Greece is a member of the European Union, and the country has enjoyed a stable economy for the past decade up to the present. The cost of living is 30% lower compared to other European countries. The Economist has ranked the country 22nd place in the Worldwide Quality-of-Life Index. The World Economic Forum also gave it 42nd place in the Global Competitiveness Report. Despite a few setbacks and accidents, Greece remains to be in good shape as far as economy and politics are concerned.
Living in major cities like Athens will definitely cost more. The average Greek salary is lower than the average EU salary, but this is offset with a high standard of living as social security costs make up for much of the difference. This cost of social security, income tax and indirect taxes make the overall Greek tax scheme one of the highest in the EU. All these expenses are still put to good use since the people get to have quality standard of life.
In the past ten years, the cost of living in Greece has increased much. Food and commodities are more affordable compared to the United Kingdom. Housing costs vary depending on location and condition. In terms of government services and benefits, expatriates can expect only the best.
As one expat shared in Greece Expat Forum last July 7, 2009:
“Electricity has gone up somewhat but still cheaper than the Uk and the Gas bottles for heaters or cooking are around 16 euros a bottle. Water is cheap also. To eat out living here you can do cheaply with the local small tavernas. Shopping is also cheaper than the Uk from what i have been told.
I think the medical care is better than the Uk, it is easy to book a doctor and also easy to see specialists at the hospitals, a little chaotic but definately easier than getting to see a specialist in the Uk. If you get internet connection then sign up to SKYPE for a few euros a month you can call all over Europe for free, a great invention. I think the best thing is to search on line at the cost to buy and rent with estate agents, you will get a clear idea of the price differences around Greece. For sure spend a holiday here to investigate fully if it is the right place for you. Also consider the winter months, as i know people who live in the North where it is much colder so the cost of heater goes up greatly then. Crete has good facilities, Corfu where you can get a ferry to Italy all year,all the larger islands really. On the mainland you can also look around Kalamata on the West and the resorts south of it like Kardamilli and Stoupa. remember if you buy here always worth putting in a much lower offer than is stated as they are nearly always flexible.”
Food and Drink Costs in Greece
Greece is not as expensive as other EU countries but to say a Greek vacation is cheap has to think twice. The average Greek spends about 60 euros on food and beverages every month. Grocery items are very affordable since a lot are acquired locally from nearby provinces and farms. Wheat and barley are staple carbohydrate sources. Greece also has an abundance of fruits and vegetables such as olives, tomato, eggplant, okra and onions.
Herbs and spices are available in all markets as well laurel, thyme, basil and oregano. Usual meat products are pre-packed, frozen or fresh lamb, goat and pork. Beef is not that common in Greece but fish like tuna and salmon are also sold extensively and exported. All these have considerably low prices compared to the UK.
Cheese products like Feta, Mizithra and Kasseri are also made locally along with Greece’s most famous drink – wine. Greek wine has a history going back thousands of years but it was only recently that the standard has gone up. Beer, wine and ouzo are the most common beverages and can be bought at the cheapest prices. Some examples of these are Zeos, Lager, Kaiser manufactured in Lesbos and Icaria. Greek pastries are also a favorite among the locals and there are several families selling in bulk.
Clothing and Accessories Costs in Greece
Greece is also very much updated with recent trends and styles. The fashion industry is gradually stabilizing over the years and the country has been exporting widely to different global destinations over the past few years. Garments are available for men, women and children at affordable prices for generic and locally manufactured brands.
There are also several accessories like jewelry, hats and bags that are all priced higher than other Northern European countries. Greeks claim that the material used in their wares are of better quality and last longer.
Designer labels are also imported from the United States and France. These cost very much the same as other brand shops in the UK. The average individual would most likely spend around 100 euro every month on clothes and apparel.
Modern styles in Greece are somewhat reminiscent of the Western culture although there are also traditional items available like goddess dresses, shawls, belts and boots in classic gold and white color. Greeks are more formally dressed compared to other nearby countries that sport a more sporty and casual style. Overall, the price of clothing, footwear and other accessories are not much different than the G8 nations and the United States.
Housing Costs in Greece
It is quite difficult to find decent rental spaces in Greece. Some offer fully furnished apartments that are located in resorts. These are expensive considering the poor quality of the equipment and smallness of the place. There are rare opportunities for expatriates to find huge space with no furnishings.
A single-bedroom apartment will generally cost 500 euros every month. The bigger the space, the higher rental rates will get. Immigrants vying for Athens and Hydra Island can only expect the most expensive rates in exchange for quality homes and big lots.
Some people would opt for alternatives like short-term lease, home exchange and long-term motel occupancy. Most landlords ask for three to six-month deposits excluding concurrent electric and water bills. It is advisable to live in suburban areas in order to save as much as half of the price people pay for living downtown. Location is not a big problem since there are constant community buses, trains and taxis that can instantly bring new people around.
If you are able to find one suitable for you or are in the market for one, here are some tips on your property hunting while in Greece.
Services Costs in Greece
Education is compulsory for individuals aging 6 to 15 years old. Secondary education is subsidized by the government. Students are also able to apply for scholarship grants in private schools and universities. Health care is also given importance by the government, which is why all citizens are advised to acquire health insurance as soon as they graduate from secondary school.
There are many exchange students as well in most Greek universities. Most expatriates send their children to Greek primary and secondary school then proceed to college in nearby European nations like Germany or France.
Formerly, Greece did not allocate much of its resources on health care since the people are generally healthy. GDP is redirected to other fields instead. In recent years, the nation has started to return its attention to modernized health care system and approach. New institutions, training and development are underway for continued quality service. Internet and telephone services are affordable although the Internet connection can vary in price depending on speed and type. As on expat shared on Greece Expat Forum last February 10, 2009:
well just to give you some idea of costs, we run a small car (Fiat Panda) for gasoline costs of not more than 20 euros per week. You can get a satellite dish and receiver set up here by an English company who specialise in that, for a one off fee and then you can receive a lot of free satellite channels which show a lot of American films and series (though if you are living on the base I’m not sure what the costs would be and what their policy is on satellite/cable installation. they may even have their own setup there already). We have a home phone line and broadband connection which together costs us up to about 80 euros for two months including some calls. Cell phone costs vary but you can get an idea if you look for the website of the cell phone company which has the best coverage here. It is called Cosmote and their website is cosmote.gr. It will probably come up in Greek but I think they also have an English language page you can link to off their home page to get an idea of costs.
Employment Costs in Greece
Shipping and modern engineering are still the key financial supports of Greece which is why the country needs as many engineers and maritime workers as possible. The country spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year for research. Expatriates with engineering background will not have problem finding a good-paying job.
The service industry controls three-quarters of the total working population. Tourism is also big in Greece and 16.5% of the working population is allocated in the field. However, Greece signed the Schengen Treaty that strictly implies regulations on foreigners and willing immigrants. Finding a legal job outside the fields in demand may not be as easy. Comparatively, employment costs in Greece are still the lowest in the European Union.