Living in Greece

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

Cost of living in Greece vs. the world 2009

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What is the cost of living in Athens, Greece? Is it expensive? Is it cheap? Depends on where you’re from and what you consider cheap or expensive.

According to the cost of living survey compiled by Mercer — and published by this website since 2007 — Athens, Greece is the 28th most expensive city in the world for 2009, down from #25 last year.

The strong U.S. dollar and weakened euro caused many U.S., Middle Eastern and Asian cities to rise from relative obscurity to break the Top 50, while European cities slipped. It does not mean the EU got cheaper, but rather it’s relative to fluctuating currency rates and the stability and vitality of a country’s economy.

For example, Amsterdam and Athens both use the euro and were tied last year at #25, but Athens ranked fairly high this year, suggesting the Dutch economy was more stable. The same with Germany. Berlin and Munich moved down 10 and 11 places, respectively, but Athens descended only three places. That means living in Greece actually became more expensive.

Another factor to consider is the standard of living that people enjoy in exchange for higher costs. Athens is the lowest ranked city in the EU for quality of living at #76, while Amsterdam holds steady at #13 in the Mercer quality of living survey for 2009. There is also the subject of salary, as rightly pointed out by Dealsend in “Minimum salary vs. cost and quality of living in the EU 2008.”

Mercer selects 143 cities where multinationals are most likely to send employees, which is why villages and Greek islands are not included. They sample costs for 200 items that include housing, utilities, transportation, food, textiles and entertainment, making it the world’s most comprehensive analysis on cost of living.

If you don’t trust these types of surveys, go ahead and take a look at the latest price comparison for Greece and compare prices for common items against prices in the country you’re currently living. Click “Prices for Greece.”

Also be aware that taxes in Greece were raised three times in 10 months due to austerity measures. See “VAT in Greece” to understand what rates are being charged as of January 1, 2011.

Top 50 Most Expensive Cities

1. Tokyo, Japan
2. Osaka, Japan
3. Moscow, Russia
4. Geneva, Switzerland
5. Hong Kong, HK
6. Zurich, Switzerland
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
8. New York City, USA
9. Beijing, China
10. Singapore, Singapore (tie)
10. Milan, Italy (tie)
12. Shanghai, China
13. Paris, France
14. Oslo, Norway
15. Caracas, Venezuela
16. London, UK
17. Tel Aviv, Israel
18. Rome, Italy
19. Helsinki, Finland
20. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
21. Vienna, Austria
22. Shenzhen, China
23. Los Angeles, USA (tie)
23. Guangzhou, China (tie)
25. Dublin, Ireland
26. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
27. Douala, Cameroon
28. Athens, Greece
29. Amsterdam, Netherlands
30. Bratislava, Slovakia
31. White Plains (NY), USA
32. Lagos, Nigeria
33. Tehran, Iran
34. Abidjan, Ivory Coast (tie)
34. Dakar, Senegal (tie)
34. San Francisco (CA), USA (tie)
37. Madrid, Spain
38. Luxembourg, Luxembourg (tie)
38. Barcelona, Spain (tie)
40. Algiers, Algeria
41. Honolulu (HI), USA (tie)
41. Brussels, Belgium (tie)
41. Beirut, Lebanon (tie)
44. Almaty, Kazakhstan
45. Miami (FL), USA
46. St. Petersburg, Russia
47. Munich, Germany
48. Frankfurt, Germany
49. Berlin, Germany
50. Chicago (IL), USA

If you prefer to see an article in Greek, see “Στις 30 πιο ακριβές πόλεις του κόσμου η Αθήνα” at Ta Nea Online.

* Please keep in mind that I did not compile the Mercer survey when making comments, and my policy will be enforced if necessary.


CNN Money provides a cost calculator that compares the cost of living between two U.S. cities chosen by the reader at “Compare prices in two cities.”

ASA Consultants target a mostly Australian audience, but offers a calculator that compares two of many popular international cities chosen by the reader at “Cost of Living calculator.”

Related posts

Cost of living in Greece vs. world 2008
Cost of living in Athens, Greece 2007


  Katie wrote @ July 9th, 2009 at 17:15

Absolutely wonderful information. Thank you very much for your perspective on life in Greece and for answering some questions I didn’t even know I had!


  Demitris wrote @ July 13th, 2009 at 00:55

I am glad to see there is a slight improvement over last year as Athens is already way more expensive than it should be. I do however have a craving to visit the most expensive city on the list, Tokyo. I have a friend that lives there and the pictures he has emailed of Japan are stunning, such an incredibly beautiful country with a great culture.

  tobias cooks wrote @ July 14th, 2009 at 14:54

I am a bit surprised that you did not post my comment! Was there something wrong with it or do you only allow posts that find Mercer studies great?

Best regards.

Kat Reply:

I’m open to critical comments; and, for the record, I never stated my own opinion anywhere, so how would anyone know whether I think these studies are great? If you take issue with Mercer’s methodology and findings, I think it’s only fair we read the entire report before passing judgment, and anyone is free to complain to them directly.

  tobias cooks wrote @ July 15th, 2009 at 16:10

Well I seem to have gotten you wrong then. In my RSS feed your article begins with the statement: “Athens, Greece is the 28th most expensive city in the world for 2009, though quality of living and salary standards remain low. Cost of living is set to rise further with new taxes taking effect.”

This sounds a lot like you would be posting your opinion based on the study by Mercer. But you updated the post anyhow and now it sounds much more neutral.

I gladly read the entire report. Can I borrow your copy?

Best regards

Kat Reply:

The excerpt you quoted is handwritten separately from the article itself for SEO purposes. The original post has not been changed or updated since it was published; it was always neutral. I respect your opinion, however there are 12 new taxes taking effect this month and another set in October to raise more than 2 billion euros, and there’s no way the cost of living can go down under those circumstances — it’s a factual statement.

Mercer reports are available direct from their PR office, where you can also voice your opinion about their methodology. All best.

  john wrote @ July 19th, 2009 at 23:34

Cost of living in Greece is fluctuating and opinionated. To actually understand the living expenses that come with Greece you need to hear and learn about it from the locals themselves.

Kat Reply:

What a strange comment from someone living in the USA. We are locals living and working in Greece. Plus, a comprehensive cost comparison of common products and services is done every year on this website since 2007 and has been republished in Greek by Proto Thema and Kathimerini.

  fd wrote @ August 1st, 2009 at 15:59

if you are so anti-greece why are you there for the past 10 years or so? you obviously are enjoying your stay. i can go on and on about some sh!tty laws america has but i dont because i live here and i have just accepted things, maybe you should just accept greece for what it is.. and stop complaining.

Kat Reply:

The only person complaining is you. This post isn’t based on my research and contains no opinion. I’ve obviously accepted life ‘as is’ or you wouldn’t be under the impression I’m enjoying my stay.

If you did make critical statements about America, that would be fine because I know it isn’t perfect and am big enough to admit that. There is no utopia. There’s a distinct difference between being truthful and being anti-Greek. Take the time figure it out before passing judgment.

P.S. According to my stats, FD is KT (Kiki), who used whine and cry about the horrid conditions of living and working in Greece, begged me for help, then went home to her car and well-off parents’ home in Boston, MA because she couldn’t accept things here. Sad.

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