The Living in Greece price comparison between Greece and America started in 2007, after a trip to the United States made clear we were being charged considerably more in Athens for groceries and double the price for things such as milk, mouthwash and shampoo.
Is Greece expensive? It isn’t cheap to live anywhere these days, but fuel prices have come down and the euro-dollar exchange rate is back at levels from last year, so it’s an excellent time to publish a price comparison for 2008 and you can see for yourself.
Prices have risen 10-25 percent since doing this chart, salaries have fallen 25-40 percent, everyday VAT/sales tax rates now reach up to 23 percent, the price of fuel skyrocketed in 2011 and never came down, public transport ticket prices doubled, and the unemployment rate is now 27.6 percent, the highest in the EU as of May 2013.
*Last updated August 8, 2013.
How it was compiled
New York City and Athens were used to determine costs because Mercer ranked them #22 and #25 respectively on their Cost of Living survey for 2008.
To determine grocery and product costs:
I used whatever price was higher from stores in New York or California for the U.S. price. New York was chosen for the reason stated above, and California was selected because it is the 8th largest economy in the world and historically the most expensive American state. Both U.S. cities (#29 and #49) have considerably higher standard/quality of living than Athens (#77), according to the Mercer 2008 survey.
Shop Rite was selected for New York, Safeway for California and Alfa Bita for Greece. The New York and California supermarkets are superior in quality/selection and located in comparable suburbs on par with the northern Athens suburb in which we did our survey to equalize demographic and affluence. Many argue that Alfa Bita is the most expensive Greek supermarket chain, but I found this to be untrue as prices are often the same or lower than Sklavenitis and Carrefour for the same products.
The same brands of the same quality and same circumstances were compared. Either both products were home grown or both imported — I also allowed a home grown Greek/EU product against an imported product for the USA, even though this is technically unfair to the USA.
To determine service costs:
In comparing ‘service’ costs such as Internet or cell phone subscriptions, I took everyday costs not special limited-time packages, since it would give America a deeper advantage than is already shown. Other carriers may have lower prices, however the same carriers were used from 2007 for consistency.
What about clothes and furniture?
Things like clothes, shoes and furniture were not included because competitive pricing would again favor America.
Are costs higher/lower elsewhere in Greece?
Prices in more remote villages and islands tend to be higher because of fuel costs involved in transporting goods. In tourist destinations, many vendors use location and convenience to their advantage by inflating prices (some to the point of price gouging), in hopes of earning sufficient profits during summer to offset closing in winter.
Can cheaper prices be found?
Yes, but this survey is not about finding the cheapest possible price; it is about comparing the same quality brands with each other in two countries. If I’d used the absolute cheapest price without regard to brand, quality, location or supermarket, America would have won by a wide margin.
Protocol and explanations pertaining to this survey are shown at the bottom, and they are more than fair. In fact it is highly unfair to the USA where prices of 10-40% lower are possible with the same quality, even in affluent neighborhoods. Athens prices could only go another 10-40% lower at lower class supermarkets with significantly compromised quality, i.e., razor-thin toilet paper. It is important to read the fine print that follows the table before crucifying the comparison.
How do prices compare to last year?
Tables illustrating U.S. inflation and Greek inflation in one year can be found at, “Greece vs. USA: Inflation in one year.” If you’d like to see the original survey from June 2007, click “Greece vs. USA price comparison 2007.” This article was plagiarized by a Greek newspaper in May 2008 without crediting me as the author, and a number of Greek TV programs on the same subject followed, coincidentally or not.
Why is everything shown in metric?
Greece and most of the world use the metric system. Therefore, all weight and volume measurements in ounces or pounds were converted to liters and grams, and prices were scaled accordingly. Please keep this important fact in mind if doing a comparison of your own.
Why isn’t the table in dollars?
The price comparison is not in U.S. dollars because the target country is Greece, and Greece uses the euro. If you would like to calculate prices in dollars, use the price shown and multiply by 1.3. For example, a 1.5 liter bottle of Coke in Greece is €1.42 x 1.30 = $1.85. The same 1.5 liter bottle of Coke in the USA is €0.87 x 1.30 = $1.13. (Note: Coke is bottled in Athens, so paying 39 percent more in Greece is not due to importing).
If prices were listed in U.S. dollars, the difference would appear more dramatic.
Prices in the EU
For those unfamiliar with the EU, these prices do not necessarily reflect the rest of the member states. In fact, Greece was found to be the most expensive or second most expensive EU country by both Greek and EU institutions conducting independent surveys. Therefore, prices will be lower in other European cities.
All prices shown in euros (€).
|Fanta, 1.5 liter||1.42||0.87|
|Coke, 1.5 liter||1.45||0.87|
|Orange juice, 1 liter (packaged)||1.19||1.04|
|Milk (pasteurized), 1 liter||1.49||0.78|
|Plain yogurt, 200 g||1.18||0.43|
|Salted butter, 250 g||2.96||1.49|
|Unsalted butter, 250 g||1.89||1.49|
|Margarine, 500 g||0.82||0.43|
|12 Large eggs||2.82||2.15|
|Philadelphia cream cheese, 200 g||1.65||1.68|
|Cheddar cheese, 200 g||2.40||1.68|
|Ricotta, 250 g||1.85||1.35|
|Sour cream, 150 g||2.79||0.65|
|Haagen Dazs, 500 ml (pint)
|Rice, 500 g||0.55||0.67|
|Sugar, 1 kilo||0.84||1.08|
|Brown sugar, 500 g||1.41||0.84|
|Fructose, 400 g||1.95||0.76|
|Flour, 1 kilo||0.89||1.08|
|Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, 500 g
|Bread (white sliced), 350 g||1.65||0.85|
|Bread (unsliced oval loaf)||0.69||0.76|
|El Paso Tortillas (8 )||2.16||2.53|
|Lay’s Salt vinegar chips, 130 g||1.16||0.99|
|Tomato Sauce, 1.5 liter||1.56||2.03|
|Barilla sauce, 380 ml (both from Italy)
|Barilla spaghetti, 1 kilo (both from Italy)
|Whole peeled tomatoes, 400 g||0.72||0.75|
|Chicken breast, 1 kilo||8.10||5.57|
|Chicken drumsticks, 1 kilo||5.67||3.36|
|Ground beef, 1 kilo||9.39||4.55|
|Pork top loin boneless, 1 kilo||11.19||4.22|
|Turkey breast, 1 kilo||6.23||7.09|
|Bacon, 1 kilo||9.67||5.08|
|Cooked ham (counter), 1 kilo||14.80||6.76|
|Hot dogs, 340 g||1.89||1.44|
|Broccoli, 1 kilo||2.19||1.48|
|Zucchini, 1 kilo||0.98||2.45|
|Green beans, 1 kilo||4.47||4.72|
|Carrots, 1 kilo||0.82||0.68|
|Mushrooms, 250 g||1.09||0.81|
|Spinach, 1 kilo||1.57||3.03|
|Yellow pepper, 1 kilo (both from Netherlands)
|Onion, 1 kilo||0.58||1.41|
|Potatoes, 1 kilo||0.47||1.44|
|Tomatoes, 1 kilo||2.39||2.54|
|Apples, 1 kilo||1.89||2.37|
|Bananas, 1 kilo (both from Latin America)||1.67||1.52|
|Pears, 1 kilo||1.79||3.03|
|Red seedless grapes, 1 kilo (both from Chile)
|Salt, 500 g||0.65||0.41|
|Pepper, 50 g||0.46||2.03|
|White vinegar, 500 ml||1.26||1.04|
|Ketchup Heinz, 340 g||1.70||1.84|
|Knorr chicken cubes||1.66||1.53|
|Frozen Pizza, 320 g||3.10||1.34|
|Frozen green beans, 450 g||1.55||1.34|
|Frozen peas, 500 g||1.55||1.48|
|Colgate med head toothbrush, massager||3.02||2.30|
|Oral B satin floss, 25 m||3.16||1.89|
|Colgate total whitening, 75 ml||2.49||1.32|
|Listerine cool mint, 500 ml||6.55||3.84|
|Fructis 2 in 1 shampoo, 400 ml||4.58||2.39|
|Dove beauty bar, 100 g||0.87||0.81|
|Mach 3 Turbo, 8 refills (GR sold only in 4-packs in 2008)||17.98||13.84|
|Gillette shaving gel Ultra comfort, 200 ml||3.23||2.58|
|Kitchen & Paper|
|Palmolive ultra, regular, 1250 ml||3.58||3.30|
|Scotch Brite blue sponge||1.11||0.82|
|Kleenex toilet paper (12) single rolls||6.15||2.50|
|iPod Nano (8 GB)||159.00||114.64|
|TDK CD-R 700 MB 52x (50)||10.95||13.46|
|Spindle of DVD-R Verbatim (50)||13.49||23.84|
|Sony memory stick 1 GB pro duo (no longer sold in USA)||24.00||-N/A-|
|Sony 4 GB pro duo||39.00||40.00|
|Sony 8 GB pro duo||70.00||76.93|
|Private doctor’s appt
|Birth control pills, 1 month||>2.80||16.89|
|Men’s haircut, no tip||15.00||11.54|
|– N. suburbs Greek stylist vs. Manhattan stylist|
|Women’s haircut, incl 20% tip||70.00||42.32|
|– UK stylist in Glyfada vs. Manhattan stylist|
|Bus, metro/subway, tram|
|– All modes single ticket (valid 90 min), ATH vs. NYC||0.80||1.54|
|– All modes monthly pass: ATH vs. NYC||35.00||62.32|
|– L.A. (comparison only,not totaled)||47.70|
|Cable (Nova vs. Comcast)||56.40||46.12|
|– 48 Nova channels vs. 615 Comcast channels|
|Basic Phone Service||14.76||25.38|
|– OTE: 34.91 install, per call charge.
– AT&T: no install fee, unlimited nationwide calling 24/7
|High speed internet, “24 mbps” vs. 12 mbps||24.90||33.05|
|– Forthnet vs. Comcast|
|Cell phone subscription|
|Vodafone vs. T-mobile|
|– 300 min||44.50||23.07*|
|– 900 min||113.00||34.62*|
|– Cheapest domestic sms||0.10||0.01**|
|– Cheapest overseas sms||0.20||0.27 (send)|
|*includes unlimited nights/weekends||0.15 (receive)|
|**also has unlimited plan for 11.99|
|Room with a view|
|Hilton Hotel, “King guestroom plus”|
|during same Sept. dates|
|all in the city center|
|all European style|
|DSL, newspaper, breakfast|
|– with prepayment, ATH vs. NYC||345.00||360.84|
|– without prepayment, ATH vs. NYC||415.00||360.84|
1. A selection of both common and uncommon products/services were used for diversity. Products deemed ‘rare’ in Greece were not used as to not unfairly bias the comparison, i.e., Lactose-free, gluten-free, organic, tomatillos, peanut butter, 100 kinds of breakfast cereal, lemongrass, fresh rosemary, etc.
2. It is a proper comparison of one product/service in Greece and one comparable or identical product/service in the USA with a euro figure shown for each. It is NOT a list with one price in both euros and dollars.
3. Weight (kilo, lbs, gram, ounces) and volume conversions (liter, ml, fl. ounces) were calculated using www.conversion-metric.com
4. A standard euro – dollar conversion rate of 1.00 EUR = 1.30 USD was used throughout for consistency, though the daily rate fluctuates.
5. All prices are shown to two decimal places, rounding the third in the traditional way (1-4 down, 5-9 up).
6. AB, Safeway and Shop Rite all offer free customer cards with incentives to holders. Prices were figured without taking this into consideration.
7. The same brands were compared when possible, otherwise generics were used to obtain the most inexpensive price possible, with attention to equal quality at all stores.
8. Brand name items in Greece were made in Greece or the EC (Coca-cola, Lay’s, Kleenex, etc.); there were no transatlantic imports, except for things that are imported almost everywhere, i.e., Bananas from South America, and media from Japan/Asia. For America, transatlantic imports were consistently used if not made in America because it’s unavoidable (year-round availability is central, and many consumers care about authenticity).
9. If a U.S. item of larger size was used, it was scaled down and calculated equal to the product in Greece. America practices responsible bulk packaging and uses recycled material, so smaller sizes are rare or simply don’t exist. Greece could do the same, which would benefit consumers and the environment, but doesn’t. There is no such thing as Costco in Greece or any warehouse store for grocery shopping.
10. The laiki or local manabis in Greece and many open/farmers’ markets in America all offer cheaper prices on produce, but were both omitted for the purpose of equality.
11. There is no tax on food items in the USA; non-food items carry a tax of between 7.00-9.00 percent, depending on U.S. state. There is tax of 9 percent in Greece. Adjustments were not made for tax because the price of food is what it is.
12. Taking into account there is price variation by area and company/stores in both Greece and America, I realize one can do better or worse at different places in both countries, so I called it even.
13. Since Greece has little or no selection and America has a wide variety of choices and sizes, I used the American item or service most comparable to the item or service in Greece. In doing this, the comparison is more fair to Greece since the USA has “value packs” at huge discounts that would have favored the USA if used.
14. Online prices for things like computer equipment and media were used since they offer nationwide pricing and do not discriminate according to area or individual store owner.
15. Prices for all products were surveyed on June 22, 2008 and again on October 22, 2008.
* This price comparison took days to research, compile, calculate and code, while consulting others for fairness and accuracy in reporting before publication. Please respect that, even if you may not appreciate it. Republishing information from this article must attribute this website as the source. Thank you 🙂