Moving to Greece: The Ultimate 2020 Relocation Guide Written by a Local Expat

Moving to Greece is not as stressful as it may sound!
Evritania road
Moving to Greece is not as stressful as it may sound!

Moving to Greece sounds romantic and idyllic. Chances are, the sheer mention of it conjures up images of sipping coffee in quaint Athenian alleyways, relaxing on paradisiacal islands, and spending long summer nights drinking ouzo with friendly locals.

Greece is great! I have lived here for the past three years now so I totally get the appeal. 

Moving to Greece

Moving to Greece: The Panathenaic Stadium, Athens
Moving to Greece: The Panathenaic Stadium, Athens

There are a lot of international people living in Greece. It is relatively easy for EU citizens to move here regardless of whether you are self-employed, seeking work, or hoping to retire in Greece. 

European citizens do not need visas to spend a few months hanging out in Greece or working remotely. If you intend on staying here for longer than three months, you should register with the local authorities and get yourself a residency permit (more on that below).

Those who require a Schengen visa to visit Greece as a tourist can stay here for 90 days in each 180 day period. The process of moving to Greece is a little more difficult for those hoping to relocate from outside of Europe, but we will look at the options here.

About This Guide

Kythnos island, Greece

This guide is pretty comprehensive. I wanted to ensure that it covered every possible question that people may have before moving to Greece. Feel free to use the Table of Contents above to navigate to the relevant sections. 

This guide aims to be your bible for helping you through all the boring admin that is involved with moving to Greece. That way, you can spend your time and energy on figuring out more important things such as picking yourself up a local hottie and finding the best local coffee shops,  

Things to Consider Before the Big Fat Greek Move

Moving to Greece: Karpenisi, Central Greece
Moving to Greece: Karpenisi, Central Greece

Some of the key considerations that you need to keep in mind before moving to Greece are discussed below. 

  1. Decide where you want to live

  2. Assess the various neighbourhoods in your chosen town/city

  3. Understand the cost of living

  4. Find work or secure remote working opportunities

  5. Search for a place to live

  6. Get a Greek SIM card

  7. Make sure you have an EHIC card (EU citizens)

  8. Apply for your AFM number

  9. Get an AMKA number

  10. Open a Greek bank account

  11. Tie up loose ends back at home

  12. Research and read everything you can about your new country

  13. Invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan

  14. Set up your wifi and organise your bills

  15. Apply for your residency permit

Decide Where You Want to Live

Mystras, Peloponnese
Mystras, Peloponnese

The way of life on the islands is much different from that in the Greek cities. If you can, plan a trip to Greece ahead of making the move.

That way, you can get a feel for what the country and culture are like. Spend a few weeks adventuring around the country, or a couple of days exploring the cities that interest you. 

Greek City Living

Thessaloniki, Northern Greece
Thessaloniki, Northern Greece

Athens is great. Despite being a huge capital city, it doesn’t have that overwhelming big-city vibe. The Greek capital is made up of lots of cute districts, each with their own unique personalities.

In areas like Koukaki, Kolonaki, and Pagrati for example, you can find bustling piazzas filled with great shopping and homely tavernas. You barely ever have to venture into the centre. The stunning coastlines and cerulean waters of the Athenian Riviera are just a thirty-minute drive away too.

Living Out Your Mamma Mia Life on a Greek Island

Paros, The Cyclades

If the idea of living a laid back life on a Greek island is something that appeals, you have a plethora of options available. Greece is home to more than 6,000 islands! Here, you can live in an adorable little Cycladic house and live out your own “Eat Pray Love” style story.

Do as much research and reading about the place that you want to move to before you go. Greek islands like Corfu and Rhodes have large expat and retiree populations, whereas some of the smaller Cycladic islands like Kea or Kythnos see only locals. There is an element of personal preference involved when determining which may be the best option for you.

Some Greek islands become overrun with tourists during the summer months so take that into consideration too. Many operate on a very seasonal schedule.

Obviously people live on the various Greek islands all year round. However, they are swamped with tourists during the summer months,

During the winter, many businesses shut up shop and the islands become a ghost town. Boats run between the islands and the mainland all year round. However, the schedule is more limited in winter.

There are lots of things that you want to research before moving to Greece. Does the area that you are considering have an expat community (if that’s important to you?). If you are self-employed, how good is the internet connection? Are there good schools in the area?

Research the Best Neighbourhoods in Your Chosen City

Elafonisos, Peloponnese
Elafonisos, Peloponnese

Once you have chosen where you want to live in Greece, start researching the various districts and neighbourhoods in your chosen town/city. The area that you stay in can really make or break your experience of living abroad. 

In Athens for example, I live in Pagrati in the south of the city centre. It’s a quirky district with lots of antique shops and eccentric coffee places so I fell lucky. Unfortunately though, it has become quite a sought after district and that is driving up rental prices. 

You will find many newly renovated apartments in Exarchia and Patissia and the prices can be super affordable. However, both of these areas have less than ideal reputations and crime rates so they are not for everyone.

I’m just using Athens as an example here, but whichever city or region of Greece you wind up choosing, be sure to do your research. Join local Facebook groups and forums for expats in your city if you want insider advice.

Understand the Cost of Living in Greece

Kerkini Lake, Northern Greece

When I arrived in Greece in 2017, the cost of living was much different from how it is now. It was estimated that the cost of living in Athens was approximately 30% less than living in most European countries.

The economic crisis saw the prices of accommodation, in particular, crash to an all-time low. That may sound good from the perspective of someone moving to Greece, but you should note that salaries in Greece are also much lower than what you may expect elsewhere.

Rental Costs in Greece

When I first arrived in Athens, you could easily rent a studio apartment in Athens for 200-250 euros a month, and a one-bedroom apartment for 450-500 euros. Rental costs have soared over the last few years.

Today, you will find people listing one-bedroom apartments in Athens for as much as 700-800 euros. This is not only crazy inflation, but it is a wider problem as many Greeks cannot afford to live in their own suburbs. The average salary here is between 500-700 euros. 

Airbnb is in part to blame for the increase in rental prices in Greece. Airbnb is currently not regulated in Greece. Many people will purchase apartments for the sole purpose of renting them out at a premium to temporary visitors. This pushes up the rates and has also meant that it’s tricky to find apartments in some areas.

Rental costs are obviously cheaper outside of the major cities and tourist destinations. This is even the case when comparing Thessaloniki to Athens.

You should still use the above prices (250 for a studio, 500 for an apartment) as a ballpark idea of what you should be paying if you move to Athens, but be aware that prices are rapidly increasing.

For a western expat, these prices are not necessarily shocking. However, it is worth mention being aware of the cost of living so that you can manage your expectations accordingly. You are mistaken if you think that you are going to be moving to Greece, living like a King, and spending almost nothing.

Finding Work in Greece

Moving to Greece: Mount Lycabettus, Athens
Moving to Greece: Mount Lycabettus, Athens

The absence of large international companies means that it is difficult for educated expats to find work in Greece. It will be difficult to secure a job here unless you are fluent in Greek.  

That said, there are occasional opportunities for English speakers to work in the offices of large multinational companies, or to work in the travel industry as Tour Guides, Receptionists at hotels, etc. In the more affluent areas of Athens and other large cities, there is a demand for English Teachers.

If you are hoping to move to a Greek island, keep in mind that a lot of the work in the hospitality sector is very seasonal. The tourism season in Greece runs between May and September.

Manage Your Salary Expectations

The average salary in Greece is around 600 euros per month. English Teachers and professionals can expect to earn around 1000 euros per month. This is considered a respectable middle-class salary in Greece.

Although the pay is much lower here as compared to other European countries, so too is the cost of living. It’s all relative.

Be Realistic About What is Possible 

Be realistic when it comes to moving to Greece and finding work. I think a lot of people fall in love with the idea of moving here and do not fully educate themselves on the situation in Greece.

That is not to say that you should not make the move. However, you should make a plan and be aware of the country’s economic situation.

The economy in Greece has still not recovered fully. There are countless educated Greek people in Athens who have degrees and are fluent in numerous languages yet struggle to find work. As a foreigner and especially a foreigner who cannot speak Greek, the quest to find a job here becomes that extra bit more difficult. 

Work Online if You Can 

The struggle to find work in Greece can be omitted if you are able to work remotely or online. You may be surprised by how many companies and employers are open to the possibility of an employee working remotely.

You will find many job postings listed in Digital Nomad/Remote Working job boards and Facebook groups. Everything from Administrative assistant roles to global Project Manager positions can be found. Practically any office job that you would do at a computer can be done online. 

Self Employed? Read Up on Taxes

If you are self-employed in Greece, the matter of taxes becomes somewhat tricky. Taxes for business owners and freelancers in Greece are very high. Being self-employed in Greece is met with suspicion for some reason.

Tax MUST be paid in Greece if you are self-employed and you make money through Greek sources. If you make money online from other countries (the USA, the UK, etc), things get tricky.

Double taxation laws between Greece and most countries protects you from having to pay tax in two different places. You will generally be much better off if you can pay your taxes to your home country, as Greek taxes are higher and small business owners get few tax breaks. 

Consult a Local Accountant

You really need to speak to an Accountant about all of this as obviously, I am not a Greek tax professional. You can pay taxes to your own country rather than Greece if you will divide your time between two places.

However, if you spend more than six months of the year on Greek soil then you should pay taxes in Greece. This is kind of a grey area and some people choose to pay taxes to their own countries anyway. 

If you pay taxes to the Greek government as a self-employed person, your taxes need to be paid up-front and in advance. You must provide an estimate as to how much money you expect to make that tax year.

The unfortunate thing is that if you don’t meet that threshold, fall ill, or can’t work for whatever reason, you don’t get that money back. Conversely, if you have a better business year than you predicted, you will encounter vicious fines. For all of these reasons, self-employed people moving to Greece really do need to seek accounting advice.

Build Professional Contacts Before You Leave

Before you take the leap and dive into the unknown, try to be as prepared as physically possible. If you have not secured work and hope to do so on arrival, reach out to various people in advance. For example, if you hope to teach English in Greece, send an introductory email to the British embassy, and several language academies to see if they plan on hiring in the foreseeable future. Ensure that they have your resume on file. Join groups on Facebook such as “Expats in Athens” to see if anyone is looking for an Au Pair or an English speaking nanny.

If you are looking for a more corporate style role, the same logic applies. If you are planning on moving to Greece with the intention of freelancing or becoming a Digital Nomad, try and build up contacts, clients, and experience as a side-hustle before leaving your full-time job. This minimises stress and pressure.

Find a House or Apartment in Greece

Athens street art

To find apartment rentals in Greece, you can browse the properties on or Spitogatos. You can also join Greece Facebook groups like Expats in Crete, Expats in Athens, etc, as people also often list properties there. 

It is important to note that going through a letting agent via the above sites when moving to Greece means having to pay additional fees and a deposit. Landlord fees and deposits can be relatively high, and you may have to pay the equivalent of a month’s rent for each. 

It is possible to rent property directly with landlords, though you should triple check the price and obtain several quotes. It’s not uncommon for foreign expats to be quoted falsely higher prices. Ask a Greek friend to double-check the prices that you have been quoted, or ask for a second opinion in the aforementioned Facebook groups. 

Finding Short Term, Temporary Accommodation

It may be the case that you have to move from your home country to some form of temporary accommodation in Greece while you search for a longer-term rental or some property/land to purchase. Airbnb may be the short-term solution that springs to mind, but I cannot emphasise enough just how extortionate some of the listing prices on there are versus actual costs of renting an apartment in Greece. Again, I refer you to the Facebook expat groups where people often list short term rentals. 

Get a Greek SIM Card 

Moving to Greece
Moving to Greece

To stay connected in Greece, you should buy a SIM card for your phone. This can then be used all over Europe. There are a number of providers here – some Greek, some international. The main phone companies in Greece are Vodafone, Cosmote, and Wind. 

I recommend that you purchase a SIM from Cosmote. This is the most popular choice in Greece, and Cosmote offers better 4G coverage than its competitors. The rates between the different providers are comparable. You can buy a prepaid SIM with a data/call/text bundle just as you would anywhere else. If you don’t want that, you can also buy an old-fashioned “pay as you go” SIM. 

Getting a SIM card in Greece is pretty straight forward. Just head into one of the local phone stores with your passport. You can also pick up a SIM card at Athens airport (there is a phone section within the “Public” store). 

Apply For An EHIC Card (EU Citizens) 

Moving to Greece: Nafplio
Moving to Greece: Nafplio

If you are an EU citizen, you should already have an EHIC card. If you don’t, then make sure that you do so before moving to Greece! An EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) allows you access to state healthcare in 28 countries across the EU. This is NOT a substitute for health insurance in Greece, but it is something that you should have when you first arrive, or if you are travelling to Greece to establish where in the country you want to live. 

Get an AFM Number

Kastoria, Northern Greece
Kastoria, Northern Greece

Applying for an AFM number should be one of the first things you do when you arrive in Greece. AFM (Arithmo Forologiko Mitro) is your tax number. You need this in order to work in Greece and to open up a Greek bank account. You can search for the nearest tax office to you here

Get an AMKA number 

Okay. Confusingly, there are two different numbers that most people who move to Greece need to apply for: An AFM number and an AMKA number. An AFM number is used for tax purposes, while the AMKA number is the Greek answer to the social security number. 

Anyone employed by a Greek company or claiming Greek benefits needs to have an AMKA number. EVERYONE needs to have an AFM number. You don’t need an AMKA if you are retired and receiving your pension from another country besides Greece – i.e. the UK.

Your Greek employer may register you for an AMKA on your behalf. You can use this site to check if you are in the AMKA database. Sadly, this is not a foolproof way of checking things and you may be registered yet your info doesn’t come up – Welcome to Greece! You can also register for your own AMKA number by heading to your local KEP/AMKA office. 

Open a Greek Bank Account 

When you move to Greece, you will need to open up a Greek bank account. If you are hired by a Greek employer, your salary will be paid into a Greek account. Even if you are self-employed, you will need a Greek bank account as part of your application for residency status. 

To open a Greek bank account, you must go to the bank in person with your passport and AFM. Each bank will also have a checklist of supporting documents that you need to take with you. These vary depending on the specific bank. 

You can find both International and Greek national banks here. The main Greek banks are detailed below. 

  • Piraeus Bank 

  • Alpha Bank 

  • National Bank of Greece

  • Eurobank 

Check the small print before you commit to an account. Many Greek banks charge pointless admin fees or high fees for international transfers and third-party ATM withdrawals.

Tie Up Loose Ends Back at Home

Chosen your dream home and ready to move to Greece? There are probably lots of loose ends to tie up back at home too! 

  • Sell your home or find a tenant

  • Put your things in storage, sell them, or decide how to ship them to Greece

  • Cancel any unnecessary memberships from home – gym memberships, fitness classes, cinema passes, etc

  • Cancel your phone contract and ensure that your phone is unlocked

  • Read up on tax requirements – Some countries require that their citizens still pay taxes, even if they move overseas. Americans for example, still need to pay taxes. British people may still have to pay NI 

  • Sell your car or put it into storage 

  • Notify your bank that you are moving overseas

  • If you don’t need to pay taxes to your home country while abroad, you may need to notify your government. 

  • Reroute your mail 

  • Notify your student loan company (if applicable) 

  • Dance around your living room to Zorbas music while packing and prepare to move to Greece!

Ensure That You Have Comprehensive Health Insurance 

Greek healthcare is notorious for being among the worst in Europe. There is no coverage or insurance for foreign expats and the conditions at public hospitals and facilities are often extremely poor and unhygienic.

It’s imperative that you find a comprehensive health insurance plan for moving to Greece. Most foreign people living in Greece will have this and generally, you are required to show proof of having health insurance when you apply for residence. 

There are a plethora of options available as far as healthcare insurance providers go. The best one for you will vary depending on aspects such as your nationality and general health. I am a British expat in Greece and I pay £50 per month for my policy. Well-known health insurance providers like AXA and Cigna Global operate in Greece.

Set Up Wifi 

If you move into your new Greek apartment and wifi isn’t already set up then you need ample servings of one thing: patience! 

Forthnet is the main internet provider in Greece. Wind are another popular choice. Other ISPs in Greece worth noting are detailed below. 

  • Net One 

  • Otenet 

  • Hellas On Line 

  • On Telecoms 

  • Tellas 

  • Vodafone 

I am with Forthnet and I find them pretty good. There are never any connectivity issues and the internet seems speedy enough for me.

I just use my computer for streaming Netflix, playing online chess (lol don’t ask), and working on this website and I never have issues. As of 2020, Fiber broadband is available in some parts of Greece. Internet signals can be weaker on some of the islands compared to Athens. 

Internet prices in Greece are comparable to what you would expect to pay elsewhere in Europe. As an example, Forthnet plans start at €25 per month. 

Apply For a Residency Permit Within Three Months 

At the moment, it is relatively easy for European Citizens to move to Greece. A visa or a promise of work is not required. Sadly with Brexit looming, I am not sure how much longer that will remain the case for us Brits but I will update this post accordingly as the situation changes.

Get a Beige Residency Permit (“Άδεια παραμονής”)

If you are a European citizen and you want to live in Greece, the process is pretty straight forward. Within three months of arrival in Greece, you need to apply for a beige residency permit that states that you live here.

This is a pain-free process. You simply need to fill in a form and take the necessary supporting documents along to your local police station.

Documents Required for your Residency Application

The documents that you need for your beige residency permit when moving to Greece are:

  • 2 x Passport-sized photos

  • A photocopy of passport

  • Medical insurance certificates

  • Clear health check (no contagious diseases, etc)

  • Proof of address in Greece

  • Proof of employment (a signed contract is sufficient) OR proof of sufficient funds if unemployed/self-employed (4000 euros)

Hospitality Route 

If you are moving to Greece to live with a Greek partner and your name is not on any of the bills, you can have your partner attend your residency permit appointment with you to state that you are living with them. This is known as the “hospitality” route. You don’t have to be living together to follow this route.

Once you apply for the beige residency permit, you will be provided with a little blue note that states that your application is being processed. It can take anything from a month to several months for you to receive the permit back again. In that time, you can remain in Greece and exit and re-enter the country as you like – just carry the blue slip with you to show that you are residing in the country.

The Blue Residency Permit

After five years of living in Greece with a beige residency permit, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency and obtain a blue permit. Simply organise another appointment with the local authorities and ask to exchange your permit.

Getting a Visa to Live in Greece if You Are Not an EU Resident

It is relatively difficult to move to Greece if you are not an EU citizen. Any country outside of the EU is referred to as a “third national” country.

It is important to speak to the Greek Consulate in your home country if you plan on moving to Greece from a third national country. Specific terms vary from country to country.

Generally speaking, moving to Greece as a third national country resident requires that you are either married to a Greek (spousal visa route), sponsored by a Greek company, or claiming citizenship through Greek parents.

Note: Processes for obtaining residency and visas in Greece are expected to change in late 2020. I will update this guide as and when something changes.  

Get a Greek Driving License 

Depending on where you are moving from, you may or may not need to get yourself a Greek Driving License. If you already have a valid Driver’s License issued by an EU/EEA state, you can use your current license without restriction. You can find more detailed information on this here.

Switch Bills into Your Name 

Moving to Greece
Moving to Greece

Electricity, water, building maintenance, and internet are the main bills that you will have to manage when you move to Greece. If you are renting an apartment, it is not uncommon for the landlord to keep the first three in their name. If this is the case with your Greek home, make sure to take a meter reading for the electricity when you arrive. 


You will need to go to your local electricity board office (DEH/DEI) if you purchase your own home in Greece, or you are renting a property and the owner requests that you put the bills into your name,

You will need your tax number and passport, along with some additional supporting documents. If you are setting up a connection for the first time, rather than changing the name, you will still need to go to the DEH office. 


To set up your water bills in your name, you need to go to the local water board office with your meter number and ID. The board will generally charge a small admin fee for this. 

Buying Property in Greece 

Poros island
Poros island

If you are an EU citizen, you can easily buy property in Greece with no restrictions. People with other nationalities can buy properties in Greece but there are some restrictions in place. For sale properties in Greece are listed on the same sites as rentals (i.e. Spitogatos, XE, etc)

Before you think about buying a house here, you need to ensure that you have a Greek bank account and tax number set up. Admin costs can add up when you purchase a property in Greece – just like anywhere else really. Your first step should be to hire a Real Estate Attorney. 

Buy Furnishings For Your New Place 

Agistri, Southern Greece
Agistri, Southern Greece

There are lots of excellent stores for buying furniture in Greece in order to decorate your new place. This is especially the case in big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki which are home to several inspiring boutique interior design stores. 

Some lovely independent interior shops to consider are Paraphernalia, DesignShop, Box Architects, Myran, El Greco Gallery, and Roma 5 Design. Many of these places also offer delivery across the country. Of course, we also have IKEA here which is a good place to buy your basics. 

Food Shopping in Greece

Moving to Greece
Moving to Greece

On the whole, food costs are cheaper in Greece. With a plethora of high quality, locally sourced fruit, vegetables and meats available, it’s easy to eat healthy in Greece without having a sky-high food budget. 

It’s advisable to shop at your local laiki agora for fresh produce rather than the supermarket since products are often fresher and cheaper. These are neighbourhood farmer’s markets.

Laiki are held once a week in each district. You can check with your new neighbours to see where yours will be and when. 

Sometimes I find that branded products like cereal, condiments and snacks/chocolates are quite a bit more expensive in Greece due to the import taxes. If you live in Rhodes though, there are no import taxes and so that’s a nice little extra perk to living on a beautiful Greek island.

Building Your Social Circle in Greece

Moving to Greece
Moving to Greece

It’s important to build a social circle when moving abroad to make your new place feel like a home away from home. Honestly, I have found it relatively difficult to make friends in Greece at first as it seems a very transient place. People come for 6 months, a year, two years and then leave.

If you put yourself out there though, befriending locals and fellow expats can help enrich your Greece experience. Some resources to consider are:

  • Couchsurfing – Through the events, forums, and hangouts, it’s possible to meet locals, fellow expats, and travellers for a coffee or a walk. Most people here are just passing through though.
  • – Meetup hosts regular events for people of different interests. For example, foodies, wine lovers, writers, etc. If there is not something that tickles your fancy, you can also create your own group.
  • InterNations – An expat group for professionals. InterNations organises frequent events in Athens and beyond. However, I found most members to be older men.
  • Facebook Groups – There are numerous Facebook groups and forums dedicated to moving to Greece and meeting others in the same boat. I manage a group called “All Greek to Me” which is a community for people travelling in or moving to Greece to exchange travel tips and advice.

Random Additional Things to Know About Moving to Greece

Moving to Greece
Moving to Greece

A few random extra things that might be useful to know about moving to Greece are detailed below. 

It’s Not As Corrupt and Difficult to do Things As People Say 

A lot of people seem to think of Greece as being the Wild West. The country has developed a bit of a reputation for being a difficult place to get things done – especially regarding bureaucratic stuff and paperwork.

I’ve lived here for three years though and I’ve never really felt overly frustrated with this. Sometimes you just need a little extra patience. That’s all. 

It’s All Greek to Me! 

Most Greek people have a good understanding of English, especially in major cities and islands that attract tourists. That said, having a basic grasp of Greek goes a long way. To be honest, I find Greek really difficult. I am by no means fluent, however having a handful of phrases up your sleeve like “kalispera” (good evening!), “kalimera”, (good morning), etc is useful. 

I think that if you plan on living here in the long term, you should really make some effort to learn the language. You can find a lot of schools offering courses in the bigger cities. You can also hire tutors for one-on-one learning. 

Yes, You Can Drink the Water 

You can drink the water in Greece. That said, it’s a personal preference. I know a lot of people that prefer to drink bottled water. I haven’t gotten sick yet in three years of living in Athens! *touches wood* 

Understand How Greek Bathrooms Work

Sewerage systems in Greece are underdeveloped. (Sorry I feel like this article took a crude turn!). As such, you cannot flush toilet paper down the toilets in Greece. Better you know now than after an incident, eh?

Explore Your New Homeland

Cultural clashes, administrative paperwork and headaches aside, moving to Greece is a wonderful, life-changing experience. The beauty of living in a foreign country is having the opportunity to do completely different things and explore your new homeland during your weekends and free time.

Greece is home to over 6000 islands. However, only 227 of these are actually inhabited.

That means more island exploration, beautiful beaches, and scenic whitewashed tavernas than you could enjoy in a lifetime! Athens and the Greek mainland are also just as charming. For a little initial food for thought and Greek travel inspiration, take a look at this three day Athens itinerary, or this guide to island hopping in Greece

Opening Hours in Greece

Working hours in Greece differ from those of other European countries. The opening hours of shops and businesses vary from place to place. However, generally everywhere is open from 9 am until 9 pm. 

Most small, independent stores close from 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm each day for a siesta. This doesn’t apply to large international chain stores in the cities. The majority of businesses are closed on a Sunday.

Quiet Please

Residential areas in Greece enforce “quiet hours”. This is comparable to the Mediterranean siesta. Quiet hours take place between 3 pm and 5 pm in the day time, and from 10 pm to 7 am in the evenings.

A Cash-Based Society

Cash is still king in Greece. Larger shops and hotels usually do accept credit and debit cards, however, many smaller tavernas, coffee shops, and stores do not. It’s always prudent to carry a small amount of cash around with you. 

Taxes on Purchases

You will often find that when you go shopping in independent stores, go to restaurants, or even visit the Doctors and Dentists, you will be offered a lower price if you pay in cash so that the person doesn’t have to pay tax. 

That was quite startling to me at first. Imagine my shock when I had a wisdom tooth extracted and my Dentist was haggling with me over the cost of this surgical procedure as if we were negotiating over a scarf in an Arabian bazaar. 

Ready to Move to Greece? 

Hydra Island

All ready for moving to Greece? As I mentioned, I’ve been living here in Pagrati, Athens for the last three years now. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. If you think that something has been missed out of this guide, let me know and I’ll add it. Safe travels and enjoy Greece! Geia sou! Melissa xo 

Disclaimer: High Heels and a Backpack is in no way affiliated with any of the businesses or companies mentioned in this post. Thank you. 

Note: This article on moving to Greece was originally published in November 2018. It was last updated on the 22nd of June 2020.

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

26 thoughts on “Moving to Greece: The Ultimate 2020 Relocation Guide Written by a Local Expat”

    • Hey Ailady! I have just updated this post with some additional info 🙂 A lot of it depends on your nationality (for example it’s very easy for Europeans to come and work in Greece with no paperwork but not so much so for people from other nations). What type of work would you be looking to do?

  1. Hi Melissa,
    Your info is great. My friend and I want a change and I loved Chania and Rhodes. My thoughts were to live on one island for 6 months then move to the other island for 6 months. Not exactly sure what business to create. I want to do export back to Australia and work with the local people giving them a good price as well as keeping prices down in Australia.
    Other options create a cafe selling Aussie foods as well as Greek food.
    What are your opinions about this?

  2. Hey there,
    I‘ve just bought an apartment in Athens and need an accountant to be my tax representative. I already have my AFM and E9 form and everything. Just wondering what a good flat fee would be for my accountant yearly to be my rep. – I will be doing everything myself online.

  3. I am planning to move to trikala and claim citizenship by ancestry. What’s the easiest way to find rental housing?

    • Hey Dee! Thanks for your comment. I strongly recommend using Spitogatos to search for apartments and houses. is another option but I prefer Spitogatos. Keep in mind that most agencies in Greece charge fees for their services that are not returnable. If you want to try and omit this, you can also look at options to rent directly Search for expat groups on facebook (do a search for terms like Expats in Greece, etc) as many people often post accommodation here.

  4. Hi Melissa,
    I am American and just recently completed all of the steps to gaining residency. No, it wasn’t easy and it was a painful process to get all the accurate information. You’ve done a great job with the article and I’d love to catch up with you.
    Currently I’m in LA working on a project but I will be back in Athens in August. I can tell you all about the process for non-EU foreigners if you are interested. Or just have a coffee in general.
    All the best,

    • Hi Natalie and Melissa,

      I am an American who is interested in moving to Greece (right now, I’m looking at Thessaloniki). Since I cannot come as a tourist right now, I would think that gaining employment to have a work permit would be my way to come. If you have another thought as to how to come, please tell me. I would be bringing my dog and all of my belongings. What do you think?


    • Hi Natalie,

      I’m interested to know more about the process for non- EU foreigners. I’m planning to buy a one bedroom apartment in Athens , move there and try to find a job. I’m currently working and living in Dubai, however i had enough of daily routine and life/work pressure.
      I found that to get a PR , i need to buy a 250k Euros apartment which is way above my budget :(.


  5. Hi i live in the uk at the moment but i am seriously thinking of moving to greece rhodes with my family we have been a few times on holiday

    We are thinking about moving out of the uk and decided greece

    I always have ideas and love the out doors

    For example i set up a volunteer organisation in wales that does various things

    I would love to get a job in greece and bring new ideas to a company etc

    I am also a fast learner when it comes to technology

  6. I am not moving, but I am planning a vacation there. My family is from Greece, and it’s been a lifelong dream. Thank you so much for your tips.I will take any more if you have them. How did you learn the language? I was thinking of Rosetta stone.

  7. hi, thank you for your bligand advices about Greece
    im thinking about moving there because living in Lisbon become more and more expensive, im artist sculptor and was wonder how is art scene looks like in athens or islands do you have any idea about that
    i work w clay,
    insta; michal anela sculptor

    kindest and many thanks

  8. Hello Mellissa
    What a wonderful piece of work, I am Australian Dutch I just did some hiking in the Mountains in Israel 310 km and it was really great. So I understand the whole concept of leaving the corporate slavery system and being self independent. I always say leave sleeping dogs alone, if you wake them up they will only bark at you. In other words I have always worked as an Expat on 28/28 rotation days. While we are taxed to death in Sweden it makes no sense to live in the Apostasy of this slavery. I want to move my car and boat and find a peaceful place to keep as a base in Europe and keep a low profile. Have a residency in Greece, Is it as easy as you say. I think at some stage I could invest in a property but I would prefer to just rent for now. Moving a Car from Sweden to Greek should not be a big issue. I am going to drive the car to the ground and dump it in a Junk Yard- Its an Audi A6 great car but its a car. they come and go. No attachment. I would come next week to Greece if I can find a place to rent and I am happy to pay 6 months in advance. Send me a response and hope you can help me out further, I would appreciate that and I will buy you lunch. Look forward to your response.
    Lyndon Berchy

  9. HI Melissa – thanks for your helpful blog. My husband and I will be retiring to Agios Nikitas on Lefkada island soon as we have bought a house there…And we are trying to understand what our monthly budget will be for the two of us – excluding medical, which we will keep in our home country (Cape Town, South Africa). We are neither high nor too modest in our lifestyle but I would say moderate. Can you help me here even if it’s a bit of a thumb-suck? Perhaps you could give me an idea of your budget and I can adapt that for 2 people? Many thanks for any insight you can provide and kalispera! Best wishes, Lauren.

  10. Hello,
    I’m moving to Thessaloniki next month. I just plan to live there a couple of years and just experience Greek life.
    In the past few years I’ve been living in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe due to my husband’s job so I’m used to moving to a new country etc. Just I’ve never moved to a place without a job etc and this is a new experience for me.
    I’d love some advice please as I’m finding it difficult to work out what I need. I’m searching forums etc.
    Firstly I’m going to apply for the certificate of extended stay.
    My landlord says I need to have a vat number to get the gas account in my name. Does he mean an AFM number? Or is it a social security number?
    I’m asking this because I’m not actually looking to work in Greece.
    My bank account is international but can be used in Greece so I won’t have a Greek account. I have private medical insurance also.
    My husband financially supports me but he will not be in Greece more than 180 days a year as he works abroad.
    We thought Thessaloniki is a good hub with the airport etc.
    If it is the AFM number am I better going to get that after I have applied for the EU certificate of extended stay?
    I really hope you don’t mind me asking advice and I’m grateful for any tips.
    I’ve signed a contract on an apartment so I have that to show my address.
    Thank you for this blog it’s super helpful.

  11. Hello there! I’m a college student in the United States and after I graduate I want to move overseas to one of three European countries: France, Italy, or Greece. However I can see from your article that it’s a lot more difficult to move to Greece for non-European citizens. And the economy is not doing all that well either. This has been helpful and I’m still curious to find out more about Greece and the work and culture.

  12. Amazing article! Thank you for your time writing it! Very helpful. We are moving to Greece with my family and this article answers all questions we have.

  13. Perfect! I wish I had this information two years ago. We emigrated to Kos in October 2018. My husband is a pensioner and I quite my job a few years earlier. Life is so much better here than in our homeland Holland. We fixed all the papers that you mentioned but as a pensioner with income from the state and pension that we build up during our working years we need to send a proof of life every year, signed by an official office for example KEP. For Dutch pensioners living in another EU country the health insurance is arranged at CAK in Holland. You need a 121 form and go to IKA.

  14. Hey Melissa,

    Great article! I am looking to make the move before brexit as soon as covid is over. How quickly can you go to the police office to get the beige residency? The day after landing? I have an online job and want to set up shop here!

    Once you have obtained the beige card how much time do you have to spend in greece to keep it? Can I go traveeling for a year come back and still be a greek resident?

    Thanks Todd

  15. Hi Melissa, hope all is well. Im not moving to the republic just yet however I am staying for a few months and i happened to come across your blog – which i did find very informative. My questions are primarily region based… I did see you noted you live in Pagkrati. I intend to stay in south Argolis however the lure of Athens and the bigger towns in the area like Nafplion do have my attention. Would it be better economically.. for travel purposes and meeting people so on and so forth to live in the city like the two i mentioned above? Or is just as easy doing it on a house on the beach in s. Argolis.. renting a car and going places(or taking ferry if possible)? Ive noticed a significant price difference between Athens and Ermioni.. of course that being one is in the country lol If you do not have the answer and wish to ask your other half i wouldnt mind his take on it either. Thank in Advance.

  16. Hey Melissa article is awesome I am curious I am a strict remote employee i have a decent paying job and wanted to look into moving to Greece next year how difficult of a process from the USA with an established job

  17. Hi Melissa, you mentioned teaching english, what qualifications do you need to do this i.e. teacher level, GCSE etc, does it depend on who you’re teaching? Thank you


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