The cost of living in Greece varies quite dramatically according to whether you’re living on the mainland or on one of the Greek islands. Regardless, accommodation costs in Greece are quite low, and even in the more expensive Ionian islands, you’ll only be spending around 35% of your monthly teaching salary on a one-bed apartment (including bills) at a cost of £325/$520.
One of the most charming parts of teaching English in Greece is living in a traditional Greek house, but as most have 3-4 bedrooms this can be an expensive option if you’re on your own. Many teachers choose to share with colleagues from their school, which will allow them to experience traditional Greek life whilst keeping the costs down!
Greek cuisine places a lot of emphasis on fresh food, and if you buy your groceries from the markets rather than a supermarket, you’ll be able to eat like a king (or queen) on a relatively low budget. To give you an outline of average costs; a ½ kilo of fresh prawns will cost around £3/$5 and a medium bag of vine tomatoes £1/$2.
Greek food is traditionally light and healthy, with fish and vegetables preferred to meat, which is usually added to meals for extra flavour. One traditional Greek dish is Moussaka; a hearty, warm meal best served on a cold (well, as cold as it gets in Greece!) winter’s night. Minced meat – either veal, beef or lamb – is layered with aubergine, topped in a white sauce and baked in the oven until crisp.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, be sure to try some baklava, which is layers of pastry filled with almonds, and drenched in honey syrup. The Greeks usually have baklava at special events such as weddings, but the tavernas always serve it because it’s so popular with the tourists. Similar to baklava is kataifi, which is essentially almonds, sugar and honey encased in shredded dough… if you host any end-of-term parties at school, you can be sure you’ll get to enjoy these desserts!
The Greeks love to have a good time, and this usually involves a couple of glasses of Ouzo or Metaxa – both are extremely acquired tastes!
Greece has lovely, sunny weather: its Mediterranean climate means that the summers are hot and dry, with an average temperature of 35 degrees Celsius; and winters are mild but wet. Sometimes Athens has a light blanket of snow in the winter, although it rarely settles – but it’s worth taking a few jumpers with you, if you move to Greece to teach English as it can get a little chilly!
Whether you choose to teach on the mainland or the islands, Greek housing has a typical Mediterranean-feel, with tiled floors to reduce the heat. Another typical Greek feature is the toilet: the pipes are so narrow that you’re not supposed to flush toilet paper, but put it in the bin instead – something you’ll get used to after a few weeks of living there!
With over 6,000 private language schools in Greece, there is a huge demand for English teachers, especially in the built-up cities where the locals live: namely Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion in Crete. Although there are vacancies to teach English to business professionals, the opportunities aren’t as great because comparatively, there aren’t as many international businesses in Greece as there are in other parts of Europe.
To give yourself the best possible chance of getting a job teaching English in Greece, apply for jobs around April and May as this is the peak hiring time.
If you’d prefer to live in a metropolitan city, Athens is definitely the best choice for you: The Mall is home to over 200 shops to satisfy your inner shopaholic, soak up some culture with a trip to the Akropolis, before rounding off the day with some Zorba’s dancing at one of the many bars!
Thessaloniki is perfect for beach-lovers, with four breath-taking beaches, and an hour’s drive from the holiday resort of Halkidiki; you can spend your weekends relaxing on the sandy shores, or indulging in some watersports like snorkelling or jet skiing!
Island life (even on Crete, the largest Greek island) is best enjoyed if you like a slower pace of life. It gets very quiet in the winter months, but it means you have the beaches all to yourself, in addition to all of the tourist attractions, like the Koule Fortress in Heraklion… just be aware that not many tavernas will be open!
Public transport is much more built up in mainland Greece as opposed to the islands; with Athens boasting buses, trams, trolleybuses and a metro. A one-way metro ticket on the Athens metro costs £1.10/$1.75.
The Greek islands are only served by buses, but they are comfortable and modern, and serve the purpose of reaching different towns, although if you end up teaching English on a Greek island, you’re unlikely to live in a different resort to where you teach.
The average working week for an English teacher in Greece is 20-25 hours, but if you’re teaching in a private language school, you’ll be working during the afternoons and evenings as students will come after they have finished public school. Nevertheless, you will still have plenty of free time to explore Greece, especially as you will receive 4 weeks’ paid holiday a year, and July and August off during the summer.
If you find a teaching job in mainland Greece but you’re still keen to explore the islands then you’ll be pleased to know that this is cheap and easy! A return ticket from Killini to Poros, Kefalonia costs a mere £16/$25, and the trip only takes 2 hours. Similarly, on the opposite side of the mainland, you can catch a ferry from Volos to Skiathos, for £40/$60 return, taking 3 hours – it’s the perfect relaxing break after a week of teaching English!
With Greeks coming from a traditional background, teachers are expected to dress modestly, with male teachers in trousers (never shorts), and women having their shoulders covered, and skirts falling to the knee or below.
If you want to live in a neighbourhood in Athens that’s popular with expats, search for accommodation in Marousi, offering modern apartments amongst the three shopping malls located here. Demand is high here though, so you have to be quick if you don’t want to miss out!
If you only make it to one Greek island during your time teaching English in Greece, make sure you visit Kalamaki in Zakynthos. The white sandy beach is beautiful, and is home to the endangered loggerhead turtles.
If you're keen to find out more about teaching in Greece then you'll want to check out the i-to-i TEFL free guide. You'll find out loads more useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.
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