Living in Greece

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

Pros and cons of Athens in August


In Greece and many countries in the world, August is a dead month.

There are no job fairs, no abundance of flats for rent and no students starting a new semester of school. In the United States, these things are typically in full swing with the expectation of fall — companies want new workers settled into new positions by September, property renovations are complete for new tenants, and many start school by mid-August to allow a month’s break in winter.

In Athens and Thessaloniki, residents slowly take their exodus to islands and villages, and big streets like Vas. Sofias are nearly empty* by the Dormition of the Theotokos, and incidents of illegal racing and car stunts make headlines.

*With austerity and unemployment now at 27.8 percent, cities are now less empty.

What’s hot

For me, the best part is everything I mention in “Give me a break!” comes close to a screeching silence.

Dogs have gone to bark in the village, kids scream in someone else’s yard, doors slam, forks clink-clink and people gossip on balconies elsewhere, the man next door is farting in his stone house on Crete, and the rude dudes who talk in full voice at 3:00 a.m. are under some other poor sap’s window. Karpouzia trucks and paliatzi scavengers only come around once a week. You didn’t think they’d go away completely, did you?

Add to that ample parking, neighbors don’t steal my magazine, no dirty water from above falling on my clean window, less garbage on the street, less grids catching fire to thwart our ADSL, and it’s nearly a decent neighborhood! There are also fewer interruptions, so I get more work done.

What’s not

Of course the cons of a mass exodus are obvious — it’s slim pickings.

Buses and trolleys are on a skeletal schedule, which means it’s just as crowded and odorous.

Chain stores are open with dour looking employees to tolerate you. But the good manabis has left, our favorite guys at the laiki are missing, the periptero is closed, there’s a dearth of Greek news, and the second-rate bakeries we usually ignore year round get our patronage for a few days until they also abandon ship.

Then there’s the matter of takeaway for my Greek counterpart. He came home at 23:00 one night wanting food and found the souvlaki, pizza, Mexican and Chinese places all closed. This impacts me because he cannot cook, so that means I sweat it out in our lovely 35°C kitchen (thankfully we’ve since moved). 🙁

The worst part is many people leave behind their pets. Our ex-landlord left food for his dog, but we took it upon ourselves to refill his water and let him inside to escape the burning sun. His fate is unknown after we moved, and now all I see are panting kittens around the neighborhood and howling dogs on balconies.

Now it’s a countdown. Two days until the souvlaki guys come back, three days until the manabis returns and seven days until we say adios to August! Unfortunately, many of my neighbors have returned. How do I know? The noise is once again interminable.

Pros and cons of living in Greece

Should I move to Greece?
Benefits of living abroad

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  Tsevdos John wrote @ August 24th, 2007 at 10:40

Don’t you know the greek joke that “If someones dies during August, he’ll be buried in September!”… So tragic, yet so true…

  graffic wrote @ August 24th, 2007 at 12:15

Nice description, I’d like to add some things.

In the last two weeks of august I found lot of job offers (in IT). It seems that after the holidays the companies want freash meat to squeeze until dead (The last ones were fired after they went on vacations).

During the first two weeks of august I was able to walk in the middle of the streets. There were no cars 😛 I like that… go to buy some books and no one there.

About the buses… yes, you can wait 20 minutes and that is not much time (the people say).

Now the city is covered by a grey cloud/mist… I don’t know how to describe it. More and more cars, and more and more malakes arround 😛

Now shower time!!!!!!!

Kalh mina (for september)

  dealsend wrote @ August 24th, 2007 at 16:13

Athens can be really beautiful this period of time.

  Kat wrote @ August 25th, 2007 at 13:05

JT – So true! Note to myself, “don’t die in August if in Greece.”

G – Hmm, job opportunities.

DE – I agree, it’s the best time to be in Athens.

  melusina wrote @ August 26th, 2007 at 02:34

To me, it is the best time to be in the city. And our favorite pizza place stayed open so all was well for us (and for them, because a couple of our other normal take-out places were closed).

AND…there are places to park, which has been of great concern to my husband since he has started to drive. But soon we’ll have our own driveway all the time.

  Kat wrote @ August 26th, 2007 at 10:57

Hi Mel! Glad to hear you had somewhere to go. It’s a ghost town here.

We’re lucky to have a driveway with 2 parking places, but it’s still nice to see the streets empty. In the old neighborhood, my fiance drove around for an hour or more and people hated visiting us for the same reason. You’re going to love having parking.

  Peny wrote @ August 15th, 2008 at 11:32

A year from the initial post I have to add:

Don’t get a toothache in August. Your dentist is out of town, your friends dentist is out of town and while calling everyone you know with a face swollen the size of the watermellon you find that ALL dentists are out of town. There is of course the trainee at IKA which seems to be my only option right now.

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