Athens is located in a large geographical area called the Attica Basin. The city is surrounded by the sea in the south and mountains in the north. In truth, not many foreigners live in Athens
The history of Athens dates back to 3000 BC, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Today, Athens is a large, chaotic and poorly designed city, home to nearly 5 million people.
Athens is also nicknamed “the most beautiful and ugliest city in the world” The huge mass of concrete, asphalt and ugly buildings that cover it almost completely make it a chaotic, noisy and unattractive place. But there are also some really beautiful places and the Acropolis and the coast have their charms.
The best thing about Athens is its people. The Greeks are a warm, generous and hospitable people. They are cheerful and lively and love to eat together, talk together and be together for a long time after the meal. They are also generally very attentive to strangers and are big fans of music and art in general.
Greeks are free spirits who live life extremely relaxed, which is good if you want to meet people and have fun, but not so good if you have to work.
It is easy to converse with people, especially if you learn some Greek, but most educated Athenians speak English well.
Because of the weather and the Mediterranean flair, Athens is a city with a lively nightlife. There are many restaurants, bars and clubs where you can have fun without spending a lot of money.
The city offers a remarkable variety of nightlife options, from fancy and expensive clubs to sitting on a bench with a beer. People often go out to have fun, even if they have no money. They always find a way to enjoy life, despite the crisis. And they also go out during the week to have fun, not just on the weekends.
In Athens, the cost of living is about 30% lower than in other European cities. Compared to many other European capitals, Athens is generally much cheaper in terms of rent, food and cost of living.
Rental prices are cheaper than in other European cities, but given the low level of wages, it is not easy for many to survive. There are old people who live on a small pension. At the same time, there is also a large part of the population that has a good standard of living, which corresponds to the European standard.
Public transport has some problems (low reliability, congestion, etc.), while the subway works well.
Sidewalks and bike lanes are narrow or nonexistent. As a pedestrian or bicyclist, it is often frustrating to get around. There are cars parked on sidewalks, streets without sidewalks, and few bike lanes. Drivers own the road and drive like crazy, breaking all the rules.
Traffic is terrible, congestion is the norm, but Athenians still prefer their cars to the extensive, if not always reliable, transportation network. Add to the many cars the industry that works in the surrounding cities, and the result is high air pollution, especially in the summer.
The good weather in Athens is widely known. In winter, temperatures rarely drop below freezing, averaging between 10 and 20 °C until April, when they begin to rise. In summer, temperatures can even exceed 35 °C, especially in July and August. With peak values of up to 42-45 °C.
This may seem like a perfect climate to live in. However, the high humidity means that the perceived temperatures are lower, especially in winter. Considering also that the buildings in Athens are not well insulated, this means that the apartments are very cold in the humid winter months and turn into ovens in the summer without green spaces in the city and without heavy air pollution.
Working in Athens is not as easy as it was before the crisis. Despite a slight upturn, Greece is still struggling with the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. The austerity measures imposed on Greece as a condition of the debt bailout have led to tax increases and less public spending.
This has had a negative impact on businesses and individuals, and the unemployment rate is one of the highest in Europe. Due to rising unemployment and poverty, foreign workers are not as welcome as they once were. Local companies are unlikely to hire a foreigner for a job that a Greek can do, partly because it requires a lot of paperwork, and partly for patriotic reasons.
Working in Athens will be difficult if you do not speak Greek, which by the way is not an easy language, or if you are not a IT worker (in which case English will do).
The only jobs you can do without knowing Greek, other than the IT jobs mentioned above, are: Language teaching, hospitality jobs, or unskilled work such as farmings.
Salaries are quite low unless you are a highly skilled worker.
Recently, many established companies have renewed themselves in Athens, and new companies have also sprung up offering well-paid work. But only for highly skilled workers.
Those who want to start a business should keep in mind that bureaucracy can be a nightmare, which is why it is recommended to have a person on site who can take care of all the documents.
Living and working in Athens pros and cons
Living in Athens, pros
- Good weather
- Cheap public transportation
- Good food, Mediterranean cuisine
- Low cost of living
- Relaxed lifestyle
- Easy social integration
Living in Athens, cons
- Few job opportunities and low wages
- Dirty city (it’s not Switzerland, but you get used to it)
- Terrible traffic
- Ugly buildings, it is normal to see an ugly modern building next to old beautiful ruins
- Corruption at all levels
Life in Athens is very different from life in other parts of Greece. The lifestyle in the countryside and on the islands is quite different. Athens is a huge, dirty, chaotic and polluted city.
On the other hand, you have many opportunities in all other areas: Food, fun, activities, entertainment, culture, things that are hard to find outside the capital.
Athens is a very special city. Either you love it or you hate it, it really depends on your personality. Right now it is not easy to find a good job in Athens, but if you have the opportunity to find a job that will provide you with a decent income, Athens could be a good place to live and work.
If you want all the information on how to work in Greece I suggest you read the article: Working in Greece
If you want all the information on how to move to Greece you can read the article: Moving to Greece