Best places to live in Greece for English speakers


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In the last 20 years, Greece has become an increasingly popular place for Americans, Canadians, British, Australians, and many other nationalities looking to relocate to a beautiful beach destination. The best places to live in Greece to suit English-speaking expats include exciting cities, towns, and villages on the mainland to numerous picture-perfect islands of varying sizes, each with its own character.

Living in Greece is a unique experience that offers good weather, great beaches, spectacular landscapes, a relaxed atmosphere, and a low cost of living. One important concern for expats is learning the Greek language with its different alphabet and challenging range of sounds, intonations, and grammar. The great news is that nearly everyone under the age of 60 in Greece speaks some basic English and 51% of Greeks speak excellent English.

Greece relies heavily on its tourism, so it is vital that everyone does speak some English. English is taught as the first foreign language in Greek schools so all young people love the chance to practice their English. English is also the international business language in Greece.

Living in Greece and only speaking English is manageable, but it is much appreciated if you do master some key phrases. Greeks are warm and hospitable and are usually delighted when foreigners take the trouble to learn the basics of their language.

While English is widely spoken in cities and towns, if you have your heart set on moving to a sleepy Greek village like in the movie Shirley Valentine, then it is best to sign up for a Greek language course to learn basic conversation.

For an easy transition to the Greek lifestyle, here are the best places to live in Greece for English speakers:

The best places to live on continental Greece

1. Athens

The capital city Athens is the best place to live in Greece for English speakers and it has long attracted expats from the United States. They are drawn by the city’s amazing archaeology, architecture, rich history, as well as its cosmopolitan vibe, not to mention the low cost of living, thanks to the strength of the dollar against the euro.

As a consequence, recently there has been an increase in direct flights between Athens and U.S. cities. It is a 15-hour flight and there are now daily flights to New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago from Athens, as well as plenty of good flight schedules to many European and British regional airports.

The multi-cultural hub of 1.3 million residents has a lot to offer, including enviable weather, being one of the warmest and sunniest European capitals. The city enjoys 220 days of sunshine every year and mild winters.

Needless to add, the main advantage of living in a large city is that there are numerous attractions and things to do in Athens that will ensure a vibrant, interesting lifestyle day and night, all year round.


Although it is the capital city, living on a budget in Athens is possible. The best prices are to be found a few miles from the city center and this is no problem as the city has a good public transportation network. With 6.3 million tourists visiting Athens each year, it makes sense to live a little further out, away from the crowded areas. This being said, the wealthy central districts of Kolonaki and Kifissia are very popular with expats.

Whether you choose to buy or rent, the prices in Athens are on average 50% lower than in other European capitals. A one-bedroom apartment rent is about €550 ($600) and a three-bedroom apartment about €950 ($1,050) per month, on average. Utility bills are usually not included. It is quite possible to live in Athens on $2,000 per month, as all food basics are cheap compared to other European capitals.

A popular place to live in Central Athens is Monastraki, which is a multicultural neighborhood with a really friendly ambiance. However, most expats opt to live outside the center of the city in the northern suburbs of Chalandri and Filothei and southern suburbs of Faliro and Glyfada, because the rents are lower and there are good public transportation connections into the center.

2. The second city of Thessaloniki

The second-largest Greek city of Thessaloniki is also a popular place to live for foreigners. The city has a more relaxed ambiance than the capital and is known as the ‘cultural center of Greece’. The city also has a great reputation for its food.

Thessaloniki is a port city situated in a protected bay and there is a lovely promenade by the sea for leisurely strolls. The city has several expat associations and offers American expats, direct flights to Boston. The city is also well connected by highways and train rail links with other Greek cities.

One of the top advantages of living in Thessaloniki is its proximity to the beautiful vacation destination of Halkidiki, three paradise-like peninsulas loaded with wonderful beaches, amazing waters, and the home of Mount Athos.

3. The port city of Patras

Situated on the northwestern Peloponnese peninsula, this bustling port city is home to a significant number of expats. It is a popular place to live in Greece for expats because there are plenty of activities to enjoy including museums and art galleries.


For those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, there are two sizeable parks within easy reach. Patras is a great city to live in if you love entertainment. In the evenings, the colorful array of nightlife delights crowds of all ages.

The best places to live on the Greek islands

4. Corfu

This medium-sized, lush and leafy island was the first to welcome tourists and it is one of the best places to live in Greece. Corfu is a great choice if you only speak English, as it is commonly spoken. Unlike other islands, Corfu keeps going all year round, while smaller islands are really quiet outside the tourist season, which begins with the Greek Orthodox Easter and ends in mid-October.


Life on the island of Corfu is relaxing, especially if you live away from the main resorts. The island has a distinctly Italian character following years of Venetian rule. It is amusing to find that there are as many restaurants serving pasta as traditional Greek dishes. Corfu is perfect for those who enjoy traveling, as it is conveniently located close to both Italy and Albania, with numerous daily boat trips to the other Greek Islands.

5. Santorini

If you’re into a glamorous island lifestyle, Santorini is an amazing place to live for English speakers. It is the most famous Greek island of all, well known for the stunning panoramic views over its half-submerged volcanic crater (the Caldera).


Everyone seems to speak some English in the main town of Thira and the island’s other popular spots, but in the quieter inland villages, the older generation speaks only Greek. Getting around this island (as with many others) couldn’t be easier, as all road signs are written both in Greek and English and all the taxi drivers speak good English.

6. Rhodes

Rhodes is a popular island, known as ‘the Emerald of the Aegean’. The island’s capital, Rhodes Town, is home to the Colossus – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, as well as the impressive Crusader castle.  Coupled with clear blue waters, stunning beaches, and pretty villages, no wonder Rhodes is popular with those seeking great island living.


Rhodes has a population of 115,000 residents and many of whom choose to split their time, spending their summers on the island and winter on the mainland. For those who live permanently on the island, there is mild weather with little or no rain between May-September and plenty to enjoy including great walks, pretty villages and water sports.

7. Zakynthos (also known as Zante)

Situated not far from Corfu, this popular Ionian island is an ideal place to live in Greece for those who love nature, beaches and wildlife. Like some of the other smaller Ionian islands, including Paxos, Zakynthos is covered in olive groves and pine forests.

Zakynthos has visibly increased in popularity with expats in recent years. The island has some of the world’s best beaches including the famous shipwreck beach where the remains of the Navagio lie half buried in the sand.


This island is a good choice if you enjoy snorkeling and diving as it is a breeding area for the Loggerhead marine turtle (Caretta caretta). The island has its own airport and the flight to Athens takes just 40 minutes. To rent a house or apartment is best done the traditional Greek way by ‘word of mouth’ as most are never advertised.

It is important to know that Zakynthos is one of the Greek islands that does close for winter, as many of its residents head to the mainland. In the off-season, international flights are not available from the island’s airport, but domestic flights to Athens are operational all year round.

8. Naxos

This delightful lesser-known island is the largest in the Cyclades and one of the best places to live in Greece that’s becoming popular with working expats because it offers an excellent work-life balance.


Many have found that the island of Naxos is perfect for working remotely from Greece and everyone speaks English. An added bonus is that the Greek government will be introducing a new work visa for those working remotely so that they get a 50% discount on their tax for the first seven years of their residency.

9. Paros

Situated in the heart of the Cycladic group of islands, Paros is an island of rolling hills and fertile valleys that are dotted with villages, churches and monasteries. Paros has a population of roughly 13,000 and its geographical location makes it popular both with Athenians and expats.


If you seek the island lifestyle, Greece is your best choice. An increasing number of expats are choosing to make one of the smaller Greek islands home. If you do too, it is essential to research whether the island of your choice is one that goes into an annual winter shutdown. The quiet, super-slow life can be therapeutic, but it’s not for everyone.

Among other islands worth a look is Siros, with its film festival, fine dining and good theatre. So is the dreamy Kephalonia, with its amazing white sand beaches and turquoise waters, where the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed. This is a large island of outstanding beauty that never feels busy, has a near-zero crime rate, and is just a 30-minute flight from Athens.

With endless sunny days, a plethora of heavenly islands, arguably the beach beaches in Europe, a low cost of living, and one of the world’s top public healthcare systems (ESY), no wonder the idea of moving to Greece is so appealing to many.

​​This article originally appeared on MyDolceCasa and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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