Expatriates in Greece

Recently, Greece has become a popular destination among expatriates, especially from Western Europe, who move there to enjoy the country's good weather, healthy food and peaceful lifestyle. Living in Greece as an expat is not always as sunny as visiting the country on holidays, of course. Still, you can live a comfortable and exciting life there, provided you have adjusted to its culture and learned the language.

In this article, we shall provide a general overview of living conditions in Greece: its medical system and education, costs of living and job opportunities, visa and tax requirements and the most popular places of residence among foreigners. The information comes mainly from various authoritative sites providing general statistics for travellers and numerous reports and reviews written by expats living in Greece.

Living Conditions in Greece

Most expats appreciate living in Greece for the healthy, comfortable and relaxed lifestyle that the country provides. The weather is good, warm and sunny throughout the year. In general, Greek people are laid-back and peaceful, except when they exhibit political attitudes to the police. Greek food is delicious and healthy.

The country has a well-developed and affordable infrastructure and public transportation network, and the level of education is very high by international standards. Besides, there are plenty of national schools where kids can study in their home languages, such as English, German, Russian or Spanish, to name a few.

Medical Services

Good climate, slow pace of life and healthy cuisine all contribute to excellent health that the majority of the Greek population enjoys. Many of them live past the age of 90, and being older than 100 is not that rare in some parts of the country. You will not find many Greeks suffering from cardiological problems, and obesity is something virtually unheard of.

Moreover, the healthcare system in Greece is comparatively well-developed by international standards. Most doctors are well-experienced and thoroughly qualified professionals, and many of them have worked overseas. Also, the country has the highest number of doctors per capita among the European nations.

Medical services in Greece are very affordable, and the country has become one of the most popular destinations for medical tourism worldwide. The main drawbacks are that the medical system in Greece seems to be run by bureaucracy, and most of its government medical services are practically unavailable for expats. Private clinics are the more realistic options, and those are not quite as affordable if you earn your income inside the country.

Crime Rate

Greece is a very safe country to live in, and violent street crime is virtually non-existent. Predictably, big cities and tourist areas are not as safe as the suburbs and small towns on the islands. Still, even in the worst cases, the crime rate is comparatively low, and even Athens compares favourably with big cities in Western Europe and North America.

You are more likely to have trouble with drunk foreigners in the tourist entertainment districts than risk being robbed on the central streets late at night. However, during political demonstrations, in which young Greeks participate quite often, it is better to stay away from the designated areas as they can sometimes become quite violent and involve confrontations with the police.

Cost of Living

Almost everything in Greece is very cheap, from food and public transport to private property and general entertainment. Housing, in particular, compares well even with the South-East Asian countries. Renting a flat in the centre of Athens costs less than in Bangkok, and private property for sale is even cheaper than in Vietnam. Your expenses will depend on whether you live in a city or the country and how close you are to the busy tourist areas.

In Athens, you can rent a one-bedroom flat for about €400 in the city centre, and for about half of that in the suburbia. Purchasing private property in the capital city will cost anything from €100,000 to €400,000, whereas even €200,000 will be enough to buy a fairly spacious house in Crete. And prepare to pay more on the island of Corfu as the place has become a popular destination among the ultra-wealthy Europeans.

All in all, you can expect life in Greece to cost about 30% less than in other countries in Europe, and about 20% less than in the States.

Most Favoured Cities by Expats in Greece

There are lots of beautiful cities and islands that offer good living conditions in Greece, and the choice will depend on your personal preferences. What follows is a list of places that receive particularly positive feedback from expats.


Like any country's capital city, Athens has become home to a large percentage of expats and immigrants. Life is noticeably more expensive there, and the crime rate is higher too, just as it is in any big city. On the other hand, the city is still cheap and safe by international standards.

Athens offers an infinite variety of historical sights and cultural venues, together with a comparatively vibrant and diverse lifestyle. Besides, job opportunities are significantly better there too, since Athens is a major financial and economic hub in the region.


Different from Athens in every way, the small island of Santorini offers a perfect escape from the hectic pace and noise of civilization. It is a stunning island with black sands, rocky mountains and crystal-clear waters. The local community of just over 15,000 people lives a slow and quiet life and enjoys some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.


By far the most favoured destination by expats and travellers alike, Crete has become the second most significant place in Greece, after Athens. It has everything you might need, be it a quiet retreat on a sandy beach, a breathtaking trek in the highest mountains in Greece or a vibrant life in the country's second-largest urban community.


Another lovely blend of wild nature and modern civilisation, Corfu is becoming increasingly more expensive, especially in its real estate sector, becoming a second home to some of the wealthiest people in Europe. Remote beaches and grand art museums, prehistoric mountain caves and some of the best universities in Greece tastefully co-exist on the small island of Corfu.

The island is probably not the best place if you seek a very inexpensive life, but if affordability is not your prime concern, Corfu is definitely worth considering. It is advisable to purchase property there as soon as possible, though, as its prices in Corfu continue to rise.

Job and Career Opportunities for Expats

There are work opportunities in the country, and Greeks do appreciate the international experience. It is the language barrier that will be the main problem, however. Unless you speak Greek, you will pretty much end up teaching English or perhaps working in the IT sector.

If you belong in one of the two, consider yourself sorted; otherwise, it is a language school first. On the other hand, it may be a good idea anyway: if you have decided to stay in the country, you may as well start learning the language. Whatever course of action you choose to take, though, make sure you do it legally and comply with all the regulations. The Greek Department of Immigration and Tax Revenues will not be as laid-back as you might expect them to be.

Opening a Bank Account

You will have to have an account in some Greek bank, both for employment and real estate acquisition purposes, so you may as well start with that in any case. The procedure is straightforward and quick, and the good news is, you have very good chances of being able to speak English in most banks in Greece.

All the documentation required for the purpose must be translated into Greek and certified by a notary. You will need the following documents:

  • Your passport or ID,

  • Proof of a telephone number registered in the country,

  • Any bill to prove that you have a residential address in Greece,

  • Your Greek Tax Number,

  • An employment contract or any proof of local or foreign income.

Taxes for Expats in Greece

Greece has a complicated taxation system, and it is better to hire a lawyer to make sure that you have got it all right. The income tax rate is progressive, and it breaks down as follows:

Monthly income

Income tax

Up to €12,000


€12,000 to €16,000


€16,000 to €22,000


€22,000 to €26,000


€26,000 to €32,000


€32,000 to €40,000


€40,000 to €60,000


€60,000 to €100,000


Over €100,000


You will also have to pay real estate taxes if you choose to purchase some private property, and those may be quite high. The principal property tax is the ENFIA. Real estate taxes will vary with the total property value, as shown in the table below.

Property value

Tax rate









€2 million


Over €2 million


Apart from that, if you spend more than 50% of the year in Greece or have a permanent residential address in the country, you will be considered a Greek resident, and you will have to pay taxes from your income abroad too. Otherwise, they will only tax your earnings inside the country.

Visa and Permit Regulations

Moving to Greece is relatively easy these days. In fact, the Greek government is currently encouraging foreigners to relocate to the country, trying to make it as easy as possible for them to do that. Generally, purchasing real estate is all it takes to obtain a residence permit in Greece, and the government is actively removing obstacles to foreigners buying private property in the country.

Currently, the Golden Visa is the easiest way to move to Greece. All you do is purchase real estate for a minimum of €250,000 to automatically receive a permanent residence permit, which will entitle you to Greek citizenship upon the seven-year uninterrupted residence in the country.

To apply for a residence permit, you will only need:

  1. Your passport,
  2. Medical insurance,
  3. A proof of income or a certain amount of money in the bank.

Final Word

Life in Greece as an expat provides excellent opportunities to enjoy the country's pleasant climate, healthy cuisine, relaxed pace of life, beautiful landscapes and rich cultural and educational tradition. However, living in the country is not the same as reading about it, and you need a personal experience before you can assess Greece for yourself. We do hope, though, that our article has given you enough information to decide whether life in Greece seems like your cup of tea in the first place.

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