18 In Destinations

You’re an Expat in Athens, Greece When… (34 Fun Signs)

Last Updated on January 7, 2021 by Nina Ahmedow

view of athens

I was born and raised in the north of Germany but have been living in Athens, Greece for the past six years. Actually, I was planning to leave, but then COVID-19 happened so I’ll still be sticking around for a bit.

If you’re an expat in Athens you may be familiar with a story like mine: Moving here was a very spontaneous decision, and I had never actually been to Athens or anywhere else in Greece before. At the time, I wanted the adventure of doing something new, and I didn’t really see my life going anywhere in Germany. So I packed my bags and took that flight to Athens. And I ended up staying longer than I thought I would.

As a result, I have a bit of content on Athens so whether you’re looking for vegan restaurants in Athens, the best day trips from Athens, things to do in Athens on a layover, or even Christmas lights in Athens I’ve got you covered.

street in plaka athens greece

But what’s it like to be an expat in Athens? Well, Greece has continuously been voted among the ten worst countries for expats in the Expat Insider survey by InterNations. The annual survey was published six times so far, and for half of those Greece even made the very bottom of the list.

acropolis athens greece

But let’s have a bit of fun, what are some of the signs you’re an expat in Athens?

vegan souvlaki cookoomela athens greece

You Know You’re an Expat in Athens When…

  1. You got used to seeing cockroaches on the street or in apartments.
  2. Most of the other expats you know work either at TP or have their own businesses.
  3. Rent may be low, but the quality of apartments is the worst you’ve ever seen in your life.
  4. However, you have at least one balcony.
  5. You continue to refer to the green line as “metro” and will never call it “Ηλεκτρικός.” After all, it’s part of the Athens Metro system.
  6. You’ve probably had souvlaki way too often.
  7. One of the first words you learned was “αύριο” (tomorrow). Because nothing ever happens before tomorrow anyway.
  8. When you tried to get your internet connection set up you heard a lot of “αύριο” for weeks.
  9. Whenever you try to speak Greek people reply in English so eventually you give up.
  10. But, as a result, your English has suffered tremendously while here.
  11. You have had more than one bank account while living here. Either because the bank you were with no longer exists (#FinancialCrisis) or because your employer constantly changes the bank they work with.
  12. Your first reaction to an earthquake was “oh, it’s not that bad.”
  13. You know not to eat at any of the tourist traps on Adrianou Street.
  14. You’ve done the Athens Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra.
  15. You still haven’t figured out why exactly you bought public transport tickets before they actually used the electronic gates.
  16. You’ve taken a day trip to Aegina or Agistri.
  17. You’ve actually been to Exarcheia although Greeks will tell you it’s “dangerous.”
  18. But you know not to go there on November 17th.
  19. You enjoy the empty streets around Easter and in August.
  20. You love the summer a little less than you thought.
  21. You know not to trust the OASA app.
  22. You’ve learned how to cross the street without getting hit by a car.
  23. But you still can’t deal with the fact that all the sidewalks are fully parked with cars. There’s no way to ever be okay with that.
  24. As a result, you’ve accepted that you have to walk on the road in much of the city.
  25. You have a favorite Indian restaurant.
  26. Monastiraki is the only place to meet with somebody.
  27. You’ve used “Ticket Restaurant” to buy everything from food to kitchen appliances.
  28. Your apartment doesn’t have heating so you need to use a space heater in the winter. Or you simply stick to air conditioning all year.
  29. You sometimes forget how privileged you are compared to refugees.
  30. You know how to get a bus to stop.
  31. Athenian traffic brings out the worst in you.
  32. You’re shocked at how many items that are normal in Western countries you cannot get here (cooking non-Greek dishes can be difficult).
  33. Before moving here you had no idea that fall and winter would be so rainy.
  34. You came here for summer but somehow ended up staying longer.
colorful street art in plaka athens greece

What do you think? Is there anything that’s missing?

expat in athens pin lemons and luggage


  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    I don’t know about living here but your pictures definitely make me want to visit! Gorgeous!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      May 30, 2020 at 2:01 pm

      I hope you get a chance to visit some day!

  • Reply
    Lokesh Kumar
    May 30, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    Very nice pics ….. Greece is on my travel list !!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      May 31, 2020 at 11:34 am

      I hope you get a chance to visit!

  • Reply
    Mubin Ansari
    May 30, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Wow looks amazing, I wonder if there is any opportunity for Chemical Engineers

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      May 31, 2020 at 11:35 am

      I highly doubt it. Unemployment is very high in Greece, and most people with good degrees leave the country.

  • Reply
    Lauren Trivison
    May 31, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Oh my goodness Greece looks fun! I related to some of these when I lived in Italy!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      May 31, 2020 at 11:35 am

      Oh yes, the two countries share a lot of similarities.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    We talked about taking the kids to Greece two days ago (we have 6). We want to see Santorini, but if I could make it possible, I would see everything! This article was very interesting! I want to go back and read your post on day trips and Christmas lights too!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      June 2, 2020 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Emmalyn! I hope you make it to Greece and enjoy your time here. Let me know how you like the other articles.

  • Reply
    Under flowery sky
    June 1, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    I’m happy to hear the local tips about living abroad, I’ve never been
    to Athens and would love to. Though it’s not easy, you’re still quite
    a long time there, that’s an accomplishment..

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      June 2, 2020 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you for your comment! There are good and bad things here as in any city, I’m sure. Some days it’s easier than others. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 2, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Your pictures are beautiful but the cockroaches would not do! I believe that would break me! Your list is too funny!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      June 3, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      Haha! They’re a bit gross for sure!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2020 at 3:18 am

    What does TP in number 2 mean?

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      November 13, 2020 at 11:47 am

      Teleperformance, it’s a big company here.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Haw! Haw! I really like your article. Nice one Nina!

    We went to Greece for the first time in 2019. It was March.
    I’m British although I live in Berlin, so of course I was wearing sundresses and ankle boots, but many people in Athens were wearing fur coats!

    I thought it was hilarious! 😀

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      January 18, 2022 at 4:22 pm

      Haha, that’s so funny! March in Athens is so warm for anyone coming from the UK or Germany.

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