Is It Really That Bad to Live in Greece As an Expat?
We talked to expats in Athens about their daily life and work.
Recently, in an article published by Quartz, including last research of Expat insider. Research exposing Greece as the worst country to live in as an expat. Greece has achieved this (dis)honorable distinction for four consecutive years.
Expat Insider claims to be one of the largest surveys worldwide, with more than 12.500 respondents, representing 166 nationalities, and residing in 188 countries.
The report indicates that finances and family life are one of the main problems for expats in Greece. “Half of the respondents say their household income is not enough to cover their daily expenses, with 27% even saying it’s not nearly enough to get by.” Increase in the Cost of Childcare and Education as well as the Family Well-Being subcategories also led to Greece reaching last place in the Family Life Index. Greece is the bottom leader even in the Political Stability, behind Brazil, Turkey and even Ukraine.
One of the few categories where Greece is positioned near the top is “Leisure options”, where Greece lands at the 13th place, behind Cyprus, while ahead of Spain and Portugal. Greece barely makes the top 10 at the category “I’m feeling at home in the local culture”.
Despite the fact that for the past few years Greece has been considered as a country in crisis, there are still a lot of people who move here, for work reasons. “Me and my partner moved here because we wanted to live a Southern Europe lifestyle,” admits the 39 years old Australian Lisa Spykers, even though she is struggling for a job as a teacher and musician while her Greek-Canadian partner works online.
Daniel Gillen used to have a regular job in England, but the town where the 27 year old ex-student of physics and history lived was too cold, too wet. “I always wanted to live in Greece, but I had never visited it before.” He quit his job, started his own business, which went well, and soon he could afford to live wherever he chose. He moved to the Greek capital last April, but he will leave for a town nearer the coast soon. “I pictured to myself that Athens is a little town by the beach.”
The article upset some of the members of a Facebook group “Expats in Greece”. Disagreement with this research was raised. So, I decided to ask some of the expats what they actually think about their lives in Greece.
Daniel thinks that if you are an expat who doesn’t work here, life is pretty good. “If you come here and you are retired and have a pension, or you move and get married, or if you come with your own business, or if you have huge savings — so that you do not need to live sparingly, you are fine. But if you do need to spend conservatively, is very difficult.” His business operates in Britain and he works from home. And “home” for him is Athens.
Would Lisa say that Greece is the worst country to live in as an expat? “No.”
She has lived in 5 countries: USA, Canada, Australia, Malaysia and now Greece. “I would say, work opportunities if you don’t have anything like that, like a — digital nomad — is really hard. That is a very negative aspect of living in this country. But if you put that aside and you look at the rest of this country — the freshness of the fruit, the amazing weather, beauty of the islands and the mountains. And food is really affordable on all ranges. If you are struggling, you will find something cheap, if you have money, you will find something expensive. So I wouldn’t classify it as the worst country. The research was very harsh and based on very narrow criteria.”
Kristel Pent has lived in Athens for 5 years. This is the 17th year of living abroad, for the 35 year old Estonian illustrator. She feels that the article generalized a bit. “The report has several parts where are some countries ahead and in others is pretty much vice versa, so I think is a little bit of a clickbait.”
She used to live in Denmark. A country more organised and with a lower unemployment rate. “In Greece people are more open, life and work are mixed in a way. In a way it is what suits each person, some prefer northern way of life, some southern.”
She picked Athens, because of its warm weather and lifestyle. She got job a here, which she doesn’t have anymore, but she stayed anyway.
Rebecca Meyer came to Athens last August. It’s the first time that she lives outside the USA. For her, Greece was a professional decision. She could choose other countries to go to, but as a former history teacher, she enjoys being in the historical city of Athens.
“It’s important to me that I immerse myself in the culture, but clearly I am in a much more American environment still,” 36 year old middle school principal admits.
About the research she says that she is in a different scenario compared to those who came here and are financially struggling: “I came here with the stable job that I have and know that it’s gonna last for at least 2 years. I think the things are really cheap here. I love Athens, I love diversity, there is a lot of opportunities to meet people with similar outlooks on life.”
The bottom line of this report would definitely be that as an expat working for a Greek company, the situation is much worse than working for a foreign one. But how many expats are actually working for Greek companies? Very few.
The question raised in the article is who the expats actually are? According to the Oxford Dictionary an expat or expatriate is “a person who lives outside their native country” while migrant is “a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions”. And if the discussion comes to migrants, then it’s a whole other issue.
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