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Public Holidays in Greece




New Year's Day

1 January 

1 January


6 January

6 January

Orthodox Ash Monday

7 March

27 February

Independence Day

25 March

25 March

Orthodox Good Friday

22 April

14 April

Orthodox Easter Sunday

24 April

16 April

Orthodox Easter Monday

25 April

17 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Orthodox Whit Sunday

12 June

4 June

Orthodox Whit Monday

13 June

5 June

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

15 August

15 August

Ohi Day

28 October

28 October

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Second Day of Christmas

26 December

26 December

Culture Shock in Greece

Greece may be a European country with familiar facilities and social structures, but that doesn't mean that expats won't experience at least some degree of culture shock here.

It is a country of rich traditions and ancient history, as well as sea and sunshine. In response to their environment and history, the Greek have developed traditions which expats should respect. Greek characteristics have been shaped by a fascinating blend of the ancient and the modern, as well as the country's long history as a crossroads between East and West.

Language in Greece

Greek is considered by many to be a tricky language to learn. There are differences between spoken and written Greek, as well as between regional idioms. Greek also employs inflections, where the meanings of words change depending on the tone. As a result, during the first stages of learning Greek, expats can expect some confusing exchanges.

Generally, locals are accepting of foreigners who don't speak Greek. At the same time, Greeks are extremely proud of their language, and rightly so: it is one of the oldest in the world and has made significant contributions to the English language. Expats intent on staying would do well to learn the language – not only does it create more possibilities for employment, but it is also the best way to integrate into Greek society.

Time in Greece

It is often said that Greek people would rather relax than rush through their daily routines. Time in Greece seems to move more slowly. Statistics show that the average Greek employee works more hours in a year than most Europeans, but this fact doesn't affect the value Greeks place on enjoying life's simple pleasures. Being half an hour late for a social gathering is normal and even expected, but expats should take care to be on time for business appointments.

Food in Greece

Food and drink are important in Greece, serving as the gathering point for socialising. Locals spend hours at coffee shops when they can, but this is typically less about the coffee itself and more about spending time with friends or family.

Even in the toughest times, Greek people are fantastic hosts who provide their guests with everything they can. Expats who enjoy this privilege should always bring a gift for the host, such as wine or flowers. They should also be prepared to eat whatever is in front of them – it is considered rude to turn down food.

Embassy Contacts for Greece

Greek embassies

  • Greek Embassy, Washington, DC, United States: +1 202 939 1300

  • Greek Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7313 5600

  • Greek Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 6271

  • Greek Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6271 0100

  • Greek Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 348 2427

  • Greek Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +3531 676 7254

  • Greek Consulate, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 27 857 5315

Foreign embassies in Greece

  • United States Embassy, Athens, Greece: +30 210 720 2951

  • British Embassy, Athens, Greece: +30 210 727 2600

  • Canadian Embassy, Athens, Greece: +30 210 727 3400

  • Australian Embassy, Athens, Greece: +30 210 870 4000

  • South African Embassy, Athens, Greece: +30 210 617 8020

  • Irish Embassy, Athens, Greece: +30 210 723 2771

  • New Zealand Consulate-General, Athens, Greece: +30 210 692 4136

Articles about Greece

Weather in Greece

The climate in Greece differs somewhat between regions. The northern parts of the mainland have colder winters and hot, humid summers. On the other hand, the islands to the southeast and the southern parts of the mainland have a more typically Mediterranean climate with milder winters and hot, dry summers. Generally, though, it can be said that Greece has warm summers and mild winters.

Broadly speaking, snow in Greece becomes less common the further south and the closer to sea level one goes. Some higher mountainous areas can have alpine climates with heavy winter snowfall. It does occasionally snow in and around Athens, however.

The hottest months of the year are July and August, when temperatures can reach 104°F (40°C). Rain starts from the middle of October and can continue through February, punctuated by days with a mild winter sun and clear skies.


Pros and cons of moving to Greece

Greece is an incredibly beautiful place to live, with plenty to explore and enjoy, from ancient historical sites to black sand beaches. The quality of life is high, and expats earning anything above the average salary will be able to live a relatively lavish life in this Mediterranean country. That said, there are also negatives to life in Greece that expats should be aware of before taking the plunge. We've put together a list of pros and cons for moving to Greece to help prepare expats for what to expect when arriving in their new home.

Cost of living in Greece

+ PRO: Greece is generally affordable

Although costs do vary throughout the country, with the mainland being typically cheaper than the islands, Greece has a relatively low cost of living. It is more affordable overall than its Western European neighbours and the US. Transport, fuel and basic goods are all reasonably priced.

- CON: Tourist areas are expensive

Although the cost of living in Greece is relatively low, prices are hiked up in the main tourist areas to take advantage of the seasonal visitors. Choosing a lesser-known island or city to live in will certainly yield cheaper prices for almost everything, from accommodation to food.

Accommodation in Greece

+ PRO: There are plenty of rental options available

Depending on where in the country expats decide to live, the range of choices may differ. While villas and apartment blocks are common in the cities, stone farmhouses are popular in the countryside. Freestanding and semi-detached houses and cottages are also found throughout the country. With so many options available, expats shouldn’t struggle to find accommodation that will suit their budget.

- CON: Accommodation varies in quality

Expats should visit the property and consider the condition and age of the structure before committing to it. Especially when buying, unexpected renovation and restoration costs could ensue if expats unknowingly buy a run-down property.

Lifestyle in Greece

+ PRO: The locals are friendly

Expats will quickly discover that locals are incredibly welcoming and hospitable. Greek people are warm and friendly, they value relationships, love food and are proud of their culture and traditions. Expats will find that any attempts to speak Greek will be greatly appreciated.

+ PRO: There is a relaxed pace of life

Greek society is laid back, and the pace of life is slow and relaxed. Locals tend not to rush through their daily routines and, although they do work hard, they enjoy the simple pleasures in life. This may take some time to adjust to for expats used to a fast-paced environment, especially in the workplace.

+ PRO: The weather in Greece is lovely

Expats in Greece will love the Mediterranean climate this country offers its residents. Although the year-round sunshine is punctuated by rain on occasion, the number of wet days are few. Winters are mild and bright, and the hot summer weather is accompanied by a cool ocean breeze.

+ PRO: Greece has delicious food

A point of pride for the locals, Greece is a food lover's dream. There is a huge variety of dishes in Greece, all consisting of fresh local produce and tasty meats or seafood. It is also known for being incredibly healthy, which is thought to be the reason Greek people live so long.

+ PRO: It is a relatively safe country

Crime rates are low in Greece, and most people report feeling extremely safe walking around Greece day or night. General precautions should still be taken, but expats feel safe in general.

- CON: Expats will have to navigate the language barrier

Although expats don't necessarily need to speak Greek to get on, those intent on staying in Greece would do well to learn the language. Not only does it create more possibilities for employment, but it is also the best way to integrate into Greek society.

That said, it is a tricky language to learn. There are differences between spoken and written Greek, as well as between regional idioms. Greek also employs inflections, where the meanings of words change depending on vocal tone. As a result, expats in the first stages of learning Greek can expect some confusing exchanges.

Healthcare in Greece

+ PRO: Healthcare is generally good

Greek hospitals and healthcare professionals generally offer a high standard of care. While private facilities are considered to be superior to public ones, both have well-trained doctors and nurses, many of whom speak English.

- CON: The healthcare system is plagued by bureaucracy

Unfortunately, there is a culture of corruption and bureaucracy involved in the Greek public healthcare sector that brings down the quality of care significantly. Mismanagement and lack of funding also contribute to this. The Greek government has put a number of measures in place in recent years in an attempt to streamline the system and fight corruption.

Working in Greece

- CON: It can be hard to find a job

Expats without a job in hand may struggle to find employment in Greece. Although Greece's unemployment rate is declining, it is still rather high. When looking to hire an expat, companies usually also prefer to hire an EU expat, as the paperwork involved in hiring non-EU expats is immense. While speaking Greek can assist expats in looking for a job, it will not guarantee employment.

Accommodation in Greece

Whether considering a whitewashed Santorini blockhouse with blue shutters that match the sky, an Italian-style townhouse in Corfu's rolling green hills or a luxury villa in the northern suburbs of Athens, expats have plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation in Greece.

Types of accommodation in Greece

Depending on where they decide to live, expats will come across various housing options. In the cities, expats can expect to find a mix of old and new – choices range from stunning luxury villas to humble decades-old apartment blocks. In the countryside, stone farmhouses are typical. Semi-detached houses, cottages and freestanding homes with gardens are also popular options.

Finding accommodation in Greece

In the search for accommodation in Greece, hiring a local real estate agent will likely be a good idea. Many Greek sellers target foreign buyers, and a better deal can often be found with the help of someone who speaks the language.

Exploring the areas one is interested in is always a good idea. Expats should look out for 'for sale' signs, and ask locals if they know of any properties available. Places available for rent may also have signage up on the property, which is typically a white or yellow sticker with the word enoikiazetai (for rent) written in red.

Many people in Greece prefer posting their properties online and in local newspapers as opposed to making use of estate agents. While most ads are in Greek, there are some in English. Generally speaking, English ads are aimed at foreigners and may have higher prices than one would find in Greek ads.

Factors to consider for house hunting in Greece

While everybody's real estate priorities are different, choosing a respectable area within one's budget is a good start. Especially when buying, expats should consider the general condition and age of the property they are considering, particularly as this affects property tax.

Expats looking to stay in Greece for a short period might want to consider renting instead. On the other hand, expats who can afford to purchase property that is of a certain value may be attracted by the prospect of getting a resident's permit in return.

Renting accommodation in Greece

Making an application

Good accommodation in the major cities can go fast, so expats should apply quickly when they find a good fit. A tax number (AFM) is needed to rent accommodation and get utilities connected, so new arrivals should make getting their AFM a priority.


For long-term rentals in Greece, deposits are usually between two and three months' rent. This should be returned when the lease has expired, as long as there is no damage to the property. As a result, doing an inventory of any damages upon arrival might save a tenant's deposit.


According to law, residential lease agreements have to cover a minimum of three years, although a shorter period may be negotiated between the landlord and the tenant. Generally speaking, the longer the lease, the lower the monthly cost.

It is important that expats fully understand their contracts and should hire someone to independently translate any agreements written in Greek before they sign.


For short-term rentals, utility accounts are most often billed to the landlord and are typically included in the rental cost. For long-term rentals, however, the tenant will likely be held accountable for their own utilities, which are an extra expense on top of rent.

Working in Greece

Expats without a job in hand may struggle to find employment in Greece. Though Greece's unemployment rate is steadily declining, it remains significantly higher than other European countries such as Italy and Spain.

Non-EU expats will find it even more difficult to secure a job. Owing to the extra costs and paperwork involved with hiring non-EU citizens, most companies tend to hire employees from within the European Union. To overcome this, networking is key.

Job market in Greece

Greece's most prominent industries are traditionally within the service sector, which employs the majority of people and contributes the most to the country’s GDP. Industries such as food and tobacco processing, textiles and chemicals also make a significant contribution to the Greek economy.

Greece's tourism industry is thriving, with millions of tourists a year flocking to visit the marble statues and monuments of Ancient Greece, as well as holiday islands such as Santorini and Mykonos. However, jobs in the tourism industry are often seasonal, which can leave expats without an income in the quiet season.

Many expats teach English in Greece. This requires a bachelor's degree and may require a TEFL qualification. Working as a private tutor is an option, but doesn’t guarantee a regular income.

Finding a job in Greece

Most expats arrive in Greece with a job in hand, typically as the result of an intra-company transfer. However, those determined to find a job in the country should get in touch with local businesses and recruiting agencies. Online job portals and classified sections of local newspapers are a good way to scope out the job market, but are often not the best route for securing work. Greeks prefer to do business with people they know, so networking is key to finding a job in Greece.

Work culture in Greece

Expats may find Greek work culture markedly different to their own. Work culture in Greece is traditional and hierarchical, emphasising relationships, networking and first impressions. Successful expat workers present themselves professionally while exhibiting patience, friendliness and directness.

Greeks are known for a more lax approach to finer rules, with meeting agendas and end times typically seen as suggestions as animated deliberations go back and forth. While respect for the hierarchy is paramount, Greeks respect colleagues who are passionate advocates for their business choices.

Moving to Greece

With its shimmering beaches, endless sunny days, rich cultural traditions and ancient historical sites, it's no surprise that moving to Greece is an appealing prospect for many.

Considered by many to be the birthplace of Western civilization, Greece is surrounded by Italy and the Ionian Sea to the west, and Turkey and the Aegean Sea to the east. It has long been an attractive destination for its relaxed lifestyle and natural beauty.

Living in Greece as an expat

However, this idyllic version of Greece is starkly contrasted with the socioeconomic and political state of the country in the last decade. Having emerged from its far-reaching debt crisis, Greece is experiencing slow but steady recovery. Be that as it may, the country still has a fairly high unemployment rate and as such, jobs in Greece are scarce. 

Traditionally, employment in Greece has been provided mainly by the service sectors, construction, telecommunications, agriculture and shipping industries. The collapse of Greece's economy left many of these industries reeling, and most have yet to recover fully. That said, perhaps as a result of low prices, tourism is the exception to the rule and continues to provide employment opportunities for foreigners in Greece.

The Greek cities that attract the most expats are Athens and Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is well known for its high-tech industries and hosts the Thessaloniki Technology Park as well as the Thessaloniki Science Center and Museum. While perhaps not as multicultural as Athens, it is still home to a large expat population.

Athens, known as 'the City of the Gods', is the birthplace of democracy where the monuments of Ancient Greece continue to dominate the city. It is also Greece’s financial capital and houses the headquarters of many of the multinational companies operating in the country.

Greece's social and economic problems can't be denied. It is notorious for high levels of corruption in politics and business, as well as complicated government bureaucracy. However, Greece is a place of truly majestic beauty. Its people are warm and friendly, they value relationships, love food and are proud of their culture and traditions.

Cost of living in Greece

Living costs in Greece are typically low, though it does vary significantly depending on location. The mainland is generally cheaper than the Greek islands when it comes to fuel and certain basic goods. The countryside is cheaper than cities, but there is a much smaller range of products and services. Athens has a much higher cost of living than other parts of the country, largely due to its appeal as a tourist destination.

Expat families and children in Greece

Greece is a safe country with excellent weather and friendly locals – a great place to raise a family. Expats who want to stay for the long term might consider enrolling their children in a public school, though Greek is a notoriously tricky language to learn. Otherwise, excellent private and international education are available at a premium. Greek hospitals and healthcare professionals offer a generally high standard of care, though the presence of some bureaucracy and corruption in public hospitals turns many expats to private healthcare.

Climate in Greece

In general, Greece's Mediterranean climate has warm summers and mild winters, though the northern parts of the mainland have colder winters and hot, humid summers. July and August are the hottest months of the year, and the span of October to February is rainy, interspersed with occasional days of mild winter sun and clear skies.

For expats who can afford it or those who are adventurous enough to take the plunge, Greece remains a popular destination for its high-quality lifestyle, ancient villages and hundreds of glittering islands waiting to be explored.

Fast facts

Official name: The Hellenic Republic

Population: 10.4 million

Capital city: Athens (also the largest city)

Other major cities: Thessaloniki

Geography: Greece consists of the mainland, a peninsula on the southern tip of the Balkans, and 227 inhabited islands. There are thousands of uninhabited islands. One of the most mountainous countries in Europe, Greece's highest point – the mythical home of the gods, Mount Olympus – is 9,573 ft (2,918m).

Neighbouring countries: The mainland is bordered by Albania to the northwest, Macedonia to the north and Bulgaria to the northeast. The Ionian Sea is to the west of Greece, with the Aegean Sea towards the east.

Government: Unitary parliamentary republic

Major religions: Christianity (Greek Orthodox)

Main language: Greek, although English is also widely spoken.

Money: Greece uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Expats are able to open a bank account in Greece provided they obtain a Greek tax number (AFM). Generally, ATMs are widely available, although some may not offer services in English.

Tipping: For restaurants, if there isn't already a service charge, tips are normally 10 percent of the bill.

Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 between the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are the most common.

Internet domain: .gr

International dialling code: +30

Emergency contacts: As with other European countries, the general emergency number is 112. For local services, dial 100 (police), 166 (ambulance), or 199 (fire).

Transport and driving: Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Metro networks and intra-city bus systems are restricted to larger cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki. Intercity transport can be done via buses and trains. Commercial taxis are often available, and defensive driving is highly recommended. Travel between islands is usually done by ferry.

Cost of Living in Greece

Living costs in Greece are fairly low, though it does vary significantly depending on location. The mainland is generally cheaper than the Greek islands when it comes to fuel and certain basic goods. The countryside is cheaper than cities, but there is a much smaller range of products and services.

Those looking to live in the capital should know it is the most expensive part of Greece. In Mercer's 2022 Cost of Living Survey, Athens was ranked 126th out of 227 cities worldwide. Though pricey in relation to other Greek cities, Athens is still cheaper than other European capitals such as London, Paris and Milan.

Cost of accommodation in Greece

Those looking for a home in Greece will find this to be the highest cost they'll have to bear, regardless of whether they decide to rent or buy. Still, accommodation prices in Greece are fairly low, despite increasing in recent years.

For those who have funds available, it's worth mentioning that foreigners who invest a certain amount of money in Greek property gain the right to apply for residency.

Cost of transport in Greece

Driving in Greece is notorious for being somewhere between challenging and perilous. For expats who do intend on driving their own vehicles, car insurance is a must. In the case of hiring a car in Greece, it is important to check what kind of insurance is on offer, as the costs of hiring a vehicle can be high.

The alternative is public transport. Most people who take public transport in Greece take a bus, or in Athens, the metro. Prices are reasonable, but buses can be a slow means of travel.

Cost of education in Greece

Public education in Greece is conducted in Greek. In light of this, expats who are not staying for the long term often send their children to private English-speaking international schools. However, local Greek schools can be ideal for expats intending to remain in the country for the long term.

Private schools in Greece cost more than public schools, but some provide education in English. Prices differ between individual schools, and prices go up as children progress.

Cost of groceries in Greece

Groceries in Greece are relatively affordable compared to in many European countries. Locally produced wine, cheeses and olive oil are very affordable, and laiki, weekly farmer's markets, are a great source of fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables. Imported and branded products go for more than expats might expect but are overall reasonable.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Greece

Outside of Athens, the cost of restaurants is very reasonable as long as expats avoid tourist areas. For an authentic budget experience, expats can try delicious Greek street food like stuffed savoury pita gyros or souvlaki, or sweet loukomades, a kind of Greek doughnut ball.

Cost of living in Greece chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Athens in October 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 490

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 430

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 840

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 790


Eggs (dozen)

EUR 4.39

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.72

Rice (1kg)

EUR 2.21

Loaf of white bread

EUR 1.09

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 8.32

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 4.79

Eating out

Big Mac Meal


Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 1.79


EUR 3.27

Bottle of local beer


Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 50


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

EUR 0.31

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

EUR 19

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

EUR 115


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

EUR 0.75

Bus/train fare in the city centre

EUR 1.20

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

EUR 2.09

Healthcare in Greece

While the overall standard of healthcare in Greece is generally high, the public sector is often undermined by issues such as corruption, mismanagement and a lack of funding.

In an attempt to streamline the system and fight corruption, the Greek government has introduced universal social security numbers and electronic prescriptions and has also channelled resources to Greece's larger hospitals.

Public healthcare in Greece

Public hospitals in Greece are largely adequate and home to professionals who do their best to deliver quality care. However, the bureaucracy and culture of corruption in the public healthcare sector significantly reduces the quality of care. There are also long waiting periods.

While some hospitals in more remote locations on islands may provide a lower standard of healthcare, the best public hospitals – usually concentrated in the major cities – offer care of a high standard. It is often the case that expats who require more sophisticated care than island hospitals can provide will be transported to a hospital in Athens or Thessaloniki.

Most medical staff in Greece will speak some level of English, though this may differ based on their position and the location of the hospital.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Private healthcare in Greece

Private healthcare in Greece is generally considered to be superior to the public alternative. Greece's private medical facilities are typically less affected by the country's economic situation and have newer equipment. Moreover, doctors and nurses in private hospitals are more likely to speak English. Some Greek private hospitals even have affiliations with US hospitals or those in other countries, and their staff will have had at least some form of overseas training.

Expats who would prefer to go to a private hospital in Greece would do well to have a private healthcare policy, since they will be responsible for the full cost of their treatment.

Health insurance in Greece

Expats who work in Greece make compulsory contributions to the public healthcare system, as do their employers. These contributions give expats access to the public system.

Private healthcare services are popular among those who can afford them, and expats with the means to do so are advised to take out a private medical insurance policy to cover costs.

Pharmacies in Greece

Pharmacies in Greece are normally marked by a green cross. They are widely available, especially in larger cities, and are generally a reliable first line of defence against illness. Many Greek pharmacists will speak English and are capable diagnosticians who may save expats a trip to the doctor.

Emergency services in Greece

Public ambulances are widely available in larger cities, but access may be restricted on some islands and rural areas. In these cases, private ambulances, helicopters and taxis may be legitimate alternatives depending on the situation.

  • Ambulance: 166

  • General emergency: 112

Banking, Money and Taxes in Greece

Though banking, money and taxes in Greece have been a delicate matter for a number of years, things have been returning to normal since the economic crisis stabilised. Nevertheless, financial matters can be tricky to navigate in a foreign country – here's a rundown of what to expect.

Money in Greece

The currency in Greece is the euro (EUR), subdivided into 100 cents. Currency is available in the following denominations:

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 EUR and 2 EUR

Banking in Greece

There are several reputable local and international banks in Greece. The most prominent local banks are Alpha Bank, Eurobank Ergasias, National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank. Though some international banks ceased operation in Greece during the financial crisis, there are still several with a presence in Greece, such as HSBC and Citibank. Many expats open a Greek bank account for local use while maintaining their foreign bank account for international transactions.

Mobile and internet banking in Greece are commonly available. It's possible to pay by card for most transactions, although some smaller businesses and restaurants may only accept cash, so it's a good idea for expats to keep some cash on them, especially outside of cities and away from major tourist destinations.

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in Greece is fairly easy. Before this can be done, however, expats will need to apply for a Greek tax number, called an AFM (Arithmo Forologiko Mitro). To get an AFM number, expats will need to bring their passports to their closest tax office and fill in the relevant form. Once the application has been processed, the tax office provides a document stating the applicant's nine-digit AFM number.

Once they have their AFM number, non-resident bank applicants will need to present proof of identity. This could be in the form of a passport, national identity card or driving licence, though some banks are more specific about what forms of identity they accept. A recent utility bill as proof of address may also be necessary, as well as proof of income, such as recent payslips or an employer's letter. Finally, expats will need to pay a deposit. The amount varies between individual banks.

Credit cards and ATMs

ATMs are widely available in most areas of Greece. Many of them, especially in larger cities, have options available for doing one's transactions in English. In more remote areas, however, ATMs are more likely to only use Greek.

The most commonly accepted cards are Mastercard and Visa – Diner's Club and American Express are less likely to be accepted. For the most part, there should be no issues when using cards with either a chip or a magnetic strip.

Taxes in Greece

Most expats will find that they need to obtain an AFM number fairly swiftly upon arrival in Greece as this number is needed in order to take up employment, open a bank account, and make big purchases such as cars or homes.

In most cases, income generated in the country will be taxed by the Greek government. Social security contributions account for a significant portion of this tax, although employers are required to cover a part of this. Expats buying property will also have to pay real estate tax.

Due to the complex nature of tax in Greece, it is highly advisable to consult a bilingual tax advisor who has experience in expat tax matters.

Visas for Greece

Expats moving to Greece need to be aware of the difference between a visa and a permit. A visa allows entry into the country for a specific purpose, such as travel or study, and a permit allows an expat to live and work in the country.

Non-EU citizens will most likely need a visa for Greece, while citizens from European Union (EU) and Schengen countries, as well as countries like the US and Canada, can stay as tourists for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

In Greece, work permits and residence permits are not separate documents. Expats from outside the EU who have been granted permission to enter the country on a work visa must then apply for a permit which enables them to live and work in Greece.

Visas for Greece

Tourist visas

Greece is a Schengen state, meaning that expats entering the country on a Schengen Visa will also have access to the other European countries that are part of the agreement.

The visa allows travellers from outside the EU to stay in the Schengen area for as long as 90 days in a six-month period. Expats should be advised that it is difficult to obtain an extension.

Business visas

Greek business visas are for short-term business-related activities in the country. They will require that the applicant provides some kind of proof of their activities in the country, such as an official invitation from a Greek firm to attend a meeting, entry tickets to a conference, or a document proving the applicant’s employment at a company.

Work visas

Non-EU expats planning on staying for more than 90 days and working in Greece will need a type D visa (also known as a National Visa). This visa requires an official offer of employment from a Greek business.

In order to provide such an offer, the business needs to submit paperwork to the authorities proving that the work cannot be done by a Greek national or EU citizen. Once approval is obtained, the business is then able to issue an official offer of employment to be used in the expat's type D visa application.

Permits for Greece

Residence and work permits

Once in Greece, non-EU expats will need to apply for a residence and work permit which enables them to live in Greece and do a specific job for a specific employer. The application must be made within a month of arrival, but it is a lengthy process, so it's recommended that expats apply as soon after arrival as possible.

Before applying, applicants will have to obtain a Greek tax number (AFM) from their nearest tax office. They will also need to obtain a social security number (AMKA) from the local Social Security Institute (IKA) or the Citizens' Service Centre (KEP).

Expats from the EU who want to stay in Greece for more than three months only need to apply for a certificate of registration at their local foreign bureau. This requires a valid passport, proof of residence and proof of sufficient income or maintenance funds.

Investment visas

Expats who purchase property in Greece to the value of EUR 250,000 or more are entitled to a Greece Golden Visa. This visa grants permanent residency for the expat and their family members. Permanent residency grants the right to work, start a business, retire or study in Greece. The visa can be renewed every five years as long as the visa holder still owns the property in question. After seven years of continuous residence on this visa, expats can apply for citizenship.

*Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice, and expats are advised to contact their nearest Greek embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Doing Business in Greece

Expats doing business in Greece will find themselves in a challenging economic environment. A complicated and inefficient bureaucracy and a lack of access to regulatory information make it quite difficult for both expats and locals to start a business in Greece.

While much of Greece's economic activity is focused around Athens, the rest of the country offers opportunities as well. Some of the most prominent industries in Greece include tourism, shipping, agriculture, textiles and mining.

Fast facts

Business hours

Business hours in Greece are from Monday to Friday, either from 8am or 9am to 4pm or 5pm.

Business language

While many Greeks do speak English, having a working grasp of the Greek language or going into business with a first-language speaker is often paramount to running a successful business.


Appearances are important in Greece, and expats doing business there should dress neatly and conservatively.


Gifts are generally not part of business relationships and may be construed as bribery, given the country's reputation for corruption. However, if a gift is given to an expat, it should be reciprocated with a gift of similar value.

Gender equality

While women are equal under the law, many Greeks retain a somewhat traditional view of gender roles, and men still outnumber women both in the general workforce and in executive positions.


Shaking hands is the most common business greeting in Greece. Eye contact is important.

Business culture in Greece

Greek culture shapes acceptable business practices. Expats will find that understanding local customs and values goes a long way toward understanding business culture too.


An emphasis on family and personal relations means that many Greeks like dealing with people that they know and trust. This contributes to widespread nepotism in Greek business culture. Greeks also prefer face-to-face meetings to emails and telephone calls.


Greeks maintain traditional views of democracy and honour. Meetings often entail vigorous exchanges of ideas, but expats should take care when disagreeing with a colleague – this should be done respectfully. Additionally, a lot of importance is placed on experience, and employees are expected to respect more senior colleagues.

Dos and don’ts of business in Greece

  • Do greet by shaking hands, smiling and maintaining eye contact

  • Don't be put off by personal questions – Greeks are warm and often curious people

  • Do be prepared to network and spend a lot of time getting to know associates

  • Do make sure that official documents and business cards are in both English and Greek

  • Don't be late, even if Greek associates are

Education and Schools in Greece

Expat parents moving to Greece are faced with a difficult choice. Public schools in Greece only teach in Greek. Still, public schooling is arguably the most authentic way for expat children to integrate into Greek society and learn the language – all while not having to pay tuition fees.

On the other hand, many expats elect to put their children in private schools, where they may get a better education, but this comes with a hefty price tag. In the case of English-speaking private international schools, expat children will have an environment that is closer to what they're used to at home, but this will entail a degree of isolation from their local peers.

All children between six and 15 years old are required to attend school. During these years, public schooling is tuition-free.

Public schools in Greece

The schooling system in Greece is divided into three levels:

  • Primary school (demotiko) – ages 6 to 11

  • Middle school (gymnasio) – ages 12 to 14

  • Senior high school (lykeion) – ages 15 to 17

Government schools do not charge school fees and have traditionally provided free textbooks to students – however, this is subject to change, and there have been textbook shortages in the past.

It's not uncommon for expat and even local parents with children in Greek public schools to spend thousands of euros on private tutors. This is partly due to an inflexible education system which relies on rote memory, and partly to improve their children's chances in the final exams. 

Private schools in Greece

Greece has one of the highest private school attendance figures in Europe, mostly due to the perception that the quality of private schools in Greece is superior to public education.

While private schools certainly have more autonomy than their public counterparts, they are still supervised by the Ministry, and the medium of instruction in most of them is Greek. For expats who can afford it, Greek private schools are perhaps an effective middle ground between an integrative experience for their children and an education of the highest standard.

International schools in Greece

There are a number of international schools in Greece, most of which are situated in Athens, with a few in Thessaloniki. These schools offer foreign or international curricula, typically taught in the language of their country of origin (often English). International schools are favoured by expats because they provide an opportunity for children to continue with a familiar curriculum in their home languages. Fees differ between schools but are generally high and tend to increase as children progress.

Homeschooling in Greece

Unfortunately, homeschooling in Greece is illegal except in very particular circumstances, such as if the child has special needs. By and large, it is compulsory under Greek law to attend primary and secondary schools.

Special-needs education in Greece

Greece's policies for special-needs education are largely focused on the integration of students with special needs into mainstream schooling. There are various levels of assistance available, depending on the child's needs.

Children with mild conditions are kept in mainstream classes with numerous accommodations and extra support from the class teacher. In more severe cases, special-needs students in mainstream classes may receive additional parallel support from teachers specifically hired for their expertise in special-needs education. Should more support be required, special-needs students may be placed into 'inclusion classes' in mainstream schools, alongside other students experiencing similar difficulties. Inclusion classes are staffed by special-needs teachers and tailored to the needs of the students.

Those unable to attend a mainstream school may attend a special education school, be taught at home, or educated by a specialised unit within a hospital or institutional setting.

Tutors in Greece

Greek parents with children in public schools frequently make use of tutors as a way to supplement their learning and give them a better chance at achieving high marks in their exams. Expats may find tutors useful to help their children adapt to a new language or curriculum. Some reputable tutoring companies in Greece include Kumon and, for International Baccalaureate learners, Ariston IB.

Transport and Driving in Greece

Expats should find transport and driving in Greece fairly easy to navigate. The country has a developed transport infrastructure that continues to improve. Public transport is fairly comprehensive, especially in major cities such as Athens. Buses and trains are popular ways to get around within cities, while ferries are often used to move between islands. Driving is also an option, and many of Greek's cities are very walkable.

Public transport in Greece


Expats can take advantage of regional railway lines which link most of the country, as well as the urban rail networks in some larger cities. The majority of the rail network is efficient and expats shouldn’t have too many problems.


The country's only operational subway system is the Athens Metro, which runs along three lines and links the city centre to the surrounding suburbs and the Athens International Airport.

Since 2006, the construction of a metro system in Thessaloniki has been underway, with construction due to be completed in 2023. The system's completion has been repeatedly delayed due to the Greek financial crisis, as well as the archaeological discoveries unearthed during the construction. 


The Athens Tram is the only public tram network in Greece. The network began as a horse-drawn tramway in the 19th century, and has developed into a modern system that is reliable and convenient, running from early in the morning to late at night.


Buses are the primary form of public transport on land in Greece. With a network that connects large cities like Athens and Thessaloniki to small villages, expats should be able to explore Greece with relative ease. The majority of the mainland is linked to Athens or, alternatively, Thessaloniki. Islands such as Corfu can also be accessed by bus from the Greek capital.

Greek buses are most often modern, safe and affordable. While they are reliable most of the time, as with other modes of transport, they may face delays and cancellations as a result of sporadic strikes, especially in Athens and Thessaloniki. Expats are advised to arrive early to catch a bus since they have a tendency to run off schedule.


Greece's ferry services are a popular mode of transport. From June to September, ferry services are very frequent, while only limited services are offered from March to May. It can be very difficult to get around using the ferry between December and February, as very few routes remain operational. During this period, it's usually preferable to go by plane if one needs to get to one of Greece's outlying islands.

Taxis in Greece

Taxis come in various colours depending on the city they are located in. Taxis in Athens are yellow, and those in Thessaloniki are blue and white. Each taxi is fitted with a meter, and expats should ensure that the driver has switched it on before embarking on their journey.

Popular ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft are technically not operational in Greece due to taxi regulations. Despite this, it is possible to use the Uber app to request and pay for a local taxi.

Driving in Greece

In Greece, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Driving in Greece can be a harrowing experience – the country is infamous for having some of the worst drivers in Europe. That said, the roads in Greece are generally well maintained and many regional roads that used to be dirt tracks have been tarred over in the last few years. 

Driving is a good way to explore some of Greece's more remote areas. Expats may, however, want to consider public transport if they aren't prepared to become masters of defensive driving. Another option may be using a motorcycle for its manoeuvrability, though this too should be done with caution.

Holders of driving licences from EU countries or Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein are in luck: they can drive with their current driving licence until it expires. Expats from the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, South Korea and Japan must convert their licences after 185 days, and other expats will probably have to apply for new licences from scratch.

Air travel in Greece

With numerous international airports and a good domestic network, flying is an easy and convenient way to travel. Various Greek islands and cities on the mainland are all very accessible via plane.

Frequently Asked Questions about Greece

Moving to a new country is a big step, and expats are bound to have some queries and concerns about their soon-to-be-home. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about moving to Greece.

Can I find work in Greece?

Jobs in Greece are hard to come by, even for Greeks. The easiest way to move over is to go over on a company transfer. Otherwise, most expats working in Greece either teach English or work in the tourism industry.

Do I need a car in Greece?

It depends on where one wants to travel, but expats shouldn't have too much of a problem with transport and driving in Greece.

In the cities, the manoeuvrability of a scooter may be less stressful than a car in the notorious Greek traffic. At the same time, cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki have highly reliable public bus transport systems.

Moving between cities can be done by bus or, in some cases, by train. Those wanting to make the journey in a low-slung commercial car may have difficulties travelling on some rural roads, although, for the most part, Greece has a highly developed transport infrastructure.

Although the ferries can be unreliable, they are still the best means of moving between islands, though going by plane is also an option.

Is it worth learning Greek?

Learning Greek is the best way to integrate into society and to deal with some of the culture shock in Greece. Aside from having highly specialised expertise, it is also the only realistic way to stand a chance at being competitive in the Greek job market.

With all the strikes and riots in Greece, is it safe to live there?

Most demonstrations are actually peaceful, and few of them occur outside Athens and Thessaloniki. As long as expats avoid areas where protests are taking place and keep their wits about them, there should be very few issues with safety in Greece.

Shipping and Removals in Greece

Not only is shipping one of the major industries in Greece, but the Mediterranean is one of the busiest shipping areas in the world. It follows that there are literally hundreds of companies competing for customers, and shipping items to and from Greece should be fairly inexpensive for expats.

Types of shipping in Greece

The mountainous territory in northern Greece means road and rail access is somewhat limited, and shipping by sea is still generally the best option. That said, it pays to shop around to see what's on the market. Air freight is also an option. Though more expensive than other types of shipping, it's the fastest way of getting personal belongings from point A to B.

Customs clearance in Greece

Expats moving to Greece from elsewhere in the EU can bring their personal belongings into the country duty free, while non-EU expats will be liable to pay customs on certain items.

Expats will have to make a detailed inventory of shipping container contents before the journey. Customs officials will check the inventory list against the container contents once the shipment arrives. Shipping companies can assist with the process of putting together the inventory list, as well as sorting out any other documentation requirements.

Safety in Greece

Safety for expats living in Greece should not be a dominating concern, as most foreign governments consider Greece to be largely peaceful and safe. However, strikes and petty crime are still potential problem areas. While the majority of expats will be safe most of the time, it is always better to be aware and prepared.

Strikes in Greece

In the past, strikes have been fairly frequent in Greece. The government's unpopular austerity measures during the last few years' economic crises resulted in large-scale protest action. Now that Greece is regaining economic stability, protests are generally less frequent. However, they do occur from time to time in response to political issues.

That said, the majority of protests in Greece are peaceful and are announced ahead of time. They are mostly in Athens or, to a lesser extent, other major cities such as Thessaloniki. In Athens, most demonstrations take place in Syntagma Square as well as around university campuses. In Thessaloniki, protests are most likely to occur around Aristotle University and at Aristotle Square.

In the majority of cases, protests are restricted to these areas, and locations associated with tourism remain unaffected. While there generally isn't any major cause for concern, there is always a risk of demonstrations turning violent, and foreign governments strongly advise their citizens to avoid them.

The most likely consequences of protests in Greece are the disruption of transport and work stoppages in the sectors involved in them. At times, certain sections of the city may be closed off to the public.

In the case of transport sector strikes, it may become more expensive and difficult to travel, since expats using public transport will have to use alternative transport such as taxis. 

Crime in Greece

As with anywhere, if expats are alert and careful, they should be safe in Greece.

In Athens, crime is mostly restricted to petty theft such as purse snatching and pickpocketing, while violent crimes such as physical and sexual assault are generally rare. Most crime is likely to occur in areas popular with tourists, some shopping areas and on public transport – particularly the metro. The same largely holds true for other major cities.

Safety tips for expats in Greece

Expats should be particularly vigilant when walking through crowded areas or taking public transport. Criminals often work in groups and employ a variety of methods.

Thieves have also been known to take trains coming from the Athens airport to take advantage of tired travellers.

Given the large number of people travelling in Greece, it is possible that expats will be mistaken for tourists and criminals may attempt to take advantage of them.

Emergency numbers in Greece

As with other EU states, the emergency telephone number in Greece is 112. Below are other local numbers that can be used in case of emergencies:

  • Police: 100

  • Fire brigade: 199 

  • Emergency medical service: 166 

  • Coast guard: 108

  • Tourist police: 171