The cost of living in Athens is probably the lowest of any major city in Southern Europe. Steeped in ancient history and brimming with energy, the city presents a unique opportunity for those seeking an affordable long-term stay in a warm, culturally-rich destination. 

Compared to other cities within Greece, Athens might rank higher on the cost scale, trailing only the extravagant island destinations of Santorini and Mykonos. However, when juxtaposed with other European capitals, Athens positions itself as a notably cost-effective alternative.

This article will provide you with a comprehensive and nuanced view of the cost of living in Athens, taking into account the various ranges of expenditure and quality of life for foreigners living in the city. The information contained herein is based on real-life experiences that I had living for 2 months in Athens and local insights from websites like Numbeo that help paint an accurate picture of what life costs in Athens. 

We will delve into the essentials: Rent, Food, Activities, and Nightlife, providing a solid foundation for anyone considering Athens as their next destination. Let’s begin.

How much does it cost to live in Athens?

The cost of living in Athens can vary significantly, depending on one’s lifestyle and preferences. For a digital nomad in Athens enjoying the city’s rich heritage, the estimated monthly cost can range from 2,000 € to 2,500 €. This accounts for a comfortable apartment in the city center, frequent meals out, transportation, and leisure activities. On the other hand, for locals who have a more established routine and home, the cost of living can be less – ranging from approximately 1,000 € to 1,500 € per month.

Of course, it’s possible to live in Athens on much less than the figures posted. I would say that a digital nomad renting a small room or apartment on the outskirts of the city could easily get by with about 1000 euros. However, keep in mind that you’ll be able to afford fewer activities and participate less in the lovely eating culture and nightlife that Athens has to offer. You’ll be cooking at home and having a beer in a local park more often than not.

Cost of living in Athens
Cost of living in Athens

Personally, I like to mix eating out and cooking for myself pretty evenly. And Athens does have cheap street food options like Gyros or Falafels which won’t cost you much more than eating at home.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll provide a detailed breakdown of the costs for both digital nomads and locals, covering all aspects of living in Athens from housing to food and entertainment. We believe that understanding these costs in detail can help you plan your budget more effectively and allow you to fully enjoy the Athenian experience.

Average monthly rent in Athens 

Finding a suitable place to call home in Athens is a crucial part of setting up your life in this historic city. The average rent in Athens varies depending on the neighbourhood, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costing around 1000€-2000€ monthly for digital nomads and 600€ – 800€ per month for locals, while a similar apartment in the outskirts might cost between 400€ – 600€.

When it comes to finding accommodation, there are plenty of traditional options. Airbnb is a popular choice for digital nomads seeking fully furnished accommodations with flexible lease terms. However, those looking to stay long-term might find better deals on local Facebook groups although this option might require a bit more effort. In every case, you could always try to negotiate the price down by 10-15%, especially in exchange for a cash payment. Landlords will often be eager to take cash for tax reasons.

Traditional hotel booking websites like Booking.com offer a variety of options, but prices tend to be higher compared to standard rental prices. You can still find decent hotel accommodation for 50€-60€ per night though.

That said, finding accommodations on these platforms can be a huge waste of time. Especially when you need to ensure that they are actually suitable for remote work, and livable for a months-long stay. 

Most rental sites have posed major problems for me, and I know I’m not alone. If you want a more consistent solution, we’re in the process of curating a large database of digital nomad apartments in Athens and elsewhere. Enter your name and email below to get access to them as soon as they’re released.

Naturally, comparing rental prices, digital nomads might find themselves paying slightly more due to the short-term nature of their stays and the convenience of furnished accommodations. In contrast, locals, particularly those with long-term leases, are likely to secure better monthly rates.

Neighbourhoods

Look, there are always more affordable neighbourhoods no matter where you go. In general, I wouldn’t recommend staying north of Omonoia station though. You’ll find lots of cheap Airbnbs and hotels there, but I think for a short stay having to navigate through some of the unsavoury elements in those neighbourhoods every day just isn’t worth it at all. Especially when you might only save 10€ per day.

As for affordability, neighbourhoods like Kypseli, and Neos Kosmos offer some of the city’s most economical options. On the other hand, districts like Kolonaki and Plaka, known for their upscale residences, are among the most expensive in Athens.

Each neighbourhood in Athens has a unique character and offers different conveniences. The ease of finding necessary amenities, quality of life, and food options can vary significantly. 

I cover the best neighbourhoods in Athens, alongside their costs and other pros and cons in more detail in the linked article. For now, let’s delve into the pricing specifics of two prominent Athenian neighbourhoods: Exarcheia and Plaka. 

Exarcheia – Best Value

Exarcheia is the best value neighbourhood in Athens, but it might not stay this way for long. Gentrification is a big deal here, as you’ll see from the numerous graffiti signage telling Airbnbs to “F%&% OFF”

So it comes as little surprise that Exarcheia is the counterculture hub of Athens. With a diverse street life that includes independent bookshops, alternative music stores, artisan coffee shops, and street food spots, it’s an ideal neighbourhood for those seeking a unique Athenian experience. Rents in Exarcheia are generally more affordable, catering primarily to students, artists, and those seeking budget-friendly options. You can easily find a short stay for around 800 Euros here.

Plaka – The Tourist Hub

For those seeking a taste of classic Greek architecture and culture, Plaka, often called the is an excellent choice. Situated beneath the Acropolis, Plaka is an architectural paradise filled with colourful buildings, preserved ruins, and quaint narrow lanes. You’ll find cozy tavernas, antique shops, and traditional markets here. Rents in Plaka are quite high to high due to its prime location and historical appeal.

Cost of food in Athens 

The food scene in Athens is a flavorful blend of traditional Greek cuisine and modern gastronomy. For digital nomads and locals alike, Athens offers a variety of dining experiences that cater to different budgets. 

On average, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Athens would cost about 10€ – 15€ per person, while a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant might set you back 25€ – 40€. For digital nomads who opt for cooking at home, monthly grocery costs can be about 200€ – 300€, depending on your dietary preferences and consumption. However, if you’re a foodie and prefer dining out often, expect to spend around 300€ – 500€ per month, depending on how much street food you eat.

Street food and local tavernas provide some of the most affordable meal options. You can enjoy a delicious gyro or souvlaki for just 3€ – 4€, making them a favourite choice for budget-conscious locals and tourists. Meanwhile, fresh seafood, while a bit pricier, offers an authentic taste of Greece’s coastal cuisine.

As compared to locals, digital nomads might find themselves spending slightly more on food due to their unfamiliarity with local markets or their preference for more Western-style cuisine, which can be more expensive. However, with time and local insights, it’s easy to eat affordably and well in Athens.

Cost of transportation in Athens

Getting around Athens is fairly straightforward, with a variety of transportation options available. For a digital nomad or a local, the average monthly cost of public transportation (bus, tram, and metro) is around 30€, if you buy a monthly pass that provides unlimited travel within Athens. I never needed the Metro that much so I never attempted to buy this pass. For my part, I usually purchased 5 metro tickets at once for a price of €5.70.

Taxis

Taxis are also prevalent, with the average fare starting at 3.50€ and adding around 1.40€ per kilometre thereafter. For digital nomads, occasional taxi rides can prove to be a convenient option for navigating the city, but relying solely on them can be costly. Car rentals are an option for those planning to explore beyond the city, with the average cost for a compact car starting from around 30€ per day.

Which Transportation Should You Use?

When comparing costs for locals and digital nomads, public transportation remains the most economical and reliable mode of transportation for both. A local resident might opt for a personal vehicle for convenience, bearing the additional costs of car ownership such as fuel, maintenance, and insurance. In contrast, anyone staying for a short time will likely find public transportation and occasional taxi rides or car rentals to be the most cost-effective and hassle-free options. Athens traffic is a bit crazy and the expense of renting a card just isn’t worth it given the relative proximity of most sights in the city to the centre, or at least, to public transit.

Consequently, public transit is generally the most reliable and budget-friendly way to navigate Athens. It’s an efficient system that can get you virtually anywhere in the city, and even to nearby coastal areas and ports.

Cost of activities in Athens

Athens, known for its rich history and vibrant nightlife, offers a wide range of activities catering to both digital nomads and locals.

In terms of tourist sights, entrance to the iconic Acropolis and the accompanying Acropolis Museum comes at a combined cost of about 30€. Other historical sites and museums tend to range from free to 15€. However, for digital nomads who plan to explore the city extensively, the multi-site tickets valid for five days at 30€ could be a good option.

Fitness enthusiasts can expect to pay around 30€ – 50€ for a monthly gym membership, depending on the facilities and location. Meanwhile, local residents often have access to discounted annual memberships, which can lower their monthly costs.

Athens’ nightlife is diverse and caters to all budgets. The price for a regular beer in a local bar or pub ranges from 3€ – 5€, while at a club, it could go up to 7€ – 10€.

As compared to locals, digital nomads might spend more on activities initially, given their interest in exploring the city’s historical and cultural sites. However, over time, the costs even out as they settle into routines similar to locals, with occasional outings and gym memberships.

The quality of activities in Athens is high, with excellent reviews for most tourist sites, gyms, and nightlife venues. The city’s ancient monuments, like the Acropolis and the Agora, are world-renowned, and its gyms and clubs are modern and well-maintained.

The Bottom Line

So, Athens is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to costs. You could end up paying almost as much or as little as you want. The standard rules apply, if you’re on a budget, you’ll need to find free ways to have fun, and Athens’ numerous parks are worth far more than the price of admission (Free) given their stunning views, and in some cases, historical significance.

If you have the money, you won’t have to pay much for luxury in Athens compared to countries like Canada and the US. Fine dining here is quite affordable when you compare it to the rest of Europe and North America, and so are luxury accommodations.

If this article piqued your curiosity, why not read more about the pros and cons of living in Athens? In addition to spending and value, I cover much more about the upsides and downsides of living in this city.

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