Living in Greece offers expatriates a unique blend of breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle that can be as affordable as it is enriching. The country presents a compelling proposition for those seeking a change of pace, with a cost of living that can be tailored to suit various budgets, especially when compared to other European destinations. From the sun-kissed islands to the vibrant cities, Greece’s diverse regions cater to a range of preferences, whether you’re after the hustle and bustle of urban life or the tranquility of a seaside village.
With a temperate climate, hospitable culture, and a healthcare system that balances quality with accessibility, the Greek experience is one that combines the comforts of modern living with the allure of ancient wonders. Join us as we explore what makes Greece not just a coveted holiday spot but a place many choose to call home.
If you’re considering a move to Greece, you’ll find that housing costs can vary quite a bit. Smaller villages on the mainland are usually more wallet-friendly, while cities like Athens or Thessaloniki will cost you more.
On the islands, prices can be all over the place. Touristy spots are pricier, but you can find a bargain if you’re looking for peace and quiet. If you’re thinking about buying property, Greece’s Golden Visa program could be tempting—it asks for a real estate purchase of just $270,000, which is pretty low compared to the rest of the EU.
In Athens, renting a furnished two-bedroom apartment might set you back about $1,200 a month. Buying the same kind of place? That’ll be around $295,000. But renting and buying are usually cheaper in places like Chania, Crete, Nafplio, and Peloponnese.
So, you’ve got options to match your budget and how you want to live.
Day-to-day living in Greece will keep your bank account. Many costs are similar to what you’d find in the US. Greek food isn’t just tasty and healthy—it’s affordable, too.
Grocery prices will be okay with you if you’re used to US supermarkets. And eating out is still a treat you can afford, with a meal for two at a decent restaurant averaging about $40.
Getting around in Greece is easy on the wallet. Athens has a bunch of public transport ticket options, with a single ride costing roughly $1.30 and a yearly pass at $323.00.
If you live on an island, you might get up to 50% off ferry trips to Athens. Taxis and apps like Beat are handy and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And if you’re thinking about getting a car, insurance and gas prices are reasonable.
With inflation, utilities have gone up a bit, but they’re still less than in many other EU countries and the US. An average-sized place might have an electricity and trash bill of about $45 a month, with water coming in at $32.
Phone and internet with basic cable are easy on your budget, too.
Healthcare in Greece is both high-quality and accessible. Public services are there for you if you’re working or self-employed and paying into the system. Many expats get private health insurance to help pay taxes along with getting a residence permit.
Private insurance means less waiting and access to some swanky facilities. Even without insurance, routine healthcare won’t empty your pockets, and prescription meds are easy on the wallet, especially if you’re insured.
The Greek healthcare system covers free or cheap care for all residents, and you don’t need a GP referral to see a specialist. If you’re paying into social security, you’re in luck, and EU citizens can whip out their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for medical services, too.
Insured folks can have the medical care of their family members covered, too.
Private healthcare facilities are stocked with the latest equipment and are always there for expats. The cost of private health insurance depends on a few things, but it can give you extra perks and shorter wait times.
You won’t have to pay anything in an emergency, with public ambulances ready in the bigger cities. Pharmacies are everywhere, with plenty of English-speaking staff.
If you’ve got kids, schooling is high on your list. Luckily, the cost of living in Greece means schooling options are more affordable. You can pick from local to international schools, depending on what your kids need and what your wallet says.
Becoming conversant in Greek can significantly enrich your experience. While English is prevalent in areas frequented by tourists, demonstrating a grasp of the local language can lead to more meaningful exchanges and a warmer reception from the natives.
This linguistic effort can open doors to enjoyable cultural experiences. You may be offered local treats such as halva cake or a shot of ouzo as expressions of gratitude for your attempts to learn Greek.
Greece’s social landscape is woven with traditions and customs that are unique to each locality. Many of these are rooted in religious beliefs or are remnants of ancient traditions. Celebrating name days, for instance, is a practice that often overshadows birthday festivities.
On these occasions, the person being honored receives visitors bearing gifts and good wishes while the hostess provides sweets and snacks. Engagements in Greece are also significant, typically involving formal agreements between families and giving gifts and rings, which are worn on the left before marriage and transferred to the right hand afterward.
The local diet is a fundamental aspect of Greek life, emphasizing olive oil, grains, fish, wine, and a variety of meats, such as lamb and poultry. Meals are seen as social events that strengthen bonds between friends and family.
Religious observances are central to Greek festivities, with Easter being the most significant. The week leading up to Easter Sunday is filled with solemn processions and the distribution of the Holy Flame, culminating in a communal feast featuring lamb and traditional dishes like Magiritsa and Tsoureki.
Superstitions are woven into the fabric of daily life, with practices such as wearing charms to fend off the evil eye or miasma. Spitting lightly three times is another tradition employed to avert bad luck or avoid inadvertently casting an evil eye on someone.
These customs, along with other beliefs about black cats, broken mirrors, and the mischievous Kallikantzaroi during Christmas, contribute to the enigmatic allure of Greek culture for expatriates.
Embracing the local customs, language, and festivities can profoundly enhance your time in this historically rich and lively Mediterranean nation.
From April to September, the summer months bring hot and dry weather, especially in the southern regions and the islands.
In Athens and the surrounding areas in the south, you’ll typically find average temperatures around 24°C during summer. The heat is often softened by seasonal winds, creating a pleasant atmosphere for both residents and visitors. On the flip side, winter brings cooler and wetter conditions in the lowlands and islands.
Greece’s central and northern mountainous regions can get quite cold, with significant snowfall in winter.
The geographic diversity of Greece is striking, with a landscape that includes an extensive coastline, rugged mountains, and numerous islands. The coastline is the longest in Europe. The mainland’s mountainous terrain, covering two-thirds of the country, contrasts with the islands’ sandy beaches and clear blue waters and coastal areas. This diversity leads to a variety of microclimates across different areas of the country.
Mount Olympus is the most famous and highest peak in Greece.
If you’re considering a move to Greece, the climate is often a deciding factor. The northern mainland has colder winters and hot, humid summers. However, the southern mainland and southeastern islands enjoy milder winters and the classic hot, dry Mediterranean summers.
Snow is rare in the southern regions and at lower elevations but more common in the higher mountainous areas, some of which have alpine climates. You might prefer the islands or the southern mainland if you’re after a consistently warm climate. But if you enjoy a mix of seasons, the northern areas could be more to your liking.
Greece is generally a safe place to live, but it’s wise to be aware of natural hazards. The country is the most seismically active in Europe, sitting at the meeting point of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. This means earthquakes are frequent, though most are moderate or small in magnitude. However, larger ones can occur.
The country also has several active volcanoes, mainly in the Greek Volcanic Arc, including the Milos, Santorini, and Nisyros islands. Flash flooding is another potential hazard that can occur due to heavy rains or melting snow and ice, particularly in low-lying areas. Despite these risks, Greece’s efforts to protect its natural and historic sites, like the establishment of national parks, demonstrate a commitment to preserving the nation’s beauty and safety.
Understanding the distinction between visas and residency permits is crucial for those planning to relocate. A visa grants conditional authorization for entry, transit, or short stays, while a residency permit is necessary for extended stays and typically includes work authorization. Non-EU nationals require a visa for entry, but individuals from the EU, Schengen Area, and certain countries like the US and Canada can stay visa-free for up to 90 days.
For non-EU citizens wishing to reside longer, a type D or National Visa is required, followed by a residency permit once in the country. EU nationals have a streamlined process, needing only to register for a certificate of registration after a three-month stay.
Non-EU nationals must secure a National Visa for employment purposes and subsequently obtain a residency permit tied to a specific employer. Initially valid for two years, this permit can be renewed for three more years. After five years of residency, one can apply for a long-term resident permit, equating to equal treatment with Greek nationals in various sectors.
After seven years of residency with a permit, non-EU nationals can pursue citizenship. Applicants must demonstrate financial stability, social security coverage, and integration into Greek society. Requirements include :
- Being of legal age
- Having a clean criminal record
- Passing tests on the Greek language
- Having knowledge of the country’s culture and history
Navigating the legal requirements for residency and citizenship can be complex. Assistance is available through Greek embassies or consulates, and bilingual lawyers in Greece can provide invaluable support. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (KEP) is the go-to institution for official translations and apostilles.
The Golden Visa program is an attractive option for those with investment capabilities, offering residency and potential citizenship through a real estate investment. This program allows for Schengen Area travel and access to public services. Golden Visa holders can pursue citizenship after seven years, provided they fulfill the necessary criteria. The application process begins at a Greek diplomatic mission abroad and continues in Greece with the submission of documents and biometric data.
The allure of Greece’s serene shores and vibrant urban centers has attracted diverse expatriates. The capital city is particularly appealing for its fusion of modernity and antiquity, and its initiatives to become a climate-neutral and smart city by 2030 through the EU Horizon Europe’s Mission enhance its attractiveness.
Chania and Thessaloniki are also popular, offering a mix of traditional allure and contemporary conveniences. The expatriate networks in these areas are known for their warmth and solidarity, providing support for those adapting to their new surroundings.
The country’s varied topography and temperate climate are ideal for a host of outdoor pursuits. Its extensive coastline is perfect for nautical sports, while the numerous mountain ranges and rivers cater to hikers and kayakers. Cyclists find the terrain favorable, and climbers enjoy optimal conditions for most of the year.
Greece has several ski centers for those interested in winter sports, offering another avenue for physical activity and social interaction.
Engaging in volunteer work is a fulfilling way to contribute to Greek society. The nation’s rich ecosystems provide numerous conservation projects, such as safeguarding marine life. Volunteers can assist with research, outreach, and wildlife rehabilitation.
In the educational sector, teaching English can profoundly affect the future of Greek students. Involvement in local charities, including those focused on animal welfare, not only aids the community but also facilitates connections with like-minded individuals.
Becoming part of the local fabric is essential for expatriates. Greek culture is known for its hospitality and openness to those who respect and participate in its customs.
Gathering around food and beverages is a cornerstone of social life, and it’s customary to bring a token of appreciation when visiting a Greek home. Embracing the Greek way of life, which emphasizes relaxation and social interaction, can lead to more meaningful relationships with Greek residents.
Greece presents a tapestry of experiences, a blend of ancient charm and modern living that entices expats from all over. Whether it’s the nation’s rich history, stunning landscapes, or the inviting Mediterranean climate, life here has a flavor that’s tough to rival.
Greece ticks all the boxes for those seeking a life punctuated with simplicity, warmth, and cultural richness. The relatively low cost of living, high-quality healthcare, and vibrant expat communities are just the icing on the cake. From the azure waters of the Aegean to the hushed olive groves and buzzing urban streets, Greece offers a life less ordinary and a haven for those in search of a new chapter. Dive in, drink up the culture, and let Greece work its timeless magic.