With its shimmering beaches, endless sunny days, rich cultural traditions and ancient historical sites, it's no surprise that moving to Greece is an appealing prospect for many.

Considered by many to be the birthplace of Western civilization, Greece is surrounded by Italy and the Ionian Sea to the west, and Turkey and the Aegean Sea to the east. It has long been an attractive destination for its relaxed lifestyle and natural beauty.

Living in Greece as an expat

However, this idyllic version of Greece is starkly contrasted with the socioeconomic and political state of the country in the last decade. Having emerged from its far-reaching debt crisis, Greece is experiencing slow but steady recovery. Be that as it may, the country still has a fairly high unemployment rate and as such, jobs in Greece are scarce. 

Traditionally, employment in Greece has been provided mainly by the service sectors, construction, telecommunications, agriculture and shipping industries. The collapse of Greece's economy left many of these industries reeling, and most have yet to recover fully. That said, perhaps as a result of low prices, tourism is the exception to the rule and continues to provide employment opportunities for foreigners in Greece.

The Greek cities that attract the most expats are Athens and Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is well known for its high-tech industries and hosts the Thessaloniki Technology Park as well as the Thessaloniki Science Center and Museum. While perhaps not as multicultural as Athens, it is still home to a large expat population.

Athens, known as 'the City of the Gods', is the birthplace of democracy where the monuments of Ancient Greece continue to dominate the city. It is also Greece’s financial capital and houses the headquarters of many of the multinational companies operating in the country.

Greece's social and economic problems can't be denied. It is notorious for high levels of corruption in politics and business, as well as complicated government bureaucracy. However, Greece is a place of truly majestic beauty. Its people are warm and friendly, they value relationships, love food and are proud of their culture and traditions.

Cost of living in Greece

Living costs in Greece are typically low, though it does vary significantly depending on location. The mainland is generally cheaper than the Greek islands when it comes to fuel and certain basic goods. The countryside is cheaper than cities, but there is a much smaller range of products and services. Athens has a much higher cost of living than other parts of the country, largely due to its appeal as a tourist destination.

Expat families and children in Greece

Greece is a safe country with excellent weather and friendly locals – a great place to raise a family. Expats who want to stay for the long term might consider enrolling their children in a public school, though Greek is a notoriously tricky language to learn. Otherwise, excellent private and international education are available at a premium. Greek hospitals and healthcare professionals offer a generally high standard of care, though the presence of some bureaucracy and corruption in public hospitals turns many expats to private healthcare.

Climate in Greece

In general, Greece's Mediterranean climate has warm summers and mild winters, though the northern parts of the mainland have colder winters and hot, humid summers. July and August are the hottest months of the year, and the span of October to February is rainy, interspersed with occasional days of mild winter sun and clear skies.

For expats who can afford it or those who are adventurous enough to take the plunge, Greece remains a popular destination for its high-quality lifestyle, ancient villages and hundreds of glittering islands waiting to be explored.


Fast facts

Official name: The Hellenic Republic

Population: 10.4 million

Capital city: Athens (also the largest city)

Other major cities: Thessaloniki

Geography: Greece consists of the mainland, a peninsula on the southern tip of the Balkans, and 227 inhabited islands. There are thousands of uninhabited islands. One of the most mountainous countries in Europe, Greece's highest point – the mythical home of the gods, Mount Olympus – is 9,573 ft (2,918m).

Neighbouring countries: The mainland is bordered by Albania to the northwest, Macedonia to the north and Bulgaria to the northeast. The Ionian Sea is to the west of Greece, with the Aegean Sea towards the east.

Government: Unitary parliamentary republic

Major religions: Christianity (Greek Orthodox)

Main language: Greek, although English is also widely spoken.

Money: Greece uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Expats are able to open a bank account in Greece provided they obtain a Greek tax number (AFM). Generally, ATMs are widely available, although some may not offer services in English.

Tipping: For restaurants, if there isn't already a service charge, tips are normally 10 percent of the bill.

Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 between the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are the most common.

Internet domain: .gr

International dialling code: +30

Emergency contacts: As with other European countries, the general emergency number is 112. For local services, dial 100 (police), 166 (ambulance), or 199 (fire).

Transport and driving: Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Metro networks and intra-city bus systems are restricted to larger cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki. Intercity transport can be done via buses and trains. Commercial taxis are often available, and defensive driving is highly recommended. Travel between islands is usually done by ferry.

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