Athens is an ancient European city and the capital of Greece. The possibility of living in Athens is inviting for many expats for several reasons. First, it’s the city’s great location and proximity to other European countries and the islands. Secondly, the city is full of stunning ancient history, gorgeous landscape, and the temperatures stay fairly nice all year long. Athens is also where you’ll find all modern amenities within arm’s reach, the best healthcare in the country, delicious Greek cuisine, a thriving culture, and a well-represented entertainment scene. Greeks are also exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Relocating abroad doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether you are relocating to Athens to work, study, start a business, or retire, knowing what’s on the other side in terms of living costs can help make your transition less stressful.
So, what is the cost of living in Athens? First off, the average living expenses are more affordable compared to other major cities in Europe. A family of four will spend about €2,580 on monthly expenses, while a single person will spend about €866/month. Of course, this is if you’re living frugally and stay outside the city center.
These figures are simply a guide as the exact costs will depend on your lifestyle. The city is more affordable if you live like a local. But if you’re aiming for a more luxurious life, it comes with a price tag. Unless you already have a good source of income, I’d suggest securing a job first before relocating to Athens given the fairly high unemployment levels in the city and the country at large. When it comes to making major decisions with money is involved, like moving abroad, it’s always good to get an expert’s opinion. Hopefully, this guide will help you answer some basic questions about whether you can afford to live in Athens. Without further ado, check out the:
Monthly Cost of Living in Athens for a Family
Athens is family-friendly; I mean, who would pass up instant access to the beach and the possibility of a larger house given the cheap property prices. In case you’re wondering what your monthly expenses will be living in Athens, you’ve come to the right place. As mentioned earlier, the total monthly cost of living estimated for a 4-person family is €2,580. To simplify this even further, here are the:
Housing is the biggest expense for any household. Once that is taken care of, the rest of the expenses are a bit easier to figure out. A family of 4 will need a two or three-bedroom apartment to live comfortably. Renting a 3-bedroom apartment costs €662/month in the city centre, and €540 outside the city centre.
Although renting is more affordable, buying a home is also a possibility. Greece has had some economic trouble, which has seen real estate prices go up. Since the government is looking to attract entrepreneurs and investors to give the economy the much-needed boost, climbing the property ladder is quite easy. In fact, non-EU citizens who purchase property valued at €250,000 and above will receive a 5-year residence permit to move to the country and even bring their families with them. Expect to pay around €1,706/square metre for an apartment in the city centre.
Basic utilities like electricity, water, and gas are obviously important for a family. Athens experiences good weather all year round and this means you’ll be able to save on some utilities and bring the total costs down. Expect to spend about €140/month on monthly utilities.
Most families choose to cook their meals and eat out occasionally. A family of 4 will spend about 50-100 Euros per week buying groceries.
There are several public childcare centres within the city of Athens. Although they are state-funded, parents will still have to pay an average of €70/month. This option is quite competitive and sometimes not enough for everyone. In that case, some parents have no choice but to go for private daycares, which cost between €300 and €500/month. Hiring a nanny will cost you €400-800/month. The last two options are very expensive, which is why some women choose to quit their jobs to raise their kids themselves.
There are several state and private schools to choose from. Free State schools are a great option if you’re planning to live in Athens for long, and want your child to have a deeper level of integration into the local community. Most Greek parents choose to take their kids to private schools, mostly due to the perception that their quality of education is superior to public education. Fees are usually between €7,000 and €13,000, depending on the institution. Another alternative would be to send your child to an international school where they can continue with a familiar curriculum in their home languages.
In addition, you’ll also need to budget for variable costs such as entertainment, clothing, transportation, and health care. Continue reading to find out how much these variable expenses cost in Athens.
Monthly Cost of Living in Athens for Single Person
With an attractive combination of culture, cuisine, climate, and nightlife, the city of Athens has a lot to offer a single expat in Athens. It’s also one of the safest places in Europe –in case you were wondering. That being said, let’s see what to expect in terms of living costs so you can make informed decisions about your big move to Athens. A single person will spend about €629 on monthly expenses without rent. Here’s a look at some of the common expenses that make up the monthly cost of living in Athens for a single person:
Renting is probably the best way for a single expat to get housing in Athens. A typical single person will live in a one-bedroom apartment, which costs about €366/month in the city centre and €282/month outside of the city. You’ll also need to budget for basic utilities (electricity, garbage collection, heating, and cooling), which can cost about €96/month for a 45m2 apartment. If you want an internet connection (60Mbps and above of unlimited data), which is sort of necessary in this digital age, expect to pay around €30/month.
This is another big expense for a single person in any big city, probably because they tend to eat out more often as opposed to families who prepare meals at home. Luckily, both groceries and restaurants are well priced in Athens. Bread, wine, cheese, and olive oil are all locally produced, meaning their prices are even lower compared to other European cities. Expect to spend about €273 on monthly groceries. If you want to eat out, a basic meal cost €10.50 in a cheap restaurant, or you can get some fast foods for just €6.00.
Owning a car is an unnecessary and expensive expense, considering Athens has an extensive, effective, and affordable public transportation system. Monthly travels pass costs €30, assuming you are a daily commuter. If not, you can buy a one-way ticket for just €1.40.
This leaves you with €326 to spend on health insurance, entertainment, and emergencies.
Monthly Cost of Living in Athens for Students
Great universities, together with the city’s warm weather, ancient history, striking landscapes, as well as excellent food and drinks make the city of Athens a popular choice for students. The education is of high quality, especially for history-major students. The main language used at universities is Greek. You may be required to test for proficiency in the Greek language. There are some courses and programs that offer education in other languages like English. Some of the city’s top universities include the National Technical University of Athens, the Athens University of Economics and Business, and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. A student in Athens will spend about €450-700 per month on living expenses. To break this down further, let’s look at the following expenses for a student:
This varies depending on where you choose to study and where you’re from. Students from EU and EEA countries don’t pay tuition fees for a Bachelor’s program, but more and more Master’s programs require students to pay for tuition. On the other hand, students from other countries will be required to pay for tuition, which costs about €1,500 per year. As with any private learning, private universities are very expensive. Expect to pay between €3,000 and €15,000 a year.
Student halls, student hostels, and private rental flats are some of the housing options available for students living in Athens. Although student halls are the cheapest option, they are quite limited, leaving most students to rent privately. The good news is housing is quite affordable in Athens. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs about €366/month, while the same outside the centre costs €240/month. Students can also get a single room for as low as €150/month. Most students choose to share accommodation to cut down on costs. I recommend contacting the international office at your university beforehand to ask about accommodation options. If there are no student halls, they may provide a list of landlords that you can contact for private housing.
The monthly cost of food will depend on an individual’s diet and eating habits. You can save more by preparing your meals instead of eating out. Expect to spend around €250/month on food.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card, you’ll be able to access the same healthcare that Greeks have, which is usually free. If not, you’ll need to get a private cover that’s valid for the duration of your studies in Athens. Expect to spend between €200 and €600 per year on premiums.
Public transportation is the best way to get around the city of Athens. You can do so by purchasing ATH.ENA TICKET/CARD, which operates similarly to London’s Oyster Card. A one-way ticket cost €1.40, while a monthly travel pass costs €30. Note that public university students in this city are entitled to half the prices of public transportation so long as they produce their student ID.
Living a decent life requires a continuous flow of income. Students from EU/EEA countries can find work straight away upon receiving their resident’s permit. Students from other nationalities are advised to inquire about their employment rights from their local Greek embassy. The best time to find employment is during the summer when the city expects international tourists in large numbers.
Average Monthly Costs of Living in Athens, Greece
Monthly rent for an apartment
One of the major factors that will determine how expensive life will be in Athens will be where you choose to live. Accommodation prices are relatively low in Athens, but watch out for overpriced housing aimed at expatriates who haven’t done their due diligence. It goes without saying that apartments in the city centre are more expensive than the ones outside. Apartments in Athens range from one-room accommodations, to a full house with all the amenities. Prices vary depending on the location, size, and any additional features offered such as furnishings.
Here’s what it might cost you to rent in Athens per month:
|No. of bedrooms||City centre (€)||Outskirts (€)|
These figures are obviously for a basic apartment. You’ll spend more if you want a furnished apartment with all the amenities. In addition to monthly rent, you’ll need to factor in utilities. Expect to pay about €144/month for basic utilities for an 85m2 apartment.
Other than renting, you can also opt to buy a property. Did you know that foreigners who invest €250,000 and above in Greek property get the right to apply for residency? This is a good incentive to encourage your move to Athens. Expect to pay €1,710.97/square metre for an apartment in the city centre.
The monthly cost for internet provider
There are many options for getting connected to the internet in Athens –whether it’s in terms of ISPs (Internet Service Providers), ADSL, 3G, dial-up, public Wi-Fi, etc. The main internet providers in Athens are:
OTE/COSMOTE: This is always a good choice because they have the best coverage across the country, appealing packages, and often offer discounts to family members. They also have an integrated protection solution that features anti-virus, anti-spam, parental control, firewall, and banking protection to ensure safe surfing. Packages begin at €32.90/month for up to 50Mbps of unlimited internet.
Forthnet: This was the first company to provide internet and pay-TV, making them the top provider of bundled communication services and home entertainment across the country. You can get reliable internet up to 24Mbps+unlimited telephony to landline+0ver 250 TV channels for just €26.90/month.
Vodafone/Hellas Online: This is the second-largest network after OTE. Its extensive fibre optic network connects to over 80% of the city. Packages start at €22.96/month for unlimited internet up to 24Mbps ADSL speed. You can also get 50PMbps for €33/month for the first year.
Alternatively, those living on a tight budget can take advantage of the numerous free Wi-Fi spots located all over the city, including in Syntagma Square, Theseion, Kotzia Square, as well as in cafes and hotels.
The monthly cost for mobile phone provider
Finding the right mobile phone provider in Athens is also a challenge given the many options to choose from. Here are the three main ones to get you started:
The prepaid start package offers 300minutes to all networks and 500 minutes to Vodafone+50sms to all+100 minutes online bonus for just €8.5 Making international calls to the EU has never been cheaper with Vodafone. With only €0.90, you can talk with your loved ones for up to 60 minutes. For a contract plan, you can get 300 minutes to Greece mobile+24Mbps ADSL speed for €23.95/month.
A prepaid plan offers 400 minutes and 40 SMS to all+400 minutes and 400 SMS to WIND+500MB for just €10. Note that this package is valid for a month. On the other hand, contracts start €20.99/month, offering 100 minutes talk time to all+10 SMS to all+10GB mobile internet.
Their prepaid default package is valid for a month and offers 300′ & 50SMS to all+600MB for just €10. You have the option to customise your prepaid plan every month so you have the benefits of a contract plan without losing the flexibility of a prepaid plan through the ‘My COSMOTE app’.
This service provider also offers a wide range of contract packages. For starters, €31.90/month will get you 300 minutes to all+300 SMS to all+500MB. For €79.90/month you get unlimited minutes talk time to all+4000 SMS to all+15GB for internet navigation.
The monthly cost for health insurance
The Greek healthcare system is made up of both the national healthcare systems and private health covers. You’ll be entitled to free healthcare so long as you pay taxes and belong to a national healthcare organization. The public healthcare system, however, may not work as fine as those in other European countries like the UK, Germany, or France. It is therefore important that you have private healthcare insurance to ensure you are covered for all eventualities.
If you are from one of the EU countries, an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will cover most medical care. If you already have a private health cover in another country, it may be able to cover you in Athens. The city has a good number of hospitals and clinics under iPMI (international private medical insurance.)
The monthly cost for groceries
Groceries are well priced in Athens because most items are locally produced and exist in plenty. A family will spend an average of €560 on monthly groceries. Here’s a list of common grocery items and their prices in Athens (€):
|A litre of regular milk||1.25|
|1kg of local cheese||8.39|
|1kg of white rice||1.70|
|A loaf of bread (500g)||0.81|
|A dozen of eggs||3.07|
|1kg of chicken breasts||6.85|
|Beef round (1kg)||9.46|
The monthly cost for eating out
Of course, you may not want to cook your meals all the time. Well, dinning out is one of the great pleasures of this city and a great way to relax and even connect with others. Just like groceries, restaurants are also good and relatively inexpensive. For starters, a basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost you €11; while a three-course dinner for two in a more upscale restaurant will cost €47. A cheaper alternative includes having a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant for €6.
In addition to the healthy Mediterranean diet that Greeks are known for, the city of Athens offers a more international selection of authentic eateries from Korea, Thailand, India, and beyond.
Living in Athens also offers a wide range of leisure activities. For starters, it is home to a variety of museums that house some of the best collections of ancient Greek artefacts in the world. A trip to the museums will cost you about €10. Alternatively, you can get a movie ticket for just €8 or two tickets to the theatre for €39. Ultimately, the monthly cost of eating out and leisure activities will depend on the number of times you eat out and the establishments you visit.
The monthly cost of public transport
The city of Athens has a very comprehensive, clean and safe public transportation system that consists of:
Metro: This is the fastest way of getting around the city. It consists of three lines, which connect to the bus routes, suburban railway, and tram.
Tram: The tram network also consists of three lines and connects the city centre with the southern seaside.
Buses and trolleys: The city buses and the electrical trolleybus network is very extensive. It serves the city and its suburbs, as well as connecting the city centre with Athens International Airport.
Suburban Railway: This train connects the city to Kiato, Halkida, and Corinth. It also provides a direct link between Athens International Airport and Piraeus port.
The price of public transport in Athens is cheaper compared to most major EU cities like Amsterdam, London, or Paris. A standard ticket costs €1.40 and is valid for 90 minutes on any form of public transport. Children up to 6 years travel for free, while students, seniors over 65, and children from 7-18 years all pay €0.60. You can also purchase a day ticket for €4.50 or a 5-day ticket for €9.
The public transport system also offers various kinds of monthly and yearly travel cards that would be ideal for daily commuters. A monthly travels pass on all modes of public transport (except services to and from the airport) costs €30/month, while an annual card goes for €320. You can get a 3-day tourist ticket for €22, which allows for unlimited travel plus a 1-round trip to and from the airport.
Taxi prices vary depending on the destination and the service provider, but expect to pay €11.81/km.
The Average Salary in Greece
Greece has some of the lowest wages in the Eurozone. The average gross salary, including transport, housing, and other benefits, in Greece is 2,844 EUR per month. But, after tax and other deductions, the average net salary hovers around €780/month
The good news is Greece still has industries and companies that are coping well, despite the country’s current struggling economy. The tourism industry, for starters, still reserves good job opportunities for foreigners. Other popular industries include Information Technology, Telecommunications, and Software Development. Salaries vary depending on the employer and the job title. Some of the top employers in Greece include NBG, Vodafone, Eurobank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY (Ernst & Young), etc.
Below are salaries for popular jobs in Greece:
|Career||Average salary (€)|
Even though Greece currently has low wages and a struggling economy, there are reasons to believe that the situation is improving. The rate of unemployment is decreasing from its all-time highs. It’s currently at 17%, which is the lowest we’ve seen in almost 10 years. This is a positive sign of economic growth, even if slowly.
Cost Of Living in Greece in US dollars
Greece is emerging from the effects of the economic crisis that has paralysed the country’s economy for almost a decade. Even so, living costs are still fairly low compared to many European countries.
Housing, which is one of the biggest budgets in any household, is quite low. For starters, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs $344/month while a 3-bedroom apartment in the same area is $577/month. If you’re looking to buy, expect to pay $1,664/square metre. Basic utilities for an 85m2 Apartment are around $160/month.
There are several ways you can use to get around in Greece; from driving your car to using one of the many forms of public transportation (as discussed earlier). If you’re looking to buy a car, expect to spend about $20,000 on an average car. A litre of gasoline costs $1.75.
Groceries and restaurants are also affordable. For instance, a basic meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs $10.99, while major grocery items cost $1.28 for a litre of milk, $0.97 for a loaf of bread, $1.50 for 1kg of apples, and $3.22 for a dozen of eggs, just to name a few.
Unlike most expenses, which seem inexpensive in Greece, clothing is a bit high. A pair of jeans costs $80, a summer dress in a chain store costs $32, and a pair of men leather business shoes goes for $99.81.
As with any other country, living in the countryside will cost you less than living in the major cities, but you may not get all the modern amenities found in the city.
Cost Of Living in Santorini Greece
Santorini is one of the most popular Greek islands with breathtaking views overlooking the volcanic caldera, picturesque towns, white painted houses, and more. This city is basically heaven on earth. But all these come at a price as the city is twice as expensive as the country’s capital, Athens. For starters, two people with average consumption will spend about €1,170/month (rent excluded).
The average cost of renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre is €600/month, while that of a 3-bedroom apartment is €1,250/month. If you’re looking to buy an apartment in the city centre, be ready to spend €3,100/square metre.
When it comes to transportation, a one-way ticket cost €2, a monthly travel pass costs €50, and a litre of gasoline is €1.89.
The cost of food is also a bit high compared to other parts of the country. For instance, a basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost you €20.50, and a fast food combo meal goes for €8.00. Here’s the cost of some basic grocery items (Euros):
|A litre of milk||1.20|
|1kg of local cheese||12|
|1kg of white rice||1.70|
|A loaf of bread (500g)||1.30|
|A dozen of eggs||5.00|
|A bottle of mid-range wine||5.50|
Cheapest Place to Live In Greece
Despite having low living costs, Greece also offers low salaries. This means that living in major cities like Athens and Santorini might just turn out to be costly. This section features the cheapest areas for your lifestyle so you get what you want for less:
This is the largest city of the Thessaly region, and the fourth most populous in the country. It has plenty of charm, including cobbled streets, stones houses, some of the most popular beaches among the locals, and most importantly, some of the cheapest houses in Greece. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is €246/month, while moving away from the city will cost you about €200/month.
If you’re more into the buzz of city living, minus the high costs of course, then this could be the place for you. Expect to pay €240/month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre or €175/month for one outside of the city. The cost of food, including groceries and restaurants, is also cheaper here compared to the country’s capital, Athens.
This is a town located in the Laconia region. Sparta is surrounded by farmland, which makes it more about the country lifestyle. Its remote location has helped keep prices down. You’ll need to budget €200/month for a 1-bedroom apartment in the town centre. If you want to buy one, a median home here costs €680 per m2.
Cost of Living in Greece Compared To UK
The overall cost of living in Greece is 30% cheaper than in the UK. Consumer prices are also higher in the UK than in Greece by 16.28%.
Housing, which is a huge determinant of how expensive a place is, is 2.4 times cheaper in Greece than in the UK. It will cost €312/month to rent an apartment in Greece as opposed to €815/month in the UK. If you’re looking to buy an apartment in the city centre, expect to spend €1,515/square metre in Greece, and 4,835/square metre in the UK.
Both countries have a well-developed and extensive public transport network. However, transportation costs are 13% less in Greece than in the UK. A one-way ticket costs €1.40 and €2.83 in Greece and the UK, respectively. You can get a monthly travel pass for €30 in Greece as opposed to €67.85 in the UK. Gasoline is one of the few things that cost more in Greece than in the UK.
Food is generally cheaper in Greece with a few exceptions like milk, eggs, local cheese, rice, and beef. Expect to pay around 15% less eating out in Greece than eating out in the UK.
Although everything seems to cost more in the UK, their salaries are quite higher than in Greece to help cover such high expenses.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.