7 Best Places To Live in Greece for Expats

A photo of the Acropolis of Athens in Greece. It shows an ancient Greek structure sitting on top of a high platform above the city

Moving overseas can be a complicated process, especially if you’re moving with your family. If you’ve been thinking of moving to Greece, you’ll want to compare your options and choose a city that caters to your needs. Fortunately, there are quite a few options.

Before you purchase another tourist guidebook or read another expat blog post, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the best places for expats to live in Greece. These destination cities are known for their supportive expat communities and abundant job opportunities. 

But which one is right for you? Read further to find out!

1. Athens

Athens is the capital city of Greece. It has a population of over 10 million people, making it the most densely populated city in Greece. It’s home to some of the most modern shopping centers and restaurants but it also celebrates its ancient roots and history.

For many expats, Athens is the dream destination. It’s full of opportunities, amenities, and luxuries. However, high-paying work can be challenging to come by for many expats living in Athens.

Additionally, housing and food costs are higher here than in surrounding areas. As such, the bulk of expats that end up settling in Athens are those that are either retiring or working competitive remote positions.

Still, if you can afford to live in Athens and you don’t mind living in a large bustling city, you’ll be rewarded with a variety of recreational and educational opportunities. Athens has more international multilingual schools than any other Greek city.

It’s also home to ancient temples and priceless artefacts. When you walk through Athens, you’re walking through multiple time periods that seemingly converge into the present day. As such, this major city could be the ideal option for expats with a love for history.

2. Rhodes

Greece comprises several islands as well as a “mainland” portion. Athens sits at the southern end of the mainland and leads toward the islands of Crete, Mykonos, Corfu, and Rhodes. These islands are common destinations among expats.

Rhodes sits close to the Turkish border, making it a popular choice among expats looking to explore Turkey or nearby Cyprus. In the distant past, Rhodes was a prominent city thanks in part to its location. The Colossus of Rhodes greeted traders and merchants as they arrived.

Nowadays, Rhodes still functions as a crucial part of the trading system. However, it’s not nearly as wealthy and opulent as it once was. That said, Rhodes is a relatively peaceful island that’s far away from the hustle and bustle of Athens.

Housing on this island is surprisingly affordable, though there are a few luxurious homes selling for more than a million dollars. Still, Rhodes has a medieval charm that’s rarely found in other Greek cities. It’s best suited to smaller families or older couples.

3. Santorini

A photo of Santorini, Greece. It shows several beautiful white buildings with bright blue dome roofs sitting on a cliff and overlooking the ocean

When the average person imagines Greece, they likely imagine a place that looks a lot like Santorini. Snow-white walls, blue dome roofs, and sloping staircases carved into the craggy hillside are all things you can see in Santorini. 

Besides Athens, this tiny town just might be the most expensive Greek destination. However, unlike Athens, you won’t need to battle crowds to make it to the local grocery store. That’s because Santorini has a population of less than 15,000 people. 

This major industry in this area is tourism. If you’re an expat who can speak multiple languages or who already works in the tourism industry, Santorini could be a fine choice. However, there are few general job opportunities here due to the small size of the island and its remoteness.

Additionally, the average home in Santorini costs well over a million dollars. As such, it’s a great temporary destination for digital nomads but an expensive long-term home base. Still, you just can’t beat the views from this idyllic island. 

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4. Corfu

The Island of Corfu is part of northern Greece and is remarkably close to Italy. In fact, you could take a ferry between the Italian town of Bari and Corfu if you’re keen to visit mainland Europe! This island is fantastically situated and jaw-droppingly beautiful with its mountainous terrain.

Still, Corfu does have a reputation for being a party destination. As such, families with young children may not feel entirely comfortable moving to Corfu. Additionally, this island’s housing prices can be just as steep as its hillsides.

However, Corfu has its own international airport, attracts thousands of travelers each year, and contains one of the largest and strongest expat communities in Greece. If your primary concern about moving to Greece is a lack of local relationships, you’ll want to come to Corfu.

Once you’ve met a few friendly expats and gotten your bearings, you may find that you can afford to rent a shared apartment with other expats. Due to the massive amount of restaurants and resorts in the area, you may even be able to find quick work after arriving in Corfu.

Whether you enjoy a good party or you’re hoping to deepen your international relationships and connections, Corfu could be a great spot to set up camp for a while. And if you’re ready to invest in one of the island’s mansion-like villas, you could stay for more than the summer!

5. Patras

A picture of the Interior of Saint Andrew Basilica of Patras. It shows a huge church with a dome roof decorated  with a painting of jesus

Patras is a unique place. On one hand, it feels and looks like an ancient Greek paradise with its crumbling brick-and-marble amphitheatres. But on the other hand, Patras is so far removed from other modern Greek cities.

Like many of the best Greek cities for expats, Patras is a coastal city. And as we mentioned before, it’s home to several archaeological wonders that harken back to ancient Roman and Greek times. However, it’s impossible not to notice the multicultural influences on Patras.

After all, this place has a castle, a hillside garden, a lighthouse, and private bathhouses. It’s essentially the result of hundreds of years of warring cultures, and you can see Italian, French, and Germanic influences everywhere you look.

While this city lacks international or English-speaking schools, it’s one of the most cost-effective Greek destinations for retirees. Consequently, Patras might not be the best choice for growing families but it could be ideal for older adults, childless couples, or single adults.   

6. Mykonos

Mykonos is a relatively small Greek island with a reputation for parties, music festivals, and exuberant nightlife. However, Mykonos could be the ideal destination for expats looking to start a foreigner-friendly business or take advantage of the party scene.

This gorgeous island is notable for its many beaches, bright blue coastal waters, and shockingly white-walled monasteries and churches. Overall, it’s seen as the higher-class alternative to Corfu, though not quite as expensive or luxurious as Santorini.

When moving to Mykonos, you’ll need to embrace your sea legs. You’ll also need to embrace the slightly higher prices that come with living on an island. Most household products and goods travel vast distances to make it to Mykonos, so this destination isn’t the most budget-friendly.

That said, this island is certainly one of the most gorgeous Greek destinations. It’s also far less crowded than other cities, like Athens. Altogether, there are fewer than 20,000 permanent residents living on the island.

But if you’re hoping to purchase a home on the island and become one of those permanent residents, you’ll need to be ready to invest. The average home on Mykonos costs at least a million dollars, usually more. 

7. Thessaloniki

A picture of White Tower in Thessaloniki, Greece. It is one of the city's most famous structures

Thessaloniki is a coastal city that sits along the northern part of the Greek mainland. As such, it’s quite close to the borders of Albania and Bulgaria. Expats looking to visit Eastern European cities and countries while living in Greece may find that Thessaloniki is ideally situated.

This port city is also a gateway to the Greek Islands. If the idea of living in an affordable city with access to multiple weekend vacation spots interests you, Thessaloniki is worth a second look. However, this ancient city is anything but small and quiet.

Though there’s a wealth of historical buildings and ruins to see here, there are also towering apartment buildings and commercial offices. Still, prices are generally low. You may feel comforted to know that an apartment in Thessaloniki typically sells for less than $200,000.

Even better, this city is home to three major international schools, including Pinewood American International School. If you were floored by the high-quality schools in Athens but intimidated by the overall cost of living there, Thessaloniki could be an excellent alternative option.   

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering moving to Greece, you’ll likely want to do plenty of research on your chosen destination city and its surrounding areas. After all, choosing the best possible home for you and your family often means weighing the pros and cons of each location.

It’s also crucial to identify your top priorities. If you’re moving with your family, the nightlife scene might not be nearly as important as the local school system. 

Alternatively, if affordability is the most crucial aspect of your move, you might want to ditch the cities and head for the countryside. Still, if you’re unfamiliar with Greece you may feel unsure about where to start with your home search.

But you can use these frequently asked questions as a jumping off point. Not only may they answer some of your own questions about expat life in Greece, but they’ll also help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of what it’s like to live there!

What Is the Best Place To Live in Greece With Family?

Greece is a wonderful destination for families. Though many of the Greek Islands are known for their nightlife and party culture, Greece is full of hard-working families. Still, expats moving to Greece may want to choose a destination city with plenty of educational opportunities.

Both Athens and Thessaloniki have international schools for English-speakers. But Athens can be far pricier than Thessaloniki. Additionally, some areas of Athens have a moderately-high rate of non-violent crime. 

Consequently, Thessaloniki may be the best place to live in Greece with family. However, families willing to spend a little more to situate themselves in the higher-end neighborhoods of Athens (Ekali, Psychiko) have access to Greece’s top schools and shopping districts.

Where Do the Wealthy Live in Greece?

The wealthiest people in Greece tend to stick to the capital city of Athens, though there are quite a few well-off business owners living in Mykonos. Santorini also tends to attract wealthier visitors and residents.

What Is the Most Expensive Place To Live in Greece?

A picture of an Ancient theatre in Acropolis Greece. It shows a large amphitheatre with a decaying structure on one side, Athens

The most expensive place to live in Greece is Athens, the capital city. A studio apartment can cost about $1,000 per month in rent and food prices tend to be slightly higher than in surrounding areas. 

According to Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey, Athens is in the top 200 most expensive cities worldwide. Other Greek cities didn’t rank, which goes to show just how pricey living in Athens can be.

What Is the Best Place To Live in Greece With Low Taxes?

Expats looking to retire in Greece may want to choose an area with notably low property taxes. However, Greece’s property taxes have risen steadily over the last few decades. As such, finding the perfect low-tax home can be challenging.

Property taxes vary depending on the value of your home. The lowest possible property tax percentage is 0.10% and the highest is 1.10%. 

If you’re retaining your original citizenship, you may also need to pay taxes on your earned income. This is true of those who are living off retirement funds or social security payments as well. 

Still, according to Mansion Global, property taxes in Greece are (on average) lower than those in the United States.

What Is the Safest City in Greece?

Nearly every city on the planet has some amount of crime. Cities, by their very nature, tend to generate and attract criminal activity. But larger cities are often home to larger crimes.

When searching for the safest city in Greece, it’s crucial to consider the factors that influence crime rate. High population density, income inequality, and a lack of access to education and healthcare can all contribute to a rising crime rate.

Still, no city is perfect and finding one that meets this criteria can be challenging. For example, Athens has some of the best schools in Greece but it also has one of the highest crime rates. Patras is far quieter and experiences less crime but has zero international schools.

But according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, the crime rate in Greece is very low. Most of the crime that occurs is related to property or belongings. Pickpocketing, theft, and burglaries tend to occur in the most densely-populated areas of major cities.

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What City Has the Best Schools in Greece?

Though the primary language in Greece is Greek, there are quite a few schools that offer classes in multiple languages. If you’re moving to Greece with your family, you may want to consider enrolling your child in one of these international schools.

That said, the bulk of Greece’s international schools are located in the capital city, Athens. If you and your family don’t speak Greek or don’t feel comfortable with the Greek education system, Athens may be the best choice. 

After all, you’ll have your choice of nearly a dozen English-speaking international schools if you move to Athens. They might not be the most budget-friendly institutions, but they’re bound to help your child transition more comfortably to their new surroundings. 

Thessaloniki is also home to several international schools, making it a fantastic secondary choice. However, the schools in Athens are some of the highest-rated and most celebrated in all of Greece. 

When you’re determined to provide the best possible education, there’s no choice but Athens. The International School of Athens is often the top pick for English-speaking expat families. In addition to hosting all grades (K through 12) they also offer the IB Degree Programme.

What Is the Most Affordable City To Live in Greece?

Many of the larger cities throughout Greece are more expensive than the countryside towns and villages. That said, job opportunities, retail outlets, and restaurants are more plentiful in the city.

However, expats don’t have to decide between city living and affordability. Though Athens and Mykonos can be pricey destinations, Corfu and Rhodes are far more budget-friendly. 

Still, if you’re hoping to spend the least amount of money while living in Greece, Patras might be the best choice. This coastal city is an ideal destination for expats with a love for history, fresh seafood, local wine, and international shopping.

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What Are the Bad Areas of Greece?

Though Greece is a beautiful place, it can also be a dangerous one. As you might expect, many of the larger cities in Greece have areas that are known for their high crime rates. 

While Athens is known for being one of the best Greek cities for expats, it’s a hotspot for brothels, drug dealers, and petty thieves. Omonia Square, one of the most popular commercial areas in Athens, attracts vagrants and pickpockets that may harass tourists. 

That said, the majority of Greek people aren’t aggressive and won’t be a source of concern for you while living in Greece. Take care when moving through large crowds and avoid going out alone at night (especially if you’re a woman). Otherwise, enjoy Greece and its many charms!

Wrap Up

Athens, the capital city of Greece, is the most expensive place for expats to live but it might also be one of the best options. It’s home to more than a dozen international schools, hundreds of shopping centers and restaurants, and more than fifty museums and art galleries.

Still, the best place for you and your household depends on your budget, priorities, and preferences. If you’ve never traveled to Greece, why not book a flight and go exploring? After all, it’s tricky to choose your new home city if you’ve never visited the country!

Are you ready to make Greece your new home? If so, be sure to check out our article about the international moving process!

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