Living in Greece

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

Greece vs. USA: Inflation in one year

Greek inflation

Figures released by the National Statistical Service (NSS) in March 2009 claim that inflation in Greece is 1.3 percent, its lowest in 41 years; inflation in the United States is at a 50-year low. This is a significant change from May last year when Greek inflation was reported to be 4.9 percent, its highest in 10 years.

However, it finally came out via IMF audit that Greece lied and fixed its stats. To receive the biggest bailout in history, three tax increases were imposed between March 2010 and January 2011 and inflation hit a 13-year high. As of January 2011, Greece has the highest inflation in the EU, second only to Romania.

The Greek government promised that grocery prices would be lowered in late 2008, which did happen for a few months. But they were raised to rates above the original once that period ended. For example, a half kilo of rice was 0.55 when I surveyed the price in June 2008, the government and cooperating supermarkets lowered it to 0.45, but now it’s up to 0.65 — that’s 31 percent higher if calculated from 0.45, and 15 percent if calculated from 0.55. However, the NSS claims the price of rice only rose 11.2 percent. The 2008 IOBE report was more in line with my findings, citing price hikes of 20.1 percent for pasta and 12.7 percent for bread by end of August 2008.

Speaking of bread, we now pay 0.23 cents more to receive 10 grams less product, and prices will again be raised February 2011. I pay attention to these things because I calculate everything to the penny to make these price comparisons as fair and accurate as possible. I am also an active part of this household’s long-term financial planning, so I know exactly where money is being spent and why. It’s not sexy or cool, but there’s a huge difference between consuming and investing.

In the cabinet reshuffle, former Transport Minister and current Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis replaced Christos Folias, the self-proclaimed corruption fighter who vowed to “cut off the hands” of profiteers. Hatzidakis promised that consumers in Greece can expect price cuts in May. Tha doume (we’ll see).

I realize the price of everything goes up every year in every country, but I seriously doubt the majority of us working in Greece saw a 10-20 percent salary hike to keep pace with the double-digit rise in cost of living. In fact, 600 people lose their jobs every day in Greece and a great number of highly educated professionals are now amongst the ranks of homeless.

* Graph from IMF.org

Greece 2007 vs. 2008: Inflation in one year

This is a sample of grocery items, personal care products and services, which is sourced from my “Greece vs. USA price comparison 2007” and “Greece vs. USA price comparison 2008.” The percentage of change is noted as a subtotal for the category in red if prices went down, and in green if prices went up.

Note that prices for 2009 are higher and will be published in June.

All prices shown in euros (€).

ITEM 2007 2008
Beverages
Fanta, 1.5 liter 1.45 1.42
Coke, 1.5 liter 1.45 1.45
Orange juice, 1 liter 1.40 1.19
-6% 4.30 4.06
Dairy
Milk, 1 liter 1.35 1.49
Plain yogurt, 200 g 1.18 1.12
Butter, 250 g 2.59 2.96
Unsalted butter, 250 g 1.19 1.89
Margarine, 500 g 0.70 0.82
12 large eggs 2.36 2.82
Philadelphia cheese, 200 g 1.76 1.65
Cheddar, 200 g 1.85 2.40
Ricotta, 250 g 1.70 1.85
Sour cream, 150 g 2.59 2.79
Haagen Dazs, 500 ml (pint)
6.27 6.32
+10% 23.54 26.17
Basics
Rice, 500 g 0.37 0.55
Sugar, 1 kilo 0.84 0.84
Brown sugar, 500 g 1.19 1.41
Fructose, 400 g 1.84 1.95
Flour, 1 kilo 0.60 0.89
+15% 4.84 5.64
Complex carbs
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, 500 g
3.67 3.79
Bread (white sliced), 350 g (now 340 g)
1.42 1.65
Bread (unsliced oval loaf) 0.50 0.69
El Paso Tortillas (8 ) 2.11 2.16
Lay’s Salt vinegar chips, 130 g 1.11 1.16
+7% 8.81 9.45
Pasta
Tomato Sauce, 1.5 liter 0.92 1.56
Barilla sauce, 380 ml
1.99 1.96
Barilla spaghetti, 1 kilo
1.20 2.08
Whole peeled tomatoes, 400 g 0.63 0.72
+25% 4.74 6.32
Meat
Chicken breast, 1 kilo 8.17 8.10
Chicken drumsticks, 1 kilo 3.98 5.67
Ground beef, 1 kilo 8.48 9.39
Pork top loin boneless, 1 kilo 7.64 11.19
Turkey breast, 1 kilo 6.30 6.23
Bacon, 1 kilo 9.67 9.67
Cooked ham (counter), 1 kilo 13.59 14.80
Hot dogs, 340 g 1.89 1.89
+11% 59.72 66.94
Fresh produce
Broccoli, 1 kilo 2.59 2.19
Zucchini, 1 kilo 1.29 0.98
Green beans, 1 kilo 2.89 4.47
Carrots, 1 kilo 0.43 0.82
Mushrooms, 250 g 0.98 1.09
Spinach, 1 kilo 1.29 1.57
Yellow pepper, 1 kilo
3.39 6.49
Onion, 1 kilo 0.66 0.58
Potatoes, 1 kilo 0.67 0.47
Tomatoes, 1 kilo 1.49 2.39
Apples, 1 kilo 1.32 1.89
Bananas, 1 kilo 1.69 1.67
Pears, 1 kilo 1.79 1.79
Grapes (red seedless), 1 kilo
2.98 3.07
+20% 23.46 29.47
Condiments
Salt, 500 g 0.15 0.65
Pepper, 50 g 0.49 0.46
White vinegar, 500 ml 1.22 1.26
Ketchup Heinz, 340 g 1.37 1.70
Knorr chicken cubes 1.77 1.66
+13% 5.00 5.73
Frozen
Frozen Pizza, 320 g 2.51 3.10
Frozen green beans, 450 g 1.41 1.55
Frozen peas, 500 g 1.41 1.55
+14% 5.33 6.20
Toiletries
Colgate med head toothbrush, massager 2.82 3.02
Oral B satin floss, 25 m 3.27 3.16
Colgate total whitening, 75 ml 2.39 2.39
Listerine cool mint, 500 ml 6.95 6.55
Fructis 2 in 1 shampoo, 400 ml 4.00 4.58
Dove beauty bar, 100 g 0.87 0.87
Mach 3 Turbo, 8 refills 14.99 17.98
Gillette shaving gel Ultra comfort, 200 ml 3.23 3.23
+8% 38.52 41.88
Kitchen & Paper
Palmolive ultra, regular, 1250 ml 2.82 3.58
Scotch Brite blue sponge 1.07 1.11
Kleenex toilet paper (12) single rolls 6.36 6.15
+6% 10.25 10.84
Medical
Private doctor’s appt
>50.00 >60.00
Chiropractor 80.00 85.00
Birth control pills, 1 month >2.80 >2.80
Botox injection 300.00 350.00
+13% 432.80 497.80
Maintenance
Men’s haircut, no tip 13.00 15.00
- N. suburbs Vidal Sasson trained Greek stylist
Women’s haircut, incl 20% tip 65.00 70.00
- UK stylist in Glyfada
+8% 78.00 85.00
Transportation
Bus, metro/subway, tram
- All modes single ticket (valid 90 min) ATH 1.50 0.80
- All modes monthly pass: ATH 35.00 35.00
-2% 36.50 35.80
Communication
Cable (Nova) 56.40 56.40*
- 49 Nova channels
* Note that it’s actually only 46 channels, since 3 are free in reality
Basic Phone Service 14.76 14.76
- OTE: 34.91 install, per call charge
High speed internet, 8 “24 mbps” * 48.50 24.90
- Forthnet
* Speed in Athens NEVER reaches 24 mbps regardless of carrier
Cell phone subscription
Vodafone
- 300 min 44.50 44.50
- 900 min 113.00 113.00
- Cheapest domestic sms * 0.07 0.10
- Cheapest international sms * 0.20 0.20
* Must sign up for an sms plan for this rate
-1% 255.94 253.86
Room with a view
Hilton Hotel, “King guestroom plus”
during same Sept. dates
Non-smoking
DSL, newspaper, breakfast
- with prepayment, ATH 303.00 345.00
- without prepayment, ATH 365.00 415.00
+12%

us-inflation

USA 2007 vs. USA 2008: Inflation in one year

This is a sampling of grocery items and personal care products, as well as services. The same stores and vendors used in 2007 were again used in 2008 to make it fair. Even with the 47 percent increase in frozen food products, U.S. prices were still lower than prices in Greece. If you’d like to see U.S. and Greek prices side by side, go to “Greece vs. USA price comparison 2008.”

All prices are shown in euros (€).

ITEM 2007 2008
Beverages
Fanta, 1.5 liter 0.58 0.87
Coke, 1.5 liter 0.58 0.87
Orange juice, 1 liter 1.39 1.04
+8% 2.55 2.78
Dairy
Milk, 1 liter 0.51 0.78
Plain yogurt, 200 g (7.05 oz) 0.42 0.43
Butter, 250 g (8.82 oz) 1.49 1.49
Unsalted butter, 250 g 1.49 1.49
Margarine, 500 g (17.64 oz) 0.56 0.43
12 large eggs 1.91 2.15
Philadelphia cream cheese, 200 g 1.34 1.68
Cheddar, 200 g 1.68 1.68
Ricotta, 250 g 1.35 1.35
Sour cream, 150 g (5.29 oz) 0.40 0.65
Haagen Dazs, 500 ml (pint)
3.30 3.07
+7% 14.45 15.58
Basics
Rice, 500 g 0.66 0.67
Sugar, 1 kilo 0.46 1.08
Brown sugar, 500 g 0.80 0.84
Fructose, 400 g 0.82 0.76
Flour, 1 kilo 1.35 1.08
+25% 3.29 4.43
Complex carbs
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, 500 g
3.84 3.45
Bread – white sliced, 350 g (12.35 oz) 0.59 0.85
Bread – unsliced oval loaf 0.57 0.76
El Paso Tortillas (8 ) 2.07 2.53
Lay’s Salt vinegar chips, 130 g 0.66 0.99
7.73 8.58
Pasta
Tomato Sauce, 1.5 liter (52.91 oz) 1.55 2.03
Barilla sauce, 380 ml (13.40 oz)
1.19 1.34
Barilla spaghetti, 500 g
1.53 1.08
Whole peeled tomatoes, 400 g (14.1 oz) 0.61 0.75
+6% 4.88 5.20
Meat
Chicken breast, 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) 5.07 5.57
Chicken drumsticks, 1 kilo 3.92 3.36
Ground beef, 1 kilo 4.55 4.55
Pork top loin boneless, 1 kilo 6.17 4.22
Turkey breast, 1 kilo 6.54 7.09
Bacon – smoked, sliced, 1 kilo 5.07 5.08
Cooked ham (counter), 1 kilo 8.45 6.76
Hot dogs, 340 g (11.99 oz) 0.58 1.44
-36% 59.72 38.07
Fresh produce
Broccoli, 1 kilo 1.69 1.48
Zucchini, 1 kilo 2.06 2.45
Green beans, 1 kilo 2.60 4.72
Carrots, 1 kilo 0.66 0.68
Mushrooms, 250 g/8.82 oz 0.76 0.81
Spinach, 1 kilo 2.53 3.03
Yellow pepper, 1 kilo
6.53 3.39
Onion, 1 kilo 1.68 1.41
Potatoes, 1 kilo 1.00 1.44
Tomatoes, 1 kilo 1.99 2.54
Apples – Granny Smith, 1 kilo 2.25 2.37
Bananas, 1 kilo 1.70 1.52
Pears, 1 kilo 1.54 3.03
Grapes (red seedless), 1 kilo
1.69 3.37
+11% 28.66 32.24
Condiments
Salt, 500 g 0.31 0.41
Pepper, 50 g (1.76 oz) 1.34 2.03
White vinegar, 500 ml (16.9 oz) 0.85 1.04
Ketchup Heinz, 340 g 1.56 1.84
Knorr chicken cubes 1.38 1.53
+21% 5.44 6.85
Frozen
Frozen Pizza, 320 g (11.29 oz) 0.85 1.34
Frozen green beans, 450 g (15.87 oz) 0.62 1.34
Frozen peas, 500 g 0.74 1.48
+47% 2.21 4.16
Toiletries
Colgate med head toothbrush, massager 1.54 2.30
Oral B satin floss, 25 m (27.34 yds) 0.97 1.89
Colgate total whitening, 75 ml (2.54 oz) 0.89 1.32
Listerine cool mint, 500 ml 3.07 3.84
Fructis 2 in 1 shampoo, 400 ml (13.53 oz) 3.07 2.39
Dove beauty bar, 100 g (3.53 oz) 0.80 0.81
Mach 3 Turbo, 8 refills 13.08 13.84
Gillette shaving gel Ultra comfort, 200 ml 2.32 2.53
+11% 25.74 28.92
Kitchen & Paper
Palmolive ultra, regular, 1250 ml (42.27 oz) 4.54 3.30
Scotch Brite blue sponge 0.74 0.82
Kleenex toilet paper (12) single rolls 3.49 2.50
Medical
Private doctor’s appt
69.00 60.78
Chiropractor 52.00 42.31
Birth control pills, 1 month 24.95 16.89
Botox injection 172.00 192.35
-2% 317.95 312.33
Maintenance
Men’s haircut, no tip 11.00 11.54
- Manhattan stylist
Women’s haircut, incl 20% tip 39.00 42.32
- Manhattan stylist
50.00 53.86
Transportation
Bus, metro/subway, tram
- All modes single ticket (valid 90 min) 1.00 1.54
- All modes monthly pass 58.50 62.32
- L.A. (comparison only, not totaled) 46.40 47.70
+7% 59.50 63.86
Communication
Cable (Comcast) 44.60 46.12
615 channels
Basic Phone Service 24.00 25.38
-AT&T: no install fee, unlimited nationwide calls 24/7
High speed internet, 12 mbps 33.10 33.05
- Comcast
Cell phone subscription
T-mobile
- 300 min * 23.07 23.07
- 900 min * 27.71 34.62
- Cheapest domestic sms ** 0.01 0.01
- Cheapest overseas sms 0.28 send 0.27
*includes unlimited nights/weekends 0.28 receive 0.15 receive
**also has unlimited plan for 14.99
+6% 152.80 162.67
Room with a view
Hilton Hotel, “King guestroom plus”
during same Sept. dates
in the city center
European style
non-smoking
DSL, newspaper, breakfast
- with prepayment, NYC 308.00 360.84
- L.A. 168.60 191.58
- without prepayment, NYC 308.00 360.84
- L.A. 168.60 191.58
+14%

11 Comments

  Eric wrote @ April 9th, 2009 at 19:33

I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  Aris wrote @ April 9th, 2009 at 22:32

Very interesting analysis – well done.

IMHO the government is treating the symptoms and not the cause. The cause is the hellish red tape and lack of a free market in Greece.

If Greece had a truly free market, and was more of a help to business (particularly small business who do not have the clout to cosy up to politicians and people of influence) – prices would come down by default.

  Dora wrote @ April 10th, 2009 at 15:52

Yia sas! Just passing by to say Hey! Kalo Pascha!

  Kat wrote @ April 10th, 2009 at 18:50

Hi Kat!

I’m Kat as well, which I hope doesn’t become confusing for other readers :) I found your site/blog a couple of weeks ago and have spent some time reading lots of your previous posts. Your descriptions of Greek everyday life are 100% accurate as well as hilarious! I am half English-half Greek, but was raised in Athens in a bilingual household. I moved to the UK and spent 4 years there, only to find out that I am much more Greek than English and so moved back to Athens to start my own business with my boyfriend. I find your story fascinating… I just can’t understand how you would actually willingly choose to endure everything you’ve gone through! I’ve always felt that I had no choice… once you realise you are “a Greek” deep down inside, u have no choice but to live here and put up with all the chaos…

Looking forward to reading more from you!
Kat

  Val wrote @ April 10th, 2009 at 20:00

Very clear comparisons! Thanks. I know now why my 50 euros at the supermarket barely buys a couple of bags of groceries , when last year I could get a week’s worth of staples for the same. Food costs more here than in the UK. I will use this list to check out what the comparison is like for UK prices.

  Kalliopi wrote @ April 11th, 2009 at 05:28

I’m happy to see a new post!! Always a good read… Thank you so much!

  thundera wrote @ April 11th, 2009 at 12:06

After going on Vacation in Thailand…I guess im gonna move there (cheaper life) :ppp naah….. Kidding! Cannot leave the fresh air of Greece for the really Humid and smeally air of Bangkok.I will stay here and fight for my rights! Really Good post Kat! As always!
Kisses!

  Alec wrote @ April 16th, 2009 at 10:03

Hi Kat,
Want to wish you a Kalo Pascha and will come back to this great piece of analytical research after the holidays. You really zeroed in on the games played — at consumer expense — in non-competitive markets like Greece. I am afraid we aren’t going to see much in the way of change….the idea of free competition here seems limited to university textbooks…Great post..

  Demitris wrote @ April 16th, 2009 at 21:46

Have noticed with my visits to Greece these past few years things are getting rapidly expensive. I really don’t see the end of it. People are in no position to demand higher salaries especially with the state of the economy. The government is in no position to provide subsidies because they are so much in debt already.

@ Aris-sorry friend, small businesses cannot compete with the big boys price-wise. If the big supermarkets are operating as a cartel the only solution is for the goverment to actually do something about it, if politicians are paid off expect nothing to come out of it. It’s a sad state of affairs but I just don’t see any solutions for the consumer at this time.

  Barbayiannis wrote @ April 22nd, 2009 at 18:39

Greek taxi drivers apparently haven’t heard about the low inflation rate: according to an article in the Athens News, cab fares are set to double over the next year. Supposedly this is part of a deal brokered by Transport Minister Evripidis Stylianidis whereby in return for higher fares and being allowed to use bus lanes outside central Athens, the drivers will promise to offer better service and not speed any more. Kai ego eimai o Megalexandros.

  Kat wrote @ April 23rd, 2009 at 12:07

E – Thank you!

A – I agree that it’s the system, and that applies to many things in the public sector as well — hospitals, police, transport, etc. Red tape scares away a lot of foreign/domestic investors and encourages tax dodging even at the self-employed level.

D – Episis! :)

K – Hi Kat, nice of you to stop in and say hello. When I meet people (mostly Greeks) and tell them I’ve been in Greece for 11 years, they usually ask me one of two things: “Why?” and “Did you make a mistake?” and then laugh. It was a dream of mine 11 years ago, and it came true after many attempts and sacrifices because that’s how much I wanted it. What’s different now? I grew up, I have new dreams, and we’ve grown apart. That happens. Plus, I’m not Greek (as everyone points out to me every day I’m here) and never will be, so this country will never truly be mine no matter what I do, and that works out just fine. What came out of my years here is something I wish I’d had — a website full of useful information I’ve chosen to share to make everyone else’s journey easier.

It’s very rewarding when I get comments like yours, and I look forward to hearing from you again. :)

V – Indeed. I think too often people don’t pay attention to prices because either someone else is paying, or we know we need these things no matter what the cost.

K & T – Hi again! Thank you for your kind words.

A – Hello, hope you had a nice Easter. And yes, I’m afraid free competition is a pipe dream in Greece.

D – True, when ND came into power in 2007, they (again) promised salaries would be raised on par with other EU countries, but it hasn’t been done. In order to raise our salaries, we need to change jobs, utilize connections or do favors for someone, or work a second job. That said, we are lucky to have jobs as I know people who have lost theirs.

B – My friends and I have been whispering (and laughing) about this since it was announced weeks ago, and I decided against posting anything because many things in GR are announced and never implemented in full. If it goes forward, it’s absurd. Does anyone remember Athens 2004 when taxi drivers were supposed to behave, be courteous, learn some English and issue receipts? Ha! I saw none of that. And not speed anymore? Yeah right. I have to question if anyone brokering this deal is familiar with Greece and Greeks.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.