Lifestyle
July 21, 2023
Reading Time: 7 min

Living in Greece: 16 Pros and Cons of Moving to Greece as an Expat

Greece is a popular choice among both tourists and expats: foreign residents represent around 8% of the total population of the country. And there is a good reason for such popularity.

An affordable cost of living, accessible healthcare, welcoming people, and a perfect climate are just a few advantages of living in Greece. However, there are some drawbacks to moving to the Hellenic Republic as well.

Let’s break down all the pros and cons of residing in Greece as an expat.

Julia Loko
Julia Loko

Listed all the pros and cons of living in Greece

Pros and cons of living in Greece

Living in Greece: 16 Pros and Cons of Moving to Greece as an Expat

12 benefits of living in Greece

1. Residency is available with a Golden Visa program. Foreigners wishing to experience all the benefits of moving to Greece first-hand have several options to obtain residence permits there. For instance, they can get a long-term visa for financially independent individuals or the Golden Visa.

The Greece Golden Visa program allows foreign nationals to obtain residence permits in the country after investing in its economy. Different investment options include real estate purchases and acquiring timeshares for 10 years. The minimal investment under the program is €250,000.

2. Travel privileges for residents and citizens. Greece is a member of both the Schengen Area and the European Union. This means that residents of Greece can easily travel visa-free to the majority of countries in Europe, including France, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, and others.

Greek citizens can enter 180+ countries around the world visa-free. These include the USA, the UK, and Australia.

3. Affordable living. According to Eurostat’s study in 2022, the price levels in Greece are 12% below the EU average.

Greek prices for consumer goods, utility, household appliances, and transport are similar to those in Slovenia, Malta, and Estonia. But living in Greece is more affordable than living in Italy, France, or Austria, while the quality of life is still high.

When comparing the cost of living in Greece to developed countries outside Europe, the difference is even more significant. For instance, prices on rent, public transportation and restaurants are 10—70% lower than in the US.

Average prices for essentials in Greece compared to the US

Expense

Loaf of bread

Average price in Greece

€1

Average price in the US

€3

Expense

Milk, 1 litre

Average price in Greece

€1

Average price in the US

€1

Expense

Eggs, a pack of 12

Average price in Greece

€4

Average price in the US

€4

Expense

Local cheese, 1 kg

Average price in Greece

€10

Average price in the US

€10

Expense

Apples, 1 kg

Average price in Greece

€2

Average price in the US

€5

Expense

Water, 1.5-litre bottle

Average price in Greece

€1

Average price in the US

€2

Expense

Meal for 2 at an inexpensive restaurant

Average price in Greece

€45

Average price in the US

€69

Expense

Monthly utilities for an 85 m2 apartment 

Average price in Greece

€210

Average price in the US

€171

Expense

Gasoline, 1 litre

Average price in Greece

€2

Average price in the US

€1

Expense

Public transport, a monthly pass

Average price in Greece

€30

Average price in the US

€64

Expense

Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre

Average price in Greece

€414

Average price in the US

€1,558

4. Tax incentives for new residents. Expats who move to Greece and become tax residents can claim a preferential tax regime.

Tax incentives are available to three categories of expats:

  • foreign employees are exempt from paying taxes on half of their income for 7 years after obtaining residency;

  • foreign retirees in Greece can pay a flat rate of 7% on all of their income for 15 years;

  • high-net-worth foreigners who obtained residency after investing in real estate in Greece pay a lump tax of €100,000 regardless of their income.

5. Opportunities for profitable investments in real estate. Foreigners investing in real estate in Greece can expect to recoup 2—10% of their initial investment annually. Athens and Crete are the best places to lease an apartment because of the high demand and rental prices.

In Athens, on average, tenants pay €400—600 for a one-bedroom apartment per month and €800—1000 for a two-bedroom apartment.

6. Good weather all year round. The Mediterranean climate is one of the reasons expats from all over the world choose Greece.

The summers are hot and dry, with a mean temperature of +24°С in Athens and southern regions and a few degrees lower in the north.

Winters are mostly mild and wet; only the northern mountainous areas get strong snowfalls and wind.

7. Laid-back lifestyle. Greeks value a relaxed life pace, making it easy for expats to achieve a satisfying work-life balance and forget the hassle culture.

According to OECD’s Better Life Index, only 5% of employees in Greece tend to work long hours, which is twice as low as the average.

8. Affordable healthcare. Citizens and residents of Greece take advantage of an accessible healthcare system, where free public services are funded through the social insurance institute, and paid services are also available.

National healthcare provides free services to citizens of the country and expats who work for local employers. However, many prefer paid healthcare since private clinics and hospitals typically have newer equipment.

Private hospitals provide faster services while still being affordable compared to paid facilities in other EU countries. A visit from a private clinic’s doctor will cost a patient around €60—100.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece

9. English is a common language. An expat does not need to learn the Greek language to live comfortably in Greece. With over 50% of Greeks knowing English at some level, it is easy to communicate with locals here.

10. Welcoming people. Hospitality is one of the famous things about Greek people. Whether a tourist or an expat, a guest always gets a warm welcome here.

In Conde Nast Traveller’s Reader’s Choice Award, Greece has been named the third friendliest country in the world.

11. Healthy diet. Inspired by traditional Greek cuisine, the Mediterranean diet is known as one of the healthiest eating patterns. So it takes little effort to eat healthily when residing in Greece.

The Mediterranean diet implies having plant-based products, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and seeds, as the foundation of the diet. Olive oil is the main added fat, while poultry, fish, seafood and dairy are in moderation. Red meat and sweets are consumed only occasionally.

12. Rich cultural heritage. Greece is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, which spans thousands of years and encompasses various civilisations.

Greece boasts a notable number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 18 sites include the Acropolis of Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Meteora, and the archaeological site of Mystras.

blok

The Old Town of Corfu is one of Greece's 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It represents a blend of Venetian, French, and British influences, reflecting the rich historical past of the region

Drawbacks of living in Greece

Life in Greece could seem like a dream — and, for the most of it, it truly is wonderful. However, there are some drawbacks an expat should consider before making the final decision to move.

Bureaucracy is very common. Navigating administrative processes can be time‑consuming and frustrating. Residents complain that state services are not digitised and that every request to an administration has to be done in person. For instance, an expat looking to apply for a tax incentive cannot do so online and has to file the request in an office.

Business owners in Greece are also unhappy with the bureaucracy, as it can take months to obtain permission or a certificate from a tax office. This can slow down some vital processes for a business, such as getting a loan from a bank.

Finding work is a challenge. Even though the unemployment rates have been declining since 2013, it can still be quite challenging to find work in the country, especially for non-Greek speakers. While employment opportunities are available, competition can be fierce, and proficiency in the Greek language is often required for many job positions.

Expats who want to settle have to learn Greek. While knowing Greek is unnecessary to live comfortably in the country, expats looking to move there permanently will eventually have to learn the language. Basic knowledge of the Greek language is one of the requirements for foreigners obtaining permanent residency and citizenship.

Strikes and demonstrations are common. Greece is known for its culture of strikes and demonstrations, often used to express public grievances and disagreements. While these protests are usually peaceful and do not reach the proportions of those in France, they can occasionally disrupt daily life and public services.

Since the beginning of 2023, there have been at least four major protests in Greece with tens of thousands of participants. For instance, there was a 24-hour transportation strike in May when trains and ferries were not working.

Popular sites are crowded and expensive. High tourist demand impacts the local atmosphere and potentially increases prices and commercialisation. This is the case, for example, with the island of Santorini, which is often described as overrated and far too crowded to be enjoyable. For comparison, a dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant in Santorini will cost an average €50, which is 10% more expensive than in Thessaloniki.

Pros and cons of living in Greece

While there are some drawbacks to living in Greece, a side-by-side comparison reveals that the advantages of residing there outweigh the challenges.

The conclusion is supported by the Expat Insider 2023 survey by InterNations, where Greece is recognised as a country where it is easy for foreigners to settle.

Comparison of advantages and drawbacks of life in Greece

Advantages of living in Greece

Drawbacks of life in Greece

Affordable cost of living

Finding work is a challenge

Tax incentives for new residents

Bureaucracy is common, and obtaining tax privileges requires time and in-person visits to the tax office

Welcoming people

Strikes and demonstrations are frequent

English is commonly spoken

Expats might still have to learn Greek

Rich cultural heritage

Popular sites are overcrowded and expensive

Accessible healthcare

Laid-back lifestyle

Healthy diet

Perfect climate

Residents and citizens have travel privileges

Residency is available with the Golden Visa program

How to move to Greece as an investor in real estate

Foreign nationals can move to Greece with a Golden Visa program for investors from non-EU countries. It takes around 6 months to prepare the documents, apply and obtain the permit. 

The program offers different investment options, with property purchases being the most popular. Here’s how the process goes with the help of professional lawyers from Immigrant Invest.

1

1 day

Preliminary Due Diligence

To spot the potential risks of rejection and eliminate them, a certified Anti Money Laundering Officer from Immigrant Invest conducts a background check on a potential client before signing a contract with them. This allows us to reduce the risk of rejection to 1%.

The Preliminary Due Diligence only requires the investor’s passport copy and takes one day.

2

2+ months

Purchase of real estate

Immigrant Invest real estate experts assist the investor in finding real estate suitable for the program. When the property is chosen, a lawyer located in Greece acts on the investor’s behalf and does all the groundwork needed to complete the transaction. This includes obtaining an individual taxpayer number, preparing the documents, and ensuring the legality of the transaction.

Finally, the lawyer or the investor signs the sale agreement, submits it to the Land Register and receives a certificate.

3

2+ months

Preparation of documents and application

Documents that are not related to property purchase, such as passport copies and medical insurance, are collected, translated and notarized while the investor chooses the property to purchase.

Once the real estate documents are ready, the whole package of documents can be submitted to a specialised department of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum. On the application day, the investor must also submit their fingerprints: they visit Greece with a tourist visa.

4

1—2 months

Acquiring residence permit

The processing time of Golden Visa applications is typically 1—2 months. The investor and their family members can receive the permit in person or trust that to a lawyer.

5

Every 5 years

Renewal of residence permit

The residence permit is valid for 5 years. To renew their permit, the investor must keep the property’s ownership.

Summary: is moving to Greece worth it?

  1. The pros of living in Greece include affordable cost of living, accessible healthcare, a laid-back lifestyle, beautiful scenery, and hospitable people.

  2. Among the drawbacks of residence in Greece are overwhelming bureaucracy, overcrowded touristic places, and frequent public protests.

  3. Foreigners looking to move to Greece can choose among several options for residency. For instance, they can invest in property and acquire a 5-year residence permit with the Golden Visa program.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

Will you obtain a residence permit in Greece?

Practical Guide

Will you obtain a residence permit in Greece?

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the pros of living in Greece?

    Some pros of living in Greece are an affordable cost of living, accessible public healthcare, a laid-back lifestyle, and a rich cultural heritage.

  • What are the disadvantages of moving to Greece?

    The most remarkable cons of life in Greece include high bureaucracy levels, frequent strikes and demonstrations, unemployment, and underwhelming tourist traps.

  • How expensive is Greece?

    The price levels in Greece are 12% below the EU average. Prices for consumer goods, utility, household appliances, and transport are similar to those in Slovenia, Malta, and Estonia. Life in Greece is more affordable than in Italy, France, or Austria.

  • Is Greece a good place to live?

    In the 2023 Expat Insider survey by InterNations, Greece was recognised as a country where settling and finding friends among locals is easy. Among the benefits of living in Greece, expats value its welcoming culture, mild climate and high quality of life.

  • What is the nicest part of Greece to live in?

    Among expats, Athens and Thessaloniki are some of the most popular cities in Greece. They provide the most comfortable living in terms of infrastructure and accessibility of public services.

    The best places to invest in property are Athens and Crete, as it is more likely to get more profit from renting out real estate because of high demand. On average, the profitability is 2—10%.