For example, the difference in your food bill will depend on what you eat and where you lived before arriving in Greece. Nevertheless, the following information gives an indication of how far your euros will stretch and how much (if any) you will have left after paying your bills.
Greece has enjoyed a stable and strong economy in recent years, reflected in the strong drachma before 2002 and the entry of the country into the single European currency, the euro. Salaries are generally low compared to the EU average, but Greeks enjoy a high standard of living, although social security costs are very high, particularly for the self-employed, and the combined burden of social security, income tax and indirect taxes make Greek taxes among the highest in Europe.
Anyone planning to live in Greece, particularly retirees, should take care not to underestimate the cost of living, which has increased considerably in the last decade. However, Greece is still a relatively inexpensive country by American and northern European standards. You should be wary of published cost of living comparisons with other countries, which are often wildly inaccurate (and usually include non-essential items which distort the results).
With the exception of Athens, other major cities and some islands such as Hydra and Mykonos, the cost of living in Greece is around 30 per cent below the average of northern European countries. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2004, Athens ranked 50th in Europe (London was 2nd and Dublin 14th) and 71st internationally.
Food costs less than in many other European countries and around the same as in the USA, although you may have to modify your diet. In fact, it’s possible to live very frugally in Greece if you’re willing to forego luxuries and live largely ‘off the land’.
Shopping for ‘luxury’ items such as cars, stereo equipment, household apparatus, electrical and electronic goods, computers and photographic equipment abroad, e.g. via the internet, can also result in significant savings, as well as offering a wider choice.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Greece.