Moving to Athens


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No country has suffered the fallout of the global financial crisis more than Greece and no capital city more than Athens. But with a history spanning at least 3,400 years Athens has certainly seen worse crises – there are no Persian or Ottoman invaders to repel this time – and there is hope that the city of Plato and Aristotle will once again heal itself through the democratic process.

Athens is a city that wears its history with pride. Its ancient monuments, some dating from as far back as the 6th century BC are found scattered throughout the metropolis and the city’s historic centre, the acropolis, dominates the skyline. Sitting among modern buildings and an infrastructure capable of hosting the Summer Olympic Games in 2004, the archaic buildings provide a tangible link to the past and a potent reminder of the city’s importance to Western civilization.

Recent years have been unkind. The crisis and the austerity measures demanded by the ECB, IMF and EU have resulted in the unemployment rate in Greece hitting 27 per cent and youth unemployment 64 per cent. Athens, a city of just over 3 million inhabitants has seen widespread social unrest and great political uncertainty.

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Moving to Athens from the UK

While a Brit has rights to move and work anywhere in the EU, the high unemployment rate in Greece means that moving from the UK to Athens shouldn’t be attempted without a firm offer of employment.

Those who are moving with their employer or who already have a job lined up might be looking to undertake a course of Greek language lessons. Greek is a tough language to learn but the OMILO school offers an 8-10 week course in a relaxed setting in the north of the city for around €420 (£357).

Athens is a fairly compact city and has an excellent public transport network so owning a car will not be necessary unless you choose to live in one of the outermost of the city’s 58 suburbs. Popular locations for expats are northern suburbs like Kifissia and Rafina which are leafy and quiet and coastal suburbs such as Glyfada or Voula which offer access to beaches.

With the economy tanking house prices in Athens have continued to fall since 2007 and still don’t appear to have hit bottom. It’s possible to purchase a centrally located 3 bedroom apartment for around €200,000 (£170K) but with prices still falling renting might be a better option, at least in the medium term.

Comparing Athens vs London

Athens’ Mediterranean climate is much warmer than that of London. Average high temperatures in summer are comfortably in the thirties (°C) and average lows in winter don’t drop below 5 °C. Athens sees about 30% less rainfall per annum than London, almost all of it falling between October and March, and almost twice as many hours of sunshine.

The cost of living in Athens is significantly lower than in the UK capital. As well as rents and property prices, groceries, restaurants, transportation and utility bills will all work out cheaper. This absolute cost reduction does need to be weighed against lower average salaries though.

On average Athenians report themselves as feeling less safe, getting a lower standard of healthcare and experiencing more pollution than Londoners. But they do spend less time commuting.

History buffs will have a great time on both historic cities but developing a serious interest in Athenian history in Athens is a must. It means that you can while away hour upon hour exploring ancient Greek, Roman, Medieval and Ottoman artefacts at some of the world’s best preserved archaeological sites and in some of the best museums. The Acropolis Museum in particular is a modern wonder, providing an insight into archeological and preservation techniques as they happen.