If you’re thinking about moving abroad to work in Athens, but you’re worried because you’ve heard talk about a low greek salary Don’t worry, living an eventful life in Athens on a budget is more than doable. Keep reading for some honest talk, best advice and personal experiences on how to live a good life in Athens – and in my case while working in customer service. I promise you, it’s not hard and you can also save up money.
Greek salary: expats
First, let’s talk about salaries in Greece. Coming from a western or Scandinavian country it is easy to get scared by a seemingly low salary. The minimum wage in Greece is 780€ per month, and you definitely start wondering how on earth it is possible to live with that amount of money in your pocket. But many Europeans are offered a lot more than that. Personally, I earned roughly 1100€ per month after taxes. It varied a little bit depending on how many evening shifts, Sundays and bank holidays I had worked during the month. Besides this, I received up to 120€ (tax-free!) on a separate online account called Edenred/Ticket Restaurant depending on my monthly performance (KPI’s). This card can be used in almost all supermarkets, in Wolt app, and some cafés and restaurants (read more in the sections “Grocery shopping” & “Nightlife, dining, and food delivery“). And last but not least, I also received two extra salaries during the year. One full salary on Christmas, and two half salaries; one in spring and one in summer.
Rent vs Greek salary
I paid 500€ per month in rent which is relatively expensive on a Greek salary. But I lived by myself with a big sunny balcony and a modern apartment. That was my personal choice and priority. If you live with flatmates or a partner, or if you don’t feel the need for a big, sunny outdoor space it will be less expensive – expect between 250-400€. Furthermore, you will most likely have to pay building fees, which goes to maintenance and cleaning of the staircase, lift, etc. These fees are often around 25-50€ per month.
Electricity, water, internet, and SIM card
My electricity bill was around 20-60€ every 2 months, and water bills are almost non-existent! By the way, the tap water in Athens is perfectly safe to drink, it just has a different taste compared to places like Denmark. This is most often also the water that will be served in restaurants and bars unless you ask for bottled water. Besides these bills I pay 22,90€ per month for WIFI at Cosmote, and around 6-12€ per month for bundles (minutes and GB’s data) at Vodafone.
I really recommend buying a Greek SIM card because it is very cheap here and it will most likely save you money on a Greek salary. Vodafone, Cosmote, Nova etc. offer deals where you can simply buy data instead of an entire package deal, and you simply choose exactly what you need for the next e.g. 15 days, 25 days or 30 days, and there are always special offers. And they have varying offers during the year with unlimited data for a month for around 10 €, and free surprises where you are gifted 1-5 GB for just transferring money to buy these specific “bundles”/minutes to talk/GB data. Everything is handled through an app or on their website. And you can use mobile data all over Europe as well!
Comparison of other rental prices and monthly expenses on a Greek salary
Some colleagues of mine have shared an apartment with their partner, both living on a Greek salary. One of the couples paid 660€ in Piraeus, and they had a big, modern apartment with 2 bedrooms (they used one for guests), a living room, bathroom, and kitchen. It was situated one block from the water and harbour of Piraeus with all the restaurants and bars. They both worked from home, and sometimes they had to pay around 100€ for electricity, but after they worked from the office they paid around 30€ for electricity. But the company pays you a little extra along with your salary for working from home.The other couple paid 800€ per month in Kallithea (900€ during the months of summer) but all their expenses were included in the rent (internet, electricity, water etc.)
Grocery shopping on a Greek salary
Some great supermarkets in Greece/Athens are Sklavenitis, AB, Lidl, MyMarket and Kritikos. OK Markets tend to be pricier due to their extended opening hours and the fact that they are open on Sundays as well. And to answer your next question: yes, big supermarkets and stores are closed on Sundays, but restaurants and kiosks are open. In MyMarket the prices are generally slightly higher, but they often have great discounts and special offers on products, which then makes it cheaper – and therefore budget friendly for a Greek salary if there are certain products you use a lot. Sklavenitis is definitely my go-to supermarket, and they also exist as massive hypermarkets in e.g. Piraeus and Marousi.
Laiki (farmer’s market)
Another recommendation to have more money left from your Greek salary is to use the local farmers markets all over Athens, called “laiki”. They take place from early morning until around 2 PM on different days of the week depending on your district. The prices tend to drop during the day – you can find one near you on their “official” website HERE. If you bring 10-12€ in cash you can easily buy veggies, fruit, eggs and much for a whole week. And then you can buy meat and other necessities from the supermarket with the Edenred bonus card I mentioned above.
Nightlife, dining, and food delivery on a Greek salary
Cooking at home will save you money, but even if you go out to eat a couple of times during the week, you will still have money to spare. A good souvlaki costs around 3€, and you can get a good coffee or freddo espresso for 2-3 €.
Disclaimer: If you wish to go out partying, buying tables and bottles etc. every week, your money will not last long – but that goes for wherever you are in the world. But you can easily be social and live a good life AND put money aside for trips, savings, going out, or whatever you wish.
Local food and alcohol
In Greece they sell their own local produce way cheaper than cocktails and other imported goods, which is very beneficial to know, if you want to make your Greek salary stretch further. Greek wine is amazing and they sell it cheap in restaurants – for comparison, a cocktail will cost 10-12€ while a glass of wine costs 3-8€. Beers like Alpha, Fix etc., and ouzo are also locally and nationally produced which results in a much lower cost. Furthermore, pubs/bars outside the centre (Monastiraki) are cheaper, and you can find ½ litre of beer for 3€ in Piraeus and cocktails for 6-7€.
Eating out, takeaway, and Wolt delivery
For eating you will generally find nice, affordable menus, and a meal can cost anywhere between 8-15€ depending on your appetite – and this goes for both Greek food/tavernas, Indian restaurants, bowls, burger joints, falafels, Mexican restaurants etc. And there’s a little hack, if you remember the Edenred/Ticket Restaurant card mentioned earlier! This card can be used for the Wolt app as well. So, if you’re in a restaurant and you want takeaway, but the restaurant itself does not accept the Edenred/tax-free bonus card, you can simply open your Wolt app, place your order in there instead of at the cashier, and pay via Apple/Google Pay where your online Edenred card is. This is a great way to save money from your bank account. And if you want to opt for delivery from Wolt it is worth mentioning that they have FREE delivery if the restaurant is closeby. But even if it’s a little further away, they only charge between 0,50-4€ for delivery!
Navigating Athens via public transport is easy. Once you’ve hopped on the metro, trains, or trams a couple of times, you’ll find them incredibly user-friendly, punctual (the tracks are not affected by traffic jams and rush hour), and very affordable.
There are different lines and connections, and I’ll briefly explain them below:
- Line 1: The green line roughly connects the north (Kifisia) and south (Piraeus, port) of Athens (going through the centre and popular places like Monastiraki/Acropolis).
- Line 2: The red line is underground and goes a bit diagonally from the west (Anthoupoli) and to the south (Helliniko), from where you can go by bus to the best beaches of Athens. It also stops at Attiki (connection with the green line), Syntagma (connection with the blue line and tram) and Acropolis.
- Line 3: The blue line goes all the way between Piraeus (Dimotiko Theatro) to the airport. It also stops at e.g. Monastiraki (where you have to get off to see Acropolis or connect with the green line), Syntagma (connection with red line and tram).
- Tram: Runs on the coastal line, and it also connects with the red line at Syntagma.
The ticket prices vary depending on your need. You can buy the tickets in machines at all stations – if you need more information, you can find the official website HERE. Examples of tickets:
- 90-minute ticket costs 1,20€
- 2 trips (not depending on time) costs 2,30€
- Full-day ticket costs 4,10€
- Airport ticket costs 9€
- You can also buy a personal card that you can add money to online or at the machines.
BUT with that being said, if you ask the locals you will often hear that it is basically free to use public transport in Athens. Many people are actually not paying for tickets, they just get in the line and follow someone going through the entrance/gate. Furthermore, it is often an unspoken rule or gesture to leave your 90 minute ticket at the entrance/counter/gate if you’re done using it. This way, many people benefit from the same ticket, if you’re just riding on the metro for 10-30 minutes (the tickets have time stamps on them so you can see when they have been issued).