Living in Greece

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

Greece vs. USA price comparison 2007

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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.

The Table

This is a sampling of items and services, with all prices shown in euros (€).

ITEM Greece USA
Beverages
Fanta, 1.5 liter 1.45 0.58
Coke, 1.5 liter 1.45 0.58
Orange juice, 1 liter 1.40 1.39
4.30 2.55
Dairy
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)
6.27 3.30
23.54 14.45
Basics
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
3.65 3.29
Complex carbs
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, 500 g
3.67 3.84
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
8.81 7.73
Pasta
Tomato Sauce, 1.5 liter 0.92 1.55
Barilla sauce, 380 ml (both from Italy)
1.99 1.19
Barilla spaghetti, 1 kilo (both from Italy)
1.20 1.53
Whole peeled tomatoes, 400 g 0.63 0.61
4.74 4.88
Meat
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
59.72 40.35
Fresh produce
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)
3.39 6.53
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)
2.98 1.69
22.48 27.92
Condiments
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
5.00 5.44
Frozen
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
5.33 2.21
Toiletries
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
38.52 25.74
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
10.25 8.77
Media
iPod (nano) 4 GB 183.00 153.23
Apple keyboard 59.00 22.33
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
536.45 446.89
Medical
Private doctor’s appt (revised due to protests)
50.00 69.00
Chiropractor 80.00 52.00
Birth control pills, 1 month >2.80 24.95
Botox injection 300.00 172.00
432.80 317.95
Maintenance
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
78.00 50.00
Transportation
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
- L.A. 46.40
36.50 59.50
Communication
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
255.94 152.80
Room with a view
Hilton Hotel, “King guestroom plus”
during same Sept. dates
all in the city center
all European style
all non-smoking
DSL, newspaper, breakfast
- with prepayment, ATH vs. NYC 303.00 308.00
- L.A. 168.60
- without prepayment, ATH vs. NYC 365.00 308.00
- L.A. 168.60

Comparison protocol

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.

Thank you :)

Related posts

Greece vs. USA price comparison 2008
Article updated February 13, 2008
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29 Comments

  rositta wrote @ June 22nd, 2007 at 17:33

Oh wow, I’d better bring lots of money when I come. Two biggies jumped out at me right away, the cost of a bus ticket is CD 2.50 and Ipod Cd. 299.00. My sweetie says that since the Euro everything had gone way up…ciao

  Kat wrote @ June 22nd, 2007 at 19:42

If you only go one way on a bus and aren’t returning in 90 min or using the metro or tram, you can buy a single one-time ticket for .50. I gave the 1.00 combo all modes ticket as an option because many use metro and bus, and this is cheaper than buying two tickets.

Buying an iPod where you are is cheaper with your proximity to America. I’ve looked in the duty free, and it’s not cheaper.

I still think you’ll be OK if you stick to simple ingredients and your sweetie prevents people from trying to charge you more because they wrongly believe your tourists. I never bought higher priced items because I knew I could get them when I got home. But now this is home and we don’t visit the USA that often. We found a lot of American things in India – Baskin Robbins, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc. – when we were there last year. That was nice (for me, anyway).

  BG wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 06:04

Good stats. My informal survey generally says Greece costs about double for most things. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a rule, if I find something for 2 euros here in Athens, I can usually find it 1 euro in California.

  Ted wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 06:41

Kat,
Very, very informative, as usual, and delivered in clearcut form. A good starting point for those from the US who contemplate (brrrr) returning to this country.

As a footnote, Greece, as you know, remains one of the most expensive countries in the EU as well. Only last summer, my sister with a group of five went for 10 days to Austria, had a blast, enjoyed triple A service, ate more than well, and came back happy and with change to spare. A comparable vacation in Rhodes, she calculated, would have cost 30 percent more and with a level of service far below the one they got in the Austrian Alps.

Talking about the US, what surprises many Greeks — when you explain it to them — is the stability of prices of large groups of goods over time. Because I follow catalog shopping very closely, I can offer the example of apparel where prices of three of the biggest US catalogs (LL Bean, Lands End, Talbots) have fluctuated by less of 3 percent over 10 years (!) allowing you, effectively, to pay today almost the same prices you paid for their goods in 1997 !!! An amazing fact and quite a dream for us here in the Land of the Gods.

  Cheryl wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 06:46

Nice work Kat! Your price comparison table is helpful. Good thing I am lactose intolerant…I won’t have to fork over an arm or a leg for Haagen Daaz!! :)

  Kat wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 11:08

BG – Nice of you to drop in! :) I agree with you, which is the reason I stated that educated consumers such as yourself know that prices could go another 10-40% lower than what I showed above. I just didn’t want to be accused of prejudicing the survey.

There were also things I couldn’t scale correctly, such as cable TV. I mean, how can you compare 49 Greek channels to 615 American channels? If I did scale the USA price to 49 channels, it’d be something like 3.55 a month, but the package can’t be separated so I left it ‘as is'; readers can figure out for themselves that Nova is overpriced no matter what.

On our last trip to CA, we took empty luggage and planned to buy a carbon bike frame. At the bike shop, we were offered an amazing price (also, we didn’t know him, so it had nothing to do with connections; he just wanted to earn our business, and we didn’t need to shop around). On toiletries, meds and many food items, we went to places like Trader Joe’s and Wal-mart, where we cut our prices further. I had a budget for spending, and we spent literally half on everything.

Eating out was like a dream come true for my fiance. We had efficient and friendly service, given rather nice portions of delicious food, charged reasonably (he had to look at the bill twice because he was in disbelief that it was so inexpensive) and had a great variety of places to choose from over 3 weeks, in fact there wasn’t enough time for him to try everywhere he wanted whether it was ethnic, fast food, local diners, etc.

Ted – Hey thanks! You also bring up two good points.

Travel within Greece is very expensive for tourists and natives alike. We could go to Barcelona cheaper than it costs for us to go to an island here, but since our friends from Sweden are there, of course we’re going to meet them. But our flights alone costs triple to the island than our tickets to BCN. Greece does not get a lot of repeat tourism due to the rudeness of some natives, lack of services, weak infrastructure and, of course, prices. If people felt respected and value for money, they’d come back. I find the repeat visitors just love Greece despite everything or are of Greek origin.

Clothes is another good subject. I omitted them in my survey because I knew the USA would blow Greece out of the water, even with Italian brands that are next door to Greece. The three lines you mention LL Bean, Land’s End and Talbots are fairly high end catalog brands, so for them to only fluctuate 3% over 10 years is quite amazing. People can also get well-known brands names at discounts or shop superstores like Old Navy for decent basic classics. I buy all of my clothes and shoes in the USA, simply because it’s better quality, modern (Greece is 3 years behind on fashion) and so much cheaper.

And what about cosmetics? I’ve seen the same 3.99 mascara here for 14.79 euro! I started ranting in the store and almost had a heart attack. ;)

Cheryl – LOL! I know! Haggen Dazs is a luxury item. I never bought it because after I pay rent, electric and all the basic expenses, I’ve only got 150 to spend or save. And you know, I can’t afford to spend 6 euros.

I also can’t bring myself to buy it now that we’re two people with two salaries because I know how much it costs elsewhere. I don’t like the idea of giving my hard earned money to someone who is ripping me off.

Note: In Feb, Haagen Dazs was 5.68. Starting May, it jumped to 6.27 euros (pint, 500 ml). That’s a 10% increase in 3 months. You can get double the amount in the USA for 5.20 euros (quart, 1000 ml). Those who don’t believe me can go to safeway.com (a comparable or higher class store to Alfa Bita) and look it up for yourselves. It’s from France, the same continent as Greece and yet more expensive than the USA across the water. I won’t tell you how much Ben and Jerry’s costs here.

  Jack wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 11:23

Has anyone compared pricing for Berlin, Paris, London, etc against NY the same way Kat did for Athens. I’m sure you would find NY CA way cheaper too!

  yiannos wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 12:20

“Greece does not get a lot of repeat tourism due to the rudeness of some natives, lack of services, weak infrastructure and, of course, prices. If people felt respected and value for money, they’d come back. I find the repeat visitors just love Greece despite everything or are of Greek origin.”

yep. if the services do not improve, Greece wil just lose customers to turkey, croatia and other up and coming tourist markets which are now posing a genuine threat to their margins. according to reports i’ve seen, the greeks at the tourist office don’t feel these countries are threats at all because Greece has a ‘reputation for tourism’–naturally what they fail to mention is that Greece was a big tourist attraction back in the day because it was cheap!! there has been an increase in the sheer volume of visitors in Greece, but this is due to the boost in the numbers traveling, mostly via contiki ours (cheap travel, shorter stay in countries etc.). profits, however, are down for these reasons. they need to be careful; there are ravenous wolves clutching at their heels and there is f#$@ all (i.e. nothing) the EU or the ancients can do about it.

  Kat wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 12:32

Hi again Jack! The purpose of this comparison was to show that although the cost of living in NY is supposedly higher (#15), it is still cheaper on the whole than Athens (#29). Living in NY, I can tell you that cost of living is higher there only because of rent and property prices in the 3 boroughs, not everyday costs.

The reason this is significant in the big picture is that salaries for Greece are 30-85% lower than those of the America and the majority of the EU, but prices are not. NY salaries are much higher than the average Athenian salary of 700-800 euros a month for an educated person with experience — that’s less than the USA minimum wage for an unskilled, uneducated worker. And in terms of quality of living, Athens did not rate in the Top 50, while the cities you mentioned did.

USA prices would certainly be lower than the cities you mentioned, however salaries and the quality of living is higher as well, which means the economies are more stable and able to withstand fluctuations in the euro.

The point of this comparison was to dispute people who claim that it’s cheaper to live in Greece than America. It was also done to dispute those who claim the economy is on track and salaries keep pace with inflation, and therefore do not need to be raised. Greece is losing decent educated people to other nations by not respecting them and instead rewarding those who are already rich and connected.

Yiannos – I still believe Greece can change, and for the sake of this country’s future, I hope it does. I still love Greece, I believe in her potential, and my life and career are both fine. I could even buy a home here, but I’d rather pay less money for a bigger house somewhere else. That’s just my choice. Many people want to come and stay, and I admire that.

I somehow made it farther than 90% of native Greeks I know and fellow non-EUs, without a boyfriend or husband to make me legal, without money from my homeland, without doing favors, without bribes or connections…and it’s a mystery to me. But I’ve topped out my career here in my 30s and want something better for my future husband and children. It’s nice to know I’m leaving on my own terms, and not because I lost my job, couldn’t get a permit or was otherwise pushed out.

I’ll help anyone I can to make it easier for them. That’s why I started this site. :)

  melusina wrote @ June 23rd, 2007 at 23:37

God, I’m shocked. Prices seemed so much cheaper than what I was paying in the U.S. when I first got here.

  Kat wrote @ June 24th, 2007 at 11:40

It’s very possible you paid less upon first arriving here. The euro had just been introduced, the dollar was stronger back then (1.00 EUR = .90 USD vs. 1.00 = 1.34 USD now), and your city may have less expensive prices than Athens, even now.

I may be more sensitive to small changes than most because when I supported myself alone, every cent was precious. I had so many basic expenses and so little breathing room with paying my own health insurance every month (during the period my boss didn’t give me IKA), 150 euro permit fees each year, FPA to the eforia, etc. Even as a two-salary family, the small increases cut into money we had earmarked for something else.

I’m not complaining because we’re luckier than most. It’s just a fact that a lot of prices are inching up 10-15% every few months, and it’s pretty easy to see we’re falling behind if our salaries aren’t increasing at the same rate.

  melusina wrote @ June 24th, 2007 at 18:10

Yea, I definitely agree. I mean, I was aware prices had been inching up here over the past five years, but not having any U.S. comparisons anymore I guess I sort of lost awareness of it, so I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad.

However, for me (and as someone who sees doctors frequently), the price of health care here is still dramatically lower than what I paid in the U.S. (comparisons without insurance, obviously, with insurance here I pay nothing, in America I still paid something). Things like lab work, MRI, etc. are still much, much cheaper here, and I haven’t found a private physician that charges more than 50 euros (which is laughable in the U.S., at least in my experience – although I always had to see specialists, so that might be why they were so expensive in the U.S.)

But honestly, I don’t know how people on average salaries can afford to live here anymore. Greece has handled economy pretty irresponsibly since the introduction of the Euro. With me not working, if my husband didn’t work 4 or 5 24 hour shifts a month (which are extra money for doctors) we couldn’t afford to live here – and that is on a doctor’s salary!

  Harry Mitronis wrote @ July 11th, 2007 at 01:34

great article!

  George wrote @ July 19th, 2007 at 00:27

Thanks, from a Greek. Well researched, and well said. A fair indictment of a mismanaged economy…. As some commentators say , one has to take into account also the red tape, corruption, bad public services, environmental degradation (see the recent tragedy in Parnitha) and a legal system which is antiquated, underenforced or simply irrational. As far as I am concerned, I am looking for a job abroad, perhaps UK or even US…

  Kat wrote @ July 23rd, 2007 at 23:00

Hi George, I appreciate you making a comment! It makes me feel good that my research and information are validated by Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

I hope you find what you’re looking for and perhaps have someone to help you make the transition easier. Maybe we’ll meet each other abroad sometime, since I’m not staying either.

Please come by and comment (or criticize) again :)

  2CV wrote @ August 2nd, 2007 at 16:38

Super job! i have been looking for exactly such a comparison for a while since after 11 years I have been contemplating moving back myself lately. it’s such a dilemma – i’m looking for some unrefutable reason to leave otherwise i fear i will be here forever!!

anyway, my comment is other costs such as utilities, car insurance, private insurance (necessity in US), petrol, annual car city sticker were not included…do you have these figures? Also, extra costs exclusive to living in US- i.e., property and city taxes, garbage collection charges – any numbers for these?? any more data would be greatly appreciated:)

  Kat wrote @ August 2nd, 2007 at 21:37

You’re kidding, right? I like helping people, but do you even understand the monumental task that would be?

There’s no way I can give the cost of rent, electricity, garbage, water, mortgage, property taxes, etc. for every part of the USA (think about the varying factors by city, not to mention by state). Think about the time and energy needed to research and do a single cost comparison by city for something like car insurance and the thousands of companies and factors (family members, age, type of car, year of car, driver experience, driving record). The city of Los Angeles alone has tens of different zones and prices/taxes that correspond to each one; even to get an average would involve data collection from different counties or neighborhoods in which one city is divided.

I recommend picking a city of the USA in which you’re interested and do an online comparison. There are plenty of resources, listings and companies that publicly post their prices, and you can do it without me creating an entire website of tables that need thousands of hours of research and coding. If you want to figure out rent or the sale price of homes in a certain area, just look at the classified ads and see what people are asking.

The decision to move back or stay is an extremely personal one depending on your priorities and circumstances. No one — and I do mean no one — can make that decision for you, without or without irrefutable evidence. I recommend looking within yourself for the answer; answers do not come by looking externally. If you “fear being here forever” and that doesn’t suit you, it seems to me you need to leave just from the language you’re using. Home is supposed to be a place you never want to leave.

[…] 03.08.2007 Greece does not get a lot of repeat tourism due to the rudeness of some natives, lack of services, weak infrastructure and, of course, prices. If people felt respected and value for money, they’d come back.  (Από το εξαιρετικό blog An American in Athens). […]

  George wrote @ August 6th, 2007 at 01:48

Well written and well researched, though of course your US prices are, like you said, biased on the up. I just moved to Greece from the US after 21 years there.

It is much worse that you put here. If you used sales prices in the US, or regular prices in Greece, it would be even worse. Not to mention places like Costco and Walmart, where most of California (and the rest of the US) shops.

My experience so far, (3 months) is that prices for most things here (except bread and produce) border on the ridiculus. A $5.99 sunscreen for 22 euros in Naxos. Coke for almost 3 times as much, and of course no discount if you get a case vs. one can. No to mention seafood, where prices are 4-5 times higher in Greece. I am talking about fresh seafood in a supermarket, or fish markets, not restaurant prices. And Greece used to be known for cheap seafood.

I think that the differences are a bit higher, and you should try the same comparison, but using sale prices in the US and bulk packaging. Not to mention discount supermarkets.

And I second your remark about clothes and shoes. Yikes! How people can afford to dress in Greece is beyond me.

Finally in response to the question about taxes, insurance and car costs, I would say that it is still cheaper in the US. Apart from housing, which is still higher in the US, but not for long, everything else is cheaper. Insurance is a lot less in the US for me and my car than it is in Greece. I am paying more than double here, for less coverage, and no collision or comprehensive. Gas? Maintenance? Oil? No contest.

Still, I do not regret my decision to move here, but frankly, without a six figure bank account, I wouldn’t even consider coming over here for vacation.

  S G wrote @ August 7th, 2007 at 14:40

Nice work

of course there is a some cultural bias (EL Paso tortillas? hot dogs? Kleenex? no Greek buys this stuff), but still your post reflects the accurate fact that Europe in general is today more expensive than the US (because of the euro/dollar exchange rate) and that Athens is today more expensive than most of the EU (excluding Scandinavia, Britain and Paris I would say).

  Kat wrote @ August 7th, 2007 at 18:30

If the survey has any blatant unfair bias, it’s toward the USA. I made this comparison more than fair to Greece (giving this country every advantage), and yet Greeks still bitch and whine — isn’t anyone going to complain about cell phone prices or the price of 50 lousy TV channels or milk, meat, sugar, eggs or yogurt? Or are those culturally specific and Greeks don’t buy those either? Can’t please everyone I suppose.

a) You do not speak for all Greeks since many native Greeks (born and bred) I know certainly do buy the products I listed. If they didn’t, Greece wouldn’t bother to make them within the country or continue to import them from somewhere in the EU. Tortillas have even been sold out on many occasions; Alfa Bita produces the hot dogs, Kleenex is from within the EU. Perhaps you and the people you know aren’t diverse.

b) Greeks abroad who may wish to move here will certainly have interest in these things and perhaps many others so I’m justified in listing them. Read the fine print following the table.

c) Athens IS more expensive than Scandinavia (friends who live there say & so do I since I was there in December), Spain (I was in BCN a few months ago) and Paris (a friend who lives there says so)– I’ve not been in the UK recently to know for certain, have you?. I’ve been to supermarkets there and compared. In these places, people earn double and triple the salary of an average Greek. Close friends visiting from these countries have also been here recently and remarked it’s definitely not cheaper, so unless you have first-hand evidence (e.g. you’ve lived in these places and can present evidence) that contradicts this, I and many others wholly disagree with you and your speculative claims.

You’re entitled to your opinion, but read the other comments from fellow Greeks here and abroad (and the Eleftheros Typos article) that disagree with you. And the point of this sampling is that the Athens cost of living is unjustifiably high considering the average salary, quality of living and weak infrastructure of public services (healthcare, roads, bureaucracy, etc).

  PIC wrote @ August 7th, 2007 at 21:01

Plus, even before the Dollar tanked against the Euro, US Products were still (on the average) 1/2 price compared to Greek products. (maybe veggies were cheaper in the old days of drachmoulas…)

  SimonSays wrote @ August 7th, 2007 at 21:58

What about the price of gas for that same car? Also it would be helpful to display a total figure at the bottom of the long table…not to mention a widening of the main area of your blog which only takes up about 20% of my screen’s width! :-)

I’ll say “right on” for your conclusions however. For the amount of hours most Greeks work nowadays they should be able to afford a lot more of the items you have on your list!

-Simon

  Kat wrote @ August 7th, 2007 at 22:22

PIC – Even if prices were doubled in the USA, people could still afford them. It’d still be value for money.

Hiya Simon! A lot of people want to see things like rent, taxes, petrol, electricity and other items, but it’s a lot of work to do that because of the variables involved. Gas, for example, varies in price according to neighborhood (and there are a lot of neighborhoods to sample to just get a median or average); I’m not a corporation, I’m a private citizen who maintains this free site for no income. Electricity is equally tricky even using a consistent rate because of how houses are built in Greece (usually with no insulation or double pane windows/doors, thus making them energy-inefficient) vs. the USA.

I and four of my friends in three cities on two continents did the comparison as an overall picture. But I didn’t total the columns because people are hung up on nitpicking individual items, so I figured people could add up the prices for items applicable to them.

I’ve thought about widening the main area of my site (it’s 20 percent on my screen also), however I like the four-column template because it allows me to organize as I see fit, and I kind of like the newspaper column width. If I buy a customization or see a 3-column template that fits my needs, it’ll change.

I’ll also agree that Greeks deserve more — more money, more independence, a better life. That is one of the points of this survey, after all. :)

  Chris Stefanou wrote @ August 9th, 2007 at 17:19

A superb analaysis—something to be used in an MBA class project. To me it’s disheartening to see the great transition of prices from the Greece I remember when living there in the sixties and seventies and now. If there is any seeming affluence, there certainly has been a diminishment in quality of life—of course that’s a personal and relative viewpoint.

Generally, I always use a simple formula when analyzing the cost of living in any place, and that generally lays the foundation for further expansion. I compare the cost of a glass of draught beer in several venues, restaurant, bistro, or other social entertainment setting, with the comparable glass in some U.S. city. So far that analytical tecnique has been accurate in correlating with other parameters such as you drew up.

Chris

  S G wrote @ August 10th, 2007 at 14:18

“I compare the cost of a glass of draught beer in several venues, restaurant, bistro, or other social entertainment setting, with the comparable glass in some U.S. city.”

that technique is quite absurd i should say. Preferences regarding beer differ wildly, in Germany beer is a necessary good, in France an inferior good, in Italy and Greece just a refreshment.

PS Kat I have written a comment some days ago which probably has landed in your akismet spam list…

  Kat wrote @ August 10th, 2007 at 17:22

Chris – Thanks for your personal input and sharing your informal & funny formula. I have seen Greek news do the same comparisons using the price of coffee, beer and a shot of liquor.

SG – Everyone is entitled to measure things as they want — I did it semi-seriously using similar factors, same quality, same brands, same conditions (both imports or not) and neighborhoods over some months in many samplings with Greek citizens participating; Chris uses the informal method of beer. it’s not a thesis or a dissertation with impact or ramifications.

Your comment saying you left a comment a few days ago, the note you left on MyBlogLog about the comment and now the P.S. about the same comment have all been received — OK? However, my Akismet Spam is set to automatically delete comments with certain language and links. So if it contained those key words and/or a link, it’s gone. I don’t babysit my site, but I don’t need to be reminded what to do with it either. Thanks.

  STAN wrote @ April 14th, 2008 at 16:33

Just found your site today, looked at the cost of living in Greece. Good work and all very true. When we go back to NYC, we leave with empty suitcases and fill them up because some things cannot be found in Greee and others because it’s just much cheaper. My barber raised his price and now charges 20 euros to cut my hair, and it’s not a fancy place. In NYC, it was only $13. Crazy as I have almost no hair!

Kat Reply:

Hi Stan and thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you saying that because I was called a liar for originally listing a haircut as costing 17 euros (which included a 2 euro tip) and accused of going to Kolonaki to get my prices, when the shop is just a regular neighborhood place that my fiance happens to like because they don’t butcher or manhandle him. It’s now 19 euros. We also leave with empty luggage and return with tons of stuff (it’s always been cheaper before the euro gained strength), in addition to enjoying all the great service and eating ourselves silly when stateside.

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