Living in Greece

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

Consumers pay nearly double for basics in Greece compared to other EU nations

euro-notes-ncsrie.jpgAre things expensive in Greece? Well, I suppose it depends on where you’re from and how much money you have.

Six months ago, I published Mercer’s comprehensive cost of living ranking of popular cities around the world, with Athens jumping 30 places in one year to #29. With this knowledge, it’s difficult to understand how this country manages to meet the EU inflation index of 3 percent per year unless it’s fudging stats, and it’s well known that salaries have not increased on par with real inflation.

A short time later, I published my Greece vs. USA price comparison, using Athens (#29) and the higher ranked, more costly city of Manhattan, New York (#15). The survey used the same name brand products at comparable stores in comparable neighborhoods and followed a number of strict rules that favored Athens (sale prices, bulk, local products) and was heavily biased against NYC (no sale prices, no bulk, using imports that cost more). Athens was still more expensive.

Granted the euro is stronger than the dollar, but it didn’t explain why Athens jumped 30 places and ranked higher than other EU cities that fluctuated little on the cost of living survey and maintained high quality of living.

Finally, the Consumers’ Protection Center in Greece confirms my findings.

Greek prices almost double compared to other EU nations


“Figures made public yesterday suggest that Greek consumers are paying up to almost 200 100 percent more for basic foodstuffs than shoppers in other parts of Europe.

A survey carried out by the Consumers’ Protection Center (KEPKA) and the Piraeus Prefecture indicates that Greeks are paying between 13 and 194 94 percent more than residents of Brussels for a wide range of products.

For example, a liter of milk costs an Athenian an average of €1.34 euros but it can be purchased in Brussels for just 71 cents. Supermarkets in Athens charge €3.82 for a 400-milliliter bottle of shampoo, but a shopper can pick one up for only €2.39 in the Belgian capital.

Rising prices have caused the government concern as well since the inflation rate increased to 3.9 percent last month, its highest level since September 2005.

The Piraeus Prefecture found that the prices of fruit and vegetables have increased by between 16 and 58 percent this year, while the cost of other basic foodstuffs has gone up by 8 to 25 percent.

Dairy products, bread and pasta have seen the biggest increases. Rises in the price of milk and flour on world markets are seen as being mainly to blame for these hikes.

There does not seem to be any relief in sight for Greek consumers as food firms have already informed the Development Ministry that they intend to increase the price of more than 100 products by up to 18 percent next year.”

This was further confirmed with another article on May 17, “Cost of Living Hits European High in Greece, especially food items” after my article was plagiarized on May 3, 2008.

Inflation comparison

I and the same people who participated in the Greece vs. USA comparison did an Athens vs. Athens price comparison to determine inflation — using the same name brand products from the same stores in the same municipalities — comparing prices in June 2007 to December 2007.

People can then see the rate of increase for themselves at “Athens, Greece: Real inflation in 6 months,” before the next 18 percent increase takes effect in the first quarter of 2008.

* Strikethoughs of Kathimerini’s text are corrections to their calculations, rightly confirmed by Martin of

Note: Don’t shoot the messenger.

Related posts

Cost of living vs. quality of living in Greece
Minimum salaries vs. cost of living of EU countries

Photo from


  λ:ηρ wrote @ December 19th, 2007 at 23:29

I am glad that a Greek source is now available to back up your findings. I remember that you were attacked by doubting Thomases about your methodology and your findings and it must feel good to have a domestic source confirming your observations.

Prices are a two-fold mystery: (a) how/why are prices increasing and (b) how can people continue to afford the situation?

I recently looked at prices of digital point-and-shoot cameras in Greece. I know that a digital camera is not a basic food item but it’s quite a commodity gadget for many households.

The difference in prices was astounding. The Lumix FZ18 which hardly costs €200 in the US, is sold for over €450 in Athens. That’s over 125% difference and it cannot be justified by taxes and tariffs alone.

Imported Greek wine costs in Chicago just as much as it costs in Greece! I am talking about quality winery products such as Ktima Hadjimichali etc, which is heavily hit by alcohol tariffs and import taxes.

I just don’t get it. Perhaps I’ll head out tonight to the local Greek restaurant here where I could get a fresh tsipoura (bass), nicely grilled, for €12 and mull over the inflation issue drinking a bottle of Vivlia Chora Chardonnay (restaurant priced at €19.50) with my friend Yiorgos.

(Euro prices based on dollar valued at €0.69)

  Kat wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 01:10

Leo – So glad to see you here again! :) Indeed, I was criticized quite badly, but I know that tends to happen when the “source” isn’t Greek; the worst critics were people who didn’t live here, so one must consider their credibility to speak on the subject.

Your example of the camera is a good one. I purchased a Sony digital camera for the sale price of 429 euros in Greece, a camera that costs 207 euros regular price in the USA. But I was backed into a corner because I needed the camera immediately for a trip and things sent from the USA sometimes don’t make it here due to looting by the post office, customs, neighbors.

I won’t address why prices are high because M and M both did excellent jobs to explain that. However, I’ll tell you that average people such as my fiance and I aren’t doing so well with increased inflation. I wasn’t left an inheritance, my fiance doesn’t have a house coming to him (his father is living in it) and we take pride in paying our own way with slightly above average salaries. IF we didn’t have rent, I can see how much easier it would be, but then if we had children, I wouldn’t. So how do we afford it? We change brands (1.50 juice to a .76 generic), accept meat from his butcher uncle in the village and don’t buy anything we don’t really need (ice cream, junk food). We also use supplies we purchased in America for half the price and have things like soap/shampoo sent to us in bulk from the USA, which comes out a lot cheaper even when factoring in postage. i.e. Biodegradable handmade soap is 1.30 euros per 6 oz. bar (without postage, it was .95 euros per bar). There isn’t a comparable size bar of quality here, but the closest costs 2.59 euros (double) per bar and is smaller than 6 oz.

We really can’t cut back any further, as we both take public transportation, only have one car (2004 Toyota) and live modestly already. Neither of our salaries increased to keep pace with the real rate of inflation.

  FMS wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 02:19

The Greek inflation figures are a fraud and have been faked since the runup to entering the Euro. That Greek university-based economists do not conduct independent research on this, and challenge the government lies, is an indication of how little you should believe of any official or academic data on Greece.

  menneke wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 11:06

As usual, the situation is a bit more complex and maybe difficult to comprehend for rational minds like those found in Americans and north-western Europeans…

FMS is of course right about his assessment on the official data. No need to expand on that. λ:ηρ also asks 2 good questions ((a) how/why are prices increasing and (b) how can people continue to afford the situation?) but omits a more (imho) interesting one: WHY do people continue to accept these price hikes?

The answer to that question hinges on an understanding of the Greek psyche: (1) it is considered very rude to directly question or criticize anybody. This is a very unfortunate societal aspect that will prohibit Greece from progressing. In the 5 years that I have lived here (in Iraklio, Crete) I have never ever heard anyone do that, and I have had numerous discussions with highly educated people that flat out told me “we can not do that, it’s not permitted” (using these exact words). (2) misplaced pride: people won’t react or protest because they’re afraid other people will perceive them as not being able to afford these prices. Don’t make mistakes (even if you are a Greek abroad): this runs very deep in this society. “What would the neighbors think if I went on record over such futility as a rise of 15 cents for a loaf of bread?”. In the meantime this loaf of bread went from 65 cents to 75 cents to 85 cents to 90 cents in just 2 years in my neighborhood. And the same people are returning to the same shop to buy that loaf of bread. The same goes for milk, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, coffee, you name it. And finally (3) lack of a sense of monetary value since the advent of the euro. Before the euro a Greek would not go out on the street without a half an inch thick bundle of banknotes loose in his trousers’ pockets. Those were drachmes of course. Before the euro no self-respecting Greek would pick up the coins in the change he got after a purchase. Now we have the euro. Coins still have little or no value and our Greek still walks out the door with his pocket filed with banknotes. Euro banknotes this time. The smallest of those is 5 euros, approximately US$7 and almost the equivalent of 2000 drachmes. He spends these notes as if they were 500 drachmes notes, just enough to pay for his frappé…

Now, a highly conjectural and opinionated (as if the previous wasn’t) attempt at answering the 2 questions of λ:ηρ: (a) greed, pure and simple. Apart from all other pleasant aspects of the Greeks, they appear to me to be the most egocentric, greedy and “unfullfillable” beings I’ve ever come across in any nation (and I’ve lived and worked in a few). I know, I know, they’re also the most hospitable, charitable, emotionally pure, warmhearted and friendly people. I call that “the Greek paradox”. You often will find BOTH, not only within society, but in one and the same person. When making money is concerned they are the former foremost. It suffices that 1 shop raises the price (maybe because they upscale their business or because they think they can get away with it, knowing their patronage) for all the surrounding shopkeepers without exception to do the same. The mechanism mentioned under (1) (2) and (3) then kicks in. That’s the how and why prices are increasing. (b) the plain fact submerges that Greek people have much more money than what their government manages them to admit to (i.e. taxes them for). They appear to have very very deep pockets. Don’t judge them by their appearance because they don’t give a damn about that, but their coffers are filled to the rim. And they all complain about hardship and lack of money too. Go figure.

I love this country though and I can only hope that I will continue to be able to afford it, because my yiayia is not around to occasionally (let alone regularly) and secretively sneak a bundle of banknotes into my hand…

Να είστε καλά.

  Kat wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 12:41

FMS – I hoped you’d be back for this post. There are many who suspect the stats are fixed, but I suppose it’s difficult to uncover evidence to support that unless on the inside.

Menneke – Hello and welcome! I’m glad you posted today and wrote out everything in such detail. I have little to add because you expressed yourself so well and in full.

Greed: My fiance explained the concept of ‘greed’ as someone who doesn’t care about repeat business, just someone who thinks he’s clever enough to gauge a consumer for everything or force prices up at competitors, thus the consumer has no choice but to pay that price. Even the seasonal sales are fixed, with many retailers doubling the original price, then slashing it in half to pretend it’s a sale.

Pride vs. Stupidity: This is a very important element of why things won’t change. I read on someone else’s site that Greeks don’t complain about expensive prices because they “don’t want to give others the impression they can’t afford it and don’t want to look poor.” That’s why used bookstores, used CD stores, garage sales and reselling are so unpopular — people don’t want to admit or show they can’t afford a new one, even though the used one is perfectly good and half off. So instead, they pay 7 euros for a coffee or 100 euros for a mediocre unfulfilling meal and 400 euros for a camera. But isn’t this ironic? Because then he just gets more poor and is stupid on top of it because my experience is that people think whatever they want of you and gossips no matter how much you prove otherwise.

Hidden wealth: Not everyone has an olive grove or extra cash, I know that. I suppose those that are well-to-do, connected, accepting bribes and entrepreneurs can hide their money, but how does the average person do that without the cooperation of his employer? The majority of people I’ve known these last 10 years don’t have money sitting around (though are well dressed, well spoken, claim to be rich, have all the toys, etc.) and have come to me for loans in private. And I socialize in a full range of circles…well, except the corrupt ones.

  The Scorpion wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 13:23

I’d like to add to menneke’s comment about the Greek “foolish pride”.

In Greece, I’ve seen it’s not “UNCOMMON” for a Greek to buy something at a cheaper store, and then brag to ME or others that they bought it from NAME BRAND BOUTIQUE STORE and it cost this much.

By contrast, most Americans would think you a fool, and say, “Well, you paid too much, I got the same thing at WALMART for >>>>>.” An American might buy something at an expensive store and feel the need to say he got it from a cheaper store so he doesn’t seem FULL OF HIMSELF.

Greeks inflate their wealth and most Americans try to deflate their wealth.

Sure, there are exceptions but PRETENTIOUS is word that describes many Greeks to a “T”…..

  Yianni wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 13:39

Coca cola in Greece: 1.20 Euro = $2.00 Canadian.
$2.00 Canadian = 2 and sometimes 3 Coca colas in Canada.

– Most common full time position income in Greece: 650 euro per month aprx. 3.40 euro per hour (slave wage LOL) = $4.89 CNDN per hour (Canadian minimum wage back in the early 80s)
– $4.89 per hour in Canada = jail time for your employer! $8.50 /hour is now the minimum.

What I am trying to say is I have noticed that you make half the money here in Greece than you would make in North America but you have to pay double or more for the same products. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to last here. I’m starting to miss Canada, but unfortunately only for economic reasons. It would be a shame to leave such a beautiful place and the woman I love just to go back to Canada for financial reasons. I’m trying to give it a chance, but I’m not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

  FMS wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 16:09

The problem is that Greece is not a proper capitalist economy: it is somewhere between feudal and marxist, although I simplify with that explanation. In my view, there are several reasons for it:
(1) Greece never had an economy and throughout its entire modern history (1830+) survived on international handouts and subsidies.
(2) Greek culture thinks it stupid to work and smart to cheat people [this is from the Ottoman period, mostly]
(3) As a consequence of the first two reasons, Greeks never lived off earned income. So, you need unearned income from property rentals, hidden income from illegal jobs, and as much money as you can embezzle or steal.
(4) Europeans and North Americans cannot cope with this, which is why Greece is packed full of immigrants from countries with a similar mentality, who find Greece quite “normal”

  menneke wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 17:49

@ FMS: that’s an interesting angle you offer there. I’ll have to ponder on it some more and research this further. Wouldn’t, in your opinion, (1) not be a result of (2) and (3)?

  Cheryl wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 18:50

Kat, I keep telling my husband how much more expensive everything is here as I do all of the shopping. I will definitely have him read this post!!

He just returned from the States with a suitcase full of goodies for us (me particularly). For instance, Clinique eyeliner…18 euro at Hondos center/ $12.00 in the U.S. I had him bring my favorite cologne and some food items, he’s finally starting to see the difference.

The best example of how much more expensive it is to buy food here came this week. I went to look at buying a turkey for next week and nearly fell over! I know that turkey is a “seasonal” item here, but jeez! The turkey that I looked at was 7 kilos…and 52.50 euro!! Are you kidding me? Holy man! I think I may sneak over to my neighbors yard and snatch one of his after all!!

  Kat wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 18:57

The S – I’ve seen the same thing, but also people bragging about actually going to the boutique and flouncing their bag around like a prestigious item. I mean, do they plan to wear the bag? It’s the same item whether you get it on sale or full price, boutique or discount store; I think people are full of it if they have to brag about anything. Real wealth speaks for itself.

Actually, as an American, I’m trying to hold onto whatever wealth I have so I can increase it through investments.

Y – We would be leaving Greece for more than economic reasons, but finances often play a big role in feeling less stress, more freedom, a sense of control over your own life. To me, it’s more about respect or lack of it. I’m disrespected at public sector offices and in public generally, I’m invisible as a woman, I’m disrespected by delays, I’m disrespected when I earn a meager salary for a productive day’s work, I’m disrespected at the grocery store when I’m price gauged for basics, then I go home and I’m disrespected by all of these tariffs and taxes in my electric, water and phone bills. Sure, it’s about money. But it’s also my time…how I spend my time is how I spend my life.

Have you considered going back to Canada with the woman you love?

FMS – You know better than I since you specialize in economy. But (1) Greece and Greeks are always saying they don’t need handouts or subsidies…and btw, they usually pay them back to the EU with penalties anyway for misappropriating them, (2) I can verify that many Greeks I meet would prefer to not work and just sit around all day complaining about how rich they are, but bored; (3) that means decent people won’t make it here; (4) true.

Menneke – Don’t you think they’re all tied in a vicious cycle, one feeding the other? (P.S. I tried leaving a comment on your site, but it doesn’t seem to be working properly).

Cheryl – My fiance is out of touch with prices unless I tell him, and then if I tell him, he says he doesn’t want to hear this depressing news. He is outraged though when he goes to the store alone, doesn’t economize (as I do, looking for the best deal) and comes home with a single bag of groceries for 60 euros. We survive on items from the USA, often sourcing eBay sellers willing to ship internationally and stockpiling things from our USA trips. Po po po! A good moral woman like you thinking of snatching a turkey from your neighbor’s yard as your kids suggested, what has Greece driven you to??? LOL! I roared with laughter and had tears running down my face after your comment. P.S. I’m glad you got your reasonably priced mascara. I’ve even seen regular old Maybelline going for 14 euros at CarreFour (a supposedly inexpensive store).

  Yianni wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 18:58

@ FMS: So what are you saying? The only way to fit in, live comfortably and make an income here is: 1) wait for handouts, 2) cheat other people 3) have an illegal job or steal money. 4) as for number four yes immigration is a huge issue here and I think #4 contributes to many of the problems faced in Greece today.

So basically I have to do what these goons are doing here to live my life? Because if that’s the case…brother, I’m going to be packing my bags soon. There must be a better way.

Here is how I look at it:
When an animal is starving or in danger, it kills for food and does whatever it needs in order to survive. These people are in the same position, they have a corrupt government controlling their lives, corruption is everywhere in Greece, if you look up corruption in the dictionary you will see a picture of the Greek flag. 10% of people run everything in Greece — every day, they get richer as the poor get poorer. “Fakelakia” run everything here. And if you don’t have money for fakelakia, you’re screwed.

If these people were given a better government that cared about its people and the future of the country instead of whose pockets are getting fatter, there might be a change. But unfortunately their mentality is holding them down. Everyone here lives not for today but for the minute! No one cares about tomorrow. So you can imagine why things are the way they are here.

I came back to my country to see if I can live a good life. But it looks like Greece might have to remain a yearly summer vacation for me. Things were so much better when I used to come here with North American money, and I was blind to what’s going on here. The only time I would see what’s going on is when I was in a nightclub, and the American and Canadian people were getting golden service and their tables filled with bottles, while the Greek people had one drink each and couldn’t get a waiter if their lives depended on it.

I hope things change here and soon because the rest of the world isn’t waiting for anyone — it’s either keep up or be left behind. Again referring to animals, only the strong survive, the weak are preyed on and become another animal’s meal.

Referring back to this website, I am very grateful for it having so much useful information, and I like the people here. It seems like I can relate to many people here because I too am a North American (but Greek) trying to live in Greece and it’s nice to have a community where I can read about others’ experiences and share mine. It’s easier to talk about things here, most people have a western mentality and/or open minds. I can’t talk to Greeks about things like this. Once again, great job on the website, thank you Kat.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and best wishes to everyone here!

  FMS wrote @ December 20th, 2007 at 23:56

GOSH! What a lot of posts, and half of them asking me to clarify some things! Hmm, let’s try some random replies:-)
(1) Greece’s economic problems lie in history [what economists call structural problems] and were potentially soluble only in the last 50 years, and even then with the transitions measured in decades. The reforms didn;t happen, for political reasons. By handouts, I meant going to the state and not to individuals: most individuals in Greece have had a rough time, apart from the small number of crooked families who run the show.
(2) In theory, EU subsidies could have helped: in reality, they have assisted in the growth of corruption. Some good things have been done — the Metro, major roads, the OTE lines now connect with each other and there is no longer a waiting list of 10 years to get a phone…
(3) No Greek government in living memory or even in modern history has shown the slightest interest in dealing with the problem of quality of employment. They still have no interest, whilst faking the inflation figures and cutting real wages for the last 10 years. At least Andreas Papandreou protected the poor from wage cuts, even if most of his other economic decisions were not so good.
(4) Immigrants are not part of the problem: they are a symptom of the problem. If they left, Greece would probably just fall apart completely.
(5) This is for Yianni. In my opinion, without property and family here, the only way to have a good quality of life is either to be part of the corruption [or marrying it], or to earn money from abroad. I had to learn this the hard way, thinking originally that highly skilled or educated people who work hard must be able to get good jobs. It is just not true, because of the extreme corrruption here: Greeks prefer incompetent family employees to skilled workers. Even if they do employ skilled people, or hard workers, these earn less than family or friends. There is only one conclusion possible, at the personal level.

  Kat wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 00:25

Yianni – I started this site, not to discourage people from moving to Greece, but to inform them so they come here with eyes wide open. If they scare easily, they won’t make it here.

Immigrants, as FMS rightly says, are not the problem. Immigrants actually take jobs that many Greeks will not, contribute to the IKA fund without ever claiming anything themselves, and raise the birthrate. Btw, I’m an immigrant as are many of my readers, so be careful what you say.

His (5) is easily confirmed with information I posted on this site. I don’t lie to my readers! You’ve read case studies under “Examples of jobs and salaries in Athens” where you posted your first comment, “Value of a university degree in Greece” and the stats I’ve presented, and now you know it first hand. I will continue to earn income from abroad until I leave.

FMS – You didn’t get any requests for clarification from me! ;) I concur completely with everything you’ve said, as does this site. I defer to you because you have expertise in economy. Thank you for contributing to the discourse.

  menneke wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 09:10

Boy, am I glad that I stumbled upon this website courtesy of Google Blogs Alert.

@ FMS: I wholeheartedly agree with the 5 points you raise. As to number (5), apparently I went through the same experience as yourself: as an IT professional with 30 years experience of which 10 as an independent and 8 in management positions, I found that my skills and education where only appreciated here when practically given away for a beggar’s salary.

I’m still looking at this cause and affect chain of your first post though. As an IT guy I have this habit of chasing down problems through the cause and effect chain until I get to the root. So my question to the economist is: what are the underlying reasons that Greece never had an economy? Is it caused by the characteristics of the Greek people that we discussed here? I would be really interested in your opinion or any pointers to literature or websites that try to explain this.

@ Yanni: “If these people were given a better government that cared about its people and the future of the country…”. Unfortunately, people are not “given” a government, they make the government. The Greek government is just a reflection of the Greek people, I’m afraid.

@Kat: sorry about the problems you had commenting on my site: I had my spam rules a bit too tight. It’s corrected now.

  The Scorpion wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 09:57

I’ve read FMS’s posts on another blog and find him very informative and refreshing. I’m curious to ask FMS if he ever encounters official discrimination from the Greek authorities because of his views, or are the Greek authorities really in the know about these views and just quietly keep them from the Greek sheep?

  FMS wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 11:26

Thanks for the welcome, Kat, menneke and Scorpion. By the way, the heading [taken from Katherimerini] is malakia. The amount by which Greeks are paying more is nearly 100% [i.e. double the rest of EU].

On Scorpion’s specific question: No. With most serious scientific reports on Greece, the most critical and reliable are from people who work within or even for the state framework. Exactly how much people know of my views, outside of my published research, is difficult to say. However, I have only ever had positive and even highly respectful responses from the many state agencies I am in regualr contact with. As almost all of my work is with government agencies and international organisations, it is imperative for all of us that professional relations are maintained. I suppose there is a good case for the sheep analogy…

  FMS wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 11:35

Just noticed that I didn’t respond to a question from menneke about cause and effect and the greek economy. Well, first of all, when we describe structural problems there is no cause and effect chain. These are structures which pre-existed and are VERY tough to change. In the case of Greece, it was always lack of capital [still partly true, but no longer the main issue].

There was an excellent series published in the Athens News, and I think it is also a book, on the history of the Greek economy, by Mark Dragoumis. He takes a political economy approach similar to mine, but he is more of an expert on this topic.

  Kat wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 11:52

Menneke – Thank you and btw, I found you back in April, but it sounds like you had other things going on. I’ll go over and say ‘hi.’

FMS – I’m glad you confirmed that. When I initially read the headline, then saw the prices they claimed were 194 percent, I said to myself, “hmmm, wouldn’t that be 94 percent more or almost double?” My article has been corrected, and I’ve offered your site as a link.

  Yianni wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 12:58

@ Yanni: “If these people were given a better government that cared about its people and the future of the country…”. Unfortunately, people are not “given” a government, they make the government. The Greek government is just a reflection of the Greek people, I’m afraid.

True, I agree they make the government, but how are they going to be able to make a government when they are constantly lied to by the people they vote for? And I don’t believe the people are a reflection of the Greek government. Greek people are not bad people at all, but when they are let down by their leaders and are constantly lied to and fooled, they can only take so much. They do whatever they do, not because it’s their nature, but because they are forced to do whatever it is they need to live their lives or support their family.

If you know families that live in Canada or USA, you will notice that they don’t need to find ways to cheat others to make extra income because they live in a country that regulates everything and has a system implemented to keep order and provide for its people. No one is born a thief or a criminal, they become one because somewhere along the line, something went wrong or failed, and it wasn’t always something that was in their hands or within their control that caused them to take that road. No one does anything for no reason……… Life is like a card game, sometimes you get dealt a good hand, sometimes a bad hand, but while you are not in control of what is given to you, you are in control of the cards you have and how you play them. And no matter how good you are, when you have a bad hand, you have a bad hand.

In Greece unfortunately, the dealer (government) is also the cheater and deals out the good cards to its own players and screws the rest.

I’m sorry for the rant………I never liked politics even when I lived in Canada, but they totally over do it here, they make the Canadian Government look like saints. I never liked politics only because of the amount of lying and corruption that goes on.

Hopefully one day Greece will have a prime minister like Vladimir Putin. Change is possible when given a good leader………even for Greece. I believe in this country. People just have to stand up and say “enough!” Instead of accepting money to keep their mouths shut or vote for a certain party. I know people need money, but accepting dirty money will only make matters worse for them in the future. Greeks need to show that they can’t be bought and are willing to change.

Okay enough about politics, it’s making me sick. Who’s up for some parting this weekend? I will be in Xios! (home sweet home). Take care everyone.

  The Scorpion wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 13:55

Yianni, “Enjoy your Putin! He’s only killed 13 journalists since 2000.”

  FMS wrote @ December 21st, 2007 at 18:35

Thanks for the weblink, Kat. Unhappily, it cannot be reciprocated nor can anything else be updated on our site. Our webmaster left in a fit of depression and we don’t even know who the provider is!

Re Putin: maybe Greece needs a Putin, maybe it just needs citizens who react against corruption and criminal negligence. It certainly needs something which is currently missing…

  graffic wrote @ December 24th, 2007 at 13:09


I guess I arrived late to the discussion. Now I’m in Spain and I can compare more in “real time” how expensive are things and how the people behave with “prices”.

First: here in Spain we´re not used to say “it was expensive” or “it costed x euros”, but my gf was adding those “explanations” to some sentences. For us (spanish), it’s like you want to show off. For them (Greeks), it’s like “hey! I’m not poor I have this and it’s the best”, like the others value you by the money you spend.

Also I see how (Greek) people buy the most expensive things to be shown to “others”, but for the house (like food) they buy the cheapest. Here is really easy to see people that perhaps in clothes use normal/cheap (we even meet to find really cheap clothes), but at home they don’t mind to buy good or the best products for themselves.

And about politics, I can say that Greeks just let things pass. They go for coffee to speak about their clothes and how expensive are the things they wear. But not so many raise their voices, and those who do are considered the “guys who always complain,” like complaining is something bad.

I like complaining :) For me it’s the way to improve or at least know the things I don’t like.

And about the immigrants, we make the country more complete. I guess this is not a “fight” between Greeks and others to find a job. In a country that needs knowledge because their own people have abandoned it, I guess they should say thank you instead trying to trick you. But let’s give it time to see what will happen.

BTW: nice smiley in the bottom left of the page.

Felices fiestas y feliz nochebuena.

  FMS wrote @ January 13th, 2008 at 02:20

This difference between cultures where people take pride in securing a bargain [USA, UK, Germany etc] and countries where people take pride in spending too much money on something of low quality [Greece, ummmm Bulgaria?, somewhere else?] is a reflection actually of how poor the country really is. Greece is still so poor for the majority of its citizens that the minority who have extorted money one way or another feel proud of it. They like to waste money to show other Greeks how powerful and corrupt they are. Sad, really, that so much credibility is given to criminals in this country.

  Kat wrote @ January 13th, 2008 at 01:51

Graf, I don’t know why but I was reminded that I never said anything to you although I had some thoughts in my head.

I know people in many countries who get together and shop for quality things at cheap prices, in fact a lot of us (as The Scorpion said) brag about how little money we paid. If we pay too much, we are seen as stupid and frivolous.

When I was in Spain, I went to the supermarket and saw a lot of the same items we have here for at least 10% less. I also liked that people were friendly and helpful.

I personally like purchasing “the best” or nothing at all. But with prices of food going higher all the time, I find myself economizing more, in addition to finding the most environmentally friendly product. Sometimes it’s tough to do both.

There are a lot of people who complain, but it’s usually about other countries or immigrants or work, not politics. I see nothing wrong with venting a little; one of my friends says that Greeks do not need psychiatrists because they share everything with their friends. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that’s what I’m told. My friend Euripides says, “Life is like a sculpture; you must chip away what you don’t want to reveal the art and beauty at the heart and soul of what you do.”

P.S. The smiley is from WordPress; it’s how they monitor the hits on the site. He appears wherever he wants. :)

  yiannos wrote @ January 16th, 2008 at 00:06

^^i heard people do the same in China, Russia and the phillipines too.

i still don’t quite understand the connection between your first and second point though, although i have some idea what you are getting at.

  Kat wrote @ January 19th, 2008 at 21:35

Nikos – Sometimes complaining does work:

OSE pays after delay stirs protest

  Nikos wrote @ January 19th, 2008 at 21:34

I think everybody raises some intersting points here. Seems to me the combination of corrupt government, minority (elitist) control, and the Greek inability to complain and protect the consumer all play a role. I was looking to buy a car and discovered another way we are forced to pay through the nose just for being in greece. The very same car I wanted cost close to 10,000 (ten thousand!) euros less in the UK! So I figured I would just fly there, and drive back– but wouldn’t you know it, the greek government won’t let you buy a car outside greece and bring it here. They’ll tax (illegally) all the incentive out of it. And this is in free-market europe…

Forget about complaining… No one cares, and there are so many law suits for greek irregularities filed with the EU, you’ll have to take a number…

I do find the “Laikes” still offer a good deal if you have the time to visit them during their “office hours”.. ;->

  FMS wrote @ January 20th, 2008 at 16:48

I had the same problem in the UK about 20 years ago with importing a second-hand car from Italy: the British government insisted on charging VAT on it [illegally]. I took it to the senior level of the Ministry, and argued for about one hour with their chief lawyer. In the end, he conceded that the tax was illegal, but argued that the method of importation was also technically illegal. Thus, they would continue to break the law and charge an illegal tax.

I seem to recall reading recently that the European Commission is doing something to stop this abuse. Maybe you should lodge a formal complaint with them , Niko. It is even possible that they will take up the issue directly with the Greek state…

  yiannos wrote @ January 20th, 2008 at 22:22

“The very same car I wanted cost close to 10,000 (ten thousand!) euros less in the UK! So I figured I would just fly there, and drive back– but wouldn’t you know it, the greek government won’t let you buy a car outside greece and bring it here. They’ll tax (illegally) all the incentive out of it. And this is in free-market europe…”

what car was it? ;-)

  The Scorpion wrote @ January 24th, 2008 at 15:29

Just leave greece for two years and then you can come back and import a car tax free (up to 2000cc I think) under a law called, “Meh-teek-esee”.

That’s what all those red license plates are.

  Frank wrote @ February 15th, 2008 at 03:27

One thing you might consider about the Greek culture is that the weakness (tendency towards nepotism and corruption) are also strengths in the one area where Greek has always excelled: international shipping. There is no world law enforcement organization for international seas, and there is crime and corruption everywhere. When doing something illegal in a third-world country, you need to be able to rely absolutely on your partners, and that means you need blood relationships with them. With a son-in-law, the blood relationship is solidified when the first grandchild arrives. Also, you need to be skilled in bribery if you want to work in the 3rd world, and the Greeks are, while the Americans and British and Germanic peoples aren’t. Greek culture has a lot in common with Israeli culture in these respects (both tend towards nepotism and corruption, that is), though without so much crazy religious fanaticism.

Personally, I think the explanation of how Greece stays afloat has precisely to do with international trade, especially of the illegal variety (stealing government oil, dumping chemical wastes, arms trade, drugs trade). It is known that the Greeks are successful in international shipping because they are able to run circles around the Americans and northern Europeans, and I suspect the unreported profits and illegal business dwarf the reported profits and legal business. Eventually some of this wealth from trade trickles down domestically and keeps the rest of the country operating. If you just think about the trillions (that’s 1 followed by 12 zeros) of dollars/euros involved in the international oil business (to speak nothing of arms and drugs), you can see that it wouldn’t take the Greeks skimming off more than a small portion of this to explain a lot about Greek wealth.

  Yiannis wrote @ May 29th, 2008 at 11:53

Hello everybody,
I just saw this little chit-chat here and thought how interesting(!) maybe I could contribute to your views as well.

Well, I see truth to almost everything that has been said by all of you. However, I would like to add to the causes of this bordello-economy (excuse the language). Greece is in fact a bordello in all respects starting from politics, culture (education), society and right down to people’s ideology.

It is the governments to blame for starters because these are usually the drivers of “the bus” but considering that we “the passengers” choose between the two or three available drivers I could say we are co-responsible for the destination of “the bus”.

But there’s another question arising too. WHO is to blame for all that? I mean why do the Greek people thing and act so stupid in the end. Why do we vote for this to happen when we know that it WILL continue to happen whatever the outcome of the elections?

I think I know why.

I think the Greek can see only from where he/she stands in politics. Greeks do not care anymore as to what is just or reasonable. We only care about what is GOOD for us as an individual according to the surrounding treats and norms. How can we “make it” through the tunnel individually. We act and think as monarchs, each one of us. We do not recognise superiority nor the privileges that come with that. We only recognise inferiority of others, and we expect them to recognise our superiority. That’s because of our EGO.

Greeks vote according to their own interest and not to the greater interest. A Greek for example can become communist because he is poor and capitalist because he is rich.

That is because we Greeks have come to believe that being rich or poor is a matter of luck (star) and not a matter of value. And we are not so wrong to believe this because things are indeed like that at least in Greece. Rich businessmen in Greece are not really “successful” men. Therefore the riches they enjoy do not come through success but through other means and methods. Nobody gets rich here if he is just an able person and nobody wins elections if he is just fair to all. Because fair to all means unfair to some who believe that if you give a fair chance to someone else you will loose your advantage. Maybe we Greeks Know ourselves very well and know that there is no “malakas” anymore. Maybe that’s something that is evident only in Greece. I really believe that if you give a fair chance to every Greek nobody will prevail cause for a strange reason we all think alike and we all have a great way to fight. The Greek does not fight fairly. He fights to win and not to see who is best. So he will be devious if he cannot be smart because inside him he believes that someone smart is only lucky to be smart as he is lucky to handsome. And luck is not an acceptable reason for someone to rule and enjoy more. Acceptable is perhaps what happens now which is nothing more than “not giving a fair chance to some” so that some others can prevail.

Therefore, you will never see competition in the Greek economy. You will see oligopolies, cartels and collaborating different political parties to share the government of the country.

Every Greek is raised with the qualities and mentality of an aristocrat though there is no aristocracy for many centuries in Greece.

Enough for now…I’ll continue later


  Yiannis wrote @ May 29th, 2008 at 12:23

From Yiannis again…continuation

…….One reason for that is that maybe no Greek has yet (in recent history) been given a fair chance to prove his/her qualities and hence relax (xalarosei) from this hunt of power and discrimination that he so desires.

No one here will ever give you the pleasure of acknowledgment, if I can say something like that. Everybody acts like a judge waiting in the corner to tell you off for anything you do. Only a perfect person could be acknowledged here, and there is no perfect person on earth.

Greeks are successful abroad because other peoples are not like that. The Greek is happy abroad because he CAN do things and CAN be considered successful when he does something good, something nice. Other people congratulate you when you get results. Not a Greek. For a Greek, results are never good enough. There is always a better way. So we end up doing nothing over here because nothing is ever good enough.

Catch my drift? Management is another thing. A Greek is a born manager. He has no illusions about it. Many think that we just want to be managers but the truth is we are born to be. A Greek can make you feel content and happy and successful if you can do what he wants you to do. But he will never reward you with more than words and compliments. He will make sure you will always be a subordinate. So, in a few words, no employee will ever find a respectable career. Anybody who can make a business does it immediately for that reason.

But an economy cannot function with one-man businesses, especially in a global economy.

So, Greeks once again, more start to immigrate, only this time the educated ones (everybody). They go somewhere where they are needed most because we all know how short of scientists Europe is right now. For the little jobs, we have the third world immigrants now. They are so willing to find any job to make a living, they are in a different Maslow level if you see what I mean. Here in Greece you will either be a businessman or a public “servant” (chief).


  KT wrote @ June 1st, 2008 at 19:38

I cant tell you how much I love this website and what a great job you’ve done with it.
Very interesting discussion guys. I agree with Yanni, a lot of educated people are running away from Ellada and who can blame them. I can’t believed how much the prices have gone up and I’ve only been gone for 5 months. Life was tough for me there because I had to survive on a 660euro income all alone, and I remember when I would go shop at Basilopoulos or Lidl/Plus , if I bought the store brand and saved myself money, (I was thrilled) my aunt would turn around and say “Dont buy that cheap soap, it is going to destroy your washing machine”, or “Don’t shop from Lidl, those germanarades” ..The only people who thought it was OK to shop from those stores were Greeks who had lived outside of Greece. Those were my only friends anyway LOL

Every single day people would ask me ..Why the hell would you ever come here? Run and only come back for a vacation… clearly I can see why now. I’ve only been back in the States for 5 months, I miss Ellada a lot, I am actually a little depressed, but it’s clear to me that I have no future there. I can’t understand the Greek mentality of how it’s so cool to sit for long periods of hours at a Cafeteria and watch my life pass me by, without taking advantage of the beautiful nature Greece has to offer.

My first 5 months back in the States, I have already been promoted in my job, bought a car, made new friends, joined the gym, which is more than I can say for Ellada, my first 5 months in Ellada were filled with negativity from Greeks who kept on telling me “You dont know how things work here, Amerikana”. As far for people saying theres no life in America, try surviving on a 700euro salary, and then get back to me. Things you take for granted in America, like going out to eat at a nice restaraunt, to the movies, even shopping for clothes, are a luxury for most in Greece. The beach, the sun, the nice weather, won’t save you when you are starving to death. I even ran into an old high school friend of mine who had left America and moved to Greece only for her to say to me “The only thing good in Ellada is the sun ..” lol..

My advice for someone who misses Greece is to live somewhere a lot of Greeks live like, Boston, NYC, Toronto, and visit Greece in the summer, or on holidays. Unless you take a job offer in Greece with an income of 2,500euro or more..(which a friend recently did) . I really hope that things change in Greece.

  Jack wrote @ September 30th, 2008 at 00:11

Washington DC, NYC and other American cities in top 50 highest standard cities rank what a joke who compiled this nonsense USA statistics. These cities have a high crime rate if youre not murdered mugged or r@ped just for crossing the street, then you are considered really lucky. Some areas are worst than third world, poverty is rife hence high crime rate.

Greece has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, Athens has been modernised. I’ve lived in some of these European and American cities and I rather live in Athens to these cities anytime!

Kat Reply:

This comment has nothing to do with the post, but I’ll humor you by publishing it.

What I find funny about comments like these is they come from people who don’t live in the cities they criticize or say are better, i.e., You don’t live in the USA, EU or Athens; you live in Australia. Plus, you were looking at 2007 stats not 2008; you’re basing the “modernised Athens” comment on cosmetics, not actual infrastructure; and I guess you haven’t seen the latest stats that say crime has risen sharply in GR.

If you’d rather live in Athens and enjoy high cost of living and increased crime and rioting, come on over.

  Yanni wrote @ July 5th, 2009 at 21:29

As taxi driver once said to me, Greeks lack the mentality to know how to improve their country. There’s a lot in that word: “mentality”. You have to remember most people here were mainly goat herders and fishermen living in feudal villages before the tourism boom, when easy money suddenly rained from the sky from the seemingly foolish foreigners. Greece itself is a purely modern invention, contrary to all the claptrap Greeks go on with. Most of them didn’t even speak the dialect now known as modern Greek prior to the creation of the modern state. Cretans are culturally different to Athenians, who are different to Northerners. Significantly different.

“Greekness” is a racist myth used by nationalists to manipulate people. And Greece has always been invaded throughout history – they have seldom run their own affairs until modern times, and it is questionable that they really know how to. Greeks still see things imho as a “village” even if they live in the city. They only care about their families and relatives in the “village”. Centralized government is just an inconvenience to be subverted. And money is more important than anything else, partly because it is getting harder to make any here and Greeks want the affluent lifestyle of their tourist visitors without the centuries of sweat, blood and careful government that gave rise to that affluence.

  Tauros wrote @ July 6th, 2009 at 14:27

For Yanni:

I’m not sure “Greekness” is a racist myth…”; I think in many cases it’s more a state of mind used as an attempt to rationalize otherwise irrational behavior. (Which may be attempting to split hairs.) Regardless, it is often manipulated.

As for your other comments: Very astute. And the sad thing is, the great majority of Greeks in Greece of average or above intelligence/awareness would agree. But they want the change to be with everyone else — they consider themselves personally faultless. This will not change for a very, very long time unless something dramatic occurs.

Both of our comments are somewhat off-topic, but I was impressed with what you wrote and wanted to respond.

  Yanni wrote @ July 15th, 2009 at 00:57

Re: “I think in many cases it’s more a state of mind used as an attempt to rationalize otherwise irrational behavior.”

Certainly agree that’s one of the things it gets used for – as an excuse for not changing things. How often have I heard “Oh that’s us Greeks – we just can’t arrange to have nice sidewalks even if we want them” or whatever. The same could be said for most national stereotypes I suppose – not just “Greekness” – we can hand wave away certain cultural traits and do nothing about these by saying “Oh that’s the French” (they’re rude), “Oh that’s Americans” (they’re arrogant), and so on. These cultural traits might be real in a high percentage of these groups as perceived by others and by scapegoating on some partly artificial idea of national character everyone can just go on putting up with this stuff. And it discourages criticism which starts to look somehow unpatriotic.

Re-reading my comment, I cringed a little since it now seems a bit heavy handed, so I was relieved to get a positive comment. Eg getting into racism: that could in fact be argued when, for example, Gypsies who have lived here 1000 years are not considered “proper” Greeks since presumably they don’t show the presumed features of “Greekness” sufficiently. There’s no concept of multiculturalism in Greece and that has to change with the flood of migrants now in the country or it will become a powder keg of dissatisfaction. Of course there are certain cultural traits and social practices that many Greeks share – maybe that’s “Greekness”. No harm in that per se. What I was criticizing was the glib way in which we *all* tend to use this type of thing as an excuse for not changing the ways things are done. Culture and society change all the time – resorting to “Greekness” in this way – that these things are set in stone – says we shouldn’t bother trying to change (whether we are Greek or not).

While I’m no historian – and again perhaps I was a bit over the top – I do think there is a grain of truth in the idea that modern centralized government has come rather quickly to a country that has been cruelly invaded and yanked head first out of a medieval agricultural economy within a very short period of time. You can take the villager out of the village but can you take the village out of the villager? Of course I was perhaps oversimplifying to reduce premodern Greece (or the areas that now make up Greece) to “goat herders and fishermen” but my point was this was largely a preindustrial society.

I do think all this is on topic in the sense that we are talking about why change for the better sometimes seems to be so difficult in Greece, where corruption comes from, etc

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