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What to Expect While Living and Working in Athens as an Expat

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Living and working in Athens can be as fun and fascinating as it can be annoying and confusing. Even Athenians who adore their city acknowledge that daily life can sometimes become very hard here.

These are some of the things you’ll love and the ones you’ll hate if you decide to relocate to the Greek capital.

Food in Athens

Based on Mediterranean cuisine, Greek cuisine is simply irresistible. Travelers worldwide visiting Athens have been fascinated by the city’s culinary scene.

Restaurants, takeaways, and local taverns are open from early in the morning until late at night serving scrumptious delicacies for all tastes.

What makes Greek cuisine stand out isn’t just the traditional recipes. It’s mostly the local ingredients used for every dish.

Greek grocery vegetables

The best part of living in Greece regarding food is that you can go to the Dimotiki agora (Athens Central Market) to find fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits all year round and use them while cooking at home.

You don’t have to eat at a restaurant to savor an authentic and nutritious Greek cuisine meal.

The Weather in Athens

Being one of the sunniest cities worldwide, temperatures rarely sink below zero, and it rarely snows.

Living in a city blessed with 2773 hours of sunshine annually is certainly a reason on its own to consider moving here.

Surrounded by mountains and sea, the city enjoys the sun almost all year

In summer, however, when temperatures reach 40°C, it can get extremely hot. That is when Athenians left the city behind and headed to the Greek islands.

The Athens Cityscape

One of the best things about living in Athens is that it is a city full of contrasts. The scenery alters depending on which part of the city you are.

Even in the city center, the surroundings change completely from one area to another. For example, if you’re in Plaka you’ll find yourself among cobblestone alleys and neoclassical buildings. If you move to Metaxourgio or Exarchia, you’ll see graffiti-painted walls and big block buildings. You can reach the Athenian Riviera’s coastline from the city center or the peaceful northern suburbs in less than 30 minutes. 

Plaka district, Athens

Moreover, Athens is a great starting point for one-day trips to the islands and the country’s mainland.

The Locals

Greeks are well-known for being open-hearted and always willing to help each other. And while that is true as a foreigner in Greece you may face some difficulties.

For starters, most older locals don’t speak English. That makes it difficult to cope with everyday tasks and makes you feel less accepted by Greeks.

Athens attracts many tourists, but only in the past few years have people from other European countries come to live and work here.

Millennials and people of younger ages are familiar with interacting with foreigners, but it isn’t that common for those of older ages.

The International Community in Athens

Even though there are many foreigners living in the Greek capital, Athens isn’t what you’d call an international city.

You’ll see Erasmus students and people from different countries, but as most of them spend a limited amount of time here, the city doesn’t have a large international community.

Of course, you’ll find foreigners as there are international companies, and many live in Athens and work as digital nomads, but it probably won’t be as easy as in other modern metropolitans.

Use the Facebook groups to connect with other foreigners, start going to co-working spaces if you’re self-employed, and hang out at cafés and bars in the city center.

Learning the Language

Moving to a new country and not speaking the national language can be very frustrating. Simple daily chores require more effort and even communication with those speaking English can become confusing.

Moreover, it is more difficult to integrate into society if you do not speak the local language. That stands for every city in the world, but especially in Athens, you might struggle even harder.

It isn’t that Greeks don’t speak English or aren’t willing to talk with foreigners, but it gets harder to understand the local culture.

Even though learning Greek isn’t an easy task due to the different alphabet, it is definitely worth the effort. You can start with an online course, join a class in one of the numerous language schools in the city center, or hire a teacher for private lessons at home.

The Modern Greek Language Teaching Centre of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens is another great place to learn the language while getting introduced to Greek culture.

The Athens Bureaucracy

Greece’s bureaucratic system is very complicated and time-consuming. Even locals often don’t fully understand how it works, and it can take days or weeks to get a job done. For foreigners, it gets even harder not only because they can’t comprehend the perplexing system but also because most employees in the public sector don’t speak English at all or are not fluent enough.

Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the public services and, ideally, take one of your Greek friends along to help you with the processes.

Traffic in Athens

Another thing you’ll hear locals complaining about is the heavy traffic. It’s true, streets, especially around the city center, are often jammed. Especially in rush hours, it can take more than 45 minutes to cross a small distance.

However, Athens has a complete transportation system to help you get around the city conveniently. If you would like to know more, please read our detailed guide about how to get around Athens.

The metro operates in many areas, both in the city center and the suburbs, and it’s a great way to commute during the morning hours.

Athens has heavy traffic. Courtesy:

Just like every city around the world, Athens has its advantages and downsides.

Whether you like the city’s atmosphere or not is up to you to decide but one thing is for certain: Athens will never make you bored.

A Quick Reminder:

Remember that Athens By Locals is here to guide you with planning the perfect trip to Athens and help you every step along the way. If you didn’t found what you’re looking for, or need any recommendations about your trip to Athens, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you. Please be as more detailed as possible regarding your subject so as to help you better.

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