Living in Greece

Whether you are a tourist on vacation or a foreigner seeking to live in Greece, life in Greece brings something for everyone, including affordable lodging, friendly inhabitants, a beautiful climate all-year-round, amazing food, and rich history. With the warm embrace of the Aegean Sea, this country is full of surprises – such as being the world’s earliest democracy, dating back to the 5th century BC.

Every region of the nation is lush with lists of lively and must-see locations: Athens, Delphi, Rhodes, Crete, Olympia, Skiathos, Meteora, Corfu, and Santorini, to name a few.

Greece is a proud country that values family, history, and a love for nature. Since tourism is so essential to the Greek economy, English is widely spoken across many regions, and the country’s infrastructure is well-suited to both residents and visitors alike. Greek cuisine is also a foodie’s paradise.

Your Guide to Living in Greece

Although certain cities such as Athens are typically more expensive than the rest of the country, Greece has one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union. The country is typically relatively safe, with very little serious crime rates. Living in Greece is great, especially if you are on an expat contract seeking to become a digital nomad in Greece.

Many expats are drawn to the thought of living in Greece because it is a thriving country known across the world for its year-round pleasant climate, deep history, gorgeous architecture, and distinct Greek culture. It became part of the EU Nations in 1981, and the country has since progressed from strength to strength.

Greeks are known for being particularly hospitable and kind. The majority of the population – 99 percent – follow the Greek Orthodox Church, which is a fundamental component of the country.

Why is Living in Greece a Good Idea?

Greece, located at the geographic center of the earth, is the cradle of democracy, philosophy, and western civilization as we know it today. The country has free access to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and is home to a large number of foreigners, the majority of whom come to enjoy what this country offers, from warm weather and gorgeous beaches, to incredible architecture and standards of living.

Life in Greece is like something out of a fairy tale. You have the opportunity to discover various natural beauties, whether in the mountains, woods, seashores, or around the 6,000 Greek islands strewn throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Greece has a lot to offer, and you’ll undoubtedly get to discover your private “paradise” away from the crowds. Even in the summer, when islands, beaches, and ancient sites are overrun with tourists, you can always find a beach on an island that is remote from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you choose to stay in Greece, you can be certain that you will find what you are looking for.

In this guide, you will learn all you need to know about living in Greece, including:

The Cost of Living in Greece

As a member of the European Union and a member of the Eurozone, Greece is recognized for more than just its tourist attractions and beautiful weather. The country has a reputation for being reasonably affordable when it comes to rent, utilities, food, groceries, and transportation.

Although the cost of living in Greece is approximately 30% cheaper than in other European countries, the average wage in Greece is also relatively lower. However, the average social security rate in Greece is higher than in other EU nations, which makes local salaries suitable for a good standard of living.

Food in Greece is incredibly affordable, especially in Rhode Island, which has no import charges, making Greece a better option to live in than any other European country. In general, prices in Greece have their advantages and disadvantages, such as:

  • Advantages

Greece is quite inexpensive, particularly when comparing living in Greece vs USA and much of the rest of Europe. Americans living in Greece pay lower prices for everyday necessities – food, transportation, etc., which are at least 20% lower than in the United States, while the cost of renting an apartment can be lower by as much as 70%.

Using public transportation, avoiding tourist traps, shopping at local markets, and dining out where locals would can help you save money in Greece. A budgeted expat may live peacefully in Greece for less than $2,000 per month.

  • Disadvantages

Tourist prices: the closer you are to renowned tourist destinations in Greece, the higher the rates will be, especially for top lodging, high-end restaurant meals, and general entertainment. Location has everything to do with how much money you’re going to spend. Living on a lesser-known island or in a tiny inland town will cost far less per year than living in old Athens or on Santorini, for example.

life in greece

Rent and Utilities

Life in Greece will not cost you much, on a general scale. In Athens for example, which is considered to be the most costly city in Greece, you can find a one-bedroom apartment in the city center for around €300 to €500 per month, and outside of the city center for around €200 to €400 per month. If you want something a little bigger, you can find a three-bedroom apartment for around €500 or €1000 per month in the city center, and around €400 to €800 per month outside of the city center.

Utilities should cost anywhere between €150 and €300 a month, depending on the size of your home, the season, and your level of consumption.

Food and Groceries

When planning to travel or live in a new place, everyone considers the cost of basic necessities, such as food. In a low-cost restaurant in Greece, you could expect to pay anywhere between €10 and €18 for a meal. Supper for two at a mid-range restaurant should cost between €35 and €60.

Greece is well-known for its agricultural goods, which include olive oil, wine, cheese, and saffron. Greece’s Mediterranean diet promotes longevity and lowers risks of heart disease and diabetes.

Other necessities that one may look into when relocating to a country is the average price of groceries. To make your life simpler, the following table showcases a pricing list by Numbeo of numerous essential items. Numbeo’s list is regularly updated as prices change.

Product Average price
Milk (regular), 1 liter1.26
Loaf of Fresh White Bread, 500g0.95
Rice (white), 1kg1.79
Eggs (regular), 123.15
Local Cheese, 1kg8.82
Chicken Fillets, 1kg7.02
Potato, 1kg0.88
Water, 1.5 liter bottle0.79
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)6
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)4.6

Transportation

Greece has several means of transportation both between cities and within them. Athens is well-known for its tram system, which links several areas together. A one-way ticket for local transportation in Greece should cost around €1.20, with a monthly pass costing around €30.

TransportPrice
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)1.2
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)30
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)3.5
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)1
Gasoline (1 liter)2.14

The Job Market in Greece

After suffering a significant economic setback during the global financial crisis in 2008, Greece’s economy has begun to reclaim form in recent years. Unemployment rates were at an all-time high, while real estate values were at an all-time low. However, owing to the unwavering Greek workforce and several government measures aimed at attracting investors, such as the Greece Golden Visa, the country has since been on its way to resolving its economic issues.

The job market is a difficult hurdle to overcome for expats in Greece since there are not many multinational corporations operating in English. Having said that, the Greek government still encourages foreigners to work in the country, particularly in international corporations or the tourism industry. Greece seems to be on a growth path and prospects are good for anyone looking to live in it, and although it may be challenging, it is not impossible to get a steady job in Greece.

Many expats in Greece work as English teachers since it is a highly sought-after profession, particularly in suburban areas and on some remote islands. Professional English teachers may expect to earn between €1200-€1800 monthly, which may be considered low when compared to the USA, but not when compared to the cost of living.

The Minimum Average Salary

Greece’s minimum average salary is €758.33 per month, which is not extraordinarily high. Most Greeks who earn less than the minimum salary live in family homes or inherited houses, which makes it simpler for them to live on such a modest salary.

The Expected Average Salary

The median monthly wage in Greece ranges from €1,428 to €2,788 depending on the position and applicant’s experience. The table below lists certain occupations and their average salaries in Greece:

ProfessionAverage monthly salary
Attorney€4,055
Accountant€1,794
Bar Manager€2,668
Computer Technician€1,994
Concierge€1,562
Graphic Designer€1,853
Hotel Manager€3,873
Nurse€2,388

Moving to Greece

You do not require a visa if you are an EU citizen or a citizen of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland. You must only show your passport or identity card when entering Greece, and will be granted a pass for three months. However, if you are a citizen of another nation, you must apply for a three-month entrance visa, also known as a “D” visa.

If you wish to not only visit Greece but get your Greek citizenship, you will have to apply to the Greek Golden Visa Program, place an investment in the country, reside in Greece for a consecutive period of seven years, and meet several other requirements; such as passing the Greek Citizenship Test.

Greece Entry Visa

Greece Passport Index
Greece Passport Index

The Greek passport stands at the 45th place in the Global Passport Index by Global Citizen Solutions, and permits its holders access to 171 destinations visa-free. Greece also ranks as the 12th most sought out destination worldwide, which makes having a Greek residency an enticing opportunity for anyone.

If you want to visit Greece and you are not from the EU or another visa-free country, you can obtain an entrance visa by going to your nearest Greek Consulate or Embassy and applying with the necessary paperwork. You must be present in person at the Greek Consulate or Embassy when filing your application, and you may be called in for an interview. Relevant authorities will also collect biometric data during your visit. This type of tourist visa is valid for three months from its date of admission.

The documents you need to provide to apply for a visa to enter Greece:

  • Two biometric photos in line with the Schengen Visa photo requirements;
  • Your passport or travel document and copies of previous visas – valid for at least three months after the expiration of the visa;
  • The application form completed in either English or Greek;
  • Proof of legal medical insurance in Greece;
  • A cover letter stating your purpose of visit to Greece;
  • Proof of civil status (marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, etc);
  • Your flight itinerary;
  • Your hotel reservations;
  • Proof of sufficient funds;
  • An excerpt from your country of origin or current residence’s penal register.

Employment Residence Permits

After you relocate to Greece, you will be required to provide the following papers to get a residence permit from the Ministry of Interior:

  • A passport with a photocopy of each page;
  • Two filled-in application forms, obtained from the Ministry of Interior’s office;
  • Three biometric passport photos;
  • Evidence of health insurance;
  • A health certificate issued by a hospital in Greece;
  • Proof that you have enough money to maintain yourself while your stay in Greece;
  • Employment agreement – if applicable.

Residence permits for employment purposes are originally provided for one year. They must be renewed within two months prior to their expiration date, and the permit must be renewed every two years.

If you’re from the EU: EU individuals relocating to Greece for work must apply for a residence visa upon arrival, which is an easy process.

If you’re not from the EU: The procedure is a little more complicated. The Greek government grants several types of residency permits based on whether you are classified as an “executive” or “standard” employee.

Taxation

Although personal taxation in Greece stands at 44%, and the Greek Investment Index sits at 42.2%, an enticing benefit of living in Greece is that non-residents get various tax breaks. That said, if you are a non-resident in Greece, you are only required to pay taxes on any income earned inside Greece. In other words, all foreign income is tax-free.

If you meet at least one of the following requirements, you must pay taxes in Greece:

  • Having spent more than 183 days in Greece in any calendar year;
  • Having a permanent address in Greece;
  • Having a company or investment in Greece;
  • Working or engaging in any professional activity in Greece.

Taxpayer Identification Number

After relocating to Greece and getting a job there, you should apply for an “Arithmos Forologikou Mitroou” (AFM), or taxpayer identification number, since you will need itr to establish a bank account and set up your utilities.

You must apply for your tax identification number at your local tax office. Filling out the M1 Form and carrying your passport is usually enough, but always check with your local tax office to see if more documents are required.

Types of Taxes

There are four types of taxes in Greece:

  1. Personal Income Tax
  2. Capital Gains Tax, taxes on lottery gains, inheritance, and real estate property transfer
  3. Social Security Tax
  4. Value Added Tax (VAT), levied on the pricing of goods and services in the country

The rates of taxes differ greatly depending on your income and capital gains. It can range anywhere from 9% on employment income up to €10,000, to 44% on income exceeding €40,000. The following are detailed tables of income and capital gains taxes in Greece, as of 2020:

Income tax on employment salaries, pensions, business and professional income: 

Taxble income (€)Tax rate
Up to €10,0009%
€10,000 – €20,00022% on band over €20,000
€20,000 – €30,00028% on band over €30,000
€30,000 – €40,00036% on band over €30,000
Over €40,00044% on all income over €40,000

Income tax on real estate:

Taxble income (€)Tax rate
Up to €12,00015%
€12,000 – €35,00035% on band over €12,000
Over €35,00045% on all income over €35,000

Income tax on capital gains (dividends, royalties, interest):

Capital income Tax rate
Dividends 10%
Interest15%
Royalties20%

Bank Accounts

When you move to Greece, you must create a Greek bank account. That way, if you work for a Greek company, your salary will be deposited into your Greek bank account. Even if you are self-employed, you will need to open one to qualify for a residence permit, and having one will only make life easier in Greece.

Opening a bank account in Greece is a simple process: just go to any bank with your passport and taxpayer identification number. Remember, each bank normally has a list of documents that you must bring with you, so you may want to check them before.

Among the most well-known banks in Greece are Eurobank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, and National Bank of Greece.

Education in Greece

Education is obligatory in Greece from the age of six to sixteen. There are six-year elementary schools, three-year lower secondary schools, and non-compulsory upper secondary schools with the latter focused on either technical or academic fields.

Greece has a large number of non-compulsory public and private preschools and kindergartens, however, the majority of Greek children attend public schools. Children can begin going to preschool at the age of two and a half years old, then enter kindergarten until starting primary school.

International Schools

When residing in Greece with a family, keep in mind that the majority of foreign schools are located in Athens or Thessaloniki. There are also a variety of languages available to study in, including English, German, French, and Japanese. The schools in Athens offering an English curriculum are Campion School, American Community Schools of Athens, International School of Athens, and Saint Catherine’s British School.

There are also around 15 schools in Greece that offer an International Baccalaureate Degree following the Swiss curriculum, which allows students to continue their higher education in colleges outside of Greece after graduation.

Healthcare

There are two primary forms of healthcare in Greece: public and private. Citizens and residents of Greece have free or low-cost access to public healthcare. In Greece, there is a unified healthcare system funded by a social security organization known as EFKA, which offers free healthcare to everyone in the country.

Public Healthcare

Living in Greece as an expat is an adventure, and knowing the local language is an advantage. However, in most major Greek cities, including Athens, it is possible to find English-speaking healthcare personnel at public health clinics. Unfortunately, this is not the case for smaller cities and islands.

The Greek public healthcare system provides a variety of services, including:

  • Public health surveillance;
  • Environmental health management;
  • Infectious illness control;
  • Services for laboratories;
  • General and specialized medical treatment;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Drugs and medications at a discount;
  • Maternal care;
  • Transportation;
  • Medical equipment.

The public healthcare system in Greece is known as ESY, and it offers free healthcare to both citizens and residents alike. If you are unemployed, an EU citizen, or an expat, you are still eligible for the ESY. If you work in Greece, your contribution rate for public healthcare is around 30% of your wage, and organizing it is the duty of your employer.

Unlike in most other countries, you do not need a referral from your family doctor to see a specialist. However, there may be substantial wait times for receiving treatment.

Private Healthcare

Many locals and foreigners prefer private healthcare to the public system because it provides better facilities, more coverage, and quicker wait times. You can select between complementary private health insurance that covers what the public system does not, or an all-inclusive plan that covers everything.

Private healthcare facilities and equipment are often newer than public healthcare facilities. Furthermore, medical personnel in private institutions are more likely to speak English. Some private hospitals have cross-collaborations with American hospitals or with hospitals in other countries.

What is Private Health Insurance?

Here are the services provided under private health insurance, aside from a wide spectrum of primary healthcare:

  • Advanced dental care;
  • Treatment in the best hospitals in Greece;
  • Cosmetic procedures;
  • Fees required for seeing a specialist.

In rare situations, you may be allowed to use your private insurance from your home country to cover you in Greece.

Golden Visa Greece

buildings-by-the-seaside-under-the-golden-sun

Greece implemented a Golden Visa scheme in 2013. This is a Golden Visa Residency by Investment Program meant to attract international investors and help the country recover from its financial crisis. The program permits any investor who is not a citizen of the EU or EEA to gain permanent residency in exchange for an investment in Greek real estate, or government bonds, capital funds, etc. Non-EU/EEA expatriates can benefit from an expedited residency in exchange for financial investment: individuals who qualify are awarded a five-year residency permit that is renewable.

Because the easiest condition for obtaining a Golden Visa is a real estate investment in Greece totaling at least €250,000, this program has been particularly popular among foreign investors. The Greek Golden Visa Program provides investors and their family members with a five-year residency permit in Greece, which is renewed every five years forever as long as the investment is maintained. Remember that if you reside in Greece for seven years, you can qualify for Greek citizenship by naturalization.

You must make one of the following investments to be eligible for this program:

  • Purchase real estate property for a minimum value of €250,000 anywhere in Greece;
  • Timeshare or lease in a hotel or furnished tourist accommodations for at least ten years;
  • Invest at least €400,000 in government bonds or a venture capital fund;
  • Make a capital investment of at least €400,000 in securities or a bank deposit in Greece;
  • Invest €800,000 in shares, corporate bonds, or Greek Treasury bonds listed in trading facilities operating in Greece.

If you are not eligible for the Greece Golden Visa and instead wish to apply for a conventional work visa in Greece, you must be sponsored by a Greek employer, who will apply on your behalf through the Ministry of Labor.

The Greek Golden Visa Program is now the most affordable Golden Visa scheme in Europe, allowing you to travel freely in and out of the country without stay requirements. There are no criteria for in-country living, and from start to end, obtaining legal resident status in Greece might take as little as three months.

Popular Greek Cities Among Expats

The country’s affordability only improves with time: the longer you stay, the cheaper things appear to get as you master the wonderful Greek technique of living more while spending less. It’s a great place to live a healthy lifestyle, the landscape is stunning, and the Greeks are some of the nicest, most helpful, and truly loving people you’ll ever meet.

Athens

The majority of expats in Greece opt to live in Athens, one of the world’s oldest cities. It has a population of almost four million people and is located near the Aegean Sea’s Bay of Phaleron, which is home to Athens’ port, Piraeus.

Even though Athens was severely impacted by the economic crisis, it has been steadily rebounding over the years, particularly in the real estate sector. Average incomes in Athens are greater than elsewhere in Greece.

Because of its closeness to the bustling port of Piraeus, Athens accounts for more than half of all jobs in Greece, particularly in handicrafts and manufacturing.

Thessaloniki

With a population of almost 800,000, Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city. The city was established in 315 BCE and named after Alexander the Great’s sister. With the establishment of petrochemical factories, oil refineries, and steel mills in the 1960s, Thessaloniki evolved as a significant industrial city. It also exports a significant amount of chrome, agricultural goods, and manganese.

A devastating earthquake in 1978 damaged much of the city, and it experienced a heavy economic hit during the economic crisis back in 2008. However, and on a more positive note, Thessaloniki has demonstrated good growth, which increased investors’ confidence in recent years.

If you choose a slightly smaller city with a rich history and a robust economy when relocating to Greece, Thessaloniki could be the right place for you.

Pros and Cons of Living in Greece

Each country has its own “light” and “dark” sides, and whether to accept them or not depends on the person who is moving there. There is nothing perfect in this world, and therefore nowhere is perfect either. Here are some of the main pros and cons of living in Greece:

Pros

  • Greece is quite cheap, especially when compared to North America and much of Europe.
  • Greece is one of Europe’s safest countries.
  • The quality of medical care is high here.
  • English is commonly spoken due to the thriving tourism industry.

Cons

  • It is difficult to get work if you do not speak Greek.
  • It is fairly costly to live near major tourist destinations.
  • In case you are not eligible for a Golden Visa and wish to get a residency in Greece, you may need to be sponsored by a Greek employer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Living in Greece

Is it difficult to move to Greece?

It is quite simple for EU residents to migrate to Greece, but the procedure of moving to Greece is a bit more difficult for non-EU/EEA nationals. Before you get too excited about your future in Greece, you need to first grasp your opportunities to live comfortably here.

How much money do you need to live in Greece?

You may expect to live well on a monthly budget of €2,000, which covers typical monthly bills and rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Athens’ bustling city center.

Which countries have a double taxation treaty with Greece?

To avoid double taxation and to facilitate cooperation between Greece and foreign tax authorities in executing their different tax rules, Greece has engaged in double taxation treaties with 57 countries/jurisdictions. Among these countries there are Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Mexico, Malta, Moldavia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan.

Greece also has estate and inheritance agreements, as well as gift agreements, with the following countries: Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United States.