Mercer’s Cost of Living survey that showed Athens is the 29th most expensive city in the world for 2007, and this Greece vs. USA price comparison details the price difference between products and services in each country. Be aware these prices are from 2007 and an updated comparison is compiled every June on its anniversary.
Prices for 2008 have gone up and can be found at “Greece vs. USA price comparison 2008.”
How did it start?
The origin of this comparison started last year when I took my then boyfriend to the USA for the first time, and he remarked that we had a week’s worth of groceries for $50, which seemed unreal since we earn considerably less income and bring home fewer groceries at a higher cost in Athens. Since then, I sometimes take our receipts to determine what we would have paid if we were in the USA, instead of Greece.
As the financial manager, it also helps me figure out why we’re spending more, even though I have cut our budget, we sometimes get free meat and fruit from the village via family members, and we go out almost never. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the cinema!
Some prices have increased 12-20 percent in less than 4 months (i.e. toilet paper, eggs, Haagen Dazs, etc.) to the point we have changed brands or don’t purchase them any longer. When I lived here part-time, it was easier to afford things with an American salary; it also wasn’t a big deal to wait a few months to go back home and enjoy what I missed.
How was it compiled?
To determine ‘product’ costs, I used the higher price from stores in New York and California suburbs on par with the Athenian northern suburb municipality in which we did our sample. To determine ‘service’ costs, I used New York City and Athens since they both placed in the Top 50 at #15 and #29, respectively. I realize NYC ranks higher than Athens as more expensive, but I did this as to not lead people to think I biased this sampling in favor of the USA because I’m American.
I used a higher class NY/CA supermarket than that of the Greek supermarket (Alfa Bita) and compared the same brands and same circumstances with each other. Either both were home grown or both imported — I also allowed a home grown Greek/EU product (if it was available, but in most cases it wasn’t) against an imported product for the USA, even though this is unfair to the USA. I also allowed sales prices for Greece and no sales prices for American products. If I had used the absolute cheapest price without regard to brand or supermarket, America would have won hands down.
In comparing ‘service’ costs such as Internet or cell phone subscriptions, I took everyday costs not “special limited-time” packages, since it would give America a deeper advantage than is already shown. Things like clothes, shoes and furniture were not included because competitive pricing would again favor America.
Protocol and explanations pertaining to this survey are shown at the bottom. I know they are more than fair, in fact it is highly unfair to the USA where prices of 10-50% lower are possible with the same quality, even in affluent neighborhoods. Athens prices could only go another 10-50% lower at lower class supermarkets with significantly compromised quality (i.e. razor-thin toilet paper) and neighborhood. It is important to read the fine print that follows the table before crucifying me and the comparison.
It is not about finding the cheapest possible price; it is about comparing same quality brands with each other in two countries.
Prices are shown in euros, not only because Athens is the focus, but also because seeing figures in dollars makes the gap appear wider. For those who are not familiar with the EU, these prices do not necessarily reflect the rest of the member states. Other countries may be higher or lower.
What’s the point?
– Dispel the myth that Greece is a cheap paradise
– Show that inflation for many items/services outpaces the rate of salary increases. In fact, I encourage you to click “Athens, Greece: Real inflation in 6 months” published in January 2008, which shows marked increases, while our salaries stayed the same.
– Support the fact that Greeks and other residents of Greece deserve to earn more money, become more independent and enjoy a better life
* For those who doubted my findings, a Greek survey published in December 2007 has now confirmed them in “Consumers pay double for basics in Greece vs. other EU nations.” Two local Greek newspapers also plagiarized my article and presented it as their own, which set off a flurry of news reports on the same subject.
This is a sampling of items and services, with all prices shown in euros (€).
|Fanta, 1.5 liter||1.45||0.58|
|Coke, 1.5 liter||1.45||0.58|
|Orange juice, 1 liter||1.40||1.39|
|Milk, 1 liter||1.35||0.51|
|Plain yogurt, 200 g||1.18||0.42|
|Butter, 250 g||2.59||1.49|
|Unsalted butter, 250 g||1.19||1.49|
|Margarine, 1 kilo||0.70||0.56|
|12 large eggs||2.36||1.91|
|Philadelphia cheese, 200 g||1.76||1.34|
|Cheddar, 200 g||1.85||1.68|
|Ricotta, 250 g||1.70||1.35|
|Sour cream, 150 g||2.59||0.40|
|Haagen Dazs, 500 ml (pint)
|Rice, 500 g||0.37||0.66|
|Sugar, 1 kilo||0.84||0.46|
|Fructose, 400 g||1.84||0.82|
|Flour, 1 kilo||0.60||1.35|
|Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, 500 g
|Bread (white sliced), 350 g||1.42||0.59|
|Bread (unsliced oval loaf)||0.50||0.57|
|El Paso Tortillas (8 )||2.11||2.07|
|Lay’s Salt vinegar chips, 130 g||1.11||0.66|
|Tomato Sauce, 1.5 liter||0.92||1.55|
|Barilla sauce, 380 ml (both from Italy)
|Barilla spaghetti, 1 kilo (both from Italy)
|Whole peeled tomatoes, 400 g||0.63||0.61|
|Chicken breast, 1 kilo||8.17||5.07|
|Chicken drumsticks, 1 kilo||3.98||3.92|
|Ground beef, 1 kilo||8.48||4.55|
|Pork top loin boneless, 1 kilo||7.64||6.17|
|Turkey breast, 1 kilo||6.30||6.54|
|Bacon, 1 kilo||9.67||5.07|
|Cooked ham (counter), 1 kilo||13.59||8.45|
|Hot dogs, 340 g||1.89||0.58|
|Broccoli, 1 kilo||2.59||1.69|
|Zucchini, 1 kilo||1.29||2.06|
|Green beans, 1 kilo||2.89||2.60|
|Carrots, 1 kilo||0.43||0.66|
|Spinach, 1 kilo||1.29||2.53|
|Yellow pepper, 1 kilo (both from Netherlands)
|Onion, 1 kilo||0.66||1.68|
|Potatoes, 1 kilo||0.67||1.00|
|Tomatoes, 1 kilo||1.49||1.99|
|Apples, 1 kilo||1.32||2.25|
|Bananas, 1 kilo (both from Latin America)||1.69||1.70|
|Pears, 1 kilo||1.79||1.54|
|Grapes (red seedless), 1 kilo (both from Chile)
|Salt, 500 g||0.15||0.31|
|Pepper, 50 g||0.49||1.34|
|White vinegar, 500 ml||1.22||0.85|
|Ketchup Heinz, 340 g||1.37||1.56|
|Knorr chicken cubes||1.77||1.38|
|Frozen Pizza, 320 g||2.51||0.85|
|Frozen green beans, 450 g||1.41||0.62|
|Frozen peas, 500 g||1.41||0.74|
|Colgate med head toothbrush, massager||2.82||1.54|
|Oral B satin floss, 25 m||3.27||0.97|
|Colgate total whitening, 75 ml||2.39||0.89|
|Listerine cool mint, 500 ml||6.95||3.07|
|Fructis 2 in 1 shampoo, 400 ml||4.00||3.07|
|Dove beauty bar, 100 g||0.87||0.80|
|Mach 3 Turbo, 8 refills||14.99||13.08|
|Gillette shaving gel Ultra comfort, 200 ml||3.23||2.32|
|Kitchen & Paper|
|Palmolive ultra, regular, 1250 ml||2.82||4.54|
|Scotch Brite blue sponge||1.07||0.74|
|Kleenex toilet paper (12) single rolls||6.36||3.49|
|iPod (nano) 4 GB||183.00||153.23|
|TDK CD-R 700 MB 52x (50)||11.95||15.39|
|Spindle of DVD-R Verbatim (50)||15.50||23.09|
|Sony memory stick 1 GB pro duo||29.00||24.95|
|Sony 4 GB pro duo||69.00||69.30|
|Sony 8 GB pro duo||169.00||138.60|
|Private doctor’s appt (revised due to protests)
|Birth control pills, 1 month||>2.80||24.95|
|Men’s haircut, no tip (revised)||13.00||11.00|
|- N. suburbs Greek stylist vs. Manhattan stylist|
|Women’s haircut, incl 20% tip||65.00||39.00|
|- UK stylist in Glyfada vs. Manhattan stylist|
|Bus, metro/subway, tram|
|- All modes single ticket (valid 90 min), ATH vs. NYC||1.50||1.00|
|- All modes monthly pass: ATH vs. NYC||35.00||58.50|
|Cable (Nova vs. Comcast)||56.40||44.60|
|- 49 Nova channels vs. 615 Comcast channels|
|Basic Phone Service||14.76||24.00|
|- OTE: 34.91 install, per call charge.
AT&T: no install fee, free local calls
|High speed internet, 8 mbps||48.50||33.10|
|- Forthnet vs. Comcast|
|Cell phone subscription|
|Vodafone vs. T-mobile|
|- 300 min||44.50||23.10*|
|- 900 min||113.00||27.71*|
|- Cheapest domestic sms||0.07||0.01**|
|- Cheapest overseas sms||0.20||0.28|
|*includes unlimited weekends|
|**also has unlimited plan for 11.99|
|Room with a view|
|Hilton Hotel, “King guestroom plus”|
|during same Sept. dates|
|all in the city center|
|all European style|
|DSL, newspaper, breakfast|
|- with prepayment, ATH vs. NYC||303.00||308.00|
|- without prepayment, ATH vs. NYC||365.00||308.00|
1. A majority of common and a few uncommon products/services were used for diversity, since Americans should see the price difference for products and services they may want when moving here.
2. Products in Greece were the focus, therefore American products were adjusted in weight, volume and availability, not the other way around. (i.e. Everything was converted to metric, and American and/or ethnic products not found or rare in Greece — lactose-free, fat-free, gluten-free, organic options, tomatillos, Skippy peanut butter, 100 kinds of breakfast cereal, lemongrass, pecans, fresh rosemary — were NOT used, as to not unfairly bias the comparison toward America).
3. It is a proper comparison of one product/service in Greece and one comparable or identical product/service in the USA with a euro figure shown for each. It is NOT a list with one price in both euros and dollars.
4. Weight (kilo, lbs, gram, ounces) and volume conversions (liter, ml, fl. ounces) were calculated using www.conversion-metric.com
5. A standard euro – dollar conversion rate of 1.00 EUR = 1.30 USD was used throughout, though I realize the daily rate fluctuates. If you’d like to know the dollar rate, it would be 4.99 EUR x 1.30 = 6.49 USD
6. All prices are shown to two decimal places, rounding the third in the traditional way (1-4 down, 5-9 up).
7. Alfa Bita in Greece and Safeway (CA) and Shop Rite (NY) in the USA were used. I chose CA because it’s the state with the highest grocery prices in the USA and NY because cost of living ranks higher than Athens. None of these stores reflect the cheapest or most expensive options. Educated consumers know that there are places offering an additional 10-40% discount on everyday prices.
8. AB, Safeway and Shop Rite offer free customer cards with incentives to holders. Prices were figured without taking this into consideration.
9. The same brands were compared when possible, otherwise generics were used to obtain the most inexpensive price possible, with attention to equal quality at all stores.
10. Brand name items in Greece were made in Greece or the EC (Coca-cola, Lay’s, Kleenex, etc.); there were not transatlantic imports, except for media and things that are imported almost everywhere (i.e. bananas from South America). For America, transatlantic imports were consistently used if not made in America because it’s unavoidable (year-round availability is central, and many consumers care about authenticity).
11. If a USA item of larger size was used, it was scaled down and calculated equal to the product in Greece. America practices responsible bulk packaging and uses recycled material, so smaller sizes are rare or simply don’t exist. Greece could do the same, which would benefit consumers and the environment, but doesn’t.
12. The laiki or local manabis in Greece and many open/farmers’ markets in America all offer cheaper prices on produce, but were both omitted for the purpose of equality.
13. There is no tax on food items in the USA; non-food items carry a tax of between 7.00-9.00 percent, depending on state.
14. Taking into account there is price variation by area and company/stores in both Greece and America, I realize one can do better or worse at different places in both countries, so I called it even.
15. Since Greece has little or no selection and America has a wide variety of choices and sizes, I used the American item or service most comparable to the item or service in Greece. In doing this, the comparison is more fair since the USA has “value packs” at huge discounts that would have favored the USA if used.
16. Online prices for things like computer equipment and media were used since they offer nationwide pricing and do not discriminate according to area.
17. Sale prices were used for products in Greece, but not for products in America. I again did this to avoid bias.
18. Services were compared on a regular monthly rate under normal circumstances. Special limited time offers or bundle deals were available, but not used for both countries.
19. In addition to myself, Greek prices were surveyed by local Greek citizens (not my fiancé), and American prices were surveyed by an American in both NY and CA to keep things honest. All were unaware of why they were asked to do it until after it was complete, however the Greek native was advised to look for the best price.
20. Prices for all products were surveyed on February 11, 2007 and again on June 20, 2007.
* This price comparison took hours to research, compile, calculate and code, while consulting others for fairness and accuracy in reporting before publication. Please respect that, even if you may not appreciate it.
“Greece vs. USA price comparison 2008”
Article updated February 13, 2008