Understanding the cost of living in Athens Greece, is an important consideration if you are planning to relocate to the Greek capital. Athens is a wonderful city that is rich in history and culture.
This article has been written by someone who has lived in the Greek capital for close to 5 years and can give inside insight into the reality of relocating to Greece. It should help you establish a realistic budget for living in Athens, whether you are considering moving there independently, as a couple, or as a family.
Cost of Living in Athens
Generally speaking, living in Greece, and Southern Europe/the Balkans as a whole comes at a lower cost compared to living in Northern and Western Europe. You get more bang for your buck here.
In 2017, it was estimated that the cost of living in Athens was as much as 30% lower than the cost of living in other parts of Europe. While that gap has closed somewhat in recent years, Athens still remains an economic place to live.
As some countries in western Europe are contending with a cost of living crisis in 2022, and as Greece starts to make it easier to move to the country on a more permanent basis, Athens has never looked more appealing! That being said, it is important to note that the cost of living in Athens is increasing with every passing year.
An influx of foreign residents and Digital Nomads choosing the city as a place to work remotely has had an impact on the cost of living in Athens in recent years. So too, has the impact of Airbnb pushing up rental prices. Still, with smart decisions when searching for an apartment, and a realistic budget, living in Athens can be a wonderful experience.
Searching for apartment rentals in Athens
The biggest cost of living in Athens is your apartment rental. Prices vary substantially depending on the part of the city that you choose to live in and the size of the property you choose.
Central Athens neighborhoods such as Thissio, Koukaki, Psiri, and Makyrgianni are among the most expensive. Koukaki, in particular, has undergone massive gentrification in recent years and is one of the most popular hotel and Airbnb hubs for tourists.
There are also some neighborhoods that are considered more exclusive and upscale. For instance, chic Kolonaki, the Mets district, the Athenian Riviera towns of Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni, and Vari, and the northern Athenian suburbs of Psychiko, Neo Psychiko, and Kifissia.
The difference of a few blocks can make a huge difference in the price. Areas like Exarchia and Metaxourgeio are parts of town that were previously considered somewhat dangerous.
However, they have seen massive improvements in recent years and are starting to emerge as creative hubs. Local artists and designers have begun opening stores, galleries, and studios here. In these parts of town, you will get more for less.
If you don’t mind the distance from the city center, and an area that is not the most aesthetic, you can find some great deals in the northern district of Peristeri and Petroupoli. Sepolia and Attiki also boast low-cost rentals, though they are a little rough around the edges.
Zografou and Kaisariani are student areas just south of the city center where you can find affordable rentals. Pagrati and Vyronas are becoming a little hipster and gentrified, but Agios Dimitrios and Dafni are also very affordable.
Where to search for apartment rentals in Athens
It is a good idea to spend a couple of weeks/months hanging out in Athens on a temporary basis before moving permanently. That way you can establish which areas you prefer.
Spitogatos and XE.Gr are the main property websites in Athens. You may also be able to find properties for rent and for sale via Greek Facebook groups but you do have to be a little more careful if you choose to do that.
As a rule of thumb, you should expect to pay between €350 – €400 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Athens. €500- €600 is reasonable for a two-bedroom apartment. Again, this depends on the area.
One and two-bedroom apartments in Kolonaki for example would cost a lot more. The specific square footage of the property, any recent renovations, the existence of double glazing, and the newness of the building can also be a factor in the cost.
It is important to note that as a foreigner, you may often find that you are quoted what seems like an inflated price. This is one of the main reasons why you need to be careful if you search for properties via Facebook groups or word of mouth. If you find a property that you like the look of, sense check the price that you have been quoted with Greek friends or members of Greek ex-pat Facebook groups.
Don’t hesitate to negotiate either. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you like a property but the price that you have quoted seems high, respond with what you would feel comfortable paying. The worse that they can say is no!
Costs of signing a rental contract in Athens
When you find an apartment in Athens that you are happy with and you are in the position to sign the lease, there are a few additional expenses to consider. You will usually be expected to pay a deposit, as is the case in most countries.
This is often equivalent to the cost of a month’s rent. If the property that you choose is managed by a letting agent, you may also be required to pay a letting agent’s fee.
This can amount to several hundred euros too. So, if for instance, the apartment that you choose is €500 a month to rent, you should be prepared to put down €1500 when you sign the lease (or thereabouts). That is €500 for the first month’s rent, €500 for the deposit, and €500 for the letting agents fee.
Minimal rental contracts in Greece are usually between 6 months to a year. You will usually need to provide your AFM “Arithmos Forologikou Mitroou” when finalizing the contract.
Cost of utilities and water in Athens
The cost of your gas, electricity, and water will vary depending on the size of your apartment. In general, expect to pay between €150-€300 a month on these bills, but remember that there are so many variables. Gas, electricity, and water are all calculated separately.
Cost of electricity bills in Athens Greece
In a one-bedroom flat, expect to pay around €70 a month for your electricity. This is based on reasonable consumption for 2 people sharing with moderate use of the air conditioning.
It gets very hot in Athens during the summer months (temperatures often reach 35-40 degrees Celsius during July and August). Most people will keep their aircon on throughout the night. Obviously, if you keep your aircon on all day and all night, or you live in a larger property as a family, with multiple air conditioners going, your electricity bills might be higher.
Cost of gas in Athens Greece
Many Athenian apartment buildings are relatively old and so is the way that they, and their gas systems, are managed. In the winter months, petrol is delivered to the various apartment blocks and the central heating is managed by the building maintenance.
In other words, unless you live in a new apartment complex, you will not have control over the heating in your apartment. It is usually turned on for the entire building for a couple of hours a day in the morning, and a couple of hours a day in the evening.
This can cost anywhere between €30 and €70 a month. Prices are expected to increase somewhat in 2022 due to the gas situation in Russia. It is a good idea to over-budget rather than under budget.
It can get pretty cold in Athens in winter, particularly between December and February. Depending on how old/well-insulated your apartment is, and whether it has double glazing, etc, you may find that you also need to purchase a plug-in electric heater.
These can be electricity guzzlers but are sometimes the only option. Watch your consumption and monitor how much this also impacts your end electricity bill.
Building maintenance costs in Athens
Many apartment buildings in Athens charge their residents a monthly or quarterly fee for building maintenance. This covers things such as repairs and regular cleaning of the communal areas.
This can be anywhere between €20 and €50 per month. You will usually be advised about the precise cost of this when you first sign the apartment lease.
Water bills in Athens Greece
Water bills are paid three times a year in Greece. They range from between €10 and €20 a month on average. Again, obviously, this varies depending on your consumption.
Purchasing furniture in Athens
A lot of Athens apartments come fully or partially rented. This will be specified on the listing.
When you view the property, you can enquire as to specifically what will come with it. Of course, if you plan on sticking around in Athens long term, it can be nice to make your space your own and decorate it with all of your own furniture.
There are furniture and homeware stores in Athens that suit every budget and taste. On the more affordable end of the spectrum, there is a huge IKEA store in Aigaleou in the northwestern part of the city (Kifisou 96-98).
There are also several charming independent design stores to consider. Paraphernalia, Design Shop, Box Architects, El Greco Gallery, Myran, and Roma 5 Design are all worth adding to your radar.
Internet costs in Athens
Expect to pay between €20 and €25 a month for your internet bill in Athens, Greece. This is not too dissimilar to the cost of the internet in other parts of Europe.
There are several different internet providers to choose from, although Forthnet is arguably the most popular. Net One, Otenet, Hellas Online, On Telecoms, Tellas, and Vodafone are other options.
If you are setting up the internet for the first time, keep in mind that you may also have to pay additional initial costs. I.e. you may have to pay a setup fee or you may have to pay for the cost of the router.
Cell phone costs in Athens Greece
Cosmote, Vodafone, and Wind are the main cellphone providers in Greece. For the most part, Cosmote has better coverage all over the country. However, in some more remote islands (e.g. Skopelos and Alonissos), the area is better served by Vodafone or other networks.
Expect to pay between €10 and €15 a month for a package with ample data and minutes. Some packages, such as the ¨Vodafone International¨ option offered by Vodafone Greece, also include data that can be used elsewhere in the EU.
The best place to pick up a Greek sim card is directly in the phone stores. Keep in mind that you will need to take your passport or some other form of identification with you, to register a new sim card.
The only unfortunate thing about having a sim card in Greece is that contracts are old-fashioned. You have to top up every month. This is straightforward, however, and you can visit any of the little kiosks in the street and ask for €10/€15/€20/etc credit on your chosen network.
You then call the number on the voucher you are given and enter the code. Data and calling bundles give you more for your money.
Public transport costs in Athens Greece
Public transport in Greece is very good on the whole and this is no different in Athens. The Greek capital has an extensive network of buses, trams, and metro trains that run from the city center to the airport, and to the surrounding areas of Piraeus, Kifissia, and the Athens Riviera.
A one-way ticket on the Athens metro will cost you €1.40 and it is valid for 90 minutes, for as many journeys as you need to make in that time. Bus and tram tickets cost the same amount.
If you are traveling to and from the airport, you need to purchase a special ¨Athens Airport and City¨ ticket. This costs €10 per person one way or is €18 return.
If you live in Athens medium to long term and plan on using public transport regularly, you can purchase Ath.ena cards for around €30 a month for unlimited use. Public transport is generally a better way to get around the city as the roads are congested and finding a parking space in central areas is a nightmare.
Taking cabs in Athens Greece
Cabs are a comfortable and affordable way to get around in Athens without having to depend on public transport schedules or worry about having to wait around for connecting metros. You can generally get a cab from one part of the city to another for as little as €5-6.
Even if you travel from the center to Vouliagmeni and the beaches near Athens, you should not pay more than around €15. From the city center to the airport (and vice versa), expect to pay around €30-€35, and from the airport to Piraeus, expect to pay around €50-55.
Uber is no longer permitted in Athens and you can only use licensed cabs. Unfortunately, hailing a cab on the street puts you at risk of being overcharged as a foreigner or having a cabbie take you on a long, roundabout route through town so that he accrues a higher fare.
However, an app called taxi BEAT is a great way to protect yourself from scams. The app works in a similar way to Uber and other ridesharing apps. It connects you with local drivers and displays the route and the price that you can expect from your journey before getting in the car.
Average grocery bill costs in Athens
A budget of €300-400 a month for toiletries and groceries is reasonable for a couple sharing in Athens. €600-€700 is perhaps more reasonable if you are a family with children.
Several supermarket branches can be found throughout the city. Sklavenitis and AB Vassilopoulos are the main supermarket chains in Greece.
You will also find more budget friendly options such as Lidl and Economy supermarkets. As is the case in most countries, small convenience stores and corner shops are often more expensive.
The cost of living in Athens is great when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables and locally sourced Mediterranean products. However, some imported things, such as cereals, foreign candies and toiletries may actually cost more than they do in your own country. So, on the whole, you may find that your grocery bill in Greece is equal to, or even slightly more than, what you are used to.
If you miss home comforts and international foods, AB Vassilopoulos is the best place to go for products from outside of Europe. You can also save money by shopping at local farmers markets known locally as ¨Laiki Agora¨.
These little local markets are set up weekly in most parts of the city. The largest traditional market of this kind is the Varvakios Agora in Psiri, Central Athens.
Not only are the fruits, veggies, meats, and homemade jams and treats here cheaper, they are also better quality. Not to mention, by shopping at local stores and markets, you are supporting independent producers and business owners.
Costs of travelling around wider Greece
Athens makes a great base to take trips out to other parts of Greece. From here, you can reach islands such as Hydra, Spetses, and Poros in a day.
Fascinating historic sites such as the Meteora Monasteries, Cape Sounion or the ruins at Delphi, can also be done on a day trip from the Greek capital. For a long weekend, or a period of a week or longer, you can take a trip from Athens to areas such as the Peloponnese.
Greece, in general, is a very budget-friendly travel destination. Outside of visiting the incredibly popular island destinations like Mykonos, Santorini, and Zakynthos in the summer months, you can easily explore the country on a budget of less than €50 a day.
Double rooms in charming, independently-owned hotels in places like Monemvasia and Mystras cost as little as €30-€35 a night. Dining out at tavernas across the country seldom costs more than €6-10 a person, and the cost of buses from Athens to Thessaloniki, or Athens to Karpenisi, or anywhere else in the country, is seldom higher than €15-€20.
Entertainment costs in Athens Greece
The cost of going out for drinks, dinner, nightlife, and to see a movie, is cheaper in Athens than it is in much of Europe. However, it is more costly to hang out in the very centre of Athens than it is in some of the quintessentially Greek districts in the eastern and southern parts of the city.
For instance, you can get a Freddo cappuccino (Greek iced coffee) at a cute coffee bar in Kaisariani or Vyronas for just €2. In Plaka, and other parts of central Athens that are filled with tourists and international people, this may cost €5.
Similarly, it is not unheard of to pay as much as €5 for a bottle of beer in a trendy bar in downtown Athens, while in a more local taverna, it may be €2. Cocktails in chic rooftop bars such as A for Athens or Athens 360 may set you back as much as €10-€15.
If you want to go to the movies, a ticket will cost you around €4. You may be able to get deals at certain cinemas on certain nights of the week, or if, for example, your cell phone/internet contract is with a particular provider that offers 2-for-1 deals on specific days.
Health insurance and medical cost of living in Athens
If you are moving to Greece on a type D visa or on a financially independent person’s visa, getting a health insurance plan is imperative. This may be a prerequisite for certain visas for people of certain nationalities.
The cost of health insurance can vary wildly so it is important to gather several quotes when you are in the early stages of planning your relocation. An average cost would be around €50 a month for a healthy adult. However, if you are older, or have preexisting health conditions, you may have to pay more.
If you visit a doctor without insurance, expect to pay around €40 for a consultation. If you have insurance, your visit may be as little as €10.
Boxes of medication in Greece are of comparable prices to what you would expect elsewhere in Europe. (I.e. prices tend to fall between €3-7 a box of meds). If you want to have blood tests, either as part of an extensive checkup or to identify a condition, you should expect to pay around €70-€80.
Dental costs in Athens
Visiting the dentist in Athens is much cheaper than obtaining dental treatment in the US, the UK, and other parts of Europe. However, not all dentists are created equal so it is important to shop around and make sure that you find a reliable and reputable dentist!
A dental check-up may cost around €17, an Xray may be around €25, a white filling between €40-50, and extraction around €100. Most dentists do not have X-ray facilities in their surgeries so they will refer you to an external X-ray clinic or that. People still prefer to be paid in cash in Greece and as most dental clinics are privately owned, you may find that some offer a discounted price if you pay in cash.
Costs of coworking spaces in Athens
If you are going to be self-employed or working remotely in Athens, you may be interested in working from different coworking spaces to get a change of scenery from your home office. There are also many charming coffee shops on virtually every street corner of the city (Drinking coffee is the national sport of Greece, didn’t you know?).
You can get a large cappuccino or a Freddo coffee for as little as €2.50-€5 depending on where in the city you are. It is perfectly acceptable to hang out in one cafe for several hours cradling the same cup of coffee here. Plenty of people do it!
If you did that every day and drank one cup of coffee out each day, you would probably spend €90-€100 a month on changing your environment! There are also, of course, designated coworking spaces if you prefer.
Expect to pay between €130 to €170 a month for a hot desk seat at an Athens coworking spot. At many of these places, this includes unlimited free tea, coffee, water, and snacks!
Some coworking spaces regularly organize events that are great for meeting other entrepreneurs. Stone Soup, the Cube, and Impact Hub are all great coworking spots in the city.
Costs of schools and education in Athens
If you are relocating to Greece as a family, schooling can be a large cost. If you want to send your kids to an international school where they learn English and Greek, expect to pay between €7,100 and €12,500 per child, per year.
Public schools in Greece are tuition-free and students on a state-approved list are provided with free textbooks. School fees vary depending on the area and reputation of the school.
FAQs about the Cost of Living in Athens
Do you still have any burning questions or concerns about the cost of living in Athens, Greece? Hopefully, you will find the answers you are looking for below.
Is it cheaper to live in the US or Greece?
It is substantially cheaper to live in Greece than in the US. Athens is arguably the most expensive place in Greece to move to, however, prices here are still much more economical than in the US.
For instance, you could easily pay as much as $1800 USD a month for a two-bedroom apartment in a US city such as Atlanta or Houston. In Greece, you could get an apartment of the same size for less than 700 euros in Athens. That is a huge reduction in your cost of living right off the bat, before you even take into consideration things like the lower costs of dining out, entertainment, etc.
Is it expensive to live in Athens Greece?
Living in Athens Greece is far from expensive by anyone’s definition. While it is true that other parts of Greece are more economical to live in, Athens is much more affordable than the vast majority of other European cities.
What’s the average rent in Athens Greece?
The average rent in Athens Greece varies depending on the type of property you are renting. For a one-bedroom apartment that is around 40m2 in size, you can expect to pay around €350 – €400 a month. For a two-bedroom apartment that is around 92m2, expect to pay €500- €600 a month.
How much do you need to live comfortably in Greece?
As an independent person, you can easily live comfortably on €1000 a month in Greece. That is assuming that you live in a one or two-bedroom apartment alone, you eat out at Greek tavernas often, hang out in the bars in Athens, and take trips around the country. If you choose to rent a room in a house and share it with other people, your cost of living can be even less.
What is the cheapest place to live in Greece?
The main Greek cities of Athens and Thessaloniki are among the most expensive places to live in mainland Greece, although they are still significantly cheaper to live in than other parts of Europe. Lesser-known Greek cities such as Ioannina, Volos, Igoumenitsa, Patras, and Kalamata, are even cheaper to live in. Rural parts of Northern Greece are also among the cheapest places to live in the country.
How much is a bottle of water in Athens?
A bottle of water in Athens Greece is 0.50€. This price is actually regulated by the Greek government and you will find that it is the same everywhere – from the little kiosks in Syntagma square to major supermarkets.
What are your thoughts on the cost of living in Athens, Greece? How does Athens compare to where you live? Are you considering a move to Greece?
I have been living in the Pagrati district close to the Panathenaic Stadium since 2017. Have a wonderful time exploring Athens and wider Greece. Geia sou! Xo