This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affliate Policy for more info.
Greece, a country renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and delectable cuisine, has long been a dream destination for travelers. But what is it like to call this place home?
As an expat who made the leap to settle in this beautiful country, I’ve had the unique opportunity to immerse myself in the daily life and culture of Greece. Living in Athens has brought about experiences filled with both enchantment and challenges.
In this post, I’ll candidly share ALL the pros and cons of living in Greece as an expat.
Whether you’re considering a move or simply curious about life in the land of gods and heroes, join me as I explore the fascinating complexities of my adopted home.
My Story Living in Athens
Since moving to Athens in May 2023, my life has been a blend of the exciting unknown and the comfort of new routines. Living as an expat in a city with such a rich tapestry of history and culture has been both rewarding and challenging in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
The purpose of this article is to provide an honest and balanced view of living in Athens from my personal experience. I believe that understanding both the pros and cons can offer invaluable insights to those considering a similar path or simply curious about expat life in Greece’s capital.
From the charm of wandering through ancient ruins to the frustrations of navigating local bureaucracy, I’ll delve into the multifaceted aspects of Athenian life.
My aim is to paint a realistic picture, highlighting not only the picturesque moments but also the hurdles and surprises that often come with relocating to a new country.
Whether you’re an aspiring expat, a fellow Athenian, or someone with a love for Greek culture, I hope this inside look into living in Athens offers both inspiration and practical guidance.
Pros & Cons of Living in Athens in 2023
#1. Pro: Rich Historical Sites
Living in Athens provides daily access to some of the world’s most renowned historical sites. From the breathtaking Acropolis to hidden Byzantine churches, residents can enjoy the city’s ancient monuments at their leisure.
Unlike tourists, who might feel rushed to see everything in a few days, living in Athens means having the time to fully appreciate its lot of history, explore archaeological sites, and even become a regular visitor at the Acropolis Museum.
The richness of ancient history is not just confined to well-known tourist spots; it permeates daily life in Athens. I often have to pinch myself when I sip coffee near centuries-old ruins and stroll through neighborhoods steeped in ancient times.
Living amidst such historical wealth provides endless opportunities for exploration and continuous learning, making Athens a fascinating place to call home.
#2. Con: Overcrowded Tourist Attractions in Athens
While the historical sites of Athens are undoubtedly one of its greatest assets, they can also become a drawback for those living in the city.
This is my first summer living in Athens, and starting mid-June it has been overrun with oversized busses and droves of people.
Forget visiting tourist attractions, especially famous landmarks like the Acropolis.
I have definitely experienced my favorite spots swarmed with tourists.
The overcrowding doesn’t only affect the enjoyment of the sites but I noticed prices are higher for everything.
Navigating through throngs of tourists drinking their way through Athens on a regular basis can take away from the charm of living near these ancient monuments.
While the historical sites of Athens remain a unique privilege for its residents, the popularity of these attractions can sometimes be a double-edged sword.
#3. Pro: Mild Winter Climate
Living in Athens as an expat offers the joy of experiencing its mild winters. During the winter months, the Mediterranean climate ensures relatively warm and temperate conditions compared to many other European cities.
This climate allows for more comfortable outdoor activities and exploration, even in the heart of winter.
The hours of sunshine during this season are more abundant than in many northern regions, making the winters in Athens not only bearable but often quite pleasant.
#4. Con: Hot and Dry Summers
On the flip side, the hot summers in Athens can be a significant drawback. I have experienced some INTENSE heat in the summer months.
These extreme heat and dry conditions, often reach uncomfortable levels leading to the possibility of wildfires.
If you are coming from places like the US where EVERYWHERE has strong AC, expats living in Athens have to contend with the so-so-cool air-conditioned spaces.
Although Athens has better AC than some other countries I visited, it’s still a lot of heat and relentless hours of sunshine that make some daily activities less enjoyable.
The allure of the Mediterranean climate loses some of its charm when faced with the reality of Athens’ hot and dry summers.
#5. Pro: Delicious Cuisine
One of my undeniable joys of living in Athens is the access to delicious Greek cuisine! The city offers an array of traditional dishes, all enriched with the famous local olive oil, providing an authentic taste of Greece right at your doorstep.
The combination of rich flavors and healthy Mediterranean ingredients makes dining in Athens a continual delight.
#6. Con: Limited International Food Options
While the local Greek food is undoubtedly appealing, as an expat, you may find yourself missing the variety of international cuisines you might be accustomed to.
In Athens, the focus on traditional dishes might limit the availability of diverse international food options in both restaurants and grocery stores.
If you have specific tastes or dietary needs that fall outside the bounds of traditional Greek cooking, grocery shopping can become a challenge, and finding varied international fare might require extra effort and planning.
For example, the US has a variety of gluten-free products that you might struggle to find here in Athens.
#7. Pro: Lower Cost of Living (Compared to Other European Capitals)
One of the attractive aspects of living in Athens is the lower cost of living compared to other European capitals. Greece is definitely one of the cheapest countries to live in the EU.
Whether looking for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center or seeking suburban serenity, rental prices tend to be more affordable. For example, my 1 bedroom in the heart of the city center is only 1095 euros a month.
Staying within my budget in Athens has been very easy. The average cost of daily essentials, transportation (including suburban railway and green line services), and leisure activities are often reasonable, contributing to a desirable quality of life.
Even in central Athens, with its access to green spaces and cultural amenities, long-term living expenses can be surprisingly attainable, making Athens an appealing new city for many ex-pats.
#8. Con: Lower Average Salary
While the lower cost of living is a significant advantage, it’s essential to consider the corresponding lower average salary in Athens.
If you are coming to Athens and looking for work, the salaries might be a lot lower than you are used to.
The balance between income and expenses might limit some options in central locations, impacting the overall quality of life for some expats.
Living in Athens offers many attractions, but the lower salary scales might require careful planning and budgeting, especially for those considering long-term residence.
#9. Pro: Friendly Locals
One of the best things about living in Athens is the warmth and friendliness of the locals. I have felt so welcomed and found a sense of community and hospitality.
From neighborhood gatherings to everyday interactions in shops and cafes, the genuine interest and kindness shown by Athenians can make settling into a new city much more comfortable.
I was lucky enough to make a friend on my visit to Athens that I see regularly now that I live in Athens.
The connections formed with locals can become an enriching part of life in Athens, fostering a sense of belonging even far from home.
#10. Con: Language Barriers for Non-Greek Speakers
While local friendliness is a highlight, language barriers for non-Greek speakers can pose a challenge. Even with the best intentions, navigating daily life, understanding cultural nuances, or forming deeper connections can be hindered if you don’t speak Greek.
Though many people in Athens may speak English, especially in tourist areas, the lack of proficiency in the Greek language might limit some interactions and experiences.
The language barrier can sometimes turn a simple task into a complicated process and might take some time and effort to overcome for those planning to live in Athens long term.
It is not a deal breaker, but if you were to live outside the central areas you might really notice this as an issue.
#11. Pro: Proximity to Islands and Beaches
Living in Athens offers the incredible advantage of being near beautiful Greek Islands and beaches.
The Mediterranean climate, which ensures mild winters and hot summers, creates a year-round appeal to explore the coastal areas. Even in the winter months, the allure of the nearby sea remains.
A quick weekend getaway to an island or a short drive to a local beach is never out of reach. I often frequent islands such as Naxos and Milos.
The proximity to places like Milos, with natural wonders such as Sarakino Beach allows expats in Athens to fully embrace the Greek island life.
And if you love great food, the Greek Islands are a great place for foodies!
#12. Con: Overcrowded Beaches During Peak Season
While access to beaches and islands is undoubtedly a pro, it comes with a downside during the summer months.
Athens’ beaches can become overcrowded during the peak tourist season, making what should be a relaxing day at the beach feel chaotic and cramped.
The hot summers drive both locals and tourists to the water, leading to congestion and sometimes diminishing the enjoyment of the natural beauty.
For those living in Athens, finding a quiet spot on the beach might require extra effort or traveling further afield during the busy summer months.
#13. Pro: Excellent Public Transportation
One of the highlights of living in Athens, especially for expats planning a long-term stay, is the city’s excellent public transportation system.
Whether in the bustling city center or residing in a more central location near green spaces, the well-connected suburban railway and the metro’s green line provide efficient and affordable ways to navigate the city.
I love how the accessibility enhances the quality of life, making it easier to explore not only the new city’s cultural landmarks but also its hidden gems.
Athens’ public transportation offers both convenience and a greener alternative to daily commuting, reflecting a modern urban lifestyle.
#14. Con: Traffic Congestion in the City
While the public transportation system in Athens is commendable, the city is not immune to traffic congestion, particularly in and around the city center.
The crowded streets can turn a short drive into a time-consuming ordeal, especially during peak hours. This congestion can sometimes overshadow the convenience of living in a central location, impacting daily routines and the overall quality of life.
Expats considering a long-term stay in Athens may need to plan around this reality, potentially relying more heavily on the public transportation system to avoid the frustration of daily traffic jams.
#15. Pro: Access to Vibrant Live Music and Local Favorites
Athens is such a great place to live if you consider yourself a music enthusiast.
From traditional Greek music in quaint tavernas to bands like Florence + the Machine & Guns N’ Roses.
Exploring local favorites, whether it’s a hidden jazz bar or a renowned music venue, becomes part of the daily adventure in Athens.
The city’s rich musical culture adds depth and texture to the expat experience, allowing newcomers to connect with the local culture and the city’s creative pulse.
#16. Con: Noise and Crowds in the City Center
While the lively atmosphere contributes to Athens’ appeal, it can also lead to noise and crowds, particularly in the city center.
Living in Athens you are living in a big city! The bustling streets, filled with tourists, shoppers, and revelers, can create a chaotic environment, especially during peak times and on weekends.
This isn’t your quaint village kind of place. The noise, whether from traffic or late-night entertainment venues, may become a nuisance for those living close to the central areas.
#17. Pro: Thriving Digital Nomads Community
In recent years, Athens has emerged as a great place for digital nomads from different countries.
I for one came to Athens to live on a Digital Nomad Visa.
I have found that the Greek capital’s blend of ancient history and modern connectivity makes it a good choice for remote workers.
Co-working spaces, thriving social circles, and a supportive community have developed, attracting a lot of people, including single persons seeking collaborative opportunities.
Check out the local Facebook groups and other social media platforms that provide an excellent way to make new friends and share experiences, enhancing the quality of life in one of Europe’s oldest cities.
#18. Con: Concerns Related to Health Care and Medical Services
Finally, living in Athens may present healthcare and medical services concerns. Navigating the Greek economy’s healthcare system might present challenges for ex-pats. But this depends if you are able to use the public system.
Research and local guidance become essential for settling into life in this beautiful but complex city.
By presenting both positive and negative aspects of living in Athens, Greece, this balanced list can provide a well-rounded view for those considering a move to this ancient city or simply wanting to understand what life is like for ex-pats.
Pros and Cons Conclusion on Living in Athens
Living in Athens, the capital of Greece has been nothing short of amazing. Embracing the city’s rich history, from its ancient monuments to its place as the birthplace of democracy, offers daily inspiration.
Despite challenges like expensive housing in the summer months, and overcrowded areas due to tourism, I love it.
The best part of Athens might be its people, always ready to engage in social circles and show newcomers the best places in town. I have felt so welcomed in such a short time.
The city’s connection to ancient Greeks and its spot as a hub of Western civilization brings unparalleled cultural richness.
From strolling through the city centre to exploring the local newspapers and engaging with the largest city’s estimated population, there’s always something new to discover.
For the ex-pat, Athens offers a slice of something special, where the ancient meets the modern in a beautiful blend that caters to an average person.
It’s a great city where the best thing might just be the way it makes you feel at home, even if it’s your first time here. The combination of great things, from its tantalizing food to its energetic city life, ensures that Athens is not just a good place but a remarkable place to live.
FAQ’s Living in Athens
If you are looking for a neighborhood with all the fancy boutique shops, you want to check out Kolonaki.
Athens is very livable for an expat! With its digital nomad visa and affordable housing, it is an ideal city for an expat.
Customized Travel Planning Services
Tailor Made For How You Like To Travel