Athens, Greece Report of what it's like to live there - 03/22/22

Personal Experiences from Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece 03/22/22

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, sixth tour.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

EZ flights, few hours from Frankfurt or London.

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3. What years did you live here?

2019-2021.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is not a strong point at post; there are many issues in the housing pool (e.g., mold, garage issues, many repairs) and housing can be far away from the embassy. Unfortunately, this is problematic since there is no shuttle service making this challenging for new arrivals and those who rely on one car per family since public transportation can be iffy.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

No worries, the Med diet is awesome. Post has a NEX that does a great job.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Don't miss much, post has an excellent NEX.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can find all you need, the only thing missing is real Korean food. I'm sure it's somewhere.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The mailroom is fantastic. They really do a great job with the volume.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Ten Euros an hour on average for hard working staff, usually they can handle the house in five hours.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

All over, reasonably priced.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No worries, you'll tap everywhere.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English has been mandatory in the Greek school system since the 70s, you just need the greetings and a smile.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, sorry sidewalk parking is the norm. Like Italy or WHA, if it fits you leave the car there.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yup.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Nothing big, four or all wheel drive is handy.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

50 Mbps down 40Mbps up with the basic plan.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Google Fi is hit or miss here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yup, the kennel facilities are better than our housing. Rates are cheap and people leave pets for long term including R&Rs. Vets are good too.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

The embassy has a couple of EPAP positions and a CLO Coordinator. Everything else for EFMs is higher grade, and, in my opinion, likely not going to work for anyone who needs childcare.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

People work with the pet rescue groups, cats are everywhere.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal seems to be the norm at work, Greeks are very casual otherwise.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None, unless you want to ride a motorcycle or scooter.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Private hospital, billing is a pain, in my opinion, but people don't complain otherwise.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

No issues.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Not aware of any issues.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

In my opinion, housing frustration syndrome is a real thing.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot with a surprisingly cold winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ACS and Byron are the two main options. In my opinion, Byron is better by far.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

In my opinion, they get a failing grade at ACS, not sure about Byron.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Day care is usually nanny care, so it seems most EFMs stay home since employment at the Embassy, in my opinion, would barely cover costs with the commute time. ACS has no busing after sports so it's tricky.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, lots of options.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Low, as housing seems to be a constant frustration. In my opinion, you refill the serotonin traveling then you spend the week wondering why you live this way and what you did wrong.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Due to housing location being farther out, it is hard to socialize outside your cluster. Housing, in my opinion, is poor and randomly scattered and it seems people move or curtail just to be around other families.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

In my opinion, this is a much easier post for those without children or pets.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I don't think so.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not sure.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel is a highlight of living here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

It's not an easy tour, and the Embassy will be under construction with a massive OBO project for years.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Stuff, in my experience, you won't have room for it.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

If housing is at all important to you, this is not your tour.

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