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The Cost of Living

Everybody lives in different ways when they move out to the islands. Some expats crave the comforting Brit food they left behind, whilst others are happy to go local trying all of the seasonal produce that the Greeks eat and obviously this has a huge bearing on the individual cost of living here. Likewise the island you live on will also take its toll with Mykonos and Hydra being the most expensive and all islands are slightly more than the mainland because of the transportation costs involved. Your preferred mode of entertainment is another factor to consider; if you like strolls through the mountain or along the shoreline as opposed to regular meals out your cost of living will be much less. Nevertheless, whatever your lifestyle, living in the Greek Islands is substantially cheaper than life in the UK, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey estimates that the cost of living in Greece is around 30% lower than that of Northern Europe.

Food Bills

Greece may not be as expensive as other European countries, but the days when Greece was one of the cheapest destinations in Europe are long gone. However, some Greek Islanders live on a low food bill with some claiming to survive on around 60 Euros a month; most live off the land growing their own produce and living on a diet rich in fruit and vegetables particularly olives, aubergine, tomato, onions and okra. Groceries are a lot cheaper than back home and if you can adjust to a Greek diet you will make big savings in this area although be realistic and at least double the Greek shopping bill – they really do live very frugally and some foodstuffs are not as cheap as you might expect.  Products, which are notoriously cheap compared to Northern Europe, are herbs and spices, tuna and salmon, lamb, pork and goat. Beef is not eaten often here and consequently will cost you more. Greece is also famous for its cheese and wine and these products are also exceptionally cheap to buy. Other alcoholic beverages, which are cheap, are the national tipple ouzo and Greek brand beer like Kaiser, which is made on Lesbos and Icaria. Greeks also have a very sweet tooth and if you like sticky pastries you will also find that these are abundant and cheap.

Food Basket Basics

Greece registered 4.8% inflation according to the EU statistics bureau Eurostat and this is 1.3% higher than the eurozone average.  Even fresh produce has increased in price over the last year with fruit prices rising by 12.3%, fresh poultry up 12.9 percent and bread and cereal by 14.8%. Seed oil is up by a staggering 37.1 %. We all have our set list of essential foodstuffs and these are unlikely to vary no matter where in the world we live. In Greece the price of basics varies in comparison to the UK, but such basics are comparatively cheap. A loaf of fresh bread will cost 0.70 cents, a kilo of white onions 0.85 and a kilo of potatoes 0.57. Most island products are organic and at these prices they are far cheaper than organic food back home. However, not all foodstuffs are cheaper; a 360 g jar of local brand jam costs 2.55 Euros, 250 g of local brand butter costs 3.60 Euros and 500g of local brand margarine 1.68 Euros.

Toiletries and Cosmetics

Prices also vary with toiletries and cosmetics compared to the UK with some essentials being a lot cheaper and others more expensive. Toilet roll costs 6.39 Euros, 5 Gillette Razor blades 4.20 Euros, 10 Sanitary towels 2.45, 400 ml Shampoo 2.25, 250 ml Soap 250 ml 1.05, 150 ml Deodorant 3.90. Obviously many small local supermarkets offer various discounts not found in the large chains like Carrefour and Lidl so it pays to shop around.

Life’s Luxuries

Fortunately, life’s luxuries can be a lot cheaper on the islands than at home with a 75 ml Bottle of red wine  costing as little as 2.21 Euros, a packet of Marlboro cigarettes  3.75, but a bottle of Becks beer is 4.50 Euros so it’s better to stick with local brands. A two course meal in a restaurant with a soft drink costs around 12 Euros, a bowl of spaghetti 6 Euros, a Greek salad 4 Euros, a bottle of mineral water 1.50, but if you stick to either a Gyros sandwich or Souvlaki you will pay as little as 1.50. Greek restaurants also add a service charge of around 1 euro to every bill.  If you want to indulge on comforts from home then take a look at some of the prices of our beloved Brit brands; Heinz baked beans cost 3.97 Euros, Heinz tomato ketchup 3.70 Euros, Heniz HP sauce 3.90 Euros, Lurpak butter 4.97 Euros and Nesquick Choco Pops 3.75 Euros – this is typical when you buy Brit brands in another country and it is always better to dine on local brands and produce.

Shop Clever

The cost of living on the Greek Islands may be more than it used to be, but you can still make plenty of savings by shopping around at local supermarkets as well as some of the international giants like Carrefour and Lidl, who sell their own brand products very cheaply. Buy your fresh produce in season from local markets and eggs from farmers in the village you live in.  Compare the savings you make however small with the improved quality of life you will have on your island and you are sure to come out better off!