Greece is an incredibly beautiful place to live with plenty to explore and enjoy, from ancient historical sites to black sand beaches. The quality of life is high and expats earning anything above the average salary will be able to live a relatively lavish life in this Mediterranean country. That said, there are also negatives to life in Greece that expats should be aware of before taking the plunge. We’ve put together a list of pros and cons for moving to Greece to help prepare expats for what to expect when arriving in their new home.
Cost of living in Greece
+ Pro: Greece in generally affordable
Although costs do vary throughout the country, with the mainland being typically cheaper than the islands, Greece has a relatively low cost of living. It is more affordable overall than its Western European neighbours and the US. Transport, fuel and basic goods are all reasonably priced.
- Con: Tourist areas are expensive
Although the cost of living in Greece is relatively low, prices are hiked up in the main tourist areas to take advantage of the seasonal visitors. Choosing a lesser-known island or city to live in will certainly yield cheaper prices for almost everything, from accommodation to food.
Accommodation in Greece
+ Pro: There are plenty of rental options available
Depending on where in the country expats choose to live, the range of choices may differ. While villas and apartment blocks are common in the cities, stone farmhouses are popular in the countryside. Freestanding and semi-detached houses and cottages are also found throughout the country. With so many options available, expats shouldn’t struggle to find accommodation that will suit their budget.
- Con: Accommodation varies in quality
Expats should visit the property and consider the condition and age of the structure before committing to it. Especially when buying, unexpected renovation and restoration costs could ensue if expats unknowingly buy a run-down property.
Lifestyle in Greece
+ Pro: The locals are friendly
Expats will quickly discover that locals are incredibly welcoming and hospitable. Greek people are warm and friendly, they value relationships, love food and are proud of their culture and traditions. Expats will find that any attempts to speak Greek to the locals will be greatly appreciated.
+ Pro: There is a relaxed pace of life
Greek society is laid back and the pace of life is slow and relaxed. Locals tend not to rush through their daily routines and, although they do work hard, they enjoy the simple pleasures in life. This may take some time to adjust to for locals used to a fast-paced environment, especially in the workplace.
+ Pro: The weather in Greece is lovely
Expats in Greece will love the Mediterranean climate this country offers its residents. Although the year-round sunshine is punctuated by rain on occasion, the number of wet days are few. Winters are mild and bright, and the hot summer weather is accompanied by a cool ocean breeze.
+ Pro: Greece has delicious food
A point of pride for the locals, Greece is a food lover’s dream. There is a huge variety of dishes in Greece, all consisting of fresh local produce and tasty meats or seafood. It is also known for being incredibly healthy, which is thought to be the reason why Greek people live so long.
+ Pro: It is a relatively safe country
Crime rates are low in Greece and most people report feeling extremely safe walking around Greece at day or night. General precautions should still be taken, but expats feel safe in general.
- Con: Expats will have to navigate the language barrier
Although expats don’t necessarily need to speak Greek to get on, those intent on staying in Greece would do well to learn the language – not only does it create more possibilities for employment, but it is also the best way to integrate into Greek society.
That said, it is a tricky language to learn. There are differences between spoken and written Greek, as well as between regional idioms. Greek also employs inflections, where the meanings of words change depending on tone. As a result, expats in the first stages of learning Greek can expect some confusing exchanges.
Healthcare in Greece
+ Pro: Healthcare is generally good
Greek hospitals and healthcare professionals generally offer a high standard of care. While private facilities are considered to be superior to public ones, both have well trained doctors and nurses, many of whom speak English.
- Con: The healthcare system is plagued by bureaucracy
Unfortunately, there is a culture of corruption and bureaucracy involved in the Greek public healthcare sector that brings down the quality of care significantly. Lack of funding and mismanagement also contribute to this. The Greek government has put a number of measures in place in recent years in an attempt to streamline the system and fight corruption.
Working in Greece
- Con: It can be hard to find a job
Expats without a job in hand may struggle to find employment in Greece. Although Greece’s unemployment rate is declining it is still rather high. When looking to hire an expat, companies generally also prefer to hire an EU expat as the paperwork involved in hiring non-EU expats is immense. While speaking Greek can assist expats in looking for a job, it will not guarantee employment.
►For more about life in the capital, see our Moving to Athens guide.
"I love the Mediterranean lifestyle. It is very laid back and the weather is great. Greek culture lends itself to spending quality time with good company in beautiful places. Athens is a great hopping point to amazing destinations like the Greek islands and other places in Europe." Read more about Marissa's move from the States to Athens in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Greece?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Greece. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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