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Living & Working abroad
Is living and working in Athens a good choice for expats? We at Workwide Recruit say “Yes!”. First off, there is a lot to fill your free time with. Everything from cultural must-sees such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon, as well as a rich nightlife, and amazing natural sights. Here you can enjoy the Mediterranean climate, with wet, mild winters and dry, hot summers – 250 sunny days per year. But to enjoy life in Athens you of course also need a source of income. Athens offers many job opportunities for expats, especially for those who speak another language on top of English. Big multinational companies have set up their multilingual hubs in Greece where you can start (or continue) your international career.
Basic information about Athens
Athens is not only the capital of Greece but also the country’s largest city with 1,3 million residents. Being one of the oldest cities in the world, Athens offers a rich history and many monuments to prove it. In fact, it is said that the first settlements took place several millennia BC.
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Relocating to a new city might seem a bit overwhelming for most people, but it doesn't have to be as big of a project as you might think. We will help you with one of the essential parts of the process - finding a place o live in Athens.
The rent, the location, and access to good public transport options are usually at the top of the list. But being close to sports- and exercise facilities, nightclubs, nature, restaurants, cafes, and other hobbies and interests are also good to keep in mind.
Athens is a large city and what makes it even more inviting is that the lines between the different urban areas are a bit blurred.
It is a city that is strongly connected with tourism as about 6,3 million tourists visit Athens every year. Apart from Athens, Syntagma, Monastiraki, Psyrri, and Acropoli, are other well-visited areas.
But if you want to see Athens through the eyes of the locals, you should seek out places that lie beyond the tourist areas. For example Patissia, Kypseli, Pagrati, Koukaki, Galatsi, or Exarcheia. These are still local areas with plenty of public transport possibilities.
If you are looking for central accommodation in Athens, Syntagma could be the neighborhood for you! The nearby surroundings have a large square with hotels, the parliament building, airport offices, banks, cafes, and easily accessible public transport.
One of the most central areas in Athens is Monastiraki. Here you will experience a multicultural atmosphere and a mix of 19th-century villas, traditional cafes, modern bars, and an antique market. Some famous sights that can be found in Monastiraki are Hadrian's Library, the Ancient Agora, and the Stoa of Attalos.
Approximately 10 kilometers from the city center you will find Chalandri. This is one of the best areas in Athens for those that want to live comfortably since you will be close to everything you need, like banks, shops, libraries, and schools. This is one of the most popular districts with over 70 000 inhabitants.
If you want to save money on rent, you should look for accommodation outside of the city center. One area that is just 15 minutes from Athens by public transport is Aigáleo. This is a cheap and practical alternative for those that still want to be close to the capital.
Another cheap area, just 20 minutes from the city center, is Peristeri. The area is not only one of the cheaper ones but also cozy and family-friendly with its parks.
If you are looking for a luxurious neighborhood in Athens, Kolonaki might be just right for you. This is the wealthiest district of the capital and here you will find exclusive Greek design shops, expensive shopping malls, and the finest restaurants with both international cuisine and modern interpretations of traditional Greek food.
Kifissia is another exclusive area, situated 30 minutes outside of central Athens. In addition to shops for exclusive designer brands, and modern restaurants with a focus on local and organic food, there is also a park called Kifisiás park with beautiful sculptures and ponds.
An area that won't be hard to fall in love with is Planka. This charming district will give you a cozy small-town vibe with its cobbled streets, small local shops, and cafes.
Exarcheia is another area of Athens with a personal charm. The area has a relaxed, artistic, and alternative vibe created by a younger generation and the area is known as Athens' student quarter. Bars and nightclubs often offer live music in the form of blues, jazz, and punk.
One of the first and most essential parts of moving to Athens is finding an apartment that suits you. Unfortunately, this process is not as easy as it used to be, today it is common for what was considered "empty apartments" to become Airbnb's.
Greece doesn't offer a housing queue like some other European countries do, instead, you need to have the right contacts or a higher-than-average income to secure a good apartment.
To find accommodation there are different websites you can use. These show options for whether you want to buy or rent your new home. Let’s go through both options, so you can find what suits you!
Compared to capitals Central Europe, housing prices in Athens are lower, and this includes both buying an apartment and renting one. Purchasing a home in Athens will be 50 % cheaper compared to central European capitals such as Stockholm or Berlin and the monthly rent is also about 50% cheaper.
Something to keep in mind though is that utility bills are not included in the rent. In Athens, there is an additional expenditure of approximately 3 euros per square meter, for electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage disposal.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Athens will cost you about 530 € a month, which is significantly cheaper compared to an equivalent apartment in Madrid or Amsterdam - those would be between 1.000 and 1.500€ a month.
If you look for accommodation outside the more central areas in Athens, a one-bedroom apartment will cost about 460 euros a month.
Renting a three-bedroom apartment in Athens will be around 930 a month in the central parts of the city, and 840 a month for areas outside the center.
Athens is a city full of life, and it has a lot to offer. From a large selection of restaurants and shopping to many museums. There is also lots of culture and art and many historical sights. Here are some of the things you can do on a day off in Athens.
The Acropolis Museum, the Archaeological Museum, and the Benakis Museum are just three examples of famous museums in Athens that are worth a visit!
But you don’t have to go to an actual museum to see art, there are lots of modern street art all around the city. For example, on public walls, and on hidden corners, especially in the Monastiraki and Gazi areas. There are over 2000 works of art around the streets of Athens.
An experience you shouldn’t miss is Lykabettos, Athens' highest hill that offers an incredible view of the entire city. You can get to the top by walking or by cable car.
Another way to encounter beautiful nature in Athens is to visit the 15.5 square kilometer National Park Ethnikós Kípos. Here you can lose yourself in a labyrinth of plants, flowers, ancient ruins, mosaics, pillars, paths, ponds, and bridges.
You cannot be in Athens without visiting the Acropolis at least once! This temple is situated on a cliff 150 meters above sea level and has several marble buildings, the most famous building is the Parthenon temple.
If you want to visit some other famous Greek attractions, there are many cultural and historical treasures in Athens. The Temple of Zeus Olympos is a temple from 500 BC dedicated to Zeus Olympos, king of the gods and ruler of the sky in Greek mythology.
Another attraction is Panathinaikos Stadium, a sports arena that originally held 80,000 spectators when it was built in 500 BC and has been used for centuries as an arena for various sports, music, and theater events.
Greek food is known for its high-quality ingredients, and Athens' food culture is often associated with grilled octopus, lamb, pork or chicken, cheeses, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and of course souvlaki, moussaka, and tzatziki.
If you are looking for a simpler restaurant but still want to enjoy delicious greek food, Falafellas and Souvlaki Gyristroula are two great options in Athens. And if you want to enjoy a fantastic view over the city, 360 and A for Athens both have superb roof terraces.
For food inspiration, you should visit the Athens Street Food Festival, which takes place over three weekends in May each year.
When it comes to drinks, you will find Athens' largest range of beers in Psiri at Beertime. And if you are instead interested in wines, you can visit the Wine Station.
For grocery shopping there are some familiar options, you will, for example, find Lidl stores all over the city. Sklavenitis and Carrefour are two other large grocery store chains. But to feel the Greek atmosphere, you should visit The Central Municipal Athens Market (locally known as Varvakeios Agora), the largest food market in Athens.
Something that is on top of many’s lists when they move abroad is how to meet new people and make new friends. It could seem a bit tricky but there are actually many ways to meet new people, for example:
Although the national language of Athens is Greek, most people know and speak good English. Socializing with the locals can be an effective way to kill two birds with one stone - you can learn the Greek language and meet new people.
Some common words and phrases in greek are:
|Hello||Γειά σου!||jia sou|
|Good evening||Καλό βράδυ||kalo vradi|
|How are you?||Τι κάνεις;||ti kanis|
|I’m fine thanks, and you?||Είμαι καλά, εσύ;||imae kala, esi|
|Good, thanks||Καλά, ευχαριστώ||kala, efharisto|
Living, working, and socializing in Athens is generally cheaper compared to other European cities. General consumer prices including rent are around 61% lower than in Amsterdam and even 10% lower than in already affordable Lisbon.
Most things in Athens are relatively cheap compared to other European countries, for example, public transport, buying clothes, shoes, and food, renting or buying a home, going to the cinema, eating at a restaurant, and working out at a gym. Costs that are more expensive in Athens are petrol, home maintenance, and daycare costs.
The average net salary is lower in Athens than in Stockholm, Berlin and Paris.
There are several ways to get around Athens. So if you don't have a driver's license or a car, you can go by public transport. The options are:
The public transport systems are affordable, and reliable and cover most of the city and suburbs. You can ride all the different public transport options with the same ticket (the only exception is services to and from the airport).
Tickets and travel pass for public transport are sold in ticket kiosks and machines at all metro and tram stations. A standard one-way ticket costs €1.20 but students, pensioners, and children between 7-18 pay €0.50. Children up to 6 travel for free.
There are different types of tickets, ranging from single tickets that are valid for 90 minutes to annual passes that give you unlimited travel all year round. Here you can read more about the different tickets.
The fastest and most convenient way to get around the city is by taking the subway. The subway runs daily from 05:00 AM to midnight, and on Fridays lines 2 and 3 run until 02.00 AM. At rush hour, trains run every 5-6 minutes.
Although all the metro signs are in Greek, it is relatively easy to learn the metro system as there are only three lines. Syntagma station in central Athens is the main station for the metro's three different lines.
The official website of the Athens Metro is www.ametro.gr.
The tram service in Athens came about at the same time as the city hosted the Summer Olympics in August 2004 and is very fresh and easy to ride. It has a direct connection between Piraeus Port and Athens International Airport. The tram runs between 04:30 AM and 23:00 PM every day.
Athens' bus connections are extensive and efficient. Most buses run daily between 05:00 AM and midnight, but it's always best to check the timetable for your specific route. The "OASA Telematics" app keeps you up to date with information about routes and tables.
The Greek economy is one of the least developed in Europe, and there is a high unemployment rate. The biggest strain is that the largest focus right now is on developing medium-sized cities, which affects and limits Athens' growth.
Despite this, Greece and Athens are profitable alternatives for many expats as the Greek government targets foreigners in three different areas; start-ups, tourism as well as customer service, and the service sector.
When you find a job in Athens you can expect a normal working week to be five days and 40 hours long. Working hours can vary but it is not unusual with classic 9-5 jobs. The number of holidays can also vary depending on the company and industry, but there are 12 national holidays.
Common jobs for expats in Athens are
Greece is part of the EU, which makes it easy to move from other EU countries. As an EU citizen, you will not need a visa or a work permit, but there are three things you need to do if you want to work in Athens for an extended period of time.
1. Apply for a registration certificate or ID card and biometric residence permit if your stay is longer than three months. You do this by visiting the nearest police station that has a foreign branch. For this visit, you need a copy of your passport, four passport photos, proof of your Greek address, and proof of your medical coverage. Once you are there you will fill in an application form, take fingerprints and discuss briefly what you do in Greece.
2. Apply for an AFM number, a nine-digit tax identification number needed to pay taxes, open a bank account and do formal procedures. The application is made at a local tax office.
3. Apply for AMKA, an 11-digit Greek social security number that gives you access to sickness and unemployment benefits. If your employer does not help you with the registration, you can apply for the social security number at a KEP office or social insurance institute with a certificate of registration and passport.
You can read more about registration and administration here.
In summary, Athens is…
Are you interested in working and living in Athens? You will find all our available jobs here.
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