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Things to know
about Thessaloniki

Greece's "Second Capital"


Thessaloniki is named after a Macedonian princess, the daughter of King Philip II and half-sister of Alexander the Great.


Her name – a combination of the words “Thessaly” (a region south of Macedonia) and “Nike” (Victory) – was conceived by her father.


It was a reference to the victory of the united Macedonian and Thessalian armies against the Phocians at the Battle of Crocus Field (353/352 BC) that preceded the birth of his daughter.


When her Thessalian mother, Nicesipolis, died a few days after she was born, Thessaloniki was taken under the care of Olympias, the mother of Alexander.

On a clear day, Mount Olympus, the legendary “Home of the Gods” in ancient Greek mythology, can be seen in its entirety from Thessaloniki although it stands 80km far in the horizon, across the sea of Thermaikos Gulf.


Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and one of the natural boundaries between the regions of Macedonia and Thessaly.


Aristotelous Square and several streets of Thessaloniki are aligned with the axis that visually connects the city with the mountain.

Some of the best food and nightlife you'll ever find!


Thessaloniki is a city with vivacious nightlife, one that is so varied and colourful that few other Greek cities are able to offer tempting alternatives.


Locals are good-humoured people and they love going out at night.


The city’s thousands of students form a buzzing community that has blended well with the locals.


You’ll find clubs and bars with a cosmopolitan flair about them; rebetadika (restaurants where live rebetiko music is played); and lively parties hosted by the student community where everyone’s invited: these are some of the choices you have for a great night out in Thessaloniki.

The central city streets (namely Tsimiski, Mitropoleos, Pavlou Mela, Proxenou Koromila, Egnatia, Svolou and Agias Sofias pedestrian street) are flanked with bars and cafés with a cosmopolitan ambiance or with a relaxed cozy atmosphere; pick the one(s) that best suit(s) your mood.

Syngrou & Valaoritou Streets are the city hotspot for the young. Go bar-hopping there and enjoy the variety of music genres both Greek and foreign, as they can cater to all tastes.

How does Thessaloniki Compare? 

A one-bedroom apartment in the Exoches neighbourhood rents for €400 - €500.


Excoches is central, but not “downtown.” You can walk the seafront promenade and be at the city center in half an hour. Today, a three-bedroom apartment and a big veranda would rent for about €1200 per month, so your budget will be a big factor in determining the size of property you go for. 

The average price for a typical two-bedroom apartment in an older building without parking is roughly €700 - €800.

Whether you rent or own in Thessaloniki, you have a monthly maintenance fee for the elevator, cleaning the common areas, and so on.


That’s usually around €30. Heat for a 2 bedroom apartment is about €80 - €100, electricity is about €60 - €70 a month. 

For single expats, I recommend living directly in the city center. Stay away from the expensive accommodations below Egnatia street as the prices jump up considerably. 

If you prefer a flat without roommates, rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment start at approx. €400.

Cost of Living
in Thessaloniki

In Greece, all taxes on income earned are progressive. This means that when you earn a higher income, the income tax rate will increase.

You are subject to pay taxes in Greece as an employee or as a self-employed individual on your individual income. If you bear the status of “permanent resident”, then the taxes will depend on where they are sourced: Greece or the rest of the world.

If you are a non-resident in Greece, you are subject to pay taxes only on your individual income in Greece. And if you are married, you will be taxed separately, although there may be some possible adjustments. 


If you are a resident of an EU member state and if 90% of all your personal income is Greece-sourced, then you can benefit from various deductions and credits.


You must pay taxes in Greece if you:

  • Have a permanent residence in Greece, or

  • Have spent more than 183 days in Greece during any calendar year, or

  • Are employed or carrying out a professional activity in Greece, or

  • Have a business or investment in Greece, or

  • Receive an annual income of more than €3,000 (from salaries, self-employment, pensions, alimony, or agricultural activities.) 


Download your guide to Thessaloniki here: 

Eligibility to Work in Thessaloniki

Entry Visas for Greece

  • EU citizens, as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, do not require an entry visa. They just need to present their passport or identity card when entering the country.

    Citizens of all other countries must apply for a three-month entry visa at a Greek consulate prior to moving to Greece for employment purposes. This is a “D” type one-entry visa issued for either dependent employment or freelance work.


  • The following documents are necessary when you apply for a “D” type visa:

  • Application form completed either in English or Greek

  • Passport (valid for at least three months after the expiration of your visa)

  • One biometric passport photo

  • Medical certificate filled out by a licensed doctor

  • Proof of medical insurance valid in Greece

  • Excerpt from the penal register issued by your country of origin or current residence

  • The third-country national must be present in person at the Greek consulate or embassy when submitting their application, and they may also be invited for an interview. Biometric data will be taken from the applicant during their visit. All documents must be in English or Greek. is the visa is valid for three months from the date of entry.

Residence Permits for Employment Purposes:

EU citizens moving to Greece for employment purposes must apply for a residence permit upon arrival. This is a relatively simple procedure.

For non-EU citizens, the process is a bit more involved. Different residence permits are issued depending on if one is classed as an “executive” or “regular staff”.

Residence permits for executives are usually issued within one month of filing, and applications can be submitted upon arrival in Greece. Those for regular staff take considerably longer, and the process should be started well in advance of moving to Greece, even before applying for an entry visa.

The need for the applicant’s specific specialisation must be approved by the competent Greek authorities.


Those in possession of executive residence permits may bring their families with them. Those holding regular staff residence permits must wait two years before their families can follow them to Greece.

Applying for a Residence Permit:

The following documents are necessary to obtain a residence permit at the Ministry of Interior after moving to Greece:

  • Two completed application forms (to be obtained at the Ministry of Interior office)

  • Original passport and a copy of each page

  • Three biometric passport photos

  • Health certificate filled out by a Greek hospital

  • Proof of health insurance

  • Proof of sufficient funds to finance your stay

  • Employment contract (if applicable)

  • Proof of local accommodation (e.g. rental contract)

  • Proof of payment of EUR150 application fee to the national tax office (Eforia)

The medical examination includes a chest x-ray and a test for tuberculosis.
The test results can be picked up two days after the examination.
The examination should be completed as soon as possible after you arrive in Greece.

Residence permits for employment purposes are initially issued for one year.

They must be renewed within two months of expiration.
The renewed residence permit must be prolonged every two years.

For more information on the difference between “executive” and “regular staff” residence permits, please consult the How to Work and Live in Greece brochure, published by the Greek government’s Invest in Greece Agency.

Residence Permits for Investors and Entrepreneurs:

Those seeking to obtain a residence permit for Greece as an investor or entrepreneur need to complete a similar procedure to the one outlined above. Investors are issued a residence permit for the development of investment activity.

Applicants, in this case, agree to invest at least 300,000 EUR in activities that will benefit the Greek economy.

Entrepreneurs should apply for a residence permit for practicing independent economic activity. In this case, you must prove that you have at least 60,000 EUR at your disposal.

For both types of permits, residence permits will also be issued to family members (spouse and minor children). The permit is valid for two years and can then be prolonged every two years, provided the economic activity continues and all taxes have been paid.

As of early 2014, the Greek government has also started offering five-year residence permits to third-country nationals and their families who buy a property valued at a minimum of 250,000 EUR. These residence permits can be renewed as long as the property remains in the permit holder’s possession.

Greece: Accommodation and Education:

Accommodation in Greece:

A lot of expats decide to rent in Greece. Greek law requires a rental contract to be valid for a minimum of three years. Rental prices vary in Greece, but are often highest in Athens.
A deposit of two months’ rent is usually due upon signing, and one month’s notice must be given before moving out.

Expats are generally allowed to buy property anywhere in Greece (in fact it is actively encouraged by the government) except for in designated ‘border areas’. To buy property in these areas, non-EU citizens need special permission from the Ministry of Interior. The process is easier for EU citizens and permission is granted by a special committee.

If you are buying property valued at over EUR 104,700, you must hire a lawyer, who will help guide you through the process of purchasing property in Greece. This usually ends up costing 1-1.5% of the value of the property.

The following websites are useful for searching for property either to buy or to rent:

Education in Greece:

Education is compulsory in Greece from ages 6 to 15.

The school system is comprised of a six-year primary school (Dimotiko) and a three-year lower secondary school (Gymnasio), followed by a non-compulsory upper secondary school.

The upper secondary schools can be either academic or technical in nature. Most Greek children attend public schools.

Plenty of non-compulsory private and public preschools and kindergartens are also available in Greece. Children can start attending preschool (Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmi) at the age of 2 ½ and then continue on to kindergarten (Nipiagogeia)before starting primary school.

Greece also has many good international schools. Thirteen schools in Greece offer an International Baccalaureate degree, which makes it easier to study at universities outside of Greece after graduation. Most of the international schools are located in Athens, but there are a few in Thessaloniki. Several languages of instruction are offered, including English, French, German and Japanese.

The selection of international schools offers an English-language education, mostly in Athens:

The Top Expat Destinations in Greece: 


Athens - 

Athens has a population of just nearly four million. It has a long history, stretching back thousands of years through antiquity to the Neolithic Age.

It is located eight kilometers from the Bay of Phaleron on the Aegean Sea, the site of Athens’ port, Piraeus. This bustling port helps to make Athens the most important manufacturing city in Greece.


Athens accounts for about half of the jobs in Greece in handicrafts and industry.

Average salaries are higher here than elsewhere in Greece, though the city has also been affected by the ongoing crisis.


Thessaloniki - 

Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece with a population of around 800,000.
Named after a sister of Alexander the Great, the city was founded in 315 BCE. Thessaloniki emerged as a major industrial center in the 1960s, with the opening of steel mills, oil refineries, and petrochemical plants.


The city is also a major exporter of raw and processed agricultural products, chrome, and manganese. Much of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1978.


During the current economic crisis, the unemployment rate in Thessaloniki has risen dramatically, especially due to the high number of young people who live here.

The retirement age is 67 for men and women.

All information above is provided by

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