Living in Greece

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

Cockroaches and courthouses, landlords and leases in Athens


On the old-school Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy did a skit called “Prose and Cons” as Tyrone Green, a tenant in jail reciting his poem “Images” on an alleged incident. The video version is a lot funnier, but NBC removes anything that infringes on DVD sales, so I can only present plain script.

Dark and lonely
on a summer night,
kill my landlord,
kill my landlord.
Watchdog barking,
do he bite?
Kill my landlord,
kill my landlord.
Slip in his window,
break his neck.
Then his house,
I start to wreck.
Got no reason,
what the heck?
Kill my landlord,
kill my landlord.
C-I-L-L, my land-lord.

When I look back at the landlords I’ve had in Greece, it makes me sigh with relief to know that the next home I rent or buy will be in another country. I’m looking forward to it, in fact.

Las Cucarachas

The first apartment I rented upon arriving in Greece was advertised in the Athens News and located on a pedestrian street in Plaka. Although it had no cars, I could hear the groan of traffic on the main road, beeping of horns and putt-putt of motorcycles passing under the window. Whatever toxic smell of pollution I detected at the beginning had dissipated with time and tolerance…kind of scary. During Carnival, squeaky bats and general merriment lingered until late evening, and the church next door always woke me on Sunday morning when I’d returned from clubbing only an hour before.

My landlord was a self-proclaimed artist who made primitive clay figures, such as “woman laying naked in the sea,” and he took the meaning of his name very seriously. Theodoros (gift of God) spent all of this time in his studio creating originals and hitting on mature foreign women that he convinced to purchase them. His conquests and other bodily functions could often be heard through the thin wall we shared.

After three months of parking his motorcycle in front of my door, which he refused to move and reprimanded me for even touching, not giving me a proper contract or receipts — it was an illegal sublet — and cockroaches the size of yams crawling through my apartment (shoes were always required, as were lids on pots), I decided to look for another place. I gained independence on March 25th. Two years later, his studio went bankrupt and his apartment rented to someone else.

How I learned the word dikastiria

AA was a quiet and eclectic landlord I found in a now bankrupt English-language publication with several apartments awash in marble around the center. I took the less tacky one that my friend K called the “submarine” because it was partially submerged under a medical building but had an open private stairway, large sunny windows and courtyard. The only minus to its location was it faced the American Embassy and was prone to daily rioting.

When I asked for a rental contract and receipts, he said that a lease would be drawn up, and there would be no issues with receipts. A month goes by, no lease and no receipts. I also found out the phone could receive incoming calls but not dial out. He explained that a French girl had run up the bill to 300 euros and never paid, so it would stay that way until he found the money to pay it off.

When rent came due, I said I wouldn’t pay anything and move out until a lease was drawn up and the rent lowered because he wrongly assumed I was a rich American. He proceeded to offer me a handwritten contract, and I demanded that he sign receipts acknowledging my rent — my request, it turns out, was a good move. In a matter of weeks, things in my life were already chaotic with work, Greek lessons and bureaucracy, so moving again was the last thing on my mind.

The next month, I found out he had a key to my apartment and felt it was perfectly appropriate to drop by unannounced because he called and I hadn’t answered my phone. How did I find out? My boyfriend and I caught him. His explanation was, “Well, you’re not supposed to be home; you didn’t answer the phone.” Another time, I came home from work and found a used coffee cup and saucer in the living room. I don’t drink coffee.

I changed the locks, paid the rent and gave a spare key to a trusted friend in touch with my lawyer before I left to accept a job outside Greece, when my ex-boss failed to pay me and produce a document necessary for my work permit.

Three international money orders sent by FedEx to my landlord to cover rent and three months later, I came back to find the locks changed and someone else living inside. I followed legal advice and asked police to accompany me with a locksmith, while a photographer documented the event of opening and removing my things with the permission of the new tenant. In addition to missing money, sentimental items I’d gathered from travels around the world and my deceased mother were stolen. Charges were filed.

There was a legal mediation, but it bore no fruit. AA denied taking rent, denied having my deposit, denied stealing anything, denied everything. In fact, he claimed that I owed him money for the enormous phone bill left by the French woman, electricity and damages, all totaling 2000 euros. We showed photos to him and his lawyer that documented the removal of my things, airbills, bank confirmations and signed receipts for the deposit, phone (I never used), handyman bills I paid, electricity and consistent rent payments. His lawyer resigned that day, and we filed suit.

Over five years, my case had been called, delayed, called, delayed, called again, delayed again and called again at the dikastiria (judicial courts). Each time, I paid a lawyer to do nothing, hired a translator to do nothing and inconvenienced four witnesses to do nothing. A whole lot of money was flying out of my pocket for a whole lot of nothing. The law forbids you to abandon the legal process once it starts, so I saw it through to the end of six years to finally reach a guilty verdict and was awarded money and damages. AA never appeared in court, in fact I saw him only once — he was offering money to a young man in exchange for $ex outside an army camp. How do I know that? The young man was my friend B, and he said ‘no.’

Police have done nothing to enforce the arrest warrant, and I have not seen a red cent…and I know I never will.

Too many landlords

Mr. A was a respectful man who willingly offered me a lease stamped at the eforia, relinquished every set of keys to the apartment and took pride in promptly fixing things whenever an issue needed attention. He understood from the beginning that I would be commuting between countries and said I could prepay or pay when I came back; he also called in advance and requested the loan of a key if something needed repair or inspection.

I’d been told by neighbors that he wasn’t a nice man before Alzheimer’s set in, but I never knew that part of him and he was always kind to me. When he needed the apartment for his son, I was truly sad he wouldn’t be my landlord anymore. He still smiles and says ‘hello’ when I see him on the street, and I’ll always remember him and his family fondly.

The only complaint I had was that he could see directly into my apartment from his apartment across the street, to which his son said he’d remedy with iron curtains and a jungle of plants after I moved out.

My primary challenge with this apartment was that it wasn’t completely mine. Miss GK from Germany left her furniture and plants behind and had no immediate plans to retrieve them, and I was required to sign a contents lease and pay rent for them even though I didn’t want any of it. When she finally came for them after two years, she gave me two weeks notice to rearrange my life in New York and fly to Athens to meet her and liquidate everything. Since this was unreasonable to both me and my boss unless I wanted to get fired, and there was no way I could get plane tickets without paying exorbitant prices, I wired money to an account and had a friend pay for the few items I wanted and communicate anything that came up.

Upon arriving in Athens months later, the things I purchased and paid for had been sold off and the things I didn’t want were still inside. I was told, “these gifts were left as a favor” — a washing machine that was broken before I moved in, an oven that burned things, cheap ugly furniture, a no name broken stereo (I already had a Sony). So not only was I forbidden to remove anything and forced to pay for furniture I never wanted for two years, but I also never made this space my home with my own furniture and got stuck with getting rid of everything in the end. Excellent! 😀

Office Café

I told Mr. P, one of the most polite and class acts I’ve met, that I only needed the office space he had for three months. He said it was no problem, and I could have my deposit back. His sister, that’s another story.

I gave a deposit and rent for three months up front and received a lease and receipts in return. Whenever I was gone for more than a week, I came back to find someone had used my office as a leisure space to kick back, smoke, have coffee and watch TV. When I terminated the lease, she understandably kept the deposit for my last month’s rent. But she refused to give her correct AFM to file my taxes unless I paid nine more months of rent. I felt this was blackmail since my intentions were stated and approved from the beginning. Basically, she took my money without paying taxes and made it impossible for me to claim it on my tax return, despite having receipts.

Good, bad and ugly

Upon moving back to Athens full-time, I visited Mr. A and his family to see if there was any mail and bring them a gift for their honesty and kindness over the years. They mentioned having best friends down the street with an apartment for rent that just came available — a phone call was made, Mrs. C appeared, Mr. A gave me an excellent reference as a tenant, and I took the apartment. A proper lease and receipts followed.

I loved this apartment. It was only two years old, had modern sliding doors with double glass, insulation, a proper video screen to see people downstairs before buzzing them in, a huge balcony, self-controlled heating, hardwood floors, lots of closets and a kitchen that matched the color of my komboloi.

But something happened after the first year, which was about the time I transferred to Miami for work and lost my father. When I came back, I found that the toilet float was cheap and broken, and water had been running for an undetermined period. This amounted to a new toilet float costing 9 euros and a water bill of 140 euros, with my landlord refusing to pay even a small portion. In looking at my lease, I realized my renewal contract had been changed to a lease assigning all maintenance to me, instead of the original lease I’d signed that assigned responsibility to the landlord. I hadn’t noticed until then, being preoccupied with changing countries and arranging funerals. Fine, so I paid.

This was followed by a scene on the street in which she screamed at me in Greek (not in English, which is the language she usually used) about how I was a poor tenant, never paid anything on time and tried to cheat them. I believe this was intentional so everyone could hear and understand. I couldn’t go door-to-door to show receipts or other evidence to the entire neighborhood to prove she was wrong, so I let my reputation be smeared. She blamed the change in our relationship on my attitude. If attitude meant I wouldn’t be a doormat, then I suppose that’s what I had.

Over three years, she dropped by unannounced whenever she saw my light on, sometimes as late as 22:30 to look at an alleged leak or for nothing in particular. My friends and boyfriends witnessed her behavior and wondered if perhaps she wasn’t well.

My repeated requests to call in advance were ignored, and she got other people to buzz her into the building if I would not. If I ignored her when she came to the front door, she would pound on the door, yell my name in the hallway and use a key she claimed to not have to let herself in. I got used to bolting the door from the inside, and my lawyer advised me to call the police if it happened again. It came to the point I only dealt with their son, who was a truly nice person and is still a friend.

When I finally moved out, there was no dickering over money, just a lot of dour faces and unwarranted comments about the cleanliness of the apartment, despite the fact it was spotless and I’d hired someone to professionally clean it against the advice of Greeks who told me to “f___ them.”

Hot and cold

The last thing I needed after calling police to report a threat from an ex, getting engaged and preparing to leave for India for a month was to move house a few days before departure. But that’s what I did.

My fiancé insisted we look at a place that my future sister-in-law found for us in the north via her real estate agency. Stating my objections from the beginning (and further objections upon seeing the place) fell on deaf ears, and it was clear that this might be the first of many compromises necessary in my future as a couple. My fiancé, who’d never lived away from home or signed a lease before, assured me he could handle it and did not need me to come along to flush out terms or size up our new landlord. He came to regret this decision.

Because the icebox never reached beyond 16°C in winter and exceeded 45°C in summer, we moved our life into the living room to essentially camp around the two heaters or two air conditioners to feel comfortable. Instead of being two grown adults with careers, we were reduced to “starving student” status of 20 years ago. I felt demeaned and humiliated.

Each month revealed a new hidden delight to my original objections of no insulation, no proper roof, too many dogs, noisy kids downstairs, prehistoric doors, shabby tentes, cheap roller doors, no storage and bad floor plan. First month, we discover the advertised and confirmed self-controlled heating is actually central. Second month, we discover that there is kinokrista, which contradicts the advertised “no kinokrista.” Third month, the electric bill comes for the past four months and we’re expected to pay 80 percent of a 280 euro bill, even though we didn’t live here the first two months and were in India the third month with only the refrigerator running. Fourth month, the landlord asks us to pay money for gardening (three rose bushes and a tree), and we refuse; then the water bill arrives and it’s revealed that our meter is actually shared with another apartment on the ground floor.

In addition, we were forbidden to have the electric/water bills in our name and refused any reimbursement of repairs to a home that was poorly constructed and falling apart. When we left that apartment, she refused to give us back our deposit or retrieve our TV antenna from the roof. She’s been unable to rent the apartment since we left in November 2007. I’m not shocked.

So I basically went from having everything in my name to again having nothing in my name, and the housing situation is no better than it was when I first arrived a decade ago unless I’m willing to spend my entire salary on rent. It’s like time warped back to 1997, and I’m back to the same feeling of being uprooted and left to dangle, despite my efforts to put down roots in a country that I’ve invested 11 years of my money, heart and soul.

Necessary sidenote

In telling stories about landlords past and present, or any story for that matter, I am neutral on the subject of nationality because I feel people are people all over the world. Others, however, bring it up with the hope of blaming “foreigners.” Antagonists will be disappointed to learn that none of my landlords are or have been foreign.

California cakewalk

Comparing any single residence I’ve rented in Greece to a lifetime of rentals elsewhere, I can see I had it pretty good. This includes when I paid rent to live in my parents’ house and adhere to their rules, which was the worst of both worlds. This includes the time I found a patent leather heeled shoe from my bedroom closet in the front garden after contractors painted my kitchen. This includes the time I found out my roommate was a exotic male dancer at Latex-a-Go-Go and flew into a rage when I ran out of toilet paper to steal.

People tell me that owning a house is a lot of responsibility and renting is easier. I beg to differ. Responsibility doesn’t scare me. 😉

In the News

Man in Thessaloniki rents flat to multiple tenants, takes deposits
More than half of 301 courthouses to shut down” — To Vima
Court fees up 500-1000 percent” — Eleftherotypia
Man posing as owner rents apartment to 11 different people” — To Vima

Related posts

One apartment, hold the mold
Stay warm, save money, save the planet
Give me a break!

Image from metrics


  Kat wrote @ August 20th, 2008 at 17:36

S – People ask this question a lot. I’m not required to explain my life choices to strangers, but I’ve answered it several times, as recently as last month.

You would have a much easier time being as you are three things I am not and never will be: a) Male, b) Greek, and c) An EU citizen without the need for a work permit. If you are under 35, that’s a bonus; the cutoff for women is under 30, which I am not. Another bonus is you work for an American company and already have your work and salary sorted, so good for you and LOL and you should move back. That isn’t an option for me, since my work permit in Greece depends on whether I am employed in Greece (private sector, big or small has made no difference in my case whether treatment is better and rules are followed). You can’t and shouldn’t compare our situations at all — it’s night and day.

  Stratos wrote @ August 20th, 2008 at 18:44

Hey Kat

Thanks for sharing that post with me, and indeed, you were not required to explain to me the choices in your life. Allow me to say so, but you do write about your daily life and you do share your point of view on the ways things work there. I find it only natural if people ask you that, since you initialize the discussion by sharing your experiences – even if the intent is to be humorous. I never meant to offend you, if I did, by asking you that.

Bear in mind that Greeks who moved abroad are damned as well: While they are away, they should always honour their fatherland, almost by a way of tax payment! But, when they come back, they are also seen as foreigners and not as “true” Greeks anymore

Thanks again for your posts! Great writer, you are! 🙂 Ever thought of collecting them and making a book? Like Sedaris? 🙂

In a way reading these experiences help me remember the reasons I left Athens.


Kat Reply:

You didn’t offend me at all, den peirazei. When I started this digital journey, there were plenty of stories about people living in Greece, but they were about tourists, people with money, expats in retirement, expat women who married Greeks, or Greeks coming back. My intent in sharing is to give a realistic glimpse into what life is like in Greece for an unmarried, career-minded, working, non-Greek immigrant woman; many people across all nationalities identify with me, some do not. People are used to Americans sharing their whole life, and the Greek language does not have a word for privacy, but I do value mine and many subjects are kept out of public view. If/when I write a book about my life in Greece, everything will come out then.

True, Greeks from abroad are damned as well. I’m aware of this, which is the reason my articles acknowledge discrimination in Greece across the board no matter what your ethnicity, age or origin. Even my fiance who was born and raised in GR is criticized for being a “traitor” because he speaks American English without an accent, does not believe GR is the best country, loves English sitcoms, hates football, and wants to immigrate abroad. I believe it’s wrong to judge people this way.

You are not the first person to mention Sedaris, so I suppose I should read something he wrote now. 😉 Thank you for coming to the site and hope to see you again!

  George wrote @ August 23rd, 2008 at 09:17

Wow! 🙂

I came to your site to research getting dual citizenship, and I ended up spending the next several HOURS reading through various pages (and I’m not done yet!).

This is a great site, and I will refer all I know who are Greek, of a Greek heritage (like myself), and/or are planning to travel to (or work in) Greece.

I am sorry to hear of your rental nightmares, and I will definitely think twice if I ever decide to reside there for any significent period of time.

I do have this fantasy of buying a place in Greece and spending time there every year (once I retire and have the time) – all the while getting in touch with my heritage. I will DEFINITELY do my homework before ever doing this.

Again, thank you for this great site!

Kat Reply:

Wow, what a compliment. Thank you for stopping by and staying for longer than intended. You’re always welcome to whatever I have available, to make a comment or ask a question. And yes, definitely do your homework before taking the leap. Too many times, people get caught up in dreams and forget about reality.

  unicorn wrote @ August 24th, 2008 at 18:41

Hi Kat,

We are used to host our traveling friends. So, if you suddenly decide to come, it wont take us by surprise. (note that my email address has changed, so if you have sent something, resend plz)

Our “good position” is quite limited by our government.
Consider this:
1) ukrainian residents are not allowed to have accounts in foreign banks w/o explicit permit (which is almost impossible to acquire). Doing so makes a crime and will cost 3-5 years in jail. (luckily it is
ok to have foreign account while you are outside of Ukraine, but you should close it before coming back)
2) it is almost impossible to get a loan (prove of income) in any european bank, due to Ukrainian tax and bank papers are not trusted anywhere outside our country. (and I see no reason why the embassy would be less suspicious). I think, the single way to prove our financial status is to show the cash (~30 000 euro)
when applying for a special visa and residence permit, and even in this case i’m really not sure it will work anyway.

— Where did you come from?
— Ukraine.
— Ah, nice place to come from!
(sad, but true)


  dwain wrote @ November 1st, 2008 at 08:44

This is somewhat ‘comforting’ to read, at least to let us know that some of the experiences that are happening with our friends here aren’t unique. Two weeks after moving into their apartment, 2 female colleagues are being kicked out for being ‘loud, rude, disrespectful Americans’ who go clubbing and arrive home at 6 in the morning and wake up the whole neighborhood. On top of that, it is apparently a ‘party’ if you have 3 people over for dinner at 9:30.

The best though is that it was supposedly ‘made clear’ in the ‘verbal part of the contract’ that neither of the girls was allowed to have a boyfriend over. Of course nothing of the sort was ever mentioned.

Kat Reply:

D – This is utterly ridiculous. I’ve read some of the stories you’ve written about your landlord (also stupid), and now your friends’ landlords. First of all, most people are always bragging how, “Greece is very free,” so WTF? Second, the majority of people I know don’t have dinner until 21:30 or later, so again WTF? Third, are these people saying that Greeks don’t go clubbing and arrive home at 6:00 or are they saying that Americans aren’t allowed to do this? Fourth, these people should not be spying on these girls to know whether they have a boyfriend come over or not. Plus, if it’s not written down, there is no agreement. Who are these nosy a$$ people with no lives of their own?

Last and not least, I seriously doubt Americans are louder than Greeks, especially since your colleagues hold jobs in which they set an example for others. To me, these landlords are clearly uptight, prejudiced/discriminatory in some way or just looking for an excuse to b!tch about anything, which I suppose are all related.

People who don’t have issues with landlords are usually: Greek, look Greek/European in appearance, male, own their own home or got their apartment through a referral/friend.

  dwain wrote @ November 1st, 2008 at 13:57

You’re right on all points about the landlord situation with my colleagues. The irony of their accusations was the most frustrating part because they were so oblivious to it. We suspect that there may have been a family disagreement over renting to Americans (another friend was shown a home by a realtor and then refused because he’s American), so they’re picking a fight to try and force them out. No “Equal Housing” here!

We’re trying to determine what the consequences are for breaking a 2-year contract. The realtor and our HR director were both adamant that the 2-year contract was typical, a great disappointment because we were making this decision after only being in Athens for a week and knowing nothing about the city. In the States, the worst consequence would be losing our deposit; I’ve quickly learned not to assume that it would be even remotely similar here!

Enjoy the November ‘warmth-wave!’

  FMS wrote @ November 2nd, 2008 at 22:01

Dwain: in theory, breaking a rental contract has substantial penalities; in practice, this is Greece… Anyway, who is breaking the contract? If the landlord is insisting on conditions that are not written down and are not “typical”, then he or she is breaking the contract. It sounds as if you are being taken for a ride, so tell the Greeks to **** off. You might also like to lodge a formal complaint for racial discrimination under EC Directive 2000/43, as it seems clear that this is directed against non-Greeks.

  ilia wrote @ December 21st, 2008 at 16:07

When you go looking for a house/flat to buy, do take a long, good look at the neighborhood & neighbors.

A bad landlord/flat you can move away from, a bad neighbor you can’t. There are lots of varieties: the noisy, the snoopy, the unreasonable, the insane…

The worst is a combination of the above, who also happens to be the apartment block manager.

Steer clear of them – hire a PI if you must, or become one before you sign your contract and mortgage.
Good luck

Kat Reply:

Hi Ilia! True, some of my stories about neighbors are in the “Related Posts” at the end of the article. I’ve moved 7 times, and it doesn’t seem to matter — there’s always some of each sprinkled here and there. Oh well. Thanks for leaving a comment today.> 🙂

  MCK wrote @ April 10th, 2009 at 12:41

Oh my God! I didn’t even think that people like… all of your landlords were real! What most of them did was illegal and taking legal action was the best option! Knowing how “quick” Greek courts are to operate, others would think it was a waste of time and money. In my opinion, however, it’s best to f**k them than to be f**d. I am well aware of the fact that living in Greece as a “foreigner” is difficult and I also know that certain Greeks blame them for everything, but being Greek myself I assure you that they are uncultured and uneducated. Unfortunately, uncultured Greeks are the norm. I hope that you will find a place to call home one day!

P.S. Have you ever considered living in the north part of Greece? I have many English friends who lived in Athens and think their life is kind of easier “up here”!

Kat Reply:

Hi again, MCK. LOL! I like how you put “quick” in quotes. We’ve met cosmopolitan, cultured Greeks and call many of them our friends, so we have some good people around…we just haven’t found a good home! Our jobs require us to be in Athens, unfortunately, so a move north would render us unemployed or employed but (likely) with less favorable situations and salaries than we have now. As you know, it’s not easy to find a good work environment either, whether you’re Greek or foreign. It is nice up in the north, though. Thanks for your concern and commenting again! 🙂

  Ari wrote @ April 28th, 2009 at 05:08

I am Greek, born and bred in Melbourne Australia. I love Greece but I relate to a lot of what you said.

I look Greek and speak it well, last summer I was in Greece with my Husband (Australian/English) background and Step-son. I felt I had to protect them. The funniest was a gypsy girl who was trying to pickpocket my husband. She nearly died when I told her to get lost in Greek, in a loud scream that even shocked me.

There’s Greeks and there’s Greeks. We vary 🙂

Kat Reply:

The proper term is Roma, not gypsy. Also, I agree that everyone varies everywhere.

  The Scorpion wrote @ April 29th, 2009 at 08:50

Ari, you should be careful, it’s a SIN to associate Greeks with Turks, Gypsies (Roma is proper term), Albanians etc… In the USA, we have racist ignorant people as well, but what makes an impression on me is that these racist people in the states are obviously miles away, uneducated usually, and the neanderthal type. By contrast, and very scary, is that many racist Greeks seem like normal, highly educated, decent people at first. It’ s only when they start talking about their warped view on how all/most crimes are committed by Albanians, etc that their true colors show.

Kat Reply:

Scorpion, I allowed your comment even though I think you took it a tad too far because Ari’s comment was rather innocent and wasn’t about gypsies. Her point was Greeks are different everywhere. I want to remind everyone what this post is about: It’s about the discrimination and treatment I personally encountered during my tenure as a tenant, and it was told in a straightforward and humorous way. Nothing more.

  Tauros wrote @ April 30th, 2009 at 01:09

For the Scorpion – I beg to differ in several respects. “gypsy” is not the same as “Gypsy”. I accept that Roma is currently the preferred term vice “Gypsy”; but using “gypsy” doesn’t make a person racist. The lower case “gypsy” as a term is often accepted as referring to a lifestyle, not to a race or ethnicity. Further, politically correct (PC) labels change with the years: colored, negro, black, African-American, as an example. The individuals didn’t change; the PC description did.

I agree that Greeks can often be hypocritical in their racism, but education has nothing to do it with it. Americans (and I’m be proud to be one) can be just as hypocritical, regardless of their schooling.

Lastly, the Greeks, Turks, Roma and Albanians (and others) are intertwined throughout history. There are certain parts of Athens today where you can stroll for quite some time before hearing a native Greek speaker. If by “SIN” in your first sentence you meant that it’s not PC, I understand. But Greece has been and is a Byzantine country in many ways. It won’t change in that regard for a very long time. But it continues to change in a lot of other respects, and despite the denial of many both here and abroad, the changes won’t stop.

  Shannon wrote @ June 3rd, 2009 at 08:52

Wow this website is a wealth of information, thank you so much for all of it!

My husband and I are planning (dreaming) to move (with the intention/pipe dream of teaching english but willing to do just about any cheap job to get the chance to live in Greece) with pets to Greece. I’ve read all the information on the process of getting them legally able to get in the country and I wonder how “easy” is it to find pet friendly rentals? We have a miniature doxie (8 pounds) and a small cat who are members of the family and I’d love ANY information on this while we research this idea!

Kat Reply:

Before going to your question, keep in mind that you and/or your husband will need to have EU citizenship or a way to secure a residence/work permit to live/work in Greece, and it is not cheap to live here.

Finding pet-friendly rentals is a bit harder because most owners and fellow tenants don’t want the extra damage or noise that pets are perceived to cause. This is based on the fact the majority of people never train their pets to behave, so they’ll bark at everything and generally wreak havoc.

Places that allow them are usually: A monokatoikia (single family home), mezoneta (maisonette or townhome, which are typically more expensive) or rentals that no one else wants (aka, the landlord decided to be more lenient because it’s been empty for so long). The other situation I can think of is the one I’m in; it’s a polykatoikia (complex) with two flats (duplex), and the landlords downstairs have a dog; therefore, they allow tenants with pets. I don’t have any, but if I did I wouldn’t let my pets fraternize with theirs because their dog is rarely washed/full of fleas, a nuisance, scares people and tears up our mail to the point we no longer have it delivered here.

The other thing you need to worry about is how the majority of people in Greece regard cats and dogs. Pets are considered “bromiko” (dirty). You’ll rarely see pets kept inside or well kept. And those that are must be very well guarded, leashed and watched because people put out food or “treats” with poison to kill them. Many don’t consider this cruel and justify it by saying there are too many animals, and this is a form of population control; yet, spaying/neutering is looked upon as cruel because it is said that a pet should have a sex life. I realize it doesn’t make sense to most people (including me) that an animal be given the right to sex and birth but not to life, however I’m just telling you how it is.

I know many people who left beloved pets in their homelands with a friend or relative, if they didn’t intend on staying permanently in Greece. I know others who regretted bringing their pets because they died, were killed or suffered a great deal of stress in transit (see, “Four reasons why pets shouldn’t fly“). It’s something to consider seriously if you really love them.

  Lily wrote @ July 31st, 2009 at 11:50

Things are slowly changing in terms of how pets are treated and regarded I think. Apart from what Kat describes, which is true, I think we are also starting to see people who do love pets, keep them in doors, take care of them, and allow them in rented flats. Others, as in my neighbourhood, are feeding the ones on the street and trying to get them neutered.

After spending many years abroad, I returned to Greece with two cats. The EU Pet Passport scheme meant that it was easy, and there was no hassle at the airport here—they just asked for the pet’s passport.

The best place to try to rent in Athens with pets is close to a park of some sort. I live next to one and note that there are loads of dog owners here, out walking their dogs etc.

Another tip: rent from someone who has advertised their email address. I found while trying to rent that landladies/lords who use email are usually a lot younger and a lot more open minded.

  Makis wrote @ August 15th, 2009 at 14:29

One of my worst experiences in the 9 months I’ve been here is seeing the treatment of animals. While not all Greeks are acting barbaric towards them, I’ve seen so many things that would land a person in jail if they were back in Canada.

There are so many strays. Each garbage can on the islands has a family of cats. Dogs run the streets in Athens. Most of them still wearing the collars they received from their owners. People are constantly poisoning them.

I saw a bag of new puppies with their eyes still closed left in a bag next to a garbage can, a few crawling out into the street and no one even giving a second glance. Really disgusting stuff. No one seems to understand the concept of controlling their pets from breeding.

There was a guy across from us who let his cats continually have litters which he would dispose of promptly. His response to my asking him why he didn’t spay or neuter them was that ‘it’s not natural’. I asked him if it was natural for the kittens to be killed right after they were born. Of course, this was a silly way to think I was informed.

For all its beauty and allure, this really is a different place with different ways and ideas.

The best way I can describe Greece is that it has some of the best and worst things to offer. From the gorgeous land and culture, warm people and lifestyle, to people always seeming to be trying to screw over the next guy, to the appalling state of some neighborhoods in Athens, to rampant corruption, illegal immigration, crime, poor jobs, salaries and social security, pickpockets, red tape etc…

Since I’ve stayed here, 4/5 of my girlfriend’s friends have been robbed, pick pocketed or assaulted (this is in Athens).

My Greek friends say you can never really be secure in Greece. The Greeks have a saying something like ‘the Mother eats her children’.

On thing for sure, this is the best place in the world to be if you can get above (or below) all the shit.

  helen wrote @ October 2nd, 2009 at 06:26

hi, thank god i found ur site. i am looking to rent longterm in thessaloniki; i want to pay up to 550 euros per month. i would like it to be a detached maizonette home, that is no older than 8 years old. 2 bedrooms is enough. i like the modern look, i dont mind it being out of thessaloniki city approx. 20 minute drive. i prefer the north eastern or east suburbs. can u help me find a site that can help me. thankyou

Kat Reply:

The story is about my personal experience of renting properties in Greece. I am not a rental agency. Please help yourself to the website links I provided to start your search.

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