Thinking of moving to Athens in Greece? As an Athenian, I can say that you’ve made a great choice! This guide on the cost of living in Athens will help you get an idea of estimated monthly costs.
Moving to Athens
Athens! The birthplace of western civilization, home to some of the most beautiful ancient monuments in the world and a city that never sleeps! What’s not to love?
Cost of living in Athens Greece
While all of this is true, visiting Athens for a few days and moving to Athens are two entirely different things. To begin with, you would need to have an idea of the estimated monthly cost of living in the Greek capital.
Overall, living in Athens is relatively cheaper when compared to other European capitals. At the same time, if you last visited Athens 5-10 years ago, you will probably be shocked with some of the price changes, especially when it comes to rent.
Central Athens vs the suburbs
First of all, let’s define what “Athens” means. Usually, when we talk about Athens, we are referring to the greater metropolitan area of Athens, which includes a few dozens of suburbs.
The city centre itself, also known as the Municipality of Athens, is fairly compact. During the last census (2011), about 664,000 people lived here. Key areas in the center include Plaka, Monastiraki, Syntagma, Psiri, Kolonaki, Thisseio, Petralona, Koukaki, Pagrati and Kypseli.
Plaka in Athens is an expensive area to live
The suburbs of Athens are home to about 3 million people. Some of them are so big that they would almost qualify as “nearby cities”.
Many of the suburbs, like Glyfada, Faliro, Piraeus, Rafina or Nea Makri, are on the coast. Others, like Kifissia, Pefki, Peristeri, Ilion or Ilioupoli, are a fair distance from both the centre and the coast.
The amount of money you will need to live comfortably in Athens and the suburbs will ultimately depend on your needs and lifestyle, and there are many factors that will affect it. Let’s break costs down using the local currency in Greece, the euro.
1. Estimated monthly cost for rent in Athens
Let’s start with accommodation, which can easily be your single biggest cost. Housing prices in Athens and the suburbs have been going up in the last few years, and are generally higher than in the rest of the country.
The most common type of accommodation in Athens and the suburbs are apartment buildings. The Greek word for a block of flats is polykatoikia. The number of apartments varies, and often depends on the area.
The cost of renting a flat in Athens depends on the area
Rent prices in Athens will depend on several factors, such as the following:
the size, floor and age of the apartment
private parking space
double-glazed windows / security door
any recent renovations.
Some areas are more expensive than others. For example, Kolonaki, Koukaki, Glyfada and Kifissia are some of the most expensive areas in the capital. As a rule, the newer the apartment, and the more amenities, the more expensive it will be.
Renting an apartment in Athens
Overall, 500-600 euros per month would find you a decent two-bedroom apartment in many areas in Athens. For a one-bedroom apartment, expect to pay around 350-400 euros per month, though finding one at a lower cost is possible.
If you are only one person, you could probably find a studio (garsoniera) in some areas for about 250-300 euro, but you’d have to think carefully if that’s where you’d like to stay. Some neighborhoods in Athens might be less desirable to live than others depending on the type of person you are.
By comparison, family apartments and maisonettes could easily cost you well over 1,000 – 1,500 euro per month. And, as an extreme, asking prices for newly built properties in some areas can be a whopping 2,000 – 3,000 euro per month or more.
Flat search in Athens Greece
Spitogatos and XE are two great websites where you can look for flats or houses all around Greece, and compare prices. XE is in Greek only, and you may find more affordable properties.
FB groups are also a good way to find flats, including houseshares. Our Expats in Greece FB group is a good starting point.
If you are in Athens already, you can go around the neighbourhood with a Greek-speaking friend, and look out for the yellow “ΕΝΟΙΚΙΑΖΕΤΑΙ” (for rent) signs. This method might sound a little old-fashioned, but it still works.
Pro Tip: When looking at where to stay long term in Athens, keep in mind that rental prices for apartments are negotiable. You’ll have a much better chance of arriving at a lower deal than advertised if a Greek speaking friend does the talking!
2. Cost of utilities in Athens – Electricity, water, internet, heating
Apart from the rent, you will need to pay for utilities. Electricity, water and internet are standard expenses, and you will also need some form of heating. On top of that, most blocks of flats have a few shared bills.
Some landlords might give you a rental price which includes some (or, rarely, all) of these bills. This is convenient if you are not sure how long you will be living in Athens for.
Buildings in Athens Greece
Overall, you should expect to pay around 150 – 350 euros a month for all your bills if you are renting a whole apartment, and less if you are sharing one. Let’s break down utility bills.
Electricity costs in Athens
Monthly electricity costs in Athens vary a lot. They generally depend on how much electricity you are using, but a part of your bill has to do with municipal taxes and other fees that have nothing to do with your actual consumption.
While all providers will charge a standard rate for your consumption, many of them often offer discounts, especially if you have a second contract (e.g. gas) through the same company.
As a couple working from home in a 75 square meter flat, our monthly expenses for electricity in the last few years have averaged at about 50-65 euros. This includes the municipal fees and AC in the summer, but doesn’t take into account heating expenses.
Note: Electricity prices all around Greece have increased significantly as of late 2021. Watch this space…
Water bills in Athens are paid three times a year, and are usually very affordable. We pay about 10-12 euro a month on average for the two of us.
Note: Your water consumption will depend on whether you have many plants, or whether you wash your balcony every other day.
Cost for Wi-Fi
Internet contracts in Greece start from about 25 euro / month, and you’d have to sign an initial contract for 24 months. Depending on the company and services you choose, there might be some extra costs when you first register.
Mobile phone costs
When it comes to mobile phones, there are all sorts of options out there. None of them are very cheap when compared to other countries. If you come from an EU country, check if you can keep your own provider and use EU-free roaming.
I have been using Cosmote WhatsUp (pay as you go) for several years. It costs me about 12 euro per month, and I’ve got all the minutes and GBs that I need. The main drawback if you don’t speak Greek, is that their app is only in Greek.
Don’t worry though, other companies have translated everything in English. Here is a complete article on how to buy a SIM card for Greece.
People coming from cold climates often assume that heating is not needed in Athens. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, houses in Greece can get very cold in winter, as good insulation is not always common.
Heating costs in Athens can be high
View from my balcony, February 2020 – you bet we needed the heating!
Many apartment blocks have shared central heating, which uses either petrol or gas, and usually operates on some hours per day. This is often not enough, so you might need to use an electric radiator or AC on top of that.
Newer apartments might have independent heating, often operating with gas. This will of course give you an additional bill to pay.
Based on all the above, estimating your heating costs isn’t straightforward. As an indication, a medium-sized apartment would need at least 20-30 euro per month for heating during winter.
Update: Gas prices increased massively in late 2021. Our latest bill for December 2021 was 67 euro, as opposed to 29 euro for December 2020. I’m not complaining though, as I know someone who received an extravagant 800 euro bill for their (big) house!
Shared building bills – Maintenance costs
On top of these utilities, most blocks of flats have some standard costs, which are divided among the tenants. These costs include the cleaner, gardener, elevator maintenance, electricity for the common areas (staircases, corridors) etc. We call them kinohrista.
It’s worth getting an indication of the shared building costs before you move in a new flat. As a rule, the more the properties in the apartment block, the lower the cost of the kinohrista. We pay about 25 euro per month for our own apartment, and it’s considered rather low.
3. Cost for supermarket / groceries in Athens
Supermarket costs / groceries are another expense that you should budget for while living in Athens. This includes anything related to food, cleaning products, personal care etc.
If you know where to shop in Athens, food costs can be much cheaper than in other countries. You will get the best prices, and the freshest produce, at Varvakios food market and the weekly street market, or laiki, in every area of Athens.
Food costs in Athens Greece – Oranges
Most supermarket chains, like MyMarket, AB, Sklavenitis, MarketIn or Bazaar, will put certain products on promotion every now and then. You could also check discount supermarkets, like Lidl.
As a couple, our monthly supermarket bills come to about 350-400 euro per month. A family of four should expect to pay at least about 700-800 euro.
4. Transportation cost in Athens city center
Public transport can be a convenient way to move around Athens. Before you choose where to live, you should know that some areas of the city have better public transportation options than others.
Like other big cities in Europe, Athens has a good metro network. Here is some more information on how to use the Athens metro, along with maps. The metro is currently being extended to include more areas.
Other means of transport in the city include the suburban railway, which is connected to the metro system, buses, trolleys and the tram.
The Athens metro is an inexpensive way to move around the city
A monthly pass for all public transport in Athens only costs 27 euro. In order to issue this, you will need to have an AMKA Social Security number. A single ticket for any means of transport costs 1.20 euro and is valid for 90 minutes.
Compared to many countries in Europe, taxis are relatively inexpensive. The minimum charge is about 3.50 euro, and you should expect to pay 4-6 euro for a 10-15 minute ride.
5. Athens cost for entertainment
And now, let’s have a look at entertainment costs. This includes going out to restaurants and tavernas, cafes, cinema, theatre, performances, nightlife etc.
Overall, restaurant prices can vary a lot. You can expect to pay about 5 euro per person for street food like souvlaki, and 15-20 euro for a hearty taverna meal with wine, beer or raki. Ethnic or gourmet restaurants will be more expensive.
Living costs in Athens – Taverna food
A price for a seated coffee is generally around 2.5-3.5 euro, and coffee is a huge part of Greek culture. Beer or wine start from about 4 euro, and a drink or cocktail at a bar or club would usually be at the range of 7-10 euro.
Obviously, the more upmarket you prefer your places to eat and drink, the more it will cost you!
Cinema tickets are 5-8 euro, while local theater performances would typically cost from 10 euro upwards. Gigs and shows with international artists can cost a lot more.
With all that said, there are lots of free activities in and around Athens, like going to the beach or hiking around the mountains. Here are a few free things to do in Athens, to get you started.
6. Medical care in Athens Greece
Compared to other European countries or the USA, private health care in Greece is very affordable.
For people with an AMKA number, a visit to a doctor can cost as low as 10 euro for certain services. An average price for a private visit is about 30-50 euro. Like with other services, you will find that some areas of Athens are more expensive than others.
7. Education and schooling
If you are coming to live in Athens with your family, you will probably need to budget for education costs. While public schools in Greece are free, most expats choose private, international schools for their children.
Fees for these schools vary widely. As a rule of thumb, allow for 8,000 – 12,000 euro per child per year, and bear in mind that a discount is usually offered when there are siblings.
8. Other expenses
Apart from the above living costs, there will always be other things to consider. Here are a few examples:
gym membership > 25-50 euro per month
ladies’ haircut > 8 euro upwards
cleaner’s hourly rate > 6-7 euro
fuel for a car > 1.90 – 1.95 euro per litre (late 2022)
If there are specific expenses you are interested in, please leave a comment down below, and I’ll add it to the list.
An overview of the cost of living in Athens
So, where does that leave you in terms of the total cost of living in Athens vs other cities?
All in all, a single person living in a shared flat could get by with 700-800 euro. However, they’d have to be rather frugal, and they wouldn’t be able to do too much.
Free things to do in Athens – Lycabettus Hill