Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Summer jobs in Greece


Looking for a summer job in Greece?

Thousands go seaside every summer to escape the city for a little fun and sun, which means clubs, resorts and cafes in Greece are brimming with natives and tourists.

website metrics*Article last updated May 2, 2013

10 Tips

Based on the real-life experiences of people who did it successfully, here are a few tips to getting a summer job in Greece:

1. Start looking in March

Big clubs on the mainland move to the coastline in summer and take their staff with them, and additional staff are mined from previous years, connections or ads placed in March or before that. Clubs, cafes and hotels on islands reopen after being closed in winter with staff from previous years, but there are usually vacancies. By end of March or April, most positions are filled except for a few at smaller venues on popular islands, unpopular clubs/islands, or islands some distance from the mainland (i.e., Rhodes, Kos).

If you are a tourist with plans to be in Greece by June or July, it’s quite late — many say too late — but you might still find work if someone quits, the boss underestimates business and needs more staff or someone on staff wants to go on vacation. For example, my friend Alex worked on six different islands for 2-3 weeks at a time for various staff on holiday, had a holiday of sorts herself and made a good amount of cash because she is a young and beautiful Greek-Canadian citizen with no permit issues and could speak four languages fluently. Sometimes it’s about being the right person at the right place at the right time.

Getting work at a hotel or hostel in Greece is more difficult, since larger hotels tend to prefer candidates with degrees in hotel management and hospitality; and smaller hotels are usually family owned and therefore have family and friends running it with the same year-round staff. This is especially true since the economic crisis began in 2009, with many out of work and businesses shutting down or on the verge of bankruptcy. Hostels have casual work, but during high season (April-October) there are fewer or no vacancies.

Resorts and hotel chains start advertising in January, but these positions are primarily for multilingual Greeks and the ads are in Greek. Ads for casual summer work don’t appear until March or later, if at all.

See “Summer jobs in Greece FAQ” for more details.

2. Look the part

Employers want people who are attractive, clean and pleasant, the kind of presentable men and women who will entice customers to their establishment and keep them coming back to spend money. Sometimes the best looking staff members are asked to stand outside or occupy a high visibility position for this reason.

It’s not necessary to be anorexic, in fact a lot of Greek men like a little meat on their women, but men and women should have a certain look and attitude. Women have a better chance of finding bar work than men (except at places with a gay clientele) based solely on beauty, even without previous experience. It’s unfair, but that’s reality.

3. Be open minded

Maybe it’s not the biggest club or hotel on the island or it’s a cafe situated away from the beach, so what? You can still make good money and have the means to stay for the summer, go to the beach, meet people and party after work. Your spare time is your own. Some people are even offered free accommodation and food with the job. Enjoy it!

4. Don’t assume that speaking English is enough

Sometimes speaking English is enough in a predominantly tourist area; sometimes it’s not. Keep in mind that local Greeks frequent the seaside on the mainland and islands, so the employer may sometimes require you speak basic Greek or another language. It’s much easier to hire someone that can speak to everyone, than someone who can only speak to a few.

My island-hopping friend Alex speaks French, Arabic, English and Greek. Her employer may not have required all of those languages, but it certainly didn’t hurt and it gave her the power to choose the best jobs on the best islands at the last minute in June and make a lot of money. My friend Nikos speaks Greek, English and German and found work  easily on Kos for three summers. I spoke English, Spanish and French, while working my first summer on Rhodes.

5. Have some emergency cash

It is always wise to keep a small stash of money for emergencies, whether it’s medical care, an unexpected trip back home, unsuccessful attempts to find work or the need to move on if your employer or the job turns bad. Don’t assume that people will help you, you must be able to help yourself.

Depleting funds before finding gainful employment is also risky because it may force you to accept less acceptable work out of desperation, and your employer may end up exploiting you. I know women on the island of Ios who are forced to live in the same house as their boss for a few months with “no $ex at first” because they have no money and nowhere else to go. See “One day on the island of Ios.”

6. Show up and interview on the spot

Job ads are not the only way to get a job, no one I know has ever gotten a job by posting in a forum, and few employers will hire you by phone or email anyway. Why? They want to see what you look like. There is also no such thing as summer jobs for Canadians or summer jobs for Americans, i.e. When was the last time you saw an ad in your homeland that advertised “summer jobs for Italians?” Summer jobs in Greece are for everyone regardless of nationality.

There are agencies in Athens that screen potential employees and send you to islands, but some agencies don’t disclose the whole truth about a job and you find out only when you get there.

It’s often best to go around town, speak directly to the boss/manager and inquire if there’s a job; other employees may see you as competition and lie about whether there’s a vacancy, so that may not always be the best approach. Even if the boss/employer does not have a vacancy himself, he might know someone who does and give you a lead.

Interviews often start from first glance, which is the reason you should be ready to “look the part” as I mentioned above and be polite but confident in your approach when inquiring about a job. By meeting the boss directly, you can get a sense if you’d like to work for him, and if he’d like to work with you. The process of interviewing is varied, anything from a few basic questions and a shot of whiskey to celebrate hiring you or no questions at all and a rundown of terms and payment. If the employer doesn’t lead, you should be prepared to introduce yourself, state your experience and ask questions yourself.

7. Be clear about your responsibilities and payment

Clarify what your responsibilities will be (i.e. bartender or server, dancer or escort, face control, dishwasher, part-time cafe worker/housekeeper, a combination), what hours you may work, if you’ll have a regular or fluctuating schedule. Normal things.

If you are a Greek citizen, EU/EEA/EFTA citizen or non-EU citizen with a valid Greek residence/work permit, then IKA (insurance) and a salary are the norm. If you’re working in a bar, you’ll be expected to get a license by submitting an application at the police station and proving you’re of age and have a clean background.

Sometimes jobs come with accommodation, food and two days off per week, sometimes none of those things. What you’re willing to accept is up to you, keeping in mind that decent employment is much better than no employment. If you want to trade days off, free accommodation and food for a higher salary, and your boss is willing to negotiate, it’s your choice.

If you are a tourist or temporary worker just looking for a summer job, then it is understood you’ll be working illegally and not likely have the power to negotiate because getting a work visa and work permit is a lengthy (several months) and expensive process to legalize a non-EU citizen for only casual work. Therefore, your boss may ask you to hide in the kitchen or pretend to be a customer should police come around because penalties are high and include jail time. It is much more difficult to find casual, illegal work now than it was 10 years ago because enforcement has become more common with the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) making weekly and daily checks in summer and the economic crisis has closed half of businesses in Greece. If you want to work legally, please read “How non-EU citizens can get a permit to live and work in Greece.”

No matter what citizenship you hold, inquire about essential terms.
— How much will you earn? Will you be paid a flat rate per day, a percentage of sales or a little of both? Most people I know negotiate a flat rate per day for work in a club or cafe and either keep individual tips or pool them with others and split them at the end of a shift. A flat rate is calculated according to the size of the establishment, whether business is good and your known capabilities. If you’re new, perhaps you can make a deal with your boss about step raises — i.e. this much at the start, an increase after 15-30 days when you prove your worth, etc.
— Will you be paid monthly, twice monthly, weekly or daily? Some people are OK with twice monthly, some need to be paid daily because they’re working illegally and may not have a way to recover money if unexpectedly fired because their boss is not trustworthy.
— What are my days off? Most people who work the summer in Greece have few if any days off and are expected to work straight through.

An Irish actor described his summer job in Greece: “In 2003 I spent the summer in Crete. I worked in a bar seven nights a week for very little money with about three nights off over the entire summer. It was exhausting; working in the bar, heading out with friends and still getting up to the beach each day.” —,  January 15, 2010

8. Don’t hand over your passport

This may seem obvious, but I have seen people turn over their passport for reasons I can’t understand then experience difficulty in getting it back. If your boss wants a copy of your passport, it’s better to go to the local photo store, bookstore or printer and make one for him.

Also in relation to your passport, do not overstay your visa according to the period specific to your country. If you do overstay your visa, it will haunt your passport until it expires and you will be questioned upon every entry/exit by every country if you don’t pay a fine of up to 1200 euros. Until the fine is paid, you will be denied entry to the Schengen zone and a record of your overstay remains in the computer. See “Overstaying your visa in Greece.”

9. Don’t place an ad yourself

Some guidebooks recommend doing this, although I know absolutely no one who has secured work this way in my 14 years in Greece…or my lifetime, for that matter. Think about it.
— Legitimate employers place ads and let job candidates come to them.
— How desperate or cheap is someone to approach a stranger through an ad by phone or email? How good could the job be?
— Listing your number and/or email invites all types of people to contact you, not just potential employers. Do you want that kind of attention and is it worth the risk?

See “Job ads in Greece vs. other countries” for detailed information.

10. Be humble and have a good attitude!

No matter what happens, challenges make great stories and it’s important to focus on the experience and opportunity you have to work in Greece for the summer. The sun is shining, you’re at the beach every day, you’re young and free — it’s the best time of your life! What could be more beautiful than that? :)

Kalo kalokairi!

Note to readers

Please do not leave your CV, phone number or request for a job. This article was written for your information, so you can help yourself when looking for a summer job in newspaper ads and websites in Greece.

Related posts

Summer jobs in Greece FAQ
One day on the island of Ios
Non-EU travelers need 50 euros a day

Then start your job search with listings in the next column.


  Fatur wrote @ May 19th, 2007 at 05:11

Your site is very cool, i love it
success for you..and nice to know you


  greekamericaningreece wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 23:05

Although it is very exciting living in Greece at first, the enthusiasm wears out within a few years and the frustration builds up when you see what your life financially (and otherwise) could had been back home in the States. You reach a point of getting jealous watching all the Americans and Greek-Americans leaving as soon as fall arrives and you remain stuck facing another year of mediocre income, bureaucracy, rudeness…

If you are gonna have children, why on earth would you want them to go to school in Greece?

Greece is a beautiful country, but not for work. Only for vacation and retirement (as long as you are healthy that is).

Some thoughts…

Kat Reply:

Good thoughts to consider!

I believe the only reason I’ve been here this long is because it’s been interrupted by long periods of living in New York, Miami, Sweden and Spain. Otherwise I know I would have left a long, long time ago.

But for those just seeking fun in Greece and a little spending money to enjoy the summer, I see nothing wrong with that! ;)

  greekamericaningreece wrote @ August 21st, 2007 at 18:04

You need to weigh things and see what is more important to you.

Personally, I can understand being here for family reasons ( and if you do not have kids makes it easier staying as well) or due to earning potential. But if you are fine with seeing your relatives every summer and your career/opportunities/earning potential/quality of life do not come close to what you could have had in the States, then it is very clear what needs to be done.

You will not believe how many Greeks have asked me, “and you left America to live here?”

P.S. As I am writting this I am watching on local TV that we are expecting a higher cost of living after the national elections and a FPA of close to 22%

Kat Reply:

And yet there are plenty of people in America aching to move to Greece. The grass always seems greener on the other side. Reality is there is very little grass here and much of it not green.

  Sydney wrote @ August 22nd, 2007 at 09:21

In a related vein, I think that wherever people are, they have to feel like they are choosing to be there. Too many foreigners come to Greece because of what they’ve experienced on holiday. But because they are not wealthy, they give up everything to live their dream.

Certainly, if you took a Greek, a Swede, or an Australian and plopped them in the States – without any option to return to their home, they would find it stifling and depressing.

So many people willingly do this to themselves when they move to Greece. They sell their home, they sink money into a house in Greece, and when they realize they might like to entertain the idea of moving home – they find out they can’t afford it anymore.

And those who come with less, the ones who rent and work the olives or other odd jobs for income – many of them don’t realize until it’s too late that their income won’t cover what used to seem like a reasonably priced vacation to visit the homeland.

Kat Reply:

Syd, that’s so true. When people tell me they want to move here because they had such a good time on vacation or a study program financed by their parents, I tell them they need to do something on their own like visit a tax office, attempt to complete a piece of bureaucracy or negotiate something at least more complex than buying stamps at the post office. It’s too easy to romanticize reality when it’s not in your face 24/7.

I do know people who did exactly what you said to be with family or because a great job was promised. It didn’t turn out well, the cash supply is gone and they’d need to start dead over again, which is harder when you’re married with 2 kids.

Having no option to return home can sometimes push a person harder to make it work and find acceptance, unless of course they refuse to negotiate the rough spots and/or really hate where they are.

  karagiosy wrote @ September 24th, 2007 at 23:20

I have so many examples of bad experiences working in Greece. Nobody wants to work because of the low pay and no one wants to pay becasue of the low work quality… What a mathematic equation… Well the Greeks came up with mathematics and now it does not work anymore!!

To work in greece is a disaster, no matter your skills or experience, you will always have to prove your skills. I can understand that no one does a good job because of the low salaries and i can also understand that the pay is low because of the low prodution quality, but who is going to raise salaries for the few who are actually skilled and doing a good job?? Not any Greeks!!

As a Swede, I need to cut 70% of my productivity in order to get paid for what I actually earn on a 8-hour daily shift.

It is ridiculous to sit on your ass doing nothing for lowest possible salary (590 EUROS A MONTH BY LAW), and then complain the low salaries???

Greek salaries are some 60% lower than other European countries. Why is that? Well i understand it is because people here are greedy and do not open their wallet for rewarding a good job done. They rather keep you as a slave to work harder and even weekends to make more money for them, but say that goverment stopped accepting overtime payment and then do not pay you… you still have to come weekends though…

Greek employment is BULLSHIT and I hope all of you guys check your contracts for set weekly 40 hours payment and overtime extra payment…

Greece is trying to be a European country, but they are all thieves trying to make you work to make them rich… that’s the Greek dream!!

You may survive tomorrow, but then die early and still poor for losing your mind to greed and dreams of wealth using others!!!

  Sara wrote @ November 7th, 2007 at 21:02

First, I want to say that I love this site! I was hoping you could give me some advice. I found a job bartending in Evia for the upcoming summer, and the owner gave a position to a friend of mine as well. Do you know anything about the island? Would it be a good idea for two American girls to live there for a few months in the summer? Neither of us have ever been to Greece though we have both lived in different European countries for a year at a time. I was in Sicily and she was in Spain. Any tidbits on the island, advice you may have, we would love to hear it!

Kat Reply:

You can look at “Places I’ve Lived and Experienced” to see if I’ve been somewhere. But I don’t think it matters what I know or think of the island because I’ve been living/working in Greece for 10 years and am quite different than you. Nationality really doesn’t play a part. We’re all just girls.

It only matters what you and your friend are willing to accept, since you don’t know your potential employer and have never been to Greece. No one is fit to advise you on decisions that will permanently change the course of your life. You need to assess risks/benefits (real or imagined), sit quietly with yourself and make choices you can live with, not seek validation from or consult others.

Best of everything!

  Breanna wrote @ May 18th, 2008 at 18:47

My friend and i are aussies and looking for work over the summer season.. but we cant get there until end of june start of july! We are 18, good looking girls and both speak two languages.. do u think we will be able to find a job on Ios? or even any of the party islands?? waitressing or bar tending jobs??

Kat Reply:

Read this article again, and also see the Summer Job FAQ. It’s a bit late to be looking for something decent.

Predicting the future and fortunetelling are not my areas of expertise, however you can click:

  Manolis wrote @ September 24th, 2008 at 03:17

Tell you what, Working in Greece is a nightmare both for Greeks and non-Greeks. The things is to have a clue of where you are going and what you are looking for. remember making money is out of the question. if u want though a way to have a room in an island for the whole summer (and work a chilled job to pay your way through) the best advice is: look in feb-march and definitely before march. you won’t become rich but a vacation subsidy is guaranteed. be smart, Greece is unforgiving, but 4 those that have the nerve it gives something in exchange (albeit not money…)

Kat Reply:

I agree with your first statement as I’ve stated the same thing several times on this website, but I totally disagree with your second sentence. Being open-minded and flexible about acceptable jobs and working environment (and often low productivity) is essential to finding a vacancy in Greece if one is a non-Greek or if someone of any nationality has arrived late in the season.

Knowing where to go and what you want, having goals, education and skills often works against job candidates because of cronyism, discrimination, and lack of innovation and opportunities in many fields and locations.

  US Guy wrote @ January 12th, 2009 at 01:24

I have worked in both Germany and Greece, I found Greece (Athens) to be a lively and interesting place. It is not for the faint-hearted, and if you plan to go there and think you will live the high lifestyle you are used to in your homeland, wherever that may be, you will be disappointed.

For example, I was in Athens for 6 mos, and even though I enjoyed myself there; traveling and eating that great Greek Food, it was a challenge to find work, and make money. I got lucky and found a small studio for 450 Euros a month. I had a German Work Permit, so I was able to find a job, but without it I may have had to work under the table, and I can say I would not have done that. Overall, Greece is one of the prettiest countries I have seen, I recommend that you spend sometime there on vacation, before committing yourself to go and live there.

Good Luck in all your Travels

Kat Reply:

That’s very good advice. You had a German work permit, so working legally gave you power should they try to cheat you. Lots of people work illegally, and the conditions can be quite bad and poorly paid for that very reason. Also, I know people who moved here based on experiences they had on vacation in Greece or after falling in love with a Greek after one month or one week, and honestly I don’t think that’s the most realistic way to decide one’s life and future.

I appreciate you making a comment and sharing your experience.

  Konstantinos wrote @ January 24th, 2009 at 19:13

We forget often to quickly that life in the states is the culmination of who can get richer, work longer, work harder, make more than the other, who has the bigger house, competitive, capitialistic lifestyle. I hear of a generation concerned about not having enough money in Greece. In the states we complain we don’t have enough, even though we have more than we ever dreamed. But here in the states, unlike in Greece, we work and work harder to get ahead, to convince ourselves and others this is the way, this is the truth , this is the life. But is the Capitalisitic way of life better? Families gatherings are scarce due to busy work ethic schedules and intense work ethic values and princiiples. Family is scattered throughout states. Many families are like broken chains. There are no links. We worker harder than ever for that dollar. For what reason? We miss out on the good life of family and friends. It becomes to easy to forget the good life the Greek citizens of today live. Our motto here: Work hard, Long hours, Retire and die. The end. Is this your answer to your lifes ambitions? Greece has it’s problems. But I hear of a different greek generation also in which there are positive minded people, who can make a difference and take what knowledge and imagination they have and turn it around and make it work fulfillingly. The greek people have a tremendous value system like no other, The Greeks have unyielding passion for what is most important in life. This strenght in family values and love for Christ is at the forefront of what is most important.

Kat Reply:

Living in a country (Greece) that produces nothing, isn’t competitive and discourages foreign investors (or foreigners, period) will land Greece in deep turmoil sooner than later. Family values and frappe don’t pay the bills. Being unemployed and not knowing if the government can pay pensions and salaries also doesn’t finance the good life in Greece.

Families living in the same house can be just as broken as those living thousands of miles away, so the strength of links is only dependent on those in the chain. All of the positive-minded people in Greece cannot overcome the majority stagnating in corruption, cronyism and cheating their way to a better life. Nor can they take the place of an absent sustainable economy and huge EU subsidies keeping this country afloat. It’s only a matter a time before its collapse. Mark my words.

A person’s value is not determined by nationality or ethnicity but by the consistency of an individual’s actions and principles.

  max wrote @ February 24th, 2009 at 01:37

hi, i’m a non citizen and i came from canada and i would like to work for the summer in greece. i read about the Schengen but i dont undertand well .if i go during 3 mouths and during this time i apply for the Schengen passport can i work legally? I would like . thx cordialy

Kat Reply:

You are free to visit as a tourist under Schengen if you have a Canadian passport. You could have found this answer at “Countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece.” There is no such thing as a Schengen passport, and you must have citizenship from an EU country before coming here to work, which you could have read at “EU citizenship, passports, visas and permits.” If you are not already an EU citizen, you are not allowed to work legally without a Greek work permit, as you could have read in #7 in the article above or in the article “Summer jobs in Greece FAQ,” a link I offer in Related Posts. Please read or search more carefully next time.

  Val wrote @ March 3rd, 2009 at 21:49

Interesting and informative article. I could add that some of the holiday companies ( Sunsail, Mark Warner) recruit for their hotel sites around April ( children’s nannies, reps, water sports staff etc) on their websites. I know of several people (students) who have found summer work on the Greek Islands and mainland.

Kat Reply:

True, I do say that companies recruit, if not in this article then several others. However, most of this work taken by students is illegal, unless we’re talking about students who are EU citizens since non-EU citizens must have legitimate work permits.

  TJ wrote @ March 10th, 2009 at 20:54

I guess it’s obvious why your article is tailored towards those looking for a job as a bartender/waiter/club promoter/etc., but I was wondering if the process is similar for any other job.

So this is gonna make me sound like a total weirdo, but my friend’s dad was a sailor in Greece way back when, and I’d like to find some work as a sailor too in Greece, maybe in Pireas. Would the process be pretty much the same?

Kat Reply:

For any other job? No. And there’s no way I can cover every job in every industry.

If you’re only looking for casual, temporary illegal work as a sailor, then yes. There are ads posted in the classifieds by both private owners and companies asking for experienced crew, but likely fewer with the changing economic climate and tourism slated to take a hit. You can also show up at the dock and take your chances.

If you’re looking for something permanent and year round, you need to read the post about permits for non-EU citizens…or citizenship if you’re Greek or of EU ancestry.

  TJ wrote @ March 14th, 2009 at 23:47

thanks for the info, kat. i appreciate the help.

i read your articles on how you ended up in greece, and I feel like I’m following a similar trajectory. I’m here because I’m struck with wanderlust and I’ve always fantasized it to be this amazing place, working and living in a warm country for awhile. But after reading your articles, it seems like a lot of people kind of follow that path themselves, only to wind up disappointed. I’m beginning to see that no matter how beautiful a place is, the quality of life really comes down to how the country is run and the rules that are made.

if you don’t mind humoring me a bit longer, do you think it’s feasible for a young American college student to find legal work in Europe this summer? Something in sailing, perhaps?

Kat Reply:

For the record, I did not “end up in Greece.” I came here intentionally at my own free will, and when it didn’t work out the first time, second time or third time, I came back a fourth time. I persevered until my dream come true. Greece has not disappointed me; she is the same as she was 11 years ago when I first arrived, except she’s got a new shade of lipstick. I am the one who now wants something more. I am the one who changed my mind and am now making the most of my time with humor and patience, until it is time to go.

The fact of the matter is it’s very difficult to find legal work as a single American/non-EU citizen because you need a permit. It’s not impossible because I and a few others did it. But of the 1.2 million immigrants now in Greece, only 2,200 permits are held by Americans. The question you should be asking is: “Can I get a permit?” Without a permit, you cannot get a job. Ironically, without a job, you cannot get a permit. Is this unfair? Not really, because immigration rules of the United States and other countries are just as strict.

When you come to a foreign country to find work and have absolutely no local knowledge, you need to have work experience, specialized skills and multilingual capabilities, above and beyond those of highly qualified Greek, EU and hyphenated Greeks competing against you. Otherwise, what incentive does an employer have to hire you and give you a permit?

If you have none of these things, then you must accept illegal work, uncertain conditions and low pay as so many others do with no hope of a permit. In return, you get experience and very valuable lessons in life.

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