To understand why I chose the expat life in Greece you need to know a little bit more about me.
I was born and raised in Germany to a German mother and a Turk from Bulgaria. This background always made me different from the other students at my high school in the north of Germany. I never felt fully at home and knew from an early age that I wanted to leave Germany.
As a teenager, I was in love with all things French. And when I graduated high school, my goal was to move to France within the next five years.
Within three years of my high school graduation, I had indeed moved somewhere else. But not to France. Rather I had found myself in the closest alternative – Quebec, Canada, specifically, the wonderful city of Montreal. I went to McGill University and met people from all over the world. Finally, I did not feel left out among the rest of the students. I wasn’t too German for one side and not German enough for the other. I was simply one of many international students in a bilingual, multicultural city. However, despite the fact that I really loved Montreal, I never felt like I could live there forever.
Having moved back to Germany, I was unhappier than before after all the amazing experiences I had had in Montreal. The desire to move elsewhere became stronger but manifested itself mainly in traveling within Europe. I noticed that every time I found myself in another country I felt more at home than in Germany. Eventually, I had to make a decision. Would I keep waiting for the ideal opportunity in the ideal place, or simply go where life would take me?
After being offered a better position at my job, I decided to not only reject the offer. But I even quit to go and see where I would find a new opportunity. I received several job offers in different countries, out of which Greece was the most appealing. Even though I had never traveled there, I thought the Mediterranean climate would be more enjoyable. And I knew that if things didn’t work out for me I could always leave. That was a little over two years ago. Since then I have seen both the good and bad aspects of expat life in Greece.
So what is life in Greece like?
If you’re from a Western country, you will probably make a lot more money than the average Greek citizen. Rent is cheap so, despite the high costs of groceries, you will be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle.
The weather is incredible. Summers in Germany are cool and humid summers and the winters frosty winters. In Montreal, the summers are warm and humid and the winters snowy and windy. So now I really enjoy the climate here in Athens. In January it starts to get colder but at least I know the good weather will be back soon. Unlike in Germany where even the summers tend to be rainy.
Another incredible experience in Athens is walking around downtown and constantly passing by sites built several thousands of years ago. Walking the same streets that some of the world’s greatest philosophers have walked in ancient times is a priceless experience.
And even if you ever get tired of the noise of the city, there are so many travel opportunities. There are hundreds of beautiful Greek islands to visit by boat or plane.
Now, of course, there are also some negative sides to the expat life in Greece.
The healthcare system is horrible. There is no other word for it and no need to explain it in detail.
Pollution and trash are everywhere. Greek people are not environmentally-minded. The Green Party has influenced German politics since the 1980s, so I grew up with an understanding of environmental responsibility. Throwing trash on the street is completely out of the question for me, but over here it’s commonplace.
People are not aware that when millions of people live in one city you have to be considerate of others. I used to take the bike to work, and people walk on the one (!) bike line that exists. They don’t make the slightest attempt at letting bikes pass which is quite annoying.
The same goes for getting on and off elevators and escalators or public transport. People will stand in front of elevator doors and get angry at you for struggling to get out. This, in particular, has taken its toll on me, and I sometimes do the same now. Even in those negative situations, however, I never regret having moved here. I don’t have my identity questioned the way I do in Germany, and this makes my life easier.
So there you have it, the expat life in Greece definitely has its pros and cons. You should keep this in mind if you decide to move here.