Greece vs. the USA: Comparative Costs of Living

Greece has become a popular destination for tourists and potential expatriates from all over the world, the USA included. The country is famous for its comfortable living conditions, beautiful cities and landscapes, healthy cuisine, and laid-back lifestyle. In this article, we have gathered some data to compare the cost of living in Greece and the USA for American residents to have an idea of what they can expect from relocating to this country. 

Groceries and Dining Out

Greece is famous worldwide for its delicious and healthy cuisine, which is its significant advantage over the United States. Another advantage is the considerably lower monthly expenses for groceries in Greece compared with the US. The table below shows a few representative examples to give you a general idea of the differences in prices for food in the two countries. 

























All in all, groceries in the USA seem to cost about 60% more than in Greece. On the other hand, eating in Greek restaurants will cost you either about the same (and even a little more in a fast food venue) or very little less than in the States, depending on the place. The following table compares the average bills in several categories of restaurants. 


Three-course dinner for two in a mid-range diner

Lunch for one in a cheap place

Fast food









Public Transport

Both countries have comparatively well-developed and inexpensive public transportation systems, although it costs much less in Greece. On the other hand, travelling by car is cheaper in the States due to the big difference in the price of gas in the two countries. Again, the table will show it better than words. 


One-way ticket

Monthly ticket

Taxi (per km)

Gas (0.26 gal)











Education and Medical Services

The good news for the expats in Greece is that this country has one of the best education systems in the world. In addition, the number of doctors per capita in Greece is the highest in the European Union. Besides, both services are much cheaper in Greece than they are in the USA. In fact, Greece has become one the most popular destinations for medical tourists from the States.

As a rule, medical practitioners in Greece are very well-qualified and experienced specialists, and many of them have worked in numerous other countries as well. The only problem for expats is that the Greek government healthcare is available almost exclusively for the locals. And the private clinics are still cheap by American standards, but they will not seem quite as affordable once you start earning the Greek salaries.

On the other hand, secondary schools and kindergartens are both affordable and accessible. And there are plenty of international schools too, where children can study in German, Spanish, English, Russian, and numerous other languages. Depending on where you come from, your kids will probably have a chance to attend a school in your home language. 


Private kindergartens (per month)

Primary schools (per year)

The average visit to a private doctor









Accommodation for Rent

Renting an apartment or a house in Greece costs just as little as buying food and clothes there, compared with the USA. An apartment in the center of a big city, like Athens, costs less than it would in Hanoi or Bangkok. For example, a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Athens will only cost you about €400 per month, and you can easily find one for half of that in the suburbs. The price list goes even lower in the country as long as you stay away from the tourist areas.

The table below compares the average monthly rental prices for typical apartments in and out of the center of a big city. 


One-bedroom in the center

One-bedroom outside the center

Three-bedroom in the center

Three-bedroom outside the center











Private Property for Sale

However, if you can afford to buy private property in Greece, you can obtain a residence permit there as well. Called Golden Visa, this option makes you eligible to apply for permanent residence in the country, provided you invest at least €250K in the local real estate sector and deposit some money to your account in a Greek bank.

In general, private property is quite affordable in Greece by international standards, especially if you earn your income outside the country. For instance, you can buy a decent apartment in Athens for €100K to €400K, depending on its size and location. And in Crete, you will have good chances to purchase a relatively big house for as little as €200K.

The table below shows average prices for private property (per square ten feet) in the USA and the best places to live in Greece, such as Athens, Crete, Corfu, Santorini, and others.


Apartment in the city center

House in the suburbs







Golden Visa in Greece

The permit takes about two months to receive, and it will be valid for as long as you continue to own the private property you have purchased. Furthermore, you will become entitled to Greek citizenship once you have lived in the country for seven years. Your family may also obtain the status of permanent residents with you, and they will be able to reside in Greece even if you depart from the country.

The only documentation required for the purpose is:

  • Your passport;

  • Medical insurance;

  • Proof of income or a specified amount of money in a Greek bank account;

  • A Greek tax number.

Average Income

Nevertheless, prices for individual items of groceries and other regular expenses do not actually help you understand the difference in the cost of living between the USA and Greece because these prices do not mean much without considering how much you can expect to earn. And the average income in the States is a lot higher than it is in Greece. 


Average salary (per month, after taxes)





Besides, the average salary varies greatly across professions, and the question of how easy it will be to find a job in your field becomes significant in this context too. Moreover, the language barrier is another factor to consider, and "it all sounds Greek to me" is an idiom you will relate to more than once.

On the other hand, teaching a foreign language in Greece can be quite a lucrative occupation. And the price of, say, lunch in a mid-range restaurant would mean something very different to you and the typical middle-class Greek. Things will change drastically, though, as soon as you change occupation and start earning as little as he does. 

Taxation in Greece and the USA

The taxation system in Greece is quite complicated, and you might need a lawyer to help you make sense of it all. In general, the income tax in Greece is considerably higher than it is in the States, ranging from 18% to as high as 45%, depending on your monthly salary.

The good news, though, is that you will not have to pay the income tax at all if you earn less than 12,000 euros per month. Another good news is, your foreign income will not be subject to taxation in Greece if you stay in the country for more than 183 days per year.

On the other hand, your real estate tax will be much lower than in the USA. Depending on the value of your property, it will range from 0.10% to 1.15%. That compares quite favourably with 16.86% in New Jersey and even with 0.45% in Louisiana. 


It is not that easy to make precise comparisons of the costs of living between any two countries. You can browse the Internet to find more specific information for your particular purposes. However, based on the data analysis from most relevant sites, you can expect the cost of living in Greece to be from 20% to 50% lower than in the USA, depending on your location and lifestyle.

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