unfortunate title of Greece’s most expensive city.
+ PRO: Expats can save money by living like locals
Avoiding touristy areas of Athens can go a long way towards keeping costs down. In particular, restaurants and shops close to tourist attractions often inflate their prices. Expats can save money by eating where locals eat and shopping where locals shop.
►Learn more about life in this Mediterranean country by reading Culture Shock in Greece
Are you an expat living in Athens?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Athens. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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