Living in Greece

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

Examples of jobs and salaries in Greece

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A lot of press has been given to outrageous public sector salaries, though a majority 68 percent of workers in Greece — if fortunate to be employed — earn less than 1000 euros a month. Factual data on minimum salaries in the public and private sectors; discrimination by age, gender and nationality; and known percentages on who earns what are published below.

Also included are examples of jobs and salaries of Greek, EU and non-EU citizens I know, real people who agreed to share sensitive information. Presenting them as case studies was done with the intent of dispelling the myth that having a university degree, being experienced, speaking several languages and being Greek automatically entitles one to a good job and salary. In fact, salaries and working conditions in Greece are highly subjective.

Keep in mind that the recession in Greece has changed the hiring and firing landscape, as companies dump experienced professionals with higher salaries and replace them with cheap labor in order to survive. Job security and demand for workers is at an all-time low, with unemployment at record-high 27.7 percent overall — the highest in the EU — and 64.9 percent amongst youth under 25.

In reality, the jobless rate is higher since a person working as little as 16 hours a week is categorized as employed. Even those who work full time are not compensated properly because their contracts say ‘part-time’ or ‘temporary’ on paper, which legally allows employers to avoid paying minimum wage, insurance and benefits that will lower future pension payments.

Austerity measures lowered wages 22 percent for workers aged 25 & older and 32 percent for workers under 25 in the private sector as of February 14, 2012 March 1, 2012. Many employees have already been forced to accept reductions in pay and benefits or be fired, while others have not been paid salaries for several months.

*Article last updated January 9, 2014. There is one update pending.

Basic information on salaries

– The legal gross minimum wage is 586.08 euros/month in the private sector as of February 14, 2012, effective until January 1, 2018. Previous to austerity measures, it was 751.39 euros/month from July 1, 2011, set by a collective agreement by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) collective agreement; and in 2010 it was 739.56 euros/month. Stats show 50 percent of workers in the private sector earn less than 1140 euros/month; and women, on average, earn 400 euros/month less than men.
– The basic gross salary for a civil servant with a compulsory education is 711 euros/month. A majority 80 percent of workers in the public sector earn 1000-1500 euros/month and have salaries 40 percent higher than private sector workers, once allowances and bonuses are added. They only work 35 hours a week and have jobs for life and only began working 40 hours/week on August 16, 2011 (aka, September 2, 2011, Greek time).
– Salaries of staff working for Parliament earn an average of 3000 euros/month, not including perks, overtime pay and a lump-sum retirement bonus of 60 months salary for 30 years of service, during which they cannot be fired and are not subject to austerity salary cuts. The retirement bonus is in addition to their pension.
– The average monthly salary in Greece is 780 euros per month, which is up from the previous 633 euros. In the EU, only Portugal, Spain and new members rank lower.
– Salaries in Greece, on average, shrank by 6.2 percent (wage) and 9.3 percent (benefits/allowances) in 2011. Eurozone salaries went up 2.3 percent on average but are not keeping pace with inflation.
– Private sector salaries shrank between 10-42 percent in 2011, and they be lowered further in 2012. Behind the scenes, many employers are already forcing workers to take pay cuts and reduced hours.
– It is legal for an employer to offer employees aged 18-25 a gross monthly salary of 510.95 euros/month for full-time work as of February 14, 2012. Previously it was 591.60 euros, as of July 1, 2011. One in three work contracts is part time, so many workers earn as little as 200-300 euros.
– Being a country of less than 11 million people with a work force of an estimated 4.5 million — shrinking an average of 600+ workers daily with the current debt crisis — the diversity and availability of jobs is incredibly limited.
– Of full-time workers aged 16 years and older, 25 percent earn minimum wage and 6.2 percent earn below minimum wage. Non-Greek workers are lowest paid in Greece. To understand the magnitude of 25 percent, only 3.2 percent of full-time workers aged 16 years and older in the USA earn minimum wage.
– Salaries are always quoted in net; the only time I’ve ever heard salaries quoted otherwise is when an employer wants to trick a newbie into thinking they will be earning more by adding the nearly 35.4 percent IKA contribution — employee 13.22 percent; employer 22.18 percent — thus quoting gross.
– Women on the whole are perceived as only good for babies and not in need of money or a career because she has a husband, property (akin to dowries) and/or family to support her. It makes no difference if it’s untrue. Foreign women have an even tougher time because of racial profiling and discrimination. See “Overeducated and Unemployed: Women finding little success in Greece” (NY Times).
– Employers discriminate by age and gender. Ads will often request that men be aged 35 and under with Greek military obligations completed, and women be 30 and under with no children. This is illegal but unfortunately common.
– Greece operates on a 14-payment system, as do many other EU nations. An annual salary is divided into 14 equal payments to be given monthly, then a payment at Christmas and two half payments at Easter and in summer. Each holiday payment is called a ‘doro’, translated as ‘gift’, but is not a bonus or extra salary; these are forced savings payments. See “Christmas doro” for a full explanation.
– Employees in Greece are paid once a month after the final day has passed, unless otherwise arranged; and payment of the ‘doro’ is usually set by the insurance fund.
– Annual raises are gauged by official inflation rates, which are normally a fraction of real inflation rates. Few employers grant them, even after much negotiation and justification, and austerity has frozen most pay raises until 2014. Nearly everyone I know has had their pay cut by 10-40 percent.
– The tax-free threshold was lowered from 12,000 euros to 5,000 euros for the 2011 income year and beyond, and there is no additional tax burden only if you can provide a required percentage of receipts as of 2010. That means low-wage earners and pensioners living at the poverty level may be obligated to pay tax (Click “Greek Taxes” for more information).
– Payroll taxes amount to 28 percent paid by the employer and 16 percent by the employee, but half of all companies in Greece hire workers off the books in the private sector and pay neither tax nor insurance contributions.

Example 1: Greek-American TV reporter and journalist

My friend Nestor has dual U.S. and Greek citizenship, speaks both Greek and English like a native speaker, finished his army obligations, has a university education in journalism and several years experience as a reporter, editor and TV anchor, plus he co-hosted a show on STAR TV and was a VJ on Mad TV. He has a great job, right?

In the 15 years he’s worked in Athens, none of his employers have been willing to give him a contract as a salaried worker with IKA (insurance) and bonuses. Employers see him as overqualified and too expensive to retain as an employee.

As a result, he maintains an independent status, issues receipts, keeps his own books, pays his own OAEE (formerly TEBE) insurance at 289 euros and rising, gets no paid vacation, no 13th/14th salary and often needs to chase after his bosses to pay wages. To be clear, he’s not freelance. He works normal hours, Monday-Friday. He’s just not treated as a salaried employee, could lose his job at any time and would not be entitled to unemployment benefits if he did.

He considers himself lucky, since many he knows in the industry had to do “favors” in order to get and keep their jobs. I’m sure you can guess what those “favors” might have been.

He now works for a large tourism company, but his job is in danger of being cut because little importance is placed on PR and communications.

Example 2: American bank administrator

My Greek friend Eva, who has a university education in banking and previous experience, works as a financial administrator for an American bank in Athens. She speaks native Greek and basic English. Her starting salary in 1995 was 550 euros. Fifteen years later with the same company, she only earns 1100 euros, which is wholly due to the fact she accessed the labor union’s salary index, risked losing her job and legally forced her company to raise it to this level by filing a claim against them several years in a row.

A colleague of hers is fresh from university, has no experience or skills, and cannot operate a computer. He got a job as a account manager with no CV or cover letter or interview, and his starting salary was 1,450 euros; he now earns 1,800 euros a month. Why? He’s the boss’ nephew.

For those who are keeping track, it also shows that working for an American financial institution does not guarantee better treatment, better wages or a greater need for native English speakers, as all employees are native Greek speakers with little or no English-language skills. A male colleague who once worked as a delivery boy was promoted to sales rep, while Eva remains stuck despite being highly qualified.

Example 3: Greek business owner

My Greek-American friend Marcos, a dual citizen who is university educated and a former business owner in Florida, sold his business and home to come to Greece and open a business in the same field. Once he made it past the paperwork, he was successful because his family is well-known and he speaks Greek and English like a native speaker.

Two years later, he closed his business because he had problems collecting money from the same family friends who owe him more than 20,000 euros. He could bring several lawsuits, but it would take years to get convictions and money from his own pocket to pursue them, with no guarantee he would ever recover his debts. (Currently, the courts are backlogged with 300,000 lawsuits). Further, he can no longer build a penthouse on his family’s home in Voula due to the implementation of a new law that prevents it, so the money he already invested is gone.

He is contemplating the future and a possible move back to America for the sake of his wife and children. In the meantime, he works as a sales account manager for 900 euros/month plus IKA, bonuses and commission (variable), and his wife and children live apart from him on an Ionian island assisting his parents with their taverna. Marcos’ wife was the manager of a multinational company in Florida, and Marcos believes it’s not worth her time to work here at a meaningless job for peanuts, so he works harder and she stays home with their two children. His parents support their decision to leave if it comes to that.

*Update: Marcos and his wife are still married but are now a two-country couple. She lives and works in the United States with their two children, and he remains in Greece driving a taxi to remain near his aging mother who is a widower.

Example 4: Non-EU office assistant

A non-EU health administrator was married to a Greek woman and had a child before moving to Athens. After a year in Athens, they divorced and he remained here for his daughter though he cannot speak Greek, does not have money or time to learn, and works as an office assistant for 1200 euros/month after eight years, IKA and proper bonuses.

The job requires him to work 10 hours/day, twice a month on Saturday and varied hours that change almost daily, but he won’t leave this job because he understands that it will be difficult to find something better. “Predictable %$#@ with a tad of respect is better than unknown %$#@,” he says.

He hopes his now unemployed ex-wife will eventually agree to move away from Greece, so he can get his career back on track and provide a better life for his daughter. But it’s already been seven years, and she has no motivation to leave because her parents gave her a mortgage-free home and financed her daughter’s private education.

Example 5: Doctor in Athens, Greece

My friend Carol is a from a family of doctors in Athens and has her own practice. Since having a child, she now only works three nights a week because her husband works full-time during the day, and their aging parents are unable to help her with child care except two nights a week. Her husband does not help with child care and seldom shows up for appointments when he promises.

Paying for full-time child care (five days and five nights) would be almost as expensive as cutting back her hours, so it was decided she would stay home and earn less money even though she is the breadwinner. This option is only possible because her husband’s parents gave them a brand new apartment as a wedding gift, otherwise her full-time salary would be necessary. She considers herself fortunate, even though they cannot afford to have another child.

Those seeking to be dentists, pharmacists and doctors in Greece should know one key thing: They’re closed professions. What does that mean? A limited number of licenses are available at a price of 100,000 euros or more (not an exaggeration) and have belonged to Greek citizens for decades, which is why these professions are passed through generations.

Greece has too many doctors, more people are turning to substandard care at state hospitals since the crisis, and medical salaries and conditions vary widely, same as other countries. You can check these articles for more information: “Quest for greener pastures,” “One in four doctors is unemployed, two per day leave Greece to seek work abroad,” “6,000 Greek physicians working in Germany as of 2012,” “Athens: Highest per capita of doctors in Europe,” “Greece hemorrhaging doctors” and “Beating the brain drain.”

*Update: Carol divorced her husband after his indiscretion and retains custody of their son. She rents an apartment, hired full-time child care and had to return full time to her practice to pay these new expenses, since her ex pays little child support, won’t share child care and kept all her furniture and clothes.

Example 6: Embassy in Athens employee

My friend Bob is a driver and bodyguard for an embassy here in Athens. He’s a half-Greek EU citizen with a diplomatic lineage, educated and speaks three languages fluently. Not claiming Greek citizenship is a personal choice.

In exchange for being on-call nearly 24/7, never having advance notice of his schedule or vacation time and working 65-80 hours a week at different hours, he is paid more than 2000 euros/month, which is mostly overtime pay. He asked that I not disclose his normal 40-hour/week salary.

It is also important to note that he has no social life, no routine, no real vacation and no life. There is currently no plan to hire additional staff, so Bob stays focused on being grateful for his job instead of complaining. He would like to be married and have a child sometime soon, but his job shows no sign of slowing down or promotion potential after 17 years, and every woman he’s dated finds him undependable due to his erratic work schedule.

He would like to leave Greece, but his parents are divorced, and there is no one to assist his aging mother since his younger sister already has a family and her husband’s aging parents to care for.

Example 7: Non-EU business owner

Raymond is a non-EU citizen who opened an ethnic food store before the new law of depositing 60,000 euros came into effect. Over the years, his business has grown but not to the point he can afford to hire an employee so he works six days a week from 7:00-20:00, sometimes only closing the shop for an hour or two to handle bureaucracy that inevitably follows non-EU citizens. He has an accountant do his books and taxes.

His shop is busy, and he is grateful but he only has enough to maintain a small apartment, cover basic needs and go out seldom since seeing a movie, enjoying dinner out or having a drink cuts into his budget. The shop is closed on major holidays and for three weeks every two years when he takes a vacation.

He would like to bring his wife here to live. However, he doesn’t earn the minimum salary required to bring over a non-EU family member and secure her a residence/work permit.

*Update: Raymond decided to close his business at the end of 2008 (before the crisis began) and return to his homeland, where he has reunited with relatives and his wife to start a family.

Example 8: Greek-American Photographer

Thanos has an American degree in photography and has worked both in the United States and Europe for more than 20 years. Speaking Greek and English fluently, his primary employers in the States were newspapers in addition to freelance projects in both traditional and digital photography for books, rock bands and gallery shows.

Since coming back to Athens 15 years ago, he has struggled to provide for his family because employers either don’t pay him or pay several months late, so he often takes work as a wedding photographer (something he hates) or picks up side jobs at restaurants to ensure the bills get paid. Unfortunately, many people now ask relatives or friends to take wedding photographs or opt for a simple civil ceremony to save money since the crisis began.

According to Thanos and several friends in the same field, photography jobs are not plentiful because the coveted spots are usually held by the same person until retirement or won by people with connections. With Greek media outlets closing and others in deep financial trouble, there are fewer positions and a lot of unemployed photographers and journalists.

Example 9: OTE employee

Vassilis is a Greek citizen speaking Greek and a low level of English and German, has no university degree or previous work experience. His parents had a connection at OTE (Greek phone company), so he applied and she got him the job.

He originally started as a roving employee on a team with two experienced technicians, who taught him the logistics of the job. He earned 533 euros a month in 2004. This lasted until his temporary contract expired, and he was left unemployed.

In late 2005, he was rehired by OTE but placed in an office where he had no experience dealing with customers or using a computer. As he told me, he shows up at around 7:30, takes a coffee break around 9:30, lunch at 11:30 for an hour, then leaves at 15:00. He earned 670 euros a month. His boss doesn’t reprimand him because she herself comes in around 8:30 after dropping off her children at school, then leaves around 12:30 to pick them up and never returns though she collects her full salary.

He’s able to have a car because he lives at home and has no other expenses beyond those associated with his car and going out.

In 2007, he was released from OTE with the promise of being hired back in 6-12 months as per terms of his contract, so he found work at a local Pro-Po gambling outlet and as a waiter through a cousin.

*Update: He is now a full-time broadband engineer with OTE, though he knew nothing about the Internet in 2008 and still has no university degree or technical training in this area. I do not know his salary.

Example 10: Programmers at IT company based in Greece with a worldwide clientele

Nikos is a Greek citizen who was educated in the UK and speaks Greek, German and English. Years ago, he started with a well-known chain store as their tech guy, doing light programming and manning the help desk. In 2002, he jumped to a specialized software company tapped into the latest innovations (rare in Greece) earning 900 euros a month. He works alongside 60 other programmers and five techs of which 85 percent are Greek citizens speaking a higher proficiency of English or repatriated dual citizens from the UK, Australia and the United States. Today, he is considered one of the more talented programmers on staff and earns 1,700 euros a month, which is a small fortune since his parents gave him an apartment and he pays no rent. In 2009, he married and now supports his unemployed girlfriend who has been in school for nine years and hasn’t gradated.

Brendan is an EU citizen from the UK, who moved to Greece at the urging of his Greek wife. He speaks only English, but graduated from a UK university and has worked in IT for the past 10 years for well-known multinational companies. In 2004, he was hired and paid 900 euros a month; considered one of the most efficient and talented on staff, he now earns 1,300 euros a month. He suspects his salary is lower than his peers, but likely won’t look for something else because he’s paid on time, left alone and knows that finding another company with such a big budget is rare.

Dimitra is a Greek citizen, educated at a local university in Greece and speaks/writes English at a low level. She started at the same software company in 2003, earning 700 euros a month, and is only one of three women programmers employed at the company. After being mentored by several senior programmers, she is still considered mediocre by her peers and earns 1,250 euros a month. It doesn’t matter to her, since she is married, now has a child and is not interested in furthering her career or changing jobs. She is supported by her husband and uses her salary for shopping.

Irina is a non-EU citizen who has been here for seven years, graduated from a American college in Greece at the top of her class and speaks fluent Greek, English, Bulgarian and German. Considered bright and talented by her peers, she was hired illegally by the same company at an hourly wage without IKA in 2003 and moved up to 850 euros a month with IKA in late 2005. The boss refused to give her a raise or more responsibilities in 2006, so she left for multinational and earned 1,200 a month in a more senior role. She changed companies again in 2009 and earned slightly more, then left for Germany in 2011 when companies began discriminating against non-Greeks as unemployment continued to rise. She’s happier and earns considerably more in an environment where there is also promotion potential.

*Names in this post were changed for privacy reasons, and this post is regularly updated as more people come forward to share their stories.

Sources

Brain drain: Greece bleeding its brightest” — CNBC
Ασφάλιση µε εργόσηµο” — Ta Nea
«Σπάει» ο κατώτατος µισθός” — Ta Nea
Full-time workers in the USA” — Bureau of Labor Statistics
Minimum wage workers in the USA” — Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related posts

The importance of speaking Greek in Greece
Do job candidates with Greek surnames have an advantage?
Value of a university degree in Greece

For more information, see the category “Jobs in Greece” or start your job search with links in the third column.

Update pending
586 and 527 gross by law 4046/2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/28/us-greece-idUSTRE81R1KR20120228

Παράταση για Συλλογικές Συμβάσεις έως τις 13 Μαΐου

http://www.tanea.gr/ellada/article/?aid=4701848

http://www.tanea.gr/files/1/2012/03/12/Mis.pdf

Πώς διαμορφώνονται οι μισθοί στον ιδιωτικό τομέα

http://www.tovima.gr/finance/article/?aid=448155

http://www.tovima.gr/files/1/2012/03/12/Mistoi1.pdf

www.tanea.gr/oikonomia/article/?aid=4715506

76 Comments

  Megan wrote @ July 30th, 2007 at 15:46

Wow, so I’m guessing then that there are other benefits to working in Greece and salary isn’t the main motivator. It seems that all jobs in Europe have in common the fact that in the US you’d earn much much more in the same position. This knowledge can be so frustrating.

Of course, the US can’t touch the vacation and health benefits… at least in Germany. What about the side benefits in Greece? Vacation? Health? Maternity leave? Anything??

  The Scorpion wrote @ October 6th, 2007 at 11:07

“The Greeks are the smartest people in the world. Just ask them and they’ll tell you.”

- Overheard by an American Tourist in Plaka -

  Pantelis wrote @ October 13th, 2007 at 15:13

As a Greek that lived in the UK for 7 years and now in the US (for 10 years now), I am also dreaming of returning home soon and set up a high-tech development center there. I read with interest your articles. One striking difference between UK, US and Greece is the level of corruption and its associated cost. There are lots of studies that show how detrimental corruption can be to the economy overall. Basically both natives and foreigners living in Greece pay a substantial portion of their cost of living for corruption. Prices would have been much cheaper otherwise. The US is also corrupt, but the corruption is limited at the level of federal and local government. In Greece, anyone that wishes to be corrupt can be corrupt since the legal system, as you said, has collapsed. The only country that has relatively low levels of corruption is the UK.

PS: Don’t be offended by comments of responders and do not take it personally. Greeks are known for quickly escalate to personal verbal attacks with any argument. It’s part of the Mediterranean culture. But speaking relative to other Euro cultures, we are (or used to be) fine people.

Kat Reply:

Pantelis – Well a warm hello! Thanks for stopping by and making a comment today; I hope you’ll continue if I manage to keep your interest and you have something to say. You offer a very different perspective as a Greek living abroad in both the UK and USA. I find that interesting because I’m an American and perhaps have my own bias (as all people do on some level), and I’ve never lived in the UK to objectively compare both countries. And you’re right, we absolutely pay for corruption.

P.S. I knew what I was getting into when I consciously decided to start this site more than 6 months ago for a predominantly Greek audience. I have very thick skin — self-esteem, my life and 10 years in Greece have prepared me. Your words are appreciated, just the same. :)

  xristina wrote @ October 15th, 2007 at 19:39

Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for some time now, this is my first time posting. I’m a Greek-American with a Greek fiance (who loves it there) and I am moving in a few months to join him in Athens. Thank you so much for insights that we would otherwise have not had. It surprises me that some people fight so hard against reality – it is obvious that, economically speaking, Greece in no way compares to USA. Very few countries do, but we don’t need to go into the numerous problems that come with those benefits. Greece doesn’t do well against many Euro countries either. This does not mean that Greece is “bad” or that everyone should try to leave if they want a “good” life. It all depends on priorities, right? If you are family-oriented, for example, and all your family lives there, then Greece is wonderful. But if happiness means a well-paying career with the benefits of a fully-developed and prosperous economy, then Greece isn’t it, although many people do have good lives there. For a 30+ old small democracy (in modern times) that was largely agricultural, Greece has come a long way (and by a few measurements, is actually doing better than many peer countries) but oviously, it has a long way to go in its economy and system before it can stand up to numerous objective measures of overall prosperity. I think it comes down to whether you get benefits from being there that outweigh what you may have to tolerate. The cons may outweigh the pros objectively, but no one can judge the qualitative “life” there but each individual with their own expectations and desires. Thanks again for voicing your experiences, and I suspect that you likely blew many Greeks’ stereotypes and notions (of Americans, of women, of foreigners) totally out of the water on so many different levels.

Kat Reply:

X – Welcome and warm greetings! Thanks for being faithful all this time and for commenting today. :D

I don’t know if I’m the average American, foreigner, woman… I’m just me. In response to your post, it does come down to priorities, motivation and patience. I do know people who have come to be with family, regretted it (Marcos in the post) and now his family supports him leaving. I have no family here or anywhere, so I’m a free agent; and my fiance’s family is here, but his mother is urging us to leave because she can see there’s nothing for us. And who’s to say family can’t come with us? I’ve offered to take my future MIL with us, if she’d like to go. I love her; she loves me.

There’s another part of that too. I cannot start a family of my own or give my existing family (fiance’s) what it needs if I can’t earn a decent living. So while I could be happy here — because ultimately I create my own — I choose to leave for a better salary and future doing the same work I do now for peanuts. I’m the breadwinner, and I need to know I’ll have a growing investment portfolio, emergency money to support my MIL in retirement and my BIL if he’s in trouble. I’m still doing it for family, to be happy.

I’m also the kind of woman who would never consider leaving my country or going anywhere for a man (boyfriend, fiance, husband…doesn’t matter). There has to be something much more than that. I know how unromantic and hard assed that sounds, but it’s my life, my career and my dreams, and he can move too if he loves me. I only agreed to marry my fiance if he wanted to leave Greece, and thankfully that’s been his life dream. So, no dealbreaker. However, we may become a “two country” couple if I get the right opportunity before he’s ready to go. We agreed on that too.

It does help if you’re Greek, which I’m not and never will be. One would think that having a Greek fiance/husband helps, but I’ve actually become more invisible and more irrelevant than ever. I’m more educated, more experienced, multilingual (Greek is my 4th language), well-traveled and stable in my career and finances than my fiance…and all people see is a poor immigrant with “nothing” because I don’t own olive trees or family home in a village (and why would I? I’m not from a village)…never mind that many of those casting a judgmental eye don’t either or got it from their parents (aka, didn’t work for it). I will always be nothing here, and that’s definitely not OK with me.

  Stephania wrote @ October 15th, 2007 at 20:21

I lived in Athens for three years and know exactly what you are talking about regarding how difficult it is to establish a career and make a living there, which is why I just recently left and moved back to the states. Don’t get me wrong, I love Greece and miss it dearly but I could not see myself having a future there..or one I would be proud of. Like they say in Greece…Greece is only for vacation. So I’m curious to know why are you still there?

Kat Reply:

S – Hey another new commenter! How fun! :) And what a great name. Like I say, sometimes it’s better to love and admire from afar. You can always visit, which is what I plan to do. I totally hear what you’re saying about a future. For me it’s not enough to be a housewife or trailing spouse (btw, there’s nothing wrong with it) or do menial work, I need to be an adult in a dynamic environment and real career that is serving a larger purpose.

Your question is one asked by many, and I’m sorry I can’t explain. It’s complicated and delves into private issues, which I’m not willing to disclose at this time. I don’t use this blog as an online journal because while many readers are kind, there are many who are not and use the details to personally attack me here and on other sites in which I have no control. I’m also a very private person, and tend to use myself as a vehicle to share only what I believe can help others. I hope people can respect and understand that.

  ~R~ wrote @ October 16th, 2007 at 00:46

I was born and raised in the United States but I am of Greek decent, I just recently moved here because my husband resides in Athens. I must say it has not been an easy transition. Everything from buying curtains, to paying a bill appears to be a tedious task. As far as employment, it’s been extremely difficult and frustrating trying to find an honorable occupation here. I moved here thinking that I was an advantage because I have a masters degree but I was quickly proven wrong when I started interviewing. It seems as though hiring here is based not how qualified or educated a person is but who that person may know.
I definately agree with Kat when she says that moving to Athens as a foreigner is not easy (especially if you dont own olive groves that produce mass amount of virgin olive oil or own a three story aparment complex), but Im hoping that with time everything will eventually fall into place. ~R~

Kat Reply:

R – Yet another new commenter! Wow, what a great day :) You’ll get used to the tediousness until it beats you into submission, and you won’t notice it anymore. LOL! Seriously, don’t you miss paying stuff with a check and a stamp by mail?

Have you seen the article “Value of a university degree?” You’ll find validation of what you said in there. And “Who’s jobless in Greece?” that’s another one. In my 10 years, I’ve not seen much change except what I’ve pushed for, as I’ve no connections and am unwilling to do what many of my employers want as favors. It’s not a level playing field. I do hope you find something better and I wish you the best of everything!

Ladies, comment again if it strikes your fancy. I’m always happy to have the contributions and perspectives of everyone! It adds flavor and depth.

  Kat wrote @ October 16th, 2007 at 01:52

X – Welcome and warm greetings! Thanks for being faithful all this time and for commenting today. :D

I don’t know if I’m the average American, foreigner, woman… I’m just me. In response to your post, it does come down to priorities, motivation and patience. I do know people who have come to be with family, regretted it (Marcos in the post) and now his family supports him leaving. I have no family here or anywhere, so I’m a free agent; and my fiance’s family is here, but his mother is urging us to leave because she can see there’s nothing for us. And who’s to say family can’t come with us? I’ve offered to take my future MIL with us, if she’d like to go. I love her; she loves me.

There’s another part of that too. I cannot start a family of my own or give my existing family (fiance’s) what it needs if I can’t earn a decent living. So while I could be happy here — because ultimately I create my own — I choose to leave for a better salary and future doing the same work I do now for peanuts. I’m the breadwinner, and I need to know I’ll have a growing investment portfolio, emergency money to support my MIL in retirement and my BIL if he’s in trouble. I’m still doing it for family, to be happy.

I’m also the kind of woman who would never consider leaving my country or going anywhere for a man (boyfriend, fiance, husband…doesn’t matter). There has to be something much more than that. I know how unromantic and hard assed that sounds, but it’s my life, my career and my dreams, and he can move too if he loves me. I only agreed to marry my fiance if he wanted to leave Greece, and thankfully that’s been his life dream. So, no dealbreaker. However, we may become a “two country” couple if I get the right opportunity before he’s ready to go. We agreed on that too.

It does help if you’re Greek, which I’m not and never will be. One would think that having a Greek fiance/husband helps, but I’ve actually become more invisible and more irrelevant than ever. I’m more educated, more experienced, multilingual (Greek is my 4th language), well-traveled and stable in my career and finances than my fiance…and all people see is a poor immigrant with “nothing” because I don’t own olive trees or family home in a village (and why would I? I’m not from a village)…never mind that many of those casting a judgmental eye don’t either or got it from their parents (aka, didn’t work for it). I will always be nothing here, and that’s definitely not OK with me.

S – Hey another new commenter! How fun! :) And what a great name. Like I say, sometimes it’s better to love and admire from afar. You can always visit, which is what I plan to do. I totally hear what you’re saying about a future. For me it’s not enough to be a housewife or trailing spouse (btw, there’s nothing wrong with it) or do menial work, I need to be an adult in a dynamic environment and real career that is serving a larger purpose.

Your question is one asked by many, and I’m sorry I can’t explain. It’s complicated and delves into private issues, which I’m not willing to disclose at this time. I don’t use this blog as an online journal because while many readers are kind, there are many who are not and use the details to personally attack me here and on other sites in which I have no control. I’m also a very private person, and tend to use myself as a vehicle to share only what I believe can help others. I hope people can respect and understand that.

  ~R~ wrote @ October 16th, 2007 at 13:58

Wow I almost forgot what it feels like to pay a bill with a stamp by mail, or even better paying it online or by phone! Imagine that! It literally takes one whole afternoon to go to the post office to pay one bill and the bank to make one depositl. I really miss drive up windows!!!

  georgia wrote @ October 16th, 2007 at 19:06

I just discovered your site and must admit, it was an extreme delight. Keep going!!! I can give you another hundred examples of similar situations around Greece, although I expect you also have more than your fair share. Why do they make life so difficult for people here??? A question I am still pondering. It has been a pleasure reading you

Kat Reply:

G – I’ve known about your site for a long time, even made a comment perhaps a few months ago…can’t remember now. Thanks for coming by!

  A wrote @ October 17th, 2007 at 20:17

I think the issue identified here is transparency, and in any enterprise, providing transparency stimulates investing but also opens doors to criticism and copying. I have long dreamed of living in Greece, but realized that I am too American to exist there. There is a basic fairness in the Greek econony that is missing. I find it humorous, however, to see how government offices in Greece work, as compared with the Greek Embassy here in NY. On the outside, it looks the same, but on the inside – its an American institution. No smoking, reasonable lines, and functional. You wait in a line to sign in. You are put in a room to wait. They come and take you individually by name to a person to see. You go pay your bill. You take your receipt back and get your document. You sign out. All of this is done in 30 minutes or less and no one smokes, yells at you or closes their counter.

In Greece, if this happened, there would be a mutiny against those who work efficiently on grounds that they make everyone else look bad. It is the union of minimal productivity, inefficiency, and a desire not to compete (or is it a fear of competition?).

There are a million people – primarily in EU countries, and in Asia and China, looking to invest in EU denominated industries and products. But they do not put their money in Greece – because they can only compare investment sectors if there is transparency. And to outsiders, it appears that in the aggregate, the underground economy exceeds the legitimate one, or else how can they understand the aggregate rates of consumption?

Kat Reply:

A – What intelligent commentary! I allude to many of the same things on different posts, and there’s a link to an Athens News article called “Who really steals jobs from Greeks?” from 2003 (?) that verifies everything you’ve said, along with what I’ve said on “Value of a university degree.” I’ve actually been told by co-workers to stop making them look bad…gees! And really, since I’m paid the same as they are doing half the work, I sometimes wonder why I don’t slow down. I just don’t have the mentality.

I’ve been working on a post about doing business in Greece for 3 days that is a compilation of all elements and how they rank against other EU countries, along with the USA, Canada and Australia. Unfortunately I lost it and all of the coding I’d done last night to an error, just as I was near the end. That’s why nothing has been posted. Hopefully that’ll go up ASAP.

  A wrote @ October 23rd, 2007 at 06:24

I’ll look forward to that post. As I said, I have long dreamed of being able to live in Greece, but I cannot fathom how things work. A friend of mine wanted to buy a business and the seller would not certify to the most basic items or permit a purchase price escrow. The deal was for six figures; the lender wanted a disclosure of whether “commissions” were paid. These steps are considered normal business practices in even the most remote parts of the world. The Greek sellers would not agree. This type of problem really keeps Greece from getting investment money that would go right into improving gnp. I think the same types of issues prevent Greece from bringing some basic services into the 21st century as well.

What a heaven Greece would be if things could just work a little more openly and fairly in the public sectors! Internet would work, you would not lose days to paying bills, you could do electronic payments without fear of identity theft, etc. I suppose we all would move there.

PS – I have to say my NY embassy experienced surprised everyone in my family – none of us have lived in Greece for 15 years, but everyone predicted that the embassy (or is it consulate? I can’t remember) here would be exactly like a government office in Greece, and it really is not.

  P. wrote @ October 29th, 2007 at 16:27

I just wanted to point out a couple of things casual observers may not realise. When you talk about monthly salaries are you talking about gross? or net.

If you earn less than 12000 euros a year you get deducted IKA but you will pay no tax.
Also, Greece has a funny system of 14 monthly paydays. So if you earn 1,000 a month the actual yearly salary would be 14,000 euros. The extra 2 months are paid out at 1 month extra for easter and 1/2 month extra for december’s and august’s paydays.

Whilst I earn less than 1/2 what I did in the same job for a UK employer. I also have no stress, no unpaid overtime to do, and get to work at less than 1/2 my potential output. (this took some getting used to, but now i can do a whole 8 hours and acheive nothing without worrying about productivity and still wonder where the day went :)) That coupled with the sunshine affords me a better feeling about my life and mental well being than I had before I moved permanently to Greece.

Sometimes money isn’t everything.

Kat Reply:

The original subject and content of this post was “examples of jobs and salaries in Athens,” which was presented to show that dual citizenship, bilingual fluency, previous experience, university degrees, connections and being Greek don’t always guarantee a salary or job of a higher standard. It was based on real people from my life who were kind and willing to divulge very private information, not faceless individuals or statistics. I also state from the beginning of comments that people choose to live here in spite of perceived adverse conditions because of personal priorities (such as the women above who are coming here or those who moved back). I stated facts, and at no time did I say that one thing is better than the other; it only started to swing that way when a reader accused me of being biased.

As often happens on this site, some readers are angry about comments being closed on a certain post, come to another that is open (such as this one) and make comments that go off on a tangent and have nothing to do with the subject at hand. I allow people to speak once if there is a whisper of something related, but it apparently gives everyone the impression they can do the same thing and the original subject is lost.

So, in response to P’s comment:

1) Salaries are always quoted in net; the only time they’re not from my 10 years experience is when a potential employer is trying to trick a newbie into thinking they’re getting more money, adds their IKA contribution to their net and quotes gross.

2) I mention the 12,000 cutoff in “Income taxes in Greece

3) The 14 payments is true, however you’re incorrect about the two extra payments: There is a full month payment at Christmas, and a half-month payment each at Easter and summer. Whether a boss pays them on time (or at all, in some cases) is another thing. Regardless, this is not tax-free money, it’s calculated into the 12,000 cutoff. Info was added to the intro of this post as FYI, due to another being password protected, where the original info was contained.

4) Weather and being unproductive at work are subjective elements in determining quality of life and mental health. i.e. In contrast to yr perspective, sunshine is no big deal to me since we have better weather in California; not being able to start a family because of money, being treated poorly as a non-EU, non-Greek woman and being unproductive sounds like a big waste of my life, thus actually raising my stress level. I’ve managed this long because I believe we create our own happiness and can be grateful under any circumstances, which I am, but it is much harder.

5) Money isn’t everything is the message of “The Power of Choice” story and is a constant theme on this site. I always stress people’s priorities and values in life.

* I encourage people to share personal stories and comments, but please let it be about “examples of jobs and salaries in Greece.”

  FMS wrote @ November 7th, 2007 at 15:40

As an economist specialising in aspects of the labour market, and also speaking from personal experience, I congratulate you on the case-studies of wages and conditions in Greece. It is something which the political parties refuse to take on board, since politicians and other corrupted persons are the main beneficiaries of this mess. Of course, some of these people [plus a few malakes] will accuse you of being anti-Greek. In reality, you speak for the majority of Greeks as well as foreigners.

Kat Reply:

I’m honored you would leave a comment today and validate the case studies as an expert, aside from the fact you offered kind words.

The examples and salaries I presented are based on real people who agreed to disclose sensitive information to create transparency, which we all know Greece is short on.

More case studies are always being added.

  scott wrote @ November 16th, 2007 at 12:55

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into your site. I have no experience concerning the economic status of persons residing in Greece. I thank you for your information as it is helping me out greatly. What I got from your site basically is stay away from Athens….lol. I have a friend who lives in northern Greece and her impressions are quite different in some aspects and rather similar in other aspects. It’s good to look at as many sources of information and gain an appreciation of different personalities and their own endevours.

My friend claims to make a salary that is roughly 16,000 Euros. She is an Ex-pat from London who has obtained Greek Citizenship, she owns a home on the beach and is about 45 minutes from the nearest city. She seems to be doing more than just fine on her wage…..I guess it really does matter where you are at and what level of materialism you need for yourself. Some people don’t want much more than to survive in a virtual paradise as she describes the summers where she is.

It is good to see the realities from a different location in the same country. I for one know I will survive no matter where I find myself in the world. This is because I have the will and desire to do so, no matter what.

Thanks again for your information! I have not read your entire blog but have read a good portion of it over the past month or so as I plan to move to Greece in the near future.

Kat Reply:

Everyone takes away something different from this site, all I do is present real-life stories as they happen to me and people I know, and facts as they’re written by reputable and reliable organizations and institutions.

The first red flag that’s raised about your friend is why she bothered to get Greek citizenship if she’s an expat from London; British citizenship is on par with Greek citizenship, therefore, it’s redundant and has no benefits. My guess is she is of Greek origin. And if she’s from the UK, she likely had the money to purchase that home before arriving here because 16,000 euros isn’t quite enough to buy a beach house without savings. The bank will loan approx 5 times one’s salary, and what beach house can be bought for 80,000 euros not including tax, fees, insurance? I don’t live extravagantly by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s a difference between what we need and what we want.

Everyone’s version of paradise is different, as well. I come from California and have lived in Miami, so Greece pales in comparison. Maybe someone from London, Stockholm or Cairo feels differently. My idea of paradise is also somewhere with opportunities offering mobility and purpose; accountability; and rich with things like libraries and diversity without discrimination. In my experience living in dozens of cities worldwide, surviving is one thing; thriving is quite another and requires an environment in which to accomplish that.

So as I’ve said many times before, it depends on a person’s priorities and goals in life and how they mesh (or not) with Greece. For years, it fit me; now my priorities have shifted and it does not and never will. But I know a lot of people who are quite happy here, or aren’t happy here and make the most of it because they can’t leave.

People in the north can tell you many of the same stories I do. It’s not only a matter of city location, if that’s how you’ve chosen to explain it to yourself.

Just a note. The majority of educated, skilled people in Greece earn an average of 9,800-11,980. A salary of 16,000 net is quite high and eligible for further taxation, so it ends up being less.

Readers: In Feb 2008, Scott wrote again and admitted he has “six figures sitting in a bank account” (English pounds?), can purchase a home and open a business without working. Therefore, “examples of jobs and salaries” (the title of this post) isn’t relevant since he won’t be a salaried worker, and the non-EU rules of opening a business do not apply to his situation as he is an EU citizen.

  Yianni wrote @ November 23rd, 2007 at 11:25

First I would like to say I just discovered your website and I love it! This is the most help I’ve had since I moved to Greece in July. I was born here in Greece, I am from the island of Chios but I was raised in Toronto, Canada. I left Greece when I was 7 and for the past 23 years I lived in Toronto. For years I was visiting Greece during the summer and 2 years ago I thought about moving here. Last year I confirmed my decision when I met a beautiful woman here in Greece who swept me off my feet.

After a long distance relationship for 10 months I finaly moved here in July just to be with her.

I have always loved Greece as a place to visit and have thought of living here, but now that I am here I see things in a whole different way. Things are not easy. It’s not an outsider-friendly place. Employers take advantage of people who are new to the country and it’s almost impossible to get help with things you need to do. Honestly this website is a blessing, it’s the most help I’ve had from anywhere and God bless you Kat for putting it together. Im trying to make the best of things and unfortunately in order to find a decent job I had to move from Chios to Athens. It’s difficult when I’m busting my ass for 900.00 euros a month and back in Toronto I was making that in one week.

I know things are always hard at first anywhere you go, but this place doesn’t make things any easier at all! I miss a lot of things from North America and sometimes I’m second guessing myself, if I made the right decision by moving here; I find it’s kind of affecting my relationship with this woman because I’m asking, “is she worth this pain I’m going through?”…I guess she must be if I’m still here, so love really does hurt after all.

Anyway thanks again for putting this website together, I find it very helpful and drop me an email anytime. Take care, great job and thanks again.

-Yianni

Kat Reply:

Yianni – Hi! Finally, a man who moved here to be with a woman! :) I think the difference with you is that you said you’ve always wanted to live in Greece, so I’m under the impression that falling in love was simply a bonus and pushed you over the edge rather than being the sole reason for being here. It’s really tough at the beginning to not make comparisons, especially when things are rough. But to be honest, you’ll have a better time and less tortured if you stop thinking “if I were in Toronto, I’d be earning this salary and things would cost this much.” Again, I know it’s hard. Even my fiance, who has only been to the States, one time makes comparisons between things and unreasonable wishes that won’t come true, and I wish he’d stop because we are here in Athens, Greece. We are living this moment, it’s a moment we can choose to be happy or not, and we can’t get it back. Know what I mean? If there’s something I can do to help you, leave another comment or leave another comment anyway!

  Chris wrote @ November 26th, 2007 at 14:41

I’ve been reading your post over the past few months and I truly believe I can contribute on the debate. I’m 100% Greek but I can speak on behalf of many Greeks I believe who have gone to the States to work or to study. After having spend 4 years in your country getting my master’s and working, I found myself at a very promising and compelling point in my career. I felt I was doing something meaningful, being flanked by professionals who were treating me in a professional way and I loved it. Yet, my personal life wasn’t so rewarding… I guess my hard work took a high toll… only fair.

So, I had to come to a desicion about my future. Even with a personal life that didn’t seem to flourish, I was in favor of staying there because I always wanted to make a career and get fair rewards for it. My hunch was strong. I would do everything to stay. But unfortunately my visa had expired and there was no guarantee it would be renewed. I went to the Greek Consulate in new york and I couldn’t get any help. The fine institution I was working in didn’t seem to bother either. If I stayed, I would be an illegal alien. I was forced to change the course of my thought and see the positive side of me going back to Greece. I started thinking not so highly of America, of its emotionless approach to foreign people who truly want to stay and offer. I was receiving denial from everywhere, even though everyone would praise me for my work and my devotion.

Now I am back home experiencing the very things you so kindly and accurately reported. My disappointment cannot be described with words right now… Just keep up this amazing source of information for all of us. Good luck.

Kat Reply:

Chris – Thanks for sharing a different perspective with a reverse story, one of someone that was in Greece, then the USA and returned to GR. Things aren’t perfect in the States either, and visas/permits and various legislation allowing renewals has become more strict over the years, especially after 9/11 for security reasons and because unemployment and debt have risen in the USA during the same period. Your colleagues were likely honest about having you there and being happy with your work, but their bureaucratic hands were tied. I do hope you have the chance to return, that is if you still want to go back. For the time being, I hope you find some way to accept living and working here again. You never know how life is going to turn out, so enjoy what’s in front of you and look forward. Please check in again, OK?

  Bob wrote @ November 27th, 2007 at 20:19

So, although my wife is Greek and I have over 20 years as an IT consultant, it would still be difficult for me to find an job in IT in Greece with a Greek company?

Kat Reply:

Hi Bob, there’s no way I can know if an IT company will hire you or not. However, I do know that a spouse’s citizenship carries no weight and has nothing to do with the hiring process.

The only time a spouse’s citizenship matters is in regards to residence and work permits, if you happen to be a non-EU citizen.

  Theresa wrote @ November 29th, 2007 at 22:22

Hi Kat! Thanks for replying to my post. I do understand that you had struggles and even now probably do and I can definitely tell by all of the information and effort you have put forth in your site just to help others. Your site was the first I came across and already has answered many of my questions (ie: dual citizenship, work permits, etc). I definitely appreciate that you would take your personal time to do all of this. And also I do apologize if you thought that I didn’t realize all of the hard times you have gone through to get where you are today. I look forward to reading more and more of your blog and again am thanking you in advance for putting up all of this information to help others.

Have a good day!
Theresa

  Bill wrote @ December 5th, 2007 at 05:33

Thank you for this fountain of honest dialogue full of experiences, frustrations and realizations by so many people who all have the common love (and sometimes hate) relationship with Greece in their quest to live and work there.

I am a U.S. citizen who has spent an entire year trying to find a way to live and work in Greece (to be with my Greek partner), having met with the American Ambassador to Greece, the Greek Ambassador to the U.S., private business representatives, Greeks and Greek Americans from various American/Hellenic organizations, etc. I discovered many of the things you discuss; primarily that I would take a drastic salary cut despite the higher living expenses (except rent).

But I also found that even though I speak decent Greek, once Greeks found out that I was did not have Greek ancestry, they would often shut me down completely. Even my Greek partner, Dimitri, admitted that his wealthy boss and successful friends couldn’t help me since I was a xenos and didn’t have family ties, or any real reason to help me. When Dimitri came to the States he was amazed at how helpful people were to one another in pursuing career options, housing, most anything – and to complete strangers. It made Dimitri even more frustrated with the bribes and family connections that seem to make so much of the unofficial Greek economy operate.

As a Greek American living and working in Boston said to me on my last trip back from Greece, “Make your living in the U.S. then retire in Greece – you can never do it the other way around.” I wish you and everyone else the best in their quest for a happy, balanced life – wherever it may be found.

Kat Reply:

Bill – I sure appreciate you leaving a comment and taking the time to share your story with us. The working and living environment of Greece is temperamental, and I’m sure you know that even people with Greek ancestry can experience discrimination on some level. It’s also true what you say that having connections isn’t always helpful; some ask, “what’s in it for me?” Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of goodwill here, but it’s balanced with those who are greedy, egotistical and jealous. Ten years ago, people said to me, “you don’t know how things work here,” but weren’t at all willing to explain it either. Even today, ignorant people still say things like this to me when in fact I’ve done a lot more bureaucracy and know much more about Greece than they do. The difference is, I share it with other people much like I would if I were in the USA, and I know I still have more to learn. I don’t know the solution to your situation, but I’ll tell you if I come up with something. Please comment again if the mood strikes you!

  Clarese wrote @ December 5th, 2007 at 22:50

Maria – I’ve never been to Greece but my boyfriend and I (who is %100 Greek) have discussed moving there. He doesn’t want to, but I do. Life in the US is stressful but after reading this site, my boyfriend is right. We could live in Athens with his grandma or brother but he wants to keep making money that he makes here in the States.

I’m all stressed out here with work and all and right now, Greece STILL sounds good. HOWEVER, maybe my boyfriend is right, we can just visit Athens, every other year.

Kat – I am African American and my boyfriend of 3 years is Greek American. He was born in Detroit Michigan and raised in San Diego but when his parents divorced, his mom took him and his siblings back to Athens, Greece where he lived til 3 years ago (we’re in our 30s and living in Chicago now).

The very things that you speak of (about how difficult it is to get a job, etc etc) is what my boyfriend speaks of as well. I love your site, by the way.

He absolutely HATES how things are in Athens. When we met, he was amazed at how easy it was to get his social security card, Illinois state ID, voters registration, etc.

I’m visiting Greece for the first time in May 2008 and I know it will be beautiful. I wanted to come live there, but my boyfriend says that we are better off in the United States (more opportunities here and better earning potential).

Anyways, thank you for your website. It’s really great!

Clarese,

Chicago,IL

Kat Reply:

Clarese – Welcome and hi! The thing about Greece is its beauty tends to seduce people with sea, sand and mythology, thus giving the impression it’s paradise and just as easy to live here. (Remember this on your visit in May). It can be easy if you have a pile of money, connections and a staff to take care of undesirable elements…but this doesn’t apply to the majority of people. If you want to see what your boyfriend is talking about, try going to the tax office while you’re here or visiting a state hospital; pay attention to how people point and whisper about you while here. People are always talking about stress in the USA, but I just don’t see it — I worked 60 hours a week, had a social life and was still bored silly. Let’s talk about the stress of being unemployed, not understanding a single word being spoken/written/read, struggling for a permit, waiting 4 months for a phone line, being treated poorly in public, seeing your expenses rise but not getting the same increase in salary. Yes, stress might be minimized if you’re living in a village somewhere, but then you probably have no job. Being in your 30s, you’re at the peak of earning potential in the States and have the chance to perhaps purchase a home. If you start over in Greece, that may disappear and it’ll be very difficult to salvage your life if you move here and it doesn’t work out (sometimes, employers see a move abroad as a reason to not hire someone “unstable”; with the dollar at half the value of a euro, your money will disappear quickly). And I can tell you right now that your boyfriend will not agree to move, or he’ll move here to satisfy you but then not have the motivation to make it because his adverse feelings about Athens are clear. Being here together requires full commitment and passion by both, otherwise one of you will drag the other down. Check in again after your May visit and tell me how it went. A big ‘hi’ to both you and your boyfriend from Athens.

  john wrote @ January 18th, 2008 at 16:54

hi kat
I just found your site by accident, I think its by far one of the best web sites about life in athens (or anywhere) I’ve ever seen. certainly the best i’ve found after living in greece 4 years.

I think foreigners living in greece are lucky you spend time putting together so much useful and insightful info.

thanks for all the articles, since we have somewhat similar experiences (backgrounds, travel, etc)and I’ve already gone firsthand through most of the things you talk about, i agree or concur with you on many of the topics you cover.

take care and congratulations on your baby, were expecting our 2nd one soon,
getting birth certificates, passports etc will give you another story to talk about.

Kat Reply:

Hi J – Nice to meet you and thank you for your nice words! We are not pregnant yet and not trying, but it’s planned in the future after we have left Greece; our child will be taking U.S. citizenship initially through me, as my partner is against anything Greek. My fiance did get his birth certificate, passport, U.S. visa and tautotita recently, which is what the articles are based on.

  ikaria wrote @ January 31st, 2008 at 21:22

Jobs are tough to get in Greece. my cousins both work almost all day and get by because they have decent jobs, they come home for lunch, then go back to work. but compared to other countries, especially the USA, it’s not that great. I know a lot of people who leave to come work in the US and other countries in europe because they simply have no chance to advance and make more.

  Voula wrote @ March 15th, 2008 at 02:22

I was reading that you either are working for IKA or have worked there one question how did you manage to get the job?

I myself unfortunately can undersand and speak Greek but lack in reading and writing which I assume is a major problem in the job area.

Thanks

Kat Reply:

I do not work for IKA, nor have I ever worked there; I’ve never had any interest in working in the public sector. However, I do have IKA through my employer. If you read other posts in the ‘Jobs in Greece’ category, you’ll see that some jobs do not require Greek.

  Pat wrote @ April 10th, 2008 at 10:56

Oh my god… when I saw the salaries. If you are a good programmer in the U.S. – at least here in Silicon Valley (San Francisco) you can make $128K/year. Lots of stress but all jobs include stock options in the company. On the east coast life is worse in this regard.

Kat Reply:

P – Thanks for coming by, I appreciate it. It is rather shocking, but you have to realize that the salaries I listed (especially for the men) are very above average, especially since they have no rent or mortgage thanks to their parents.

  Giannis wrote @ April 16th, 2008 at 11:38

Very interesting comments and articles, represent clearly the situation here in corrupted Greece… I could not agree more…

Kat Reply:

G – Nice of you to say so! :)

  Going Crunchy wrote @ April 20th, 2008 at 21:50

Great site! I’ve really enjoyed reading this article.

I’m a librarian and Youth Services Department Head in public libraries and I also teach college part time. Many of the reasons that you mentioned are ones that keep us from living in Greece, at least right now. I seriously doubt I could find a job there as they don’t really do what I do here.

We’ve thought in the future that we might move when we could open our own business.

I have brother and sister-in laws that are in maritime, theater and a lawyer. It is very much who you know in order to get things done- – -but they are all good at working the sytem. They raise it to a new art! Shannon

Kat Reply:

S – After 10 years, I now have the right connections, but I don’t really care to work them. We’ve done fine on our own. Owning a business was OK, but a lot of work and hassle for so little income — just not worth it. The main issue with my career is slightly different than yours in that I’ve plateaued (in GR, anyway) — there’s absolutely nowhere for me to be promoted to, which is the reason a few of my jobs have been in the UK and USA these past 2 years. I’m in my prime earning years, and it’s just time for me to go.

You’re so right about your job. There are no decent libraries here, and youth services are improving but still disorganized and underfunded. I highly doubt they would value you and everything you bring.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story!

  Paris wrote @ May 20th, 2008 at 05:19

I am Greek living in the USA in California since 1973 I have been visiting Greece every year, I have relatives there in Glyfada. I am going back to live there because I love the life style of people Greek people. Only a dumb American like you would put down Greece. Where can you find a little taverna to go with your friends by the water late in the evening especially in a full moon and eat there just a salad some fied fish or a souvlaki and return home at 2 or 3 in the morning. Life is so much more relaxed , people friendlier. Night life !!!!!! Every night especially spring or summer people are out in Cafeterias or little tavernas having fun. where as here in the states especially now with gasoline $4 a gallon you stay home watching stupid shows on TV. In Greece . transportation is such that you rarely use a car. I hate it when I hear or read people putung Greece down. Busses Metro Light rail train You can go evrywhere with a ticket of about $1 and very cheap TAXIS all over to go anywhere . If it is so bad why so many foreigners buy homes in Greece and go and live there?.

Kat Reply:

I’ll leave your comment to show people how funny you are, but name calling is unjustified and misdirected, especially since you saw fit to pass judgment on me after only reading 2 posts that were based on data from official stats and contained no opinion (gee, I hate listening to Greeks and the world criticize Americans all the live long day). I also encourage you to take a look at the people who criticize Greece on this post. Most of them are Greek and not American, so maybe you should apply the ‘dumb’ label elsewhere. At least I can spell.

You’ll find a very different reality here waiting for you, than the one you’ve got in your head about nightlife, tavernas and friendly people, which I can only assume was created from idyllic annual vacations, and not actually living or working here, nor doing any bureaucracy without your mommy and daddy’s help and money.

Home market isn’t doing as great as you say:
http://www.oriste.com/2008/05/19/greek-home-sweet-home/

Further, the majority of people don’t take public transport here (they DO use their cars) and $4 dollars a gallon (3.85 liters) in the USA is a lot cheaper than the 1.40-2.00 EUR per liter (3.85 x 1.40 EUR = 5.39 EUR/gallon, so $7-8/gallon) we’re paying for gas. Just a few examples of how out of touch you are with Greece. Good luck to you.

P.S. Are you sure you’re not living in New Jersey? That’s where your resident IP says you live, not California. Psemata.

  FMS wrote @ May 20th, 2008 at 11:06

If you don’t work, don’t live in the centre of Athens, don’t pay taxes and never need anything from the Greek state, then maybe your comments are reasonable, Paris. For the great majority of Greeks — other than unemployed young people living off their parents — life is hard. Much harder than in the USA. Did you discuss this with working Greeks in Greece? I suggest you do.

  2cv wrote @ May 20th, 2008 at 15:25

I am a greek-american and have been living in greece for 12 years. Although i have been fairly lucky (by greek standards) with employment (i make 1200euros, which as we know for greece is considered a good(!) salary) I feel the time has come for me to leave also. kat, you mentioned that your last few jobs have been in the UK or US; if i may ask, how did you find those jobs? i would like to find a job in the us before i leave, if that’s possible and was just wondering if you have any advice.

P.S. i have e a feeling that life in the states is also getting more difficult. here’s an interesting article
“(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: Just Being Middle Class Is Becoming out of Reach”
http://www.alternet.org/workplace/85858/?page=1

P.P.S. extremely helpful site…love to see you keep it going once back in the states!!

Kat Reply:

I know a lot of people who are leaving or have already left. This isn’t necessarily going to help you, but I was offered those jobs. They literally came to my doorstep. However, I think you know that an employer in the USA is going to want to interview you, so I’m not entirely sure you can find something before you leave GR unless it’s a telecommute or freelance job…or you know someone who would hire you without meeting you. Maybe you can start looking at job websites, placement agencies and newspaper classifieds in the area you intend to move, send CVs in advance, and hit the ground running.

I think life everywhere is more difficult, depending on who you are and what financial choices were made in recent years. The article you sourced does not apply to me or most people I know, though I realize some are suffering. Today I was looking at how one can get a fairly good home in the USA for only $220,000 (and dropping). To me, that’s great news!

P.S. I’m not going to the States. I’ve said that many, many times before, but I guess people believe what they want and assume that because I’m American, I must be returning to the USA — it’s not true.

  george wrote @ May 31st, 2008 at 22:20

Hi, I like to note anyone that has lived in Greece and the U.S knows your not going to make a lot of money in Greece working and maybe make some in the U.S. but to live in the U.S you work all the time and give up your life in living free and fun and if you work in Greece you wont be driving around in a leased mercedes and go shopping at the mall all day..well thats the old USA .If you like the simple life move to Greece if you like the material life stay in the states and work 60 hours a week and give %25 to uncle Sam and the rest for relentless bills the mail man brings us.If you own a home in Greece out right thats great if not Good luck..

  KT wrote @ June 6th, 2008 at 02:15

yeah George you are soooooooo right, I worked almost 65 hours a week in greece, had no day off, and was a machine. I woke up at 6 to be at work at 745 and came home at 9 -10 at night, only to return back to my house dead tired and go to bed…. I asked my boss for a day off (repo) and he laughed in my face!!!!

Hmmm lets see I work 40 hours a week in America , have weekends off, get paid on time, go to the gym, and get holiday/vacation time..yeah I’m really suffering!!! What is a simple life? A simple life depends on the individual. you dont have to drive a mercedes to live in America…my 95 toyota corolla serves me well thanks.. In fact, living in Greece is not as simple as you think, people are more focused on who drives a mercedes or who is wearing Diesel jeans or whatever…. Americans are more simple people. No one has the time to talk about what kind of car you drive or what youre wearing…. I’m glad I am out of Ellada, and I am not looking back at ALL!!!!!!!! I only feel bad for the good hard working Greeks who are stuck there making 700 euro and can’t make ends meet. (Ta ftoxadakia) BTW, having your own house in Greece wont help you that much ANYMORE…

  Vasiliki wrote @ June 13th, 2008 at 00:07

KT, you’re so right! I am Greek-born and living in Colorado. I have been to Greece many, many times (always Summer vacation). My sister moved back in 2006 to experience the “Greek-Life” and it’s been a struggle for her. She calls me and tells me about how a lot of people are so judgmental because she doesn’t have “name-brand” items. You’d think she was living in Beverly Hills! It’s really sad.

I myself have not had the opportunity to live in Greece (I have only vacationed there, and it is always awesome); however, just listening to the stories my sister tells me is enough!

She moved to Greece in 2006 and found a job 6 months later working at a retail store selling (you guessed it) high-end clothing. She was making minimum wage (about 660 Euros a month) and hating it. Greek ladies would come in and would hear her accent and call her “xena” or “xazi”. She would get so mad (we were both born in Greece, so my sister would let them have it). She later found a job at a casino in Greece, but they told her she had to go through a few weeks of “training” before they would consider hiring her. She quit her retail job, did her training, took a test and thankfully passed! After working there for 3 weeks or so, they laidoff everyone they hired. So, my sister has been unemployed for a few months now. Right when she found a job, she got her purse stolen and her CA driver’s license as well. So, she either has to drive illegally to her new job, ask someone for a ride to work, or come back to CA to get a new one. Sorry, I digressed there for a bit! My sister did tell me that with her job she gets almost a year of maternity leave! As a woman who is 7-months pregnany, I am very envious of that! She didn’t tell me if it was paid maternity leave or not…

Also, it seems the only way young-adults make it Greece is to live with their parents. I hadn’t met any unmarried, young-adult (ages 20-35) in Greece who had a place of their own (rented or not). They wait until they get married and then they move into the apartment above their parent’s home (which was also built by their parents).

Kat Reply:

Not all pregnancy leave is paid, and the payment dispersed is very nominal. Many women get fired when the boss finds they’re pregnant. It’s illegal, but many get away with it unless you file a claim at the epitheorisi or sue, and bringing a lawsuit is a lengthy and expensive process. And after all that, why would these women want their job back anyway? ;)

  KT wrote @ June 14th, 2008 at 04:37

Wow Vasiliki, your sisters story sounds like what most Greeks experience when they move back to Greece. A summer vacation is great, but the Greek reality is scary. The same things happened to all the Greek -American girls I met there. The Greeks motto is “Alvano Ergati and Rosida sto Krevati” An albanian worker and a russian in bed..pretty sad.

I dont know whats wrong with some people, but they are very close minded. I had some Greeks tell me “Bravo sou” for coming into a new country and figuring out how things work, and I also had people call me hazi as well because I didnt know something.. Who is perfect, right?? they like to make you feel stupid.. Of course I met a lot of Greeks who gave me the “Why the hell did you come here” speech, and they told me how much they envy Greek Americans (like me) because they come here and vacation all over the islands, while Greeks in Greece can’t make ends meet. Greece is for the rich.

As far as the pregnancy issue my cousin works for a really well known company in Athens, she had to sign some paper saying that she can’t have a 2nd child otherwise she would get fired. Greece is one messed up country and sometimes when I watch the news I am ashamed… Hopefully things will work out for your sister..

  Vasiliki wrote @ June 17th, 2008 at 01:26

WOW, I can’t believe that your friend has to sign a paper that she can’t have a second child or else she will get fired. You know, I tried telling my dad about a lot of the conversations that we’ve been having on this site and he is in denial. It’s really sad how a lot of our parents who have moved to the US (ironically, to find better work) still have this idealized, Utopian image of Greece in their minds. They still think everything is how it was before they left (we left Greece in 1980…a lot has changed in 28 years). Certain people read this and say that everyone is exaggerating. These stories are too insane to be made up. I am sorry, you need quite an imagination to make any of this up. The reality of the job market in Greece is much harsher that a lot of people understand.

In 2003 I went to Greece and spent three weeks of bliss there. I met a young man and thought: “wouldn’t it be great to move here? I could get my Master’s in Business and find a great job.” Then I spoke to a cousin of mine who was telling me her issues: She, unfortunately, has a vagina (her words, not mine). Yep, women are not coveted in the workforce. She told me she is very lucky to still have her job because she is considered “too old” to be working and that once her looks “fade” she will probably be unemployed. He boss kept asking her: “what is wrong with you? Why are you not married?” I was baffled, so I did some research on schools and jobs. I am glad I didn’t let my heart take over my head. And I have no regrets! If I were rich, I would live in Greece from May to September! It’s a beautiful country with rich culture, but I am too liberal and too independent to deal with the never-ending double standards.

Kat Reply:

I get the feeling that you and I could probably talk for hours about many topics, judging by this comment alone (never mind the others you’ve left). My friend P in NYC is convinced that it’s Utopia here as well, forgetting why his parents made a fast exodus decades ago to give him the life he now enjoys — house, well-paid job, working wife with well-paid job, two cars, community, lots of activities, two beautiful kids with no worries. He credits me with reviving his Hellenism, but I find that an uncomfortable designation because my life is not a paradise, heavily burdened with bureaucracy, and my fiance and I do not enjoy anywhere near the life he imagines. He still thinks it’s cheap to live here!

I’m sure some people read what I write and think I’m exaggerating, but I don’t see where I’d get the time to do that. Further, I tone down a lot of excerpts from my life, so imagine what the whole truth might be.

You’re a very smart person for using both your head and heart, which is the same thing I said to my friend in SF when she broke it off with a man here. She could see he wasn’t leaving GR because he owns a house and business here, and she wasn’t willing to give up her career or great life in CA to come be a pseudo housewife or work a menial, unrewarding job for peanuts. There are lots of men/women in this world, and I don’t believe there is only one soul mate.

As you might have read, I (for years) was asked why I wasn’t married and why can’t I find a man to support me. Jeez, as if a woman can’t have a brain, life, goals and accomplishments of her own.

  alexia wrote @ June 26th, 2008 at 00:50

Unfortunately you are right! i am greek-american citizen but i live in Greece for the last 25 years..Greece is great if your parents have a lot of money and you don’t have to work.i have a bachelor in history and i am moving to uk or usa for a master because it is too difficult to find a job here.i would also like your advises what the best jobs-salary based-that i can do if i choose the right master orientation.thank you the site tells tha truth!

Kat Reply:

Alexia, thank you for stopping by. In my humble opinion, your work should be based on your interests and talent and not what I, your parents or anyone else says. Why? Because if you do not enjoy it, you will become tired and bored over time. If you do something you love, your enthusiasm grows, your reputation as someone who does it well will become known, and promotions and money will follow. It is not necessary to have a master’s to find a good job with a good salary in the UK or USA, but it really depends on the field you choose.

  KT wrote @ July 6th, 2008 at 01:55

Kat is a modern day philosopher who is absolutely right about the things she said about Greece and in life in general. And anyone commenting here knows exactly what they are talking about. Greece is not the utopian paradise that Greek living abroad think they left behind decades ago. Things have changed some things are better, and some are far worse…
Anywhere you live is going to get boring after a while, it’s up to you to make yourself happy. Just saying a place is boring makes you look stupid for not being able to find things to do, and there are a lot of more things to do in the States than in Greece. Besides the cafeterias , clubs, and bars there is not much to do in Greece. Try asking a young person to go hiking or biking in the mountains and they will laugh in your face. I know because I tried to get my cousins and friends to join the hiking club, the hellenic rescue team, and even to take night classes, they just laughed and told me “Albanians and tourists do that stuff”. I didn’t want to watch my life pass me by, drinking a frappe forever, so I left.
I did not want to end up like those Greek-Americans who end up living in Greece and being miserable for the rest of their lives, because they regret their decision about staying in Greece. And year and year they see the Greek-Americans come vacation and are filled with jealousy and envy, because they can’t even make ends meet in Greece . (believe me I have seen enough of my family members. No matter what you will always compare the good America, Canada, had to the shit Greece has to offer you)
Greece is a beautiful country, with lots of history, and it could be a great country to live in , if only Greeks work together and focus on making Greece better before it completely falls apart. Sometimes I think about Greece and I start crying, the truth is that I miss it, the weekends in my village, the beach, the food, and all my relatives are there and I have no one here in the States, but I can’t survive on a 600euro salary, and I can’t expect my parents to buy me a house, a car, a scooter, a cell phone, whatever I want until I’m 40 and ready to settle down. I am the opposite of my boyfriend who thinks his parents owe him everything, and it just bothers me so much that he thinks they are supposed to sell every single land property they have in Greece so he can live a good life here in America until he moves back, and again they are the ones who will pay for his house when he gets married. Greeks make fun of Americans, but the truth is that Greeks are the money hungry ones because they are the ones who focus on brand names, and expensive cars, and lifestyle, an American can be happy with the small things in life, whether its a shitbox car that takes you from point A to point B, to a bargain he or she got at an outlet. Anyway, I hope for Greece’s sake things change.

I’m heading to San Diego in 5 weeks, and if it’s anything like the Greek climate I will consider a move there…This crappy New England weather is bothering me and I dont know if I can get used to it. It’s depressing me .. keep up the articles …they are very useful, I find it less stressful to read your website, than trying to keep up with Niko Evangelato lol…

Kalo kalokairi to everyone!!!!!

  Nektarios wrote @ October 16th, 2008 at 00:11

Hi Kat,

Your blog/website is a treasure. I discovered it 3 hours ago and I cannot stop reading. I lived in Greece until the age of 21, then 7 years in the States and a year now in the UK. This is what I learned:

Greece is mostly a loving parent for her biological children and abusive for the adopted.

The US is mostly a loving parent for all of her children and can be abusive for other peoples’ children

In Greece, I feel abused and loved, in the States I feel guilty and safe.

Both places I feel angry.

Kat Reply:

Hello! Interesting. Thank you for your kind words and saying ‘hi.’ My fiance is in love with the USA based on a single month-long trip and stories from a U.S. diplomat’s son, but I tell him this is not the same as living there and he’s fooling himself (I’m going to read him your comment). I identify with your last two sentences, though in my case I’m mostly abused in GR and the love is only from my side, and I feel annoyed in both places. This is the reason I want to leave Greece, but do not want to return to the USA.

  Nektarios wrote @ October 17th, 2008 at 00:57

You do feel the love though. You feel your love from your fiance, who carries a big part of Greece within him.

There is a major difference between Greece and the States:
In Greece the things that you are angry with, make your life harder

In the States the things you are angry with, make your life better.
This is what I call the A/C phenomenon: Many of my colleagues in the States had this horrible habit of leaving the A/C on all weekend so that their office would be cool Monday morning.
This indeed makes their Monday morning better, but what about the planet?
Many examples like that: Big cars, exploitation of children labour, wars, immigration, racism.

Going to the States, after having lived in Greece, I always felt like a spoiled kid. I was always curious what people in the States do with their guilt. I guess shopping, eating, obsessing with work and money helps. It’s a good way to keep your mind busy. My American flatmate in the States said: “I know that Bush went to war for no reason and many people died because of it, but democrats always raise taxes which means less money in my pocket for investments”.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the US. I miss it way too much. But no matter how good my life was there everytime I went on a shopping spree, or received my paycheck I felt like I was doing something bad.

Do you necessarily have to feel this guilt if you move back to the States? No you don’t. But you need to work for it. Just tell people to turn off their A/C. Speak up. You know better now. And if I judge from your blog you’re really good at it.

Maybe you should move to the UK

  laki wrote @ November 6th, 2008 at 03:13

I’m a 100% Greek who left the country 11 years ago and moved to the UK to live & work. I was 31 when I left and thanks to the flexibility of the British education system & job market I have managed to retrain and get a well paid job. I think that this was the best decision I have ever made, and I do not regret it.

I was lucky because my wife was British and she helped me alot in the early years. She lived with me for 7 years in Greece and in the end she had enough. She was very excited when she first arrived to live with me, but very happy and relieved when I finaly agreed to go and live with her in the UK.

I left my country because I could not stand the corruption, favouratism, nepotism and unfairness. People who work very hard and are honest are considered to be idiots, whereas people who cheat and take advantage of the system are considered to be smart and admirable!

I could not operate in a culture like this, I had enough. We owned a Frontistirio (private english language school) and when we decided to leave the country we put it on the market. We found a buyer who was also a frontistirio owner, but we could not complete the transaction because a new local directive was not allowing any private schools in our area. I could not believe it because we were already operating under a valid licence and if we decided to stay there would not be a problem; but of course we wanted to sell the business! I went to see the relevant council authority but with no luck… In the end, I managed to sell only the desks and chairs…

Those things are only happening in Greece….

I really love my country and I am quite defensive when people make negative comments, but the truth needs to be told and things need to change!

It is sad to read from your comments that after 11 years nothing has changed…

When I visit Greece in the summer people ask me, “How can you live in England? it rains there all the time and that British people do not know how to have a good time.”

Sod the rain! I’d rather live in a country where I can have respect and recognition than live somewhere where my full potential will never be realised or recognised.

Kat Reply:

Laki – Welcome and thank you for sharing your story. It’s a story I hear often and one that will be repeated in my life quite soon, so you and your wife and I and my fiance have a lot in common.

My male counterpart long ago had a dream to become a teacher or special counselor to help the autistic, but because there are no universities for this in Greece and his family was not wealthy enough to send him abroad and could not otherwise find another way out, he never lived out his dream. He eventually took a professional job in his 30s, but it ended up being more hours and paid less money than being a server/barista — a path he originally followed because of his father — so he went back to being a barista. There’s a part of him that wonders how different his life could have been or how many families he could have helped if he’d been born somewhere else, and now (like you) he’s just happy that I’ve come along (like your wife) and will help him get out.

With the world about to open for him, he finds it daunting but exciting to have choices for the first time in his life, without need for connections, kissing someone’s a$$, working alongside slackers/liars or worrying about whether he’s going to be paid at the end of the month. And for the first time in 11 years, I will finally be going back to a sane professional life where I will be valued, promoted on merit and wake up excited about my job instead of filled with dread.

Plus, as you can testify, we’ll have decent salaries to escape whatever rain or stormy weather comes our way and not have to worry about how much we spend on vacation or if we can afford one at all.

We both love this country, but we love ourselves more. We cannot continue to sacrifice our lives and careers, so loving this patrida from afar is the only solution. Clubs, cafes, bouzouki and beaches are not exclusive to Greece, and plenty of people all over the world know how to have a great time and have the money to do it.

I tell the truth not because I hate this country as many believe, but because I love this country and want it to be better.

I’m really happy for you, and I hope you’ll leave a comment on a future post if the mood strikes you. :)

  tak wrote @ December 1st, 2008 at 00:50

Hi Kat

Just found your site today and wanted to say thank you!
Also thanks to you all for sharing your stories.

I used to have a Greek boyfriend for few years and we spoke about these things but these stories extend it all.
I have never considered moving to Greece, doesn’t fit my scandinavian mentality ;) Yet it’s always interesting to learn about different ways of life.

While reading your stories, i brought some past incidents and conversations to my mind.

Laki wrote: “I could not stand the corruption, favouratism, nepotism and unfairness. People who work very hard and are honest are considered to be idiots, whereas people who cheat and take advantage of the system are considered to be smart and admirable! ”

These were the most difficult things for me to accept, and they were very visible -even to a visitor .

I heard about an English journalist who worked in Greece for many years. When he returned to England his last words were ‘Greece has broken me financially, emotionally and spiritually’.

Keep the spirits up, ok? :)

Kat Reply:

Hi Tak,

I think many people are blind to reality, and you saw them because you are not. Thanks for your good words and wishes! :)

  Manolis (Mitch) wrote @ February 9th, 2009 at 21:45

Kat, thank you for the terrific information on this website that has helped me so much. Hearing all these stories and thinking about my own experiences has helped me gain a sense of relief and confidence for the thoughts of this kind in my own mind. I am also an American citizen by birth and of Greek parents. My aging dad, married sister and countless relatives live in Greece, and my 2 brothers and an uncle live in the USA. In summer 2006, I decided to move to Greece to be closer to my dad and sister and for a change of pace. I lived in Greece from age 3 to 9 and I only vacationed in Greece 2 times after that. I had a career in IT in the USA for about 17 years, and it was great until 9/11 2001 when I was coming home from a meeting I was 5 miles from the pentagon when it got hit (by whatever). 6 months later I was laid off and as so many of us in that situation times were tough. I managed to get by, since i had saved up and owned 2 homes with some equity and did odd jobs to get by for 4 years.

My Greek came back to me fast even though I had not spoken it much in many years and I adapted to life here quickly. I have obtained (at some great length) my Greek / EU citizenship and I like the added options this gives me for opportunities on both continents going forward.

Now that I better understand what life is like here it gives me a better perspective about life in general. I wish more Americans would travel outside to get this as well. Now I am looking at how I can start an import/export business (any info you all may have is certainly welcomed) so I can enjoy both Greece/EU and the USA and all they both have to offer.

Kat Reply:

Many thanks to you also for contributing your comments and stories. I managed to keep my job after 9/11, but I did not have the fortune of owning two homes or having family here in Greece to tide me over when I moved. This can help a lot in the transition. Most of what I know about starting/maintaining/closing a business is located at “How to start a business in Greece,/u>.” In the future, I may add other articles, but I simply don’t have time right now. In the meantime, I hope that sets you in the right direction.

  Leova wrote @ November 3rd, 2009 at 07:20

Hi Kat! I’m a Mexican woman. I have read most of your posts about bureaucracy in Greece. It has been shocking!!

Im planning to travel to Thessaloniki in January 2010. I fell in love with a Greek and ur information has been very useful to face the ugly truth about aspiring to live in Greece. For a moment I thought i could have some advantages versus Greek citizens: I’m a Chemist and I have a M.Sc. degree. I work on food safety and preventing the food spoilage. And to be honest i also thought that all these stories were like an American curse, and by being latin my story could be different. Unfortunately I realized that I could only work (with luck) as a waitress, maid, cooker, etc…or with a lucky shot a spanish teacher.

I just wanna say THANK U for ur valuable information and for sharing ur life experience.

Greetings from México!!!

Kat Reply:

Hi Leova,

What a beautiful name!

I don’t want people to think they can only be maids, language teachers and food service staff. My point is employment and salaries for Greeks and non-Greeks alike are variable and not at a western or EU standard, so it shouldn’t be expected to work that way and women shouldn’t be surprised by discrimination. I’ve been very fortunate to stay in my field, but I did make some sacrifices along the way that did not involve compromises in principles, connections or illicit behavior.

Please understand that you could very well come here and have a wonderful career in your field of choice, just remember that Greece has 10 percent the population of Mexico so the diversity and availability of job opportunities will be limited. At least you will have someone here to help you; I was alone. That’s something.

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and share your story. Visit again! :)

  Mimika wrote @ June 16th, 2010 at 01:34

Hi! I am a Greek, living in Sweden. I read your blog about Greek salaries. I wonder if the amount is with or without taxes. In Sweden, when somebody tells you about her/his salary the always say the salary including the taxes. And as you maybe know the taxes here are rather high. This makes it difficult to compare the salaries because Greeks say the net amount (no taxes) of money they earn.

Here you can see some tax tables (shows how much we pay in taxes depending on how much we earn) http://www.skatteverket.se/

We can take an example a secretary or a cook salary starts from 11.000 kr and they have to pay taxes for 2.142 kr, which leaves 8.858 kr (about 885 euro). An one room apartment costs at least 4.500 kr (450 euro), a bus ticket costs at least 30 kr (3 euro), 1 kg bread costs from 45 kr and up (4,5 euro), 1 l milk costs 9,5 kr (about 1 euro).

As you understand it is not easy to live here either.

Kat Reply:

The funny thing is people here have no hesitation to inquire about your salary and make comments if you disclose it, but they are secretive and offended if you ask about theirs. Most people quote net, some quote gross, some outright lie depending on the situation, i.e., avoid suspicion of tax evasion, brag about how rich they are, create sympathy. Most people will claim they pay taxes, but it’s estimated that only 20 percent of the population actually do. All of this makes it difficult to compare anything.

I used to live in Stockholm, and last year stayed in an apartment and bought my own food, lived a normal life and have several friends living there, so I am familiar with taxes, salaries, quality of life and how much things cost. My friends have no problem quoting gross or net. To compare Sweden or anywhere with Greece using cost and salaries alone isn’t the best way to understand if life is easy or hard.

Using two elements you mentioned as examples:

a) Cost to rent an apartment: I rent a two-bedroom apartment in Athens that is the same age and approximately the same in square meters as the apartment my friends live in Stockholm. If you only look at rent, they’re the same. But the details are very different.
– Their apartment is designed by a licensed architect, properly insulated (soundproof/weatherproof) and built to code; the construction details of our apartment are questionable. It’s less expensive for them to maintain and heat/cool their home.
– The elevator in their building accommodates two strollers or a wheelchair; ours is small and couldn’t accommodate anyone in a wheelchair & caused us to pay more moving costs via a machine hooked to our balcony.
– Their building has a recycling center and secure mailboxes downstairs, is in a forested area with walking paths, and it’s always clean and there are no extra costs because it’s built into their rent. Our home has none of these things, and we pay extra monthly costs (kinochrista) for things we don’t use.
– Their Internet connection is twice as fast and half the cost of ours, in fact the fastest speed available to us in Athens is “the slow one” for them.

b) Cost of a bus/metro (T-bana) ticket: Cost of a ticket may only be 1 euro in Athens, but we are subject to frequent strikes (like right now), the schedule is flexible, and the heat/air conditioning may not be working. Today in Thessaloniki where bus fare was recently raised, passengers had to ride without air conditioning so it was 50C/122F inside. This is not a rare event; it happens every summer. I would gladly pay more money for a ticket if I knew my bus/metro/trolley would operate, follow a schedule, not cause me to car pool/walk/pay extra for a taxi so I can get to work on time and not endanger my job, and I could be treated like a human being.

I understand residents of Sweden aren’t happy about paying a lot of taxes, but at least you are getting something for them with regard to quality education, competent hospitals, green areas, job training programs, respect…I could go on but won’t. Everywhere in the world can be hard for someone to live; I never said otherwise. My readers and I simply state how things are in Greece based on experience and those we know, the data available, and facts I can verify.

Thank you for your comment.

  Greece_writer wrote @ June 25th, 2010 at 18:10

Hi, sorry this is not really related to the post itself, but I’m just wondering whether you have any advice about the possibility of writing for English language publications in Greece? I currently work in journalism in the UK but would like to move to Greece

Thanks for the site, it is a great resource.

Kat Reply:

There are very limited opportunities at English-language publications simply because there are so few of them. Most journalism positions have no turnover, there have been mass layoffs and no growth (even before the economic downturn), and all of them demand you have extensive knowledge of Greece or can speak/read/write Greek because research and interviews require it. Most freelancers working for publications outside Greece are supported by another job, their parents or a partner/spouse.

I regret I cannot give you more information. As a journalist and editor, I have a policy against disclosing information about past, current and future employers.

  Greek salaries and you | skopelosnews wrote @ October 31st, 2013 at 08:26

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