Moving to Greece

Expats moving to Greece will be relocating to a country of archaeological marvel, rich traditions and shimmering beaches. The Hellenic Republic consists of thousands of islands and rocky outcrops at the tip of the Balkan Peninsula.

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, sunshine and natural beauty.

However, this idyllic version of Greece is starkly contrasted with the socio-economic and political state of the country in the last decade. Having recently emerged from its far-reaching debt crisis, Greece is experiencing slow but steady recovery. However, 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 industry, construction, telecommunications, agriculture and shipping. The collapse of Greece's economy left many of these industries reeling and most have yet to recover fully. However, 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 which 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, houses the headquarters of many of the multinational companies operating in the country and has been the site of numerous political protests.

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. For expats who can afford it, or who are adventurous enough to take the plunge, Greece remains a popular destination for its high-quality lifestyle, ancient villages and the olive groves which dot the landscape.


Fast facts

Official name: The Hellenic Republic

Population: Over 11 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 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 languages: 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. Taxis also appreciate tips of around 10 percent. 

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 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. Inter-city 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.