Cost of Living in Greece
Cost of Living in Greece for Expats and Digital Nomads
Table of Contents
If the exceptional Mediterranean climate, exquisite cuisine, warm hospitality, and the opportunity to explore various islands weren’t enticing enough, the cost of living in Greece might be an additional reason to consider. From housing to dining out, healthcare to personal care, the average cost of living in Greece is significantly lower than in the United States.
Below, we provide an overview of the basic expenses, a sample budget, and a few areas to be mindful of to avoid any unexpected financial burdens.
|Greece: Monthly Cost of Living||Cost $||Cost in €|
|Rent||$400 – $1,100||€320 – €850|
|Utilities||$80 – $200||€85 – €170|
|Gym||$30 – $60||€26 – €50|
|Food and Groceries||$250 – $500||€225 – €425|
|Transportation||$50 – $100||€45 – €85|
|Activities, Leisure, Entertainment||$120 – $200||€110 – €170|
|Private Health Insurance||$100 – $300||€85 – €255|
Your initial decision revolves around choosing where to reside. Despite being home to just under 11 million people, even the major cities in Greece are relatively compact on a global scale. Athens, the capital, boasts a population of 3.2 million and is the most populous city in the country. The next largest city, Thessaloniki, is home to 812,000 residents.
In addition to these metropolitan areas, there are numerous mid-sized towns and charming villages. Depending on your lifestyle preferences, you can find a suitable location, but if cost-effectiveness is a priority, the smaller towns and villages tend to be more affordable.
On average, the cost of rent in Greece is approximately 70% lower than in the United States. Since rent or mortgage payments typically constitute the highest monthly expense, this significant difference can greatly impact your budget. In Athens, you can find a comfortable one-bedroom apartment for under $650, while in smaller cities or villages, rent can be as low as $350.
Apartments range from modern units with updated kitchens and bathrooms to more rustic ones with handheld showerheads and traditional fixtures that exude a vintage charm. To get an idea of prices, you can visit websites like Spitogatos.gr.
The cost of food at regular supermarkets is relatively comparable to that in the United States and many European countries. However, with a little effort, you can reduce your food expenses by visiting the laiki (Greek for “people’s market”), where local farmers and producers sell their products directly to consumers. These markets offer fresh, locally grown produce, eggs, nuts, and other essential items like rice and beans.
Similar to farmer’s markets in the United States, but often at a lower cost, laiki markets are held outdoors and follow a seasonal schedule. The quality of the food is exceptional, and strolling through the vibrant aisles of olives, tomatoes, eggplants, legumes, and more is not only enjoyable but also economical. Make sure to inquire about the laiki market in your neighborhood.
|Price in Euros|
|A dozen eggs||3|
|Pack of Rice (1 kg)||1.70|
|A loaf of Bread||0.80|
|Fresh Milk, (1 liter)||1.21|
|Feta Cheese, (0.5kg)||2.45|
|Chicken Fillets (1kg)||6.75|
|Water (1.5-liter bottle)||0.82|
|Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||6.20|
Greece boasts a variety of dining options, including tavernas and restaurants. Tavernas typically offer affordable menus with Greek classics such as grilled fish, dolmas, tzatziki, and Greek salads. These dishes are simple, with usually less than five ingredients and seasoned with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. House wine at tavernas is often inexpensive, with half a liter costing $5 or less and generally of decent quality.
Even in major cities, a taverna meal for two with wine can be enjoyed for under $30, and with some research and effort, even less. Restaurants in Greece cater to a wide range of budgets, offering both budget-friendly and upscale options depending on personal preferences. Street food is also popular in Greece, providing inexpensive options like souvlaki, kebabs, and gyros for under $5 when cooking is not desired.
|Price in Euro|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||40|
|Big Mac Meal||7|
|A bottle or pint of local beer||4|
|A can Coca Cola (330 ml)||1.60|
|A Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||6.50|
|Street Food (Gyros)||3.5|
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Utilities are an area that deserves attention as it is prone to fluctuations that can lead to unpleasant surprises.
On average, the cost of electricity in Greece is approximately 65% higher than in the U.S., although it is considered moderate compared to other EU countries. Given Greece’s hot summer weather, electricity bills have the potential to skyrocket if the AC is left running all day. For an average two-bedroom apartment, monthly electricity bills can range from $40 to $160, depending on the season and usage.
Heating: Household heating in Greece is provided either through independent heating systems or centralized heating controlled by the apartment building management. In the case of independent heating, residents have control over their usage. Otherwise, they are required to contribute to shared heating expenses based on the building management’s decisions. Heat bills vary from apartment to apartment, so it is advisable to inquire about them before renting.
Unlike many countries, Greece does not offer garbage pickup services for apartment buildings. Instead, individuals are responsible for disposing of their trash in designated street bins. The advantage of this system is that garbage pickup is free for citizens.
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Greece offers two healthcare options: a nationally-funded universal public healthcare system and private insurance. Under the public healthcare system, emergency room visits are free regardless of employment status or nationality. For other services, individuals without employer sponsorship are required to pay out of pocket or through their AMKA employer-provided insurance plan.
Private insurance, providing access to private healthcare, can be purchased at a significantly lower cost compared to the U.S. While plans may vary, it is reasonable to expect healthcare premiums to be approximately 50% less. Quality of healthcare in Greece is exceptionally high, making it a preferred destination for medical tourism.
Read also our detailed guide on the best time to visit Greece.
Wages in Greece tend to be lower, which has an impact on the personal care industry. The cost of a basic women’s haircut in Athens is approximately $35 ($25 for men). Nail painting services are available for under $7. Professional personal trainers can be found for less than $30 per hour, and it is common for them to provide house calls.
Greece has a well-developed public transportation system, including extensive bus, train, and subway networks that serve major cities and mid-size towns. Taxis are reasonably priced, with a minimum fare of under $4 and a standard rate of about $1.30 per mile. Due to relatively high gasoline prices (often over $6 per gallon), many individuals prefer using public transportation options.
Sample Monthly Budget for Living in Greece:
Expense Euro USD
Housing (rent for a one bedroom apartment in the center of Athens) €579 $650
Utilities (Gas, Electric, Phone, Internet) €107 $120
Groceries €205 $230
Basic Cost of Living: €890 $1,000
Variable Additional Costs Euro USD
Entertainment €356 $400
Healthcare * €178 $200
Household Help €71 $80
Incidentals €134 $150
Monthly Total: €1,629 $1,830
*healthcare is often covered by your employer so this budget item assumes you don’t have employer-sponsored coverage.
While this provides a basic overview of the cost of living in Greece, it is important to mention that the longer one resides in Greece, the more cost-effective it generally becomes. Greece is a highly sociable and relationship-oriented country, which means that as one becomes more integrated into the social fabric, more discounts are typically offered.
The range is broad – I receive discounts as a yoga teacher, as a regular in the neighborhood, as a loyal customer, and even for reasons I can’t pinpoint but often hear as “another price for you!” This is just one more aspect that adds to the charm of living in Greece and provides yet another reason why one would never want to leave.
Mark’s Testimonial: The Good Life in Greece for $1,000 a Month
When I moved from Chicago, Illinois, to Athens, Greece in 2012, it wasn’t for economic reasons. It was just a gut feeling. After 22 years of living in Chicago and working as a Marketing Professional, something inside me craved Athens. So, I packed my bags, brought along my dog, two cats, and one suitcase, and embarked on this adventure.
Greece has been amazing to me ever since. I can go on for hours talking about all the things I adore about my adopted country: the warm-hearted people, the abundance of sunshine (over 250 days a year!), the majestic mountains of Meteora, the breathtaking beaches of Milos, and the delightful seaside fish tavernas serving grilled octopus and tsipouro (a brandy from Crete). And did you know that the Greek language has eight words for love? The list goes on…
Besides the wonders, there are practical aspects of life here that make it even better. The cost of living is much lower than in most parts of the U.S., so you can truly enjoy life. I actually quit my finance job and became a full-time writer and yoga instructor. If you’re seeking a life change, Greece might just be the place for you.
One of the things that caught my attention right away was the affordable housing in Greece. You can easily rent a decent apartment in Athens, the capital, for under $650 per month. If you’re looking to settle down or make real estate investments, that’s an option too.
Since moving here, I’ve purchased and renovated two apartments near the Acropolis, which I now rent out on Airbnb for extra income. My first purchase was a 269-square-foot apartment for just €28,000 (around $31,000). And guess what? I bought a bigger apartment for even less. Greece offers fantastic real estate deals if you know where to look, and expats can easily buy property here with a few administrative steps.
Now, if you’re considering a move away from the U.S., healthcare will likely be one of your concerns. Let me tell you, Greek medical care has impressed me. There are highly qualified doctors who speak fluent English and have often been trained in the U.S. or U.K. The Greek medical community is sophisticated, and the country has become a destination for medical tourism too. Since healthcare is largely socialized, you can receive routine or specialized treatments at a fraction of the cost compared to back home.
Read also our detailed guide on Greece Golden Visa for Americans.
Last summer, I had to visit a doctor for an eye infection. I went for an eye exam and was prescribed antibacterial cream. The cost of the visit? Zero. Healthcare in public hospitals is free for both Greeks and expats. When I asked where to pay, the administrator looked confused. As for the prescription? It only cost me four dollars.
Let me also mention that Greek doctors are incredibly kind. When I explained that I had an important day coming up as a godmother at a baptism, the doctor assured me, “Don’t worry! The swelling will be gone by then.” Those words brought me so much comfort. I feel much more secure about my healthcare future since moving to Greece.
The lower cost of living extends to all aspects of life. In the eight years I’ve lived in Greece, I haven’t needed a car because I live in the center of Athens where I can walk to most places. And when I do need to take a taxi, they are easy to find and affordable to ride in. The minimum fare is under $4, and the standard rate is about $1.30 per mile. I can easily get across town for under $10. It’s much cheaper than my life in Chicago, where taxis charge about $3 per mile.
If you’re worried about being cheated by a taxi driver, fear not! The free app Beat is widely used and functions like Uber, allowing you to hail, track, and rate your taxi ride.
And if you’re wondering if you’ll miss out on art and culture in Greece, don’t worry. You won’t. The Basil and Elise Goulandris Modern Art Museum in Athens offers a yearly membership for $65, giving you unlimited access to their five floors of impressively diverse modern art. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center hosts a variety of free events, including theatre performances, live music, and films. My favorite time to visit is during the holidays when they offer a colorful sound and light show on their pavilion.
The economic scale of Greece compared to the U.S. can be quite different, almost confusing. It wasn’t until I had dinner with a group of friends who work as electricians in Greece that it truly hit me. When the bill of €50 ($57) for the four of us arrived, I started to leave a €10 tip. My friend Dionysis looked at me in horror.
“Do you realize that most people in this country live on less than €900 per month? No need to leave a €10 tip!”
Greece is a place where you can truly enjoy life without breaking the bank.
Read next our detailed Greece Golden Visa guide for UK citizens.