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 27.8 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 October 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. 😀

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. 😀

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

  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.

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