Athens, Greece Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece 03/10/18

Background:

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

First post with the State Department.

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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?

NC-takes 16+ hours to get back to US. Direct flights seasonally to NY and Philadelphia, but otherwise have to connect through other European hubs.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

State Department.

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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 good, but we have one of only houses near metro line and school. The commute time around 30 min door to door by car or metro. House is large with a yard.

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

Groceries are pretty cheap in Athens, especially if you shop locally.

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

Nothing.

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

Food delivery is super easy through an app called CLICK. Easy pizza, sushi, and of course souvlaki. Food is cheaper than in US.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We have termites in our house, but I haven't heard others complaining the same. Most people are happy with their housing.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

household help is 8-10 euro per hour for nanny, cleaning, etc.

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

There are lots of gyms everywhere and can be really cheap for the year (like 100 euro per year if you catch them with a promotion).

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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?

We use mainly cash for transactions and ATM or cashier at embassy to exchange money.

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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?

We speak little Greek and have gotten along just fine. Greek classes are offered at the embassy, as well on the local economy for people wanting more exposure.

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

Yes, as the sidewalks are generally a mess and not all buildings have easy access.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, it's affordable. Metro/buses are 1.40 euro per 90 minutes, but you can buy a month pass if using it daily for around 30 euro. Most people use taxi beat app or have embassy security reception call taxi for them if needed. Uber not as popular or common in Greece.

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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?

Take a car you are ready to ding up.

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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?

Yes for high speed internet--embassy sets up for you.

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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?

There are lots of pay as you go options where you top up. It's very easy. We have WIND. That and Vodafone are the two more popular options.

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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?

Yes--we don't have pets, but people are happy.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of volunteering opportunities, and can work with the refugee community in Athens.

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

The work dress code is business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Normal pickpocketing, car break-in issues.

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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?

Medical care is great and medevacs are very uncommon given quality of local care.

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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?

Air quality is moderate. Athens sits in a valley so there can be a brown haze in the city if it gets built up. We haven't seen a lot of health issues that are air quality related like asthma exacerbations, etc.

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

A lot of people are affected with seasonal allergies in Athens. The local ambulance response times are slow so make sure you have an EpiPen with you for food allergy issues. Be prepared to drive to the hospital.

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

Hot and dry in summer, cool/cold in winter. It rarely snows and the snow doesn't stick. It rains in winter season.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are multiple international schools in Athens. Our kids attend elementary at ACS, and are very happy there with a lot of emphasis on creativity and play in early years, and more academic focus as they progress into later elementary. There are a lot of great after school recreational activities and sports for the children and organized teams once they hit middle school. We have had an overall positive experience there.

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

From what we know, the two main schools make accommodations.

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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?

Preschools are affordable from what I know.

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

Yes, the schools have programs and neighborhoods have a lot as well if you can figure out how to navigate the Greek environment.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is medium sized. Morale is generally good.

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

Great family post.

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

Yes.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling, islands, skiing. It's a beautiful country outside of the city. Our kids are very happy at school as well.

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Athens, Greece 02/11/18

Background:

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

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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?

Washington DC, USA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. 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?

I live in a small townhouse.

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

Generally more expensive than the US.

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

Everything is available.

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

Athens has many restaurants and delivery services available.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

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

FedEx for sending mail and DPO to receive.

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

About $10 per hour. Domestic staff isn't that good, in my opinion.

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

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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?

Credit cards are widely used.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are only a few English speaking churches in Greece.

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

You need to know Greek.

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

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Transportation:

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

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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?

Bring something small due to parking issues in the city.

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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?

The internet isn't up to US standards.

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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?

Bring a mobile phone with you. Local market phones are very expensive.

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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?

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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?

Jobs in the US mission are few and far between.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

If you don't speak Greek you are out of luck.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Terrorism is always a concern.

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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?

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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?

The air quality is pretty good.

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

Bring your meds with you.

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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)?

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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?

Greece has typically Mediterranean climate (not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the 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?

There are only a few American-accredited schools.

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

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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?

Preschool and day care services are available.

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

Mostly soccer.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large.

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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?

Diner parties, night clubs, etc.

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

Yes. Greece has something for everyone.

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

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

YES...this has been the most racist place I've ever been, in my experience. Even Greeks say Greeks are racist. Particularly, if you don't look European, these people try their best to make you feel unwelcome. For example, store workers ignore you and wait on Greeks first.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel within and out of Greece is pretty easy and inexpensive.

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

Beaches mostly.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How racist the culture would be.

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

No way.

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

Human dignity, respect for others and self respect. I could go on about this.

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4. But don't forget your:

Human dignity, respect for others and self respect.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you are Mexican, African, Asian or any non-European nationality, think twice about having a good time here.

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Athens, Greece 10/03/17

Background:

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

No. We've lived in Africa, the Near East, and Europe.

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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?

Washington, D.C.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. 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?

Nice townhouse. Not as nice as our housing in Africa.

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

The U.S. embassy has a Navy Exchange, which is a big help. The local grocery store prices are comparable to the US.

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

With the inclusion of the Navy Exchange, you can find just about anything you need here.

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

Food deliveries are excellent and affordable.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants.

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Daily Life:

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

We usually receive packages via diplomatic pouch. For sending, we using a Mail and Go kiosk and pay the shipping cost.

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

Very expensive. If your spouse doesn't have to work, it's best to manage the house and kids. House help can range from 8 - 10 Euros per hour. Some families pay 1,200 Euro per month.

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

The U.S. embassy has a pretty nice gym that's run by the EWSA...at a cost.

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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?

Credit cards are highly used here.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

You might have a little difficulty communicating if you don't know Greek. The younger people do speak English.

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

The younger generation speaks good English, but you might have a hard time generally if you don't speak Greek.

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

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Transportation:

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

Yes. No security issues with local transportation.

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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?

With the lack of parking, smaller is better here.

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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?

Yes, we pay around $30 per month. It's just ok.

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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?

The pay as you go system works well.

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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?

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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?

EFM jobs are very limited here. First come, first serve.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of volunteer opportunities with the refugees. Very rewarding.

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

Business or business casual, depending on the position.

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Health & Safety:

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

Home and car break-ins.

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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?

Very good medical care in the country.

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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?

Air quality is pretty good in Greece.

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

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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)?

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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?

It's typically a four-season country.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are about three American-accredited schools to choose from.

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

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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?

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

Mainly soccer.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large. Greece is a wonderful place to retire.

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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?

Night clubs, meetings people at the beaches and Athens has very nice parks.

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

Everyone can enjoy Greece.

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

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I was told that Greeks are know to be racist people. There have been several racial issues with families at the U.S. embassy.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Enjoying the city.

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

Greece has 200 + beaches.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Greece is a major tourist site, so there are shops all over the place.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Similar to living in the States.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Thanks to Talesmag.com, we were pretty well informed.

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

Yes.

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

Large automobile.

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4. But don't forget your:

Beach clothes.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Don't worry about trying to save money. Life is too short. Do as much and see as much as you can in the short time you have in this country.

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Athens, Greece 01/15/17

Background:

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

This is our fourth post. We have served in northern Africa, far east Asia, and another Balkan country.

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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?

There are direct flights to New York or Philadelphia in the spring and sumer, approximately 11 hours each. Otherwise, there's a London connection.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We've been here for a little over a year now.

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4. 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?

We live in a townhouse-style home in an upper class neighborhood, with a 20-minute commute to the American embassy and a 30-minute commute to our daughter's school. Other families live in apartments downtown, houses in a town 30 minutes away from downtown, and everywhere in between. Many houses are nice, but many are not. There is a good bit of dissatisfaction with housing.

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

I've been able to find almost everything I have searched for, although many items are only available in smaller containers at higher cost than in the U.S. For diplomats, there is a NEX at the embassy that helps fill in the gaps.

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

I am glad I did not have many consumable items shipped to post. There is not room in the house to store them.

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

There are several great restaurants here, some downtown and some in outlying suburbs. For delivery, there is an online service called ClickDelivery--you can see menus, order, and in some cases pay by PayPal.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes and mold are common in housing.

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Daily Life:

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

The local postal facilities are adequate although they have limited open hours. For American diplomats, there is a DPO.

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

Nannies and housekeepers are available for 8-10 euro/hour.

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

Credit cards are widely accepted. It is relatively safe to use them; skimmers are not a huge thing here yet.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are a few English-language churches, both downtown and in outlying suburbs.

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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?

You can get by with English, though you'll occasionally run into a taxi driver or shopkeeper who does not speak English. Greek language instruction is available.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Buses, trams, and trains are very reasonable, relatively clean, and mostly predictable. Taxis are relatively cheap and can be summoned using Uber, TaxiBeat, or similar apps.

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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?

Most cars should be fine on most roads. There are some narrow ones where larger cars would have problems. Motorcycles are commonly used here as well.

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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?

We did not have to quarantine our pets upon entry or even show any paperwork for them--they were brought in by car.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are lots of opportunities available to work with refugees.

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

Typical clothing for Greeks is a little dressier than typical American clothing, but many do dress casually as well.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are protests almost every day. As long as you avoid them, you should be fine. Pickpocketing is an issue in tourist areas.

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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?

Medical care is generally good here.

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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?

Air quality is fine.

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

Cigarette smoke is ubiquitous. If you have severe food allergies, you probably should not eat at restaurants; between language difficulties and simply not understanding the nature of allergies (and that wheat and flour are the same thing, etc.), you may be served food you are allergic to even if you have been assured that the problematic ingredient is not included.

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

It is hot and dry in the summer. Winters are not extreme. It rains some during the fall and winter, but not excessively.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two international schools that most embassy personnel use, as well as a few others that are used by embassy personnel on occasion. Most people here are generally satisfied with the schools, though they often will not discuss specifics if they have a problem with one.

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2. 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?

Preschools are available but, as we haven't used them, I do not know the cost. Many families hire nannies for 10 euro/hour. There are after school activities available from the schools, but no bus service for students participating in those services.

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

Yes, though they may be harder or easier to find depending on the neighborhood where you live and your willingness to travel to other neighborhoods to access them.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a large expat community, but it doesn't always feel much like a community, as expats often are more integrated into Greek communities through marriage. There is enough to do and there are enough English-speaking Greeks that expats don't rely on expat friends as much as they may in other locations. People tend to either love it here or hate it; there are few in between. Those who love it here tend to have nice housing and love the beach and opportunities for regional travel. Those who hate it tend to have less nice housing.

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Athens, Greece 12/20/16

Background:

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

I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and spent the first 13 years of my life overseas. I have studied, lived, interned, and worked in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Russia, and finally Greece.

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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?

I am from the Washington D.C. area. Athens is a great travel airport with direct flights all over Greece, Europe, and elsewhere. To see all direct flights, go to the airport website here: www.aia.gr/traveler/flight-info/direct-flights/. The flight from Athens to London is 4 hours and then flying to D.C. is 8.5 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Just under 1.5 years.

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4. 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?

Athens is a cosmopolitan city with a nice variety of housing available, from downtown apartments, to more spacious housing in the suburbs. Expat families choose to live in the northern suburbs where larger housing is available and where the international schools are located. Commute times can be lengthy due to traffic sometimes. On a really bad weekday, commute times can be 45 minutes to an hour from the northern suburbs to downtown.

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

Comparable to the U.S. If you purchase items at the weekly neighborhood markets or laiki the prices are significantly lower (and the produce more diverse) than in the grocery stores. You can find almost anything here in Athens.

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

Most items are available locally. We did bring a large amount of peanut butter with us, only because we like a certain brand. Greeks have excellent food, but they don't tend to like things "hot spicy" so if you like spicy foods, bring plenty of spice packets from home.

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

Athens is an international city so there are a number of ethnic restaurants available, although they are more expensive than Greek restaurants. Athens has Thai, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, German, Middle Eastern restaurants, etc. just to name a few. The dining scene is great! Food delivery services are good, and for take out there is no delivery minimum so you can even have a burger and fries delivered if you so choose. Main food delivery websites are https://www.clickdelivery.gr/ and https://www.e-food.gr/. The AB supermarket chain has a delivery service, although the website with the items to order is in Greek (www.ab.gr).

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There is a poisonous caterpillar called the pine processionary that is a seasonal issue once a year (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_processionary). Mold can be an issue in housing if there is not adequate venting.

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Daily Life:

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

There is a variety of household help available, from babysitters, nannies, cleaning staff, etc. A lot of service providers will make house calls including physical trainers, beauticians, and masseuses. Nannies and cleaning staff tend to be the most in demand. I had cleaning taff at my apartment once a week to clean. Staff can be Greek or come from other countries such as the Philippines. For two cleaning helpers once a week who spoke fluent English I paid 50 euros total.

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

Gyms are available and plentiful, with a number of classes available on offer including yoga, pilates, zumba, etc. Gym memberships are not expensive.

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

Due to the economic crisis, most business prefer for you to use cash rather than credit cards. Some restaurants and other places used to take credit cards and now do not, so it is always good to call them in advance to check. We used a credit card at the Makro (now The Mart) and never had an issue. We used ATM machines all over the city on a regular basis and never had an issue or safety concern.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

List here from the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services website section: https://photos.state.gov/libraries/greece/38517/uscitizens/churches_list2013_updatedjuly15.pdf

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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?

Most Athenians speak English. Road signage, especially on highways, is in Greek and English so navigating around is not an issue. The metro signage is also in Greek and English. Greek language schools are available. For example, www.lexi-logos.gr/en/ and The Athens Center (http://athenscentre.gr).

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

Not many buildings are handicapped accessible and there are stairs everywhere. It would be challenging, but not impossible.

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Transportation:

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

The local public transportation system is safe and affordable. Taxis, with the exception of the fixed price for airport transfer (as of writing fixed at 38 euros), are very affordable. Athens also has Uber and TaxiBeat.

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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?

Small cars are helpful since parking in downtown is challenging. Any car may receive bumps, scratches, etc. when parked. Our car is not available locally but the Hyundai dealer was able to find the part we needed. However, there was a significant delay. Consider bringing a car that is available in Greece so you can purchase the parts easily here.

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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?

DSL is available. The northern suburbs have faster internet than in the city center.

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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?

The main companies are Vodafone and WIND. We were happy with the level of service with Vodafone. We know some people who preferred WIND.

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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?

Yes, there are plenty of qualified vets and good kennel services available. There is Pallini Animal Kennels (hwww.pallinikennels.gr) and Puppies Park (puppiespark.gr).

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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?

I know of a few spouses who work on the local economy as teachers.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are number of opportunities open to expats. You can join an organization that does charity work such as the American Women's Organization of Greece (AWOG - http://awogreece.org) or get involved with the Newcomers in Athens organization when they do charity work (http://www.newcomersinathens.com/). Or you can participate in volunteer opportunities through church or an international school.


Caritas runs a soup kitchen in downtown, along with other programs focused on refugees (https://www.facebook.com/CaritasAthensRefugeeProgram/.

Melissa focuses on female migrant issues among others (https://www.facebook.com/Melissanetworkgreece33/)


Help out sea turtles in Greece by volunteering at the center in the south by the beach in Glyfada (http://www.archelon.gr/index_eng.php)


There is a dog shelter that is always looking for volunteers to socialize and play/walk the dogs (www.zofipsy.com)

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

Greeks are more formal/fashionable and tend to favor dark suits. Formal dress may be required at various embassy or charity functions or a special military occasion.

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Health & Safety:

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

Athens is a large cosmopolitan city that is very safe. Just be aware of your surroundings and your valuables. Common theft occurs in the Plaka shopping area. I have never had an issue with this. Only carry money that you plan to spend that day, and don't carry your whole wallet with a bunch of credit cards. There are a few neighborhoods to avoid at night (e.g. Exarchia).

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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?

Medical care is good here in Athens. Many families have babies here and elect not to return home for the birth. Athens is a very green city so people with allergies may require medication at different times of the year here.

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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?

The air quality is good/moderate. It is easy to escape the city and hike in the mountains or relax at the beach within an hour or so.

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

For food allergies, know how in Greek to say exactly what you are allergic to and know how to spell it. This will be very helpful.

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

In the winter and spring it rains a bit, dry and hot in summer and fall. Beautiful blue skies most of the year.

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Schools & Children:

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

Athens has a number of international schools to offer families. While I don't have kids, families I know have been happy with the variety of international schools on offer so they have a choice on which school works best for their kids. There is an American curriculum school - American Community Schools (ACS), along with a number of British curriculum schools, including Campion, St Catherine's, Bryon College, St Lawrence, International School of Athens (ISA), and also a French school and a German school.

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

See info from the Overseas Schools Offering Support to Children with Special Needs 2015-2016 at the link below. Athens has a variety of international schools who can make accommodations, but the earlier you contact them directly to discuss your kids the better.
www.state.gov/documents/organization/176076.pdf

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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?

International preschools are available. I don't have experience with this personally, but families I know have enrolled their kids in Flopsy Bunnies (Halandri), Junior Einsteins (Halandri), Learning Steps (a Montessori school in Kifissia), Tender Age (Kifissia), and Mary Poppins (Filothei)

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

The international schools have a variety of sports and clubs on offer.

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Expat Life:

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

The economic crisis has been challenging for everyone. Greece, and Athens in particular, has a lot to offer expats - excellent healthcare, a variety of international schools, plentiful restaurants, cafes, museums, parks, and things to do and places to explore. Greece is very family friendly and Greeks make relationships - family, friend, or colleague - a priority.

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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?

InterNations is active in Athens. Other clubs include the American Women's Organization of Greece (AWOG), Newcomers in Athens (www.newcomersinathens.com)


Check out other associations from the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services Section here:https://photos.state.gov/libraries/greece/38517/uscitizens/associations-list-sept2014-upd.pdf.



Check out these Facebook Group as well from source XpatAthens:
http://www.xpatathens.com/living-in-athens/networks/item/503-local-facebook-groups


Greeks are a friendly bunch so you can strike up a conversation with them about just about anything.

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

I think it is an excellent city for everyone since it has so much to offer. Families love it since there are plenty of parks, malls, museums which plan kid friendly activities, ec. Singles and couples love it since there is a great dining out scene and cafe culture that encourages meeting people. I have heard it is difficult as a single woman here though.

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

I would say yes. Athens has produced a PRIDE parade since 2005 that many people participate in.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I have not had any issues personally. However, my friend who is of Indian descent has experienced racism here. The Greeks have been welcoming foreigners for a very long time, so hopefully this is an abnormality rather than the norm.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Greece is a wonderfully diverse and beautiful country, from the mainland (Unesco world heritage site of Meteroa, Delphi, stone village of Arachova and more) to the Peloponnese peninsula (Monemvasia, Epidaurus theater, Corinth, and the Mani among other places), to all the Greek Islands. Island highlights include Santorini (not overrated at all!), Corfu (Italian influence, great food), Rhodes (Medievil architecture), Mykonos (windy old town, UNESCO Delos Island), Crete (the food, the sites!), and more.

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

Athens has some wonderful smaller museums, such as the revamped Museum of Byzantine and Christian Art and on the very same street is the Museum of Cycladic Art (both with nice stylish cafes). Do NOT miss watching the sun set over the Acropolis and its tiered lights slowly go on. Favorite places to watch this include Lycabettus Hill (cafe with the direct view of the Acropolis) for a view on a clear day to the Pireus port and to the island of Aegina and, for a closer view of the Acropolis, the St George Lycabettus (sit in the bar area). I also like Couleur Locale cafe/bar for this (https://www.facebook.com/couleurlocaleathens/). The flea market at Monastiraki/Thissio area on Sundays is fun. I also like that area for the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art as well as the cafe Little Kook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Kook/1656666077942242).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Greeks are amazing artists/artisans. Olive oil, olives, olive wood products, olive oil soaps, beauty products (Korres, Apivita, etc), linen and cotton items, leather (sandals, other shoes, belts, bags, jackets), fur, rugs (koorelloo is lovely), handmade jewelry, all sorts of food items (honey, fruit jams), and the wine is delicious.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Life mostly in the outdoors due to the great weather. There is something for everyone here, no matter what your interests area.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It is as I expected it to be.

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

I would love to live here again.

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

Gigantic car and ego.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, sense of humor, small talk skills, sense of adventure.

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Athens, Greece 09/07/13

Background:

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

No, previously posted to Kathmandu, Nepal.

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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?

Our home base is Las Vegas, NV. Flights generally stop in Europe and then direct to East coast. Travel varies, but expect to travel to last at least 20 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years, 2008-2011.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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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 primarily apartments: closer to the Embassy is more crowded and less space, but shorter commute time. The northern suburbs are larger, but the commute, for less than 10 miles, takes an hour or more. Driving is horrendous in Athens. The drivers do not follow laws and basically drive like idiots. The first time I stopped at a stop sign near my home the driver behind me honked (note: they do not stop at stop signs).

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

Import brands from the States are available, but very costly. Local produce is very reasonable, especially the farmers market (Laiki) and local produce markets, seasonal only. Groceries especially meat and soda is expensive. I ordered online as did many Embassy friends, since the DPO was cost effective.

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

You can find most things locally for a price. The Pharmacies have terrific prices and no prescription is needed, but kid medicine is very different, so stock up on acetaminophen, ibuprofen and cold medicine; also Nyquil for adults.

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

The only drive through was McDonald's, but there are many U.S. restaurant chains and the best part is everything can be delivered. The Greek Tavernas all have similar choices and are very good, fairly reasonable as well. You can also find high-end restaurants. Mexican is available and there is one I found that was rather good, but not spicy.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos are a bother and fuzzy caterpillars that are poisonous to touch.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is available and takes any where from 1 to 2 weeks. It's slower at Christmas so plan ahead.

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

Cost is not too expensive, around 8 euro an hour. he Embassy community passed around some favorite workers and they spoke good English.

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

The Embassy has a small gym and there are local gyms for a larger cost.

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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 problems using ATMs and credit cards at the grocery store, but most Tavernas and Kiosks(newsstands) only accept cash.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes newspapers and magazines are available. We had AFN, but you could get local cable which I believe had a few English shows.

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

You need to know the alphabet at least. Most people spoke at least some English, but the street signs are only in Greek. The smaller villages you will need to use Greek more than inside Athens. I learned only about 20 words and only had trouble communicating a couple times.

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

Extreme difficulties! Narrow streets, non-existent sidewalks due to trees and cars and lack of accessibility to the historical sites.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis and the Metro are reasonable and easy to use. Calling for a taxi works better than trying to hail on the streets. Taxi drivers are known for picking up multiple fairs if they are going to the same area. You have to yell to the driver what part of town you want and they may or may not stop for you. Can be very frustrating, so keep the taxi number handy.

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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?

I brought an SUV but it was a challenge driving downtown on the old narrow streets. Parking is slim, so that was a challenge also. Gas prices are very high around US$8 a gallon, so a smaller car would be better.

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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?

High speed is available for about US$100 a month. It goes out frequently and is slow at times.

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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?

No trouble with cell service. My service even worked outside of Greece in Italy. The cost depends on the service. Buying a cell phone is expensive, but you can buy a SIM and use it in a U.S. phone.

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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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I had a friend you would house sit for pets when people traveled, but not sure about vets and kennels.

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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?

Teaching jobs are available and jobs at the Embassy were slim.

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

Business for work, casual Fridays, and the Greek women really dress up to go out. Bikins worn by all body types also and even saw some nude sunbathing on some of the islands.

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Health & Safety:

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

There were daily protests while we were there - all downtown and sometimes at the Embassy. I never felt unsafe, even when we ventured near the protest area. That said, the Embassy issues warnings and restrictions for a reason, so be careful!

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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?

The med unit at the Emabassy is great. I loved the nurses and doctors while we were there. I needed to use local dentists and hospitals and did not have much trouble other than language issues. The Greeks rely on a bribery system, so I did have some friends who experienced some problems with hospital stays, especially lack of bedside manners where children were involved.

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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?

Good air outside of Athens. Athens is very similar to downtown Los Angeles. Lots of traffic, graffiti, pollution and rude drivers. The winds bring dirt of from Africa, so at least once a year there will be "mud" rain and also a dusting of yellow pollen in the spring.

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

Beautiful in fall and spring, mid 70's F. Winter is fairly mild, and we lived in the northern suburb where it snowed every February. Summers are very hot, 90's F. The Embassy has a swimming pool, for a fee, and there are many beaches to cool off at. The best time of year is August when all the Greeks travel so driving through Athens is finally decent.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American school is behind the times. We sent our child the first year and were not pleased, we had friends who liked it though. The other 2 years we used the British school St Catherine's and loved it. It was closer to our home which was also a benefit.

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

ACS was not very accommodating for special needs. St Catherine's has "shadow" teachers available for hire. They are hired by the school, but parents pay the cost and the "shadow" teacher sits with the child usually half the day to keep the student focused or works on specific skills and subjects.

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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?

Many, many preschools; very costly.

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

St Catherine's had an afterschool program that we really enjoyed, but I am not sure about anything local.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Overall pleasant until driving comes into play that makes it very stressful and frustrating. The Greeks love children and tend to be friendlier to us when we were out with them, but to adults not so much.

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

Lots of late nights! The Greeks go out to dinner around 9 - 10 pm, so they tend to stay out much later. Bouzoukia clubs do not even open until after midnight! I made great friends within the Emabasyy and expat community, so we had game nights, book clubs, cooking classes and dinner/club outings.

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

Good for all.

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

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Usually with Albanian, African and other refugees. Also some older Greeks have issues with women.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The islands, ruins, weather and mostly the wonderful lifelong friends I made (fellow Expats).

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

Beaches, ruins, islands, restaurants, and great expat community.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pottery, jewelry, and travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

So much history! I loved the ruins. Travel is easy and you can really find deals through Aegean Airlines and Easy Jet. The Metro is nice when travelling downtown due to limited parking available.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes!!

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

Surf boards, skate boards and roller skates. Biking is a challenge also, but doable. Strollers are a challenge also. Terrible infrastructure!

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and Greek/English dictionary.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

My Life In Ruins was very funny in how closely it related to actual life in Greece. You cannot flush toilet paper, narrow streets, crazy driving and amazing historical sights.

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Athens, Greece 07/14/12

Background:

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

No, London. I grew up and lived in Athens until the age of 20.

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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?

Washington, DC. 10 hours from NYC, 11 from Atlanta with Delta, direct. After 26 Oct 2012, no direct flights. Connections in many European cities.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Have spent 20 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments and houses in the northern suburbs, near where the Embassy is located. Better climate and houses in the southern suburbs. Traffic in Athens can be horrible, although the small Metro has helped alleviate some of it.

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

There are all types of stores ranging from small grocery stores to large supermarkets and department stores, MANY malls and shopping centers, especially around the city center and the suburbs of Kifisia (north) and Glyfada (south). Prices are not very cheap, and depend somewhat on the euro fluctuations. Bottom line, pretty much everything can be found, if for a price.

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

Pretty much everything is available in Athens, but I would say electronics and car parts are very expensive.

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

McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Goody's (local fast food restaurant chain), many souvlaki and gyro places. All cuisines are represented, except for good Mexican. Prices range from cheap to 5 star restaurants spread out all over the country, but mostly in the big cities and the islands. Speaking of the islands, good fish is available, even though not very cheap!

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes during the summer months, mostly near water.

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Daily Life:

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

There is DPO available for the Embassy. The Greek postal service is adequate, but customs will open a lot of stuff and charge luxury tax.

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

There is lots of domestic help available, but not as cheap as it was 10-15 years ago when many Albanians and Eastern European first came over from behind the Iron Curtain.

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

There is a small gym in the Embassy and MANY private gyms in Athens to join. Athens is not the best place to go running in the city due to the Greeks' VERY aggressive driving!

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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?

Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, especially Visa and Mastercard. Diners is also used extensively, and to a lesser extent, American Express. ATMs can be found everywhere, but there have been cases of fraud (fake ATM readers which block your card) and thieves grabbing your money, so try to use sheltered ATMs!

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, for both Catholics and Protestant.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Many newsstands in the center of Athens and the tourist areas carry English-language newspapers and magazines from both the US and Great Britain. Satellite TV carrying many English-language programs is available is available through NOVA, to include DVR and HD service, as well as digital radio. Foreign movies and programs in Greece have subtitles in Greek.

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

Greek is a VERY difficult language to learn but any little bit would help. All Greeks between the ages of 10-45 speak English and/or French.

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

Many difficulties. Greece is NOT a physical disabilities-friendly country. Athens is definitely NOT!

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Transportation:

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

The Metro is the newest in Europe and very good, if somewhat limited (about 35 stops). Train service outside Athens is very limited, mostly between Athens and the second largest city, Thessaloniki, to the north. Buses are effective and not very expensive. Taxis are everywhere, and not too expensive, but you MUST keep an eye on the meters for excessive charging. Taxi drivers are unscrupulous!

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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?

All types of vehicles can be found in Greece, and you will see more Porsches and Ferraris in Greece than NYC! However, due to the VERY expensive gas prices (approximately USD 8.00 a gallon!), most Greeks have smaller vehicles, 2.0 liter engines or less. There is a luxury tax for anything above 2 liter engines, making those above this threshold VERY expensive. Parking in Athens would be another consideration, so I would bring something smaller. SUVs are NOT needed.

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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?

High speed internet is available stand-alone or as a bundle with TV and telephone service. It is ADSL, so speeds depend on location of the main exchange. Price vary, $30-$100.

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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?

Cell phones are everywhere and almost all of the country has coverage. Athens is completely covered by both GSM 900 MHz and 1800MHz, so you will need a multi-band phone or buy one there. Smartphones are available, but expensive, and so are the rates.

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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?

A pet must have a current Health Certificate stating that it has been examined and shows no clinical signs or symptoms of infectious and contagious diseases; it has been vaccinated against rabies; and it has been treated against echinococcosis within thirty days prior to date of travel. This certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of loading. The rabies vaccination should be given not less than 15 days and not more than one year from the date of arrival in Greece. Birds must have a certificate stating that they are free from psittacosis.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Have not used kennels, but they are available. There are very good animal doctors, speaking from personal experience.

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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?

Greece has the second-highest Euro unemployment rate behind Spain (22%), so not many jobs available. Mostly teaching English and other languages.

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

More informal than some places. Some clubs and restaurants have strict codes, but loosen up during summertime.

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Health & Safety:

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

Greece used to be the safest country in the world. However, in the last 10-12 years, robberies, murders and thefts, especially home break-ins, have surged. Certain areas near the center of Athens at night can be quite dangerous.

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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?

Health concerns would be limited to sun-related maladies and traffic accidents! Medical care is available, but better at private hospitals than the publicly-run National Healthcare System.

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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?

Bad in the center of Athens, especially during the summertime. Same smog conditions as LA. Away from the center, excellent.

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

Mediterranean. Hot summers with low humidity, even though it has climbed in recent years. Wonderful during spring and fall, when it rains the most. It can be chilly during winter. In the interior of the country and the north, it can get quite cold during the 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?

American Community Schools and Pierce College (junior and high school). No personal experience, but have many friends who were OK with them. There are many private schools, although not necessarily English-speaking.

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

Nominal.

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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?

Many preschools available, but no personal experience.

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

There are, but not sure if non-EU citizens qualify that easy. The American Community Schools and some of the private schools have programs, mainly soccer, basketball, volleyball, and water sports.

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Expat Life:

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

HUGE!

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2. Morale among expats:

Have never heard anyone have a bad tour in Greece.

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

There are many movies, theaters, bars, cafes, clubs, restaurants. Also, during the summer, many music and cultural festivals, and many are held in the ancient theaters. Great experience, even though it's in ancient Greek! Greeks are partying people, and your social life will NOT suffer!

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

Absolutely! Even though I would definitely spend a lot of time traveling the islands, as well as the other interesting places in the interior of the country. Not many parks in Athens, but miles of beaches in the south-east and west/south-west of Attica, the prefecture (state) where Athens is located.

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

Used to be hush-hush, but it has become very cosmopolitan, especially in the last few years.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There didn't used to be many foreigners, but in the last few years many Afghans, Pakistanis, African, and especially Albanians have flooded the country, leading to rising crime. Due to this, there have been some racially motivated crimes. The Greek-Orthodox church dominates the religious landscape, although there are some Muslims and few Catholics in Greece. Women may be hassled a little, mainly in touristy areas.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Great weather, although hot in summer. Visiting the Acropolis and the islands. Also, seeing first-hand the changes to modern state, and it's current troubles.

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

See the antiquities and some older neighborhoods in Athens. Shopping. Swimming in some of the best beaches in Europe, although most are located in the islands. Speaking of islands, there are MANY to choose from, but at least initially, I would stick to the Cyclades, a cluster of islands south of Athens.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pottery, jewelry, honey, sweets.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather, ancient history, food.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't travel extensively or eat out all the time!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but only for short tours.

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

Customer service minimums (don't exist) and your confidence that you can drive anywhere (Greeks are the worst drivers on earth, or close to it). Also our very heavy weather gear, unless you go skiing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sun screen, patience, walking shoes, and swim gear!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Greece Athens & The Mainland (EYEWITNESS TRAVEL GUIDE) by Marc Dubin, Robin Gauldie and Mike Gerrard (May 16, 2011), Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese by Rick Steves (Apr 19, 2011), Frommer's Athens Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Pocket)
by Stephen Brewer (Nov 29, 2011), The Peloponnesian War
by Donald Kagan (Apr 27, 2004).

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Athens, Greece 06/30/10

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

DC, 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing varies greatly. The closer to the embassy you are, the smaller the house you get. Commute times are really long if you live more than 5 miles from the embassy. Except in August. There is no traffic then.

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

I think it is great, but I guess it depends on the Euro exchange rate.

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

None.

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

McDonald's, Starbucks, Applebee's. About the same in the US. But the food in Greece is FANTASTIC.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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

Not very cheap, but available.

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

There is a very small gym at the embassy. There are also public gyms to join in Athens.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, Catholic.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes.

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

None. But if you try, the Greeks are friendlier.

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

Ha ha. Sidewalks are used for dog pooping grounds, motorcycle parking and trees. It would be VERY hard to get around this city in a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

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

They are safe and affordable, as is the metro.

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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?

SMALL!

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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?

Yes; not sure of the cost.

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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?

Available and easy.

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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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Not sure about kennels, but there are good vets.

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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?

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

Casual dress.

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Health & Safety:

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

I did not feel concerned with security. As an American, there are always concerns, but Greece seemed pretty safe.

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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 hospitals are available and quality is good.

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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?

It depends how far out from Athens you live. Downtown is bad, suburbs are pretty good.

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

Mild winter, hot summer. Always sunny.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American Community School is poor. There are two British schools that are said to be better. I do not know about them. I had two children in the American school, though, and they did not learn much more than they already knew.

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

I would not bring a special-needs child to Athens.

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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?

Very, very expensive.

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

Not really.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

It depends who you ask. Some people are always unhappy. I loved living in Greece and had a great time.

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

Very active.

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

People are very friendly.

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

So many interesting things to see. History! The beaches are close by, and the water is fantastic.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pottery.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather is fabulous! Almost always sunny. Hot in summer, mild in winter.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but you can also spend it easily. Travel throughout Europe is easy from Athens.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

winter coat.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Athens, Greece 01/06/09

Background:

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

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

10 hours to U.S., 2 hours to Rome, 2.5 to Munich.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large beautiful homes can be had if you want to live in Kifissia. It can take 45 min to an hour on a bad day, although it is less than 10 miles to the Embassy. Not a lot of parks in this area. Psychico and Filothei are closer to the Embassy, less than 5 miles with lots of green parks/playgrounds. Kolonaki is great for couples with out children. Most housing is apartments, and they almost all have balconies.

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

Great, Carrefour is a huge French owned grocery store that has pretty much anything you are looking for, not the same brands as the States. The cost are not bad, it's the Euro conversion. If you shop the local farmers market, it is really inexpensive and so so good. The produce is something I will miss when I leave this place. There are two IKEAs here, which is great for household items.

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

Bikes-I was told not to bring them, but there are plenty of trails for mountain biking.

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

The food is fantastic. There are a few McDonald's and lots of Starbucks. Plenty of restaurants, cafes, tavernas.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Babysitters are 5 Euros an hour. I pay 50 Euros for my cleaner each week. Some pay by the hour - 8 Euros.

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3. 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 problems; ATMs are everywhere, except at the cashiers counter at the grocery store.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, almost every denomination is available in English.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We have an AFN box. Some have cable, which runs about 90 Euros a month. English paper is available, don't know the price. Apple TV.

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

It would be really helpful. Wish I knew more. There are quite a few english speakers here, but knowing how to read this language would be nice.

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

Don't bring a wheelchair or a stroller for that matter, people walk on the street and park on the sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Same side as the U.S. except they also drive on the sidewalk, wrong way on a one way...pretty much a lawless place when it comes to driving.

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

Great metro, taxis are everywhere and reasonable and buses in every neighborhood that I know of. I would say they are all very safe.

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3. 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?

Small is better. Everyone here drives tiny little cars. I think it would be hard to park a large car, but driving one would not be a problem. Have not had a issue with getting parts yet.

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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?

Yes, I think we pay 70 Euros a month; it is combined with our home phone.

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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?

Greece has plenty of modern cell phone companies, cost are about the same in U.S.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage or skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good. And if you don't already have a pet there are plenty of strays to pick from. They love their cats and dogs.

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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?

I think it may be difficult without knowing the language very well.

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

Sress at work is business, in public you see it all, dress to the max or trying to wear as little as possible.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

Not really, I feel safe here. There is petty crime, but murders are rare. Use common sense.

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

Medical is great. Pharmacies are the best! You can get anything. Lots of U.S. trained docs.

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

It rains a lot in the winter, but the weather here is mostly beautiful. Sunny and warm.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are quite a few schools to choose from with British curriculum and one that teaches with an American curriculum.

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

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good. You meet those who hate it here, but you can't please them all. Most of the expats really like it here.

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

Plenty to do at all hours of the night.

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

Great for all. Greeks adore children. There are lots of things to do as a family, single or couple.

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

Yes, but maybe not as open as California.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I believe there are some racial problems with the Albanians.

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

Site seeing the most amazing things. Great zoo, parks, beaches, islands and so close to other areas in Europe.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Beautiful pottery andjewelry

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9. Can you save money?

Absolutely. You can also spend a lot of money on travel.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Some say your coats, I don't agree. It does get chilly here. Your impatience, they do things here on Greek time. Leave behind your jogging stroller, you really can't use it here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen,books, very hard to find them in English. Sense of humor, you will need it at times. Halloween decorations, they don't celebrate it here.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Athens is a great experience. Come with an open mind and you should enjoy your tour.

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Athens, Greece 12/27/08

Background:

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

No, I have also lived elsewhere in Europe and Asia.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Six months.

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

Associated with the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Usually apartments. The farther you get from the Embassy, the nicer they get.

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

You can get most stuff here that's available in the USA, but costs are about 50% higher.

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

Ink jet cartridges, cereals, soups, and more clothes.

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

Plenty of cheap places specializing in gyros, etc., and more expensive restaurants that charge 20 Euros for spaghetti. Not much in between.

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Daily Life:

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

An APO is available for embassy personnel.

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

View All Answers


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

Credit cards are accepted, but cash is preferred.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, but for limited denominations. Not many choices for Protestants.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are a few weeklies available at kiosks.

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

You can't drive here without being able to at least read the Greek alphabet.

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

Plenty -- the sidewalks often have cars parked on them, forcing pedestrians into the streets.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

Yes on both counts. The Metro is a good bargain.

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3. 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?

Don't bring an SUV here -- you don't need one and it will be hard to navigate the tiny streets and park.

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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?

Yes, starting around twenty Euros per month.

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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?

Widely available. Get a pay-as-you-go one to save money.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype or phone cards.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

So so. It helps if you can speak Greek.

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

Not as formal as in more European places such as Paris.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate (minor smog).

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

Yes, there are anti-American terrorist groups here (worst in Europe) and frequent demonstrations directed against the U.S. Embassy or the local authorities. Street crime doesn't go much beyond pickpocketing or purse snatching, though.

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

You can drink the water here, although it's sometimes brown.

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

Hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Surprisingly, not that good since many were expecting a more European experience.

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

There are a lot of embassy parties. Other than those, you're pretty much on your own.

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

Yes on all counts. Single women often date Greeks and seem to like it better here than single men. The local women are not as attractive as other Europeans to most men.

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

I think so.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Greeks don't like people from neighboring countries (especially Albania and Macedonia) much and blame them for crime, riots, etc.

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

Tour the ruins of this once-great civilization. Visit nearby Europe (Greece is more like Middle-East light). Try Greek food (quite good). Go to the Greek islands (much nicer than Athens).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not much other than touring. The Greeks don't produce much besides anarchists, booze, and olive oil.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't go out much.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. There are easier places to live in Europe, however.

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

Dreams that the Greeks are deep thinkers or philosophers. Those people are long gone. The modern Greeks are basically ungovernable and riot at the drop of a hat.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. Nothing happens quickly here. Even the demonstrations and (very frequent) transportation strikes are usually planned days in advance.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

As of this writing, the Greeks have been rioting for several weeks after a local youth was shot while throwing firebombs at the police. It looks like the worst is over now, after 1.5 billion Euros in riot damage.

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Athens, Greece 06/20/08

Background:

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

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

10 months.

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

I am here for a Government assignment.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

JFK to Athens, 10 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live in Kifissia. It takes about an hour to get to the US Embassy when the traffic is heavy, which is any time after 8 am. There are some back ways to get around the heavily congested Kiffissias Avenue, but it takes time to figure them out. I highly recommend using a GPS device.

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

I'd estimate I pay double what I pay at home for groceries when you consider the exchange rate.

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

Ingredients, larger children's toys like Little Tikes playhouse sorts of things, diapers. I did bring a lot of dry goods with me.

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

Lots. McDonald's (that's the only drive-thru I've seen), Starbucks, KFC, Auntie Anne's, Pizza Hut, Applebees, TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday. Lots and lots of inexpensive tavernas. Some nice upscale Greek and European restaurants.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Our housekeeper is 7 euro an hour. Lots of help to be found here.

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

I haven't had any problems. I had heard that ATMS run out of cash on the weekends, but I've never experienced that.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic is all I'm aware of.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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

I used Earworms and found that helpful. Start with the alphabet-- that helps make eeeeverything easier. I use about 100 words and get by.

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

Innumerable. The sidewalks are cracked and have giant holes or trees planted smack in the middle. They stop and start randomly. I haven't tried to travel with a wheelchair but travel with a stroller can be quite a challenge. The larger the wheels on a stroller, the better. A side-by-side double stroller has limited use here.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

Yes and yes. You buy bus tickets at the magazine/soda stands.

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3. 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?

I brought a Jeep Grand Cherokee and I love it. It does use more gas, but it didn't make sense for us to sell a car that was already paid for to buy another one we'd then owe money on. I enjoy being a little higher up than most vehicles since I'm toting a toddler and concerned for her safety. Parking can be difficult but not unreasonable. I've become intimately familiar with the *exact* size of my vehicle and have managed to do everything I've wanted to do here, including going down to the historic narrower streets and been just fine. Something like a Suburban or a wide minivan would not have made it through, but I did okay.

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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?

We have DSL for 24 euro a month.

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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?

I have a phone with a plan and we have a prepaid phone as a backup. Both are easy enough and cheap enough to use. The folks at the stores are usually helpful with initial setup and problem solving.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

I got Vonage and love it.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

View All Answers


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

Greeks like to expose skin in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy in city center, moderate in suburbs.

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

Fewer than in the States for general crime. A bit of a concern as an American abroad during war time, but we try to keep as low a profile as possible. Meaning-- we do everyday things but we don't wear American flags our anything like that out in public.

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

I've found good pediatricians who speak English and were trained in the States.

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

We had 10 inches of snow in January, but I'm told that only happens once every 10 years. Very hot and dry in June, July, August.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

From what I've heard parents have to work to make their own accomodations, such as finding an aide to accompany special-needs kids in the classroom.

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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?

We use a Sri Lankan babysitter one day a week and one night or so a week. We pay her 7 euros an hour.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large and varied.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good for the most part. Seems to get worse overall the longer people are here, just because people start to lose patience with some of the inconveniences/difficulties of daily life here.

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

Lots of things to do, pretty safe to be out at night.

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

Yes to all of the above if you're flexible and can handle a few challenges.

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

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are general issues with what U.S. folks would call polite behavior here-- things that are just normal for Greek life. People don't form lines, they tend to jump in front of others and push things around. I have seen Gypsies treated poorly, but not having a firm grip on the language it was hard for me to understand what was going on.

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

So much history to see and beaches and islands to visit. Plaka and the Acropolis, for kids there's a nice zoo with enclosures that allow you to be very close to animals. The food is wonderful.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Textiles, pottery, jewelry.

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9. Can you save money?

A little, but not much.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Expectations that Greece is anything like anywhere else in Europe. It's very unique.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patio set, dual voltage appliances like hair dryers and curling irons. Bring plenty of patience to deal with how Greeks do things slowly...

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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