Shopping in Greece is a very different experience compared to that in the U.S. For starters, stores here are not open 24 hours and are closed on Sundays.The first and most obvious difference while shopping at the supermarket is when you have to insert a 50 euro coin piece to unlock a cart for use. The cart wheels swivel, making it difficult to get around especially if your cart is full. As you go through the check out line, you put your purchases on the counter and as they are checked through, you bag your own groceries. You then return the cart by locking it to the others and that’s when your 50 euro cent piece is returned to you.

Besides the supermarkets, there are specialty shops such as the butcher, bakery, produce and fish. The bread and desserts, are by far, the most enjoyable products in Greece along with the cheese of course. The breads are baked daily and you can smell that fresh bakery fragrance once you begin your approach. The desserts and pastries are also baked daily and they are very proud of these products, as they should be. Prices in specialty shops are usually cheaper then in a supermarket.

As for prices, if you attempt to live solely as you might in the U.S., prices are high. Fresh fruits and vegetables come from nearby and are usually great. The range of foods available used to be narrow but have widened over the last few years and it includes many American items or their equivalents. Of course you can’t get everything, but as time goes by, you learn to live without. Generally, food is fresher because it is seasonal and doesn’t travel as far than in the U.S. Location plays a big factor as can the season.

Shopping for clothing is another thing all together. There is not a great variety of products – what you find in one store, you are sure to find in another. Location plays a very important part on how much you will pay for an item. In one part of the city, an item might be a few Euros higher while in another, it is a few Euros lower. The same goes throughout the country.

Greeks are very fashion-conscious and buying more expensive appeals much more to the consumer. In the U.S., we prefer comfort over style, while here in Greece, it is the total opposite. Fashion is very important here and there is a large consumption in brand name clothing. Popular styles go in and out very quickly (one to two months). Clothing for babies are not made for comfort either (where are the snappy crotches?).


Walking and driving


Walking in Greece is hard work. In the states, people move aside to give the right away to the person who is coming towards them, so one might expect Greeks to do the same. But instead, they march straight ahead down narrow sidewalks with no notice of people coming toward them. Every approach is a contest of wills, a guessing game and/or a collision. No need to panic though, just step out of the way and let them go by. Come to think of it, perhaps they do walk the way they drive. It is a rare occurance for Greeks to give the right away to another car. This causes all kinds of arguments that then cause traffic jams. It is not uncommon to see drivers create two lanes where one is supposed to exist. Driving etiquette is non-existent in Greece. Drivers will not think twice to cut you off or tail you. Luckily, there is not the violent road rage phenomenon you see in the US. In congested traffic, many Greek drivers don’t believe in turn signals, pedestrian right of way, or even stoplights. If there’s a traffic jam up ahead, it’s perfectly acceptable to drive on the sidewalk in order to bypass stopped cars, especially if you’re on a motorcycle. Seat belts are rarely worn. My favorite has to be the overuse of hazard lights which is fairly common. Whenever a driver wants to stop in the middle of the road to have a chat with a friend and can’t be bothered by getting out of the car, or decides to double park while waiting for someone, out come the hazard lights. They seem to guarantee the driver who switches them on some sort of immunity and all fellow drivers will give you the benefit of the doubt and let you get on with whatever you are doing. No one beeps their horns or shouts at you if the hazards lights are on.

Parking in just about every major city can be a nightmare. Major traffic problems here are due to a large consumption of cars and lack of parking. Parking on side walks is common and double parking as well. If someone blocks the street, horns are held continuously until someone moves the car – this can take minutes.

There is full service at gas stations which includes washing your windows, checking your oil and tires. There is no self service stations in Greece.


Crime in Greece is one of the lowest in Europe and is one of the safest countries in the world. This is not to say that crime does not exist. It certainly does. However, the majority are petty crimes as armed violence and random assaults are fairly uncommon. Gun control is strictly enforced and possession of firearms of any type, except those licensed for hunting, is forbidden. This may play a large part as to why crime is not as high as in other countries where owning a gun is legal.

You don’t see police often in the streets, nor do you see them on freeways or roads much while traveling. The only time they may be out in full force is during a holiday when traffic is congested due to Greeks traveling the roads.


The first thing you will find is just how different the pace of life is in Greece, compared to that in the states. Like in many countries that run along the Mediterranean, the Greeks like to observe an afternoon siesta, and the business day includes a two to three hour lunch break for this very reason. Different parts of Greece may vary when it comes to the hours of siesta time. For Example, local business hours are as follows: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, most businesses open at 9:00 AM and close at 3:00 PM for rest of the day. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, most businesses open at 9:00 AM, close at 3:00 PM and then reopen at 5:30 PM and close at 9:00 PM. Sundays are a day of rest. Supermarkets, restaurants and taverns stay open throughout the day. Also, during the months of July and August all merchants stores are closed on Saturdays due to vacation time here in Greece.

There are a number of reasons why siesta time may have been put in place. It has been said that Greeks are family oriented and use this break in the middle of day to spend time with family. Greece also has a huge night life and those who go out take the the opportunity to rest up for their long evening ahead. The majority of businesses in Greece are privately owned and operated and as such, the break is set aside to rest in order to be able to return to finish out the work day. Whatever it was that has brought on the siesta, it doesn’t seem to effect some parts of Greece like it does in others.


In cities here in Greece, people live over each other and not spread out. The majority of people live in rather small apartments and it is not likely that you would find wall to wall carpeting in any home. Instead, you will find area carpets used during the winter months. Tile floors are the norm throughout a Greek home, with wooden floors in the bedrooms. Stairs are very popular in home buildings and are usually made of Marble (Greece is rich in marble). Having small homes, which, even if they are not ancient, seem to be in constant need of some sort of enhancement. The drive to make more and more space out of tiny living areas is a national mania and that doesn’t stop inside the house. Gardening is also an obsession for Greeks, who have raised the practice of creating small gardens on their balconys that are usually not even large enough to place a table and chairs on.

In Greece, people don’t bother much with exteriors; there isn’t much exterior to a Greek home. The entire property, yard (if any) and all, is most often enclosed behind a tall brick wall that presents a blank face to the public street. The street may be dirty and rutted, but inside, there is a tidy little courtyard planted with flowers and plants. It makes no sense to most Greeks to toil away attempting to make a little bit of the outside world pleasant and clean. It’s an uphill battle for one thing, and for another, it’s the inside that matters.

Name Change

If you get married in Greece and would like to change your last name, this came done at the American consulate. All one needs to take in is their marriage certificate and passport. A stamp is then added to one of the back pages of your passport showing your new name. This only takes a few minutes.

Having a child in Greece

If you are an American citizen and have a child in Greece from a Greek national you must register the birth locally and then again at the American Consulate. When doing so the child automatically gets dual citizenship. It is very easy as long as you have all the paperwork needed and your child must accompany you. The application only takes a few minutes to complete and your paperwork is then turned in. Within a week, you will receive your child’s American passport and within a month you will receive your child’s social security card.Paperwork needed to register your child:

1. Marriage certificate of parents.
2. Birth certificate from the Greek registrar’s office bearing the full name of the child.
3. Certified copy of all final civil divorce decree if either parent was married previously.
4. Evidence of American citizenship of the parent. If only one parent is an American citizen, evidence that the parent has met the physical presence requirement to transmit citizenship, prior to the birth of the child (the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least five years, two of which were after the age of 14. Documents that may serve as evidence of physical presence, includes: old passports, school transcripts, income tax records and social security itemized quarterly earning statement records.

To apply for a passport for your child, you need:

1. A signed passport application
2. Two identical photographs.
3. Parents consent

**Check with the American Consulate office for fees regarding registration**

Special notice regarding paperwork:

***A very important thing to remember when moving here. If you have ever been divorced, you must bring with you your divorce decree and be sure it is translated in Greek. This form will be needed when applying for marriage and/or anything that has to do with your child, even if that child was not from your previous marriage.