Home Europe Greece Budget Sun: The 9 Cheapest Places To Live In Greece

Budget Sun: The 9 Cheapest Places To Live In Greece

Cheapest places to live in Greece
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

So, you’re on the hunt for the cheapest places to live in Greece? Fantastic. The good news is that all those long mezze lunches and lazy afternoons on the beachfront by the Aegean Sea don’t actually have to break the bank. You don’t have to fork out loads to score endless sun and retsina wine sunsets.

In fact, Greece can be a very affordable place to live so long as you choose the right spot. Of course, you’ll need to steer well clear of the pricy tourist destinations, the jet-setter haunts, and the honeymoon islands. That means places like Santorini and Hydra, Mykonos and even the Athenian Riviera are going to be out of bounds.

Cue this guide. It runs through nine of the cheapest places to live in Greece using a combo of stats and local knowledge to reveal some of the lesser-known places to settle down in the land of feta and cloudless skies. There’s a mix of islands and mainland spots, along with some tips on off-the-beaten-track regions you might not have even heard of…

The Mani Peninsula

The Mani
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Known as just The Mani to the locals, this middle prong of the Peloponnese is one of the least-visited regions of mainland Greece. That’s not because it lacks in anything – it most certainly does not! It’s more because it’s pretty tricky to get to, with only a single winding roadway running a loop around the place and the nearest airport being over two hours away in Kalamata.

But if you don’t mind being isolated then there’s lots of fall in love with. The Mani is a fiercely independent area where the folk trace their lineage back to the proud Spartan warriors of old. They’ve created fortified villages at the south end of the peninsula (an area known as the Deep Mani) that aren’t your usual Cycladic shocks of white, but rather hearty stone hamlets with quaint harbors.

Inland, the whole place is dominated by the wild tops of the Taygetus range. Those mountains crash more than 2,400 meters overhead, offering endless hiking through alpine meadows and pine forests – more Italy than Greece. Occasionally, you’ll stumble across a half-abandoned village in the highlands there, with ruined houses that probably don’t cost that much just waiting to be renovated and rejuvenated.

Chalkidiki

Chalkidiki
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Chalkidiki is a trident-shaped peninsula in the far northeastern half of Greece. Of its three long headlands, only two are really accessible to travelers. The easternmost is Mount Athos and it’s almost exclusively given over to Greek Orthodox monks, who have not only banned women but have even lived off-grid for some decades. Let’s just say that’s not the sort of place you want to go looking for your next villa!

The other two parts of the peninsula are very popular holiday destinations, but they also have a reputation for budget-friendly vacationing. The reason? For one, this isn’t an island so it’s cheaper to reach than other parts of the Aegean basin. For two, Chalkidiki is large, so there’s lots of room to fit in all those coastal homes and hotel resorts.

We’d recommend focusing your search on the Sithonia Peninsula if you want to break away from the crowds. It’s the more chilled, more relaxed of the options. The beaches are pretty darn lovely there, too, especially the swirls of yellow sand around Porto Koufo and the pine-backed coves of Zografou on the eastern shoreline.

Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki
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Greece’s second largest urban conglomeration is the best choice for folk who want to feel the buzz of the city but don’t want to put up with the sky-high prices of Athens. Sat on the Thermaic Gulf in the northeast of the country, it’s known for being quite different to the rest of Greece. Just take the architecture as an example, which swaps out the ancient Greek ruins of the capital for a mix of predominantly Ottoman and Byzantine and 20th-century constructions.

Thessaloniki is widely hailed as Greece’s culinary capital. It draws in influences from the Balkan Peninsula, from Turkey, from the Mediterranean, and from the Slavic peoples of nearby North Macedonia. The result? A smorgasbord of sweet tsoureki breads covered in hazelnut cream, pork souvlaki, and milky rice puddings that originated in the Byzantine empire all await on the menus.

But you’re not coming for the food, right? You’re coming because this is one of the cheapest places to live in Greece. And it sure is. The estimated cost for a single traveler for a whole month here is around just €630 ($733). That’s a cut below what you’d be spending to reside in Athens at least, but perhaps not quite as little as in some of the more rural spots on this list.

Crete

Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

Crete isn’t just a vacation mecca. It’s also one of the cheapest places to live in Greece. That’s mainly down to the property prices, which have never really recovered since the 2008 crash. That’s changing slowly but the fact remains that Greece’s largest island still offers plenty of bang for your buck when it comes to house buying.

Crete’s actually so big – a whopping 150 miles from end to end – that it can help to break it down a little more. Generally, the north coast, especially the areas immediately around Chania and Heraklion (the two largest towns) is the most built up. There’s more competition for houses there so prices can be higher. The same goes for the famous resort towns in the east, like Malia and Bali.

Better choices for those on a budget sit in the high Lefka Ori mountains and down on the south shoreline. The charming valleys of Askifou and sleepy Spili are both options up in the Cretan highlands that have a few tavernas and shops between them. Then you’ve got towns like Matala – once a hippy enclave and now a buzzy beach town – and Hora Sfakion, where you can enjoy some of the finest hiking on the island without spending a dime.

Lefkada

Lefkada
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Of all the central Ionian islands, Lefkada remains the least developed for touristic purposes. It’s unique in the area in that it has a direct road link to the Greek mainland. That naturally has a knock-on effect on the cost of things, which is lower because shops don’t need to import EVERYTHING by boat and sea. You’ll also find that there’s no major spike in prices here throughout the summer, since it’s not quite as popular as near neighbors – Ithaka, Kefalonia.

Lefkada is a real stunner, mind. It’s famed for its south and west coasts, which do a fine impression of Zante’s Shipwreck Beach with their gleaming white pebbles and see-through turquoise seas. Inland, some of the cheapest places you can find accommodation are the small hill towns and villages. Some have been there centuries and showcase traditional Greek mountain living, with a central taverna surrounded by olive farms and weaving workshops.

Epirus

Epirus
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Epirus is a huge cut-out of inland Greece, covering a vast swathe of the lands that roll southwards from the Albanian border. It’s extremely mountainous and rugged, with the terminus of the Dinaric Alps (the same range that runs the whole length of the Balkans through Croatia and Montenegro) lifting to summits of 2,600 meters above sea level.

The wild geography has helped to keep Epirus pretty remote and isolated. It’s not entered the mainstream of Greek travel destinations and hosts secret mountain hamlets where the cost of both buying and renting properties is likely to be just a shade of what it is nearer to the sea. Check out villages like Skamneli, Koukouli, and Aspraggeli if that’s tempted you. They’re spots where time seems to have stood still for decades.

And it’s not just the property rates that might draw you to Epirus. This region also boasts some of the most epic hiking in Greece. Dive into the Pindus National Park to find trails weaving under snow-plumed peaks, rolling sweeps of evergreen forests, cedar woods, and deep gorges where hardly another rambler sets foot outside of the main summer season.

Kavala

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A moderately-sized coastal town on the northern Aegean coast, Kavala is closer to Bulgaria than it is to Athens. That’s good news on the budget front, since it means that there’s not the same boom of summer tourism up here that you get throughout the coveted Aegean Islands. What’s more, prices take a nod from the Balkans, which is among the cheaper of the regions in the whole of Europe.

The town itself is anchored on its bustling port. That’s the gateway to some of the lesser-known isles of the eastern Aegean Sea – including budget-friendly Thasos and basically-never-visited Samothrace. There’s also a lovely 15th-centiry castle, along with marina areas hemmed in by tavernas that are aimed squarely at locals, not tourists.

Corfu

Corfu
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Corfu is often said to be the cheapest of all the mainstream Greek islands. Overlooking the Albanian coast at the top end of the Ionian Sea, it’s also considered to be a real stunner. The west and east coasts couldn’t be more different – the first is gilded with the glowing pebble bays of Palaiokastritsa, while the latter is a mountain-topped run of small coves and fishing hamlets.

Neither of those areas are great if you’re keeping an eye on the bank account. Consider, instead, heading inland to the heart of the island. Just a short drive of 15-20 minutes from Corfu Town and you should notice that prices for hotels and long-term rentals drop considerably. However, you will need a car to make things work up there, as most villages are pretty small and the main roads in Corfu run along the coastlines only.

You certainly won’t get bored on this island. Days of taking in the mystical religious architecture of the Cathedral of Saint Spyridon and Palaiokastritsa Monastery can join with hikes along the wild Sidari Cape in the north, or beach days in lovely Kassiopi and Kalami. The best part? All those activities are 100% gratis.

Andros

Andros
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Andros might just be the Cycladic Island you’ve never heard of. Yep, it’s a part of the same chain as the uber-popular (and uber-expensive) likes of Mykonos and Santorini. However, it’s not really like its compadres at all. First off, it’s super green. There’s none of that barren volcanic geology here. Just rolling hills of verdant forest and olive groves.

Andros is beloved by a certain crew of returnee travelers for its authentic Greek character. It’s close enough to the capital’s ports in Rafina to be used by lots of commuters who work in Athens during the week, which helps to give the capital, known as Andros Chora, a lived-in, less-touristic vibe. That also brings down the prices a touch, because you don’t get anywhere near the same number of visitors here as in other parts of the Cyclades.

The main town starts off the allure with its grand 18th-century mansions. You’re best skipping them because they’re some of the most elegant properties on the isle. Further inland, you’ll catch rustic villages hemmed in by chestnut woods. There are also some lovely beaches, most notably Tis Grias with its tall rock stacks, and Vitali Beach, a horseshoe crescent of light pebbles and turquoise water.

The cheapest places to live in Greece – conclusion

So, where are the cheapest places to live in Greece? Well…all over, actually. Yep, from wave-lapped islands in the Ionian Sea to soaring mountain hamlets in the far-flung highlands of Epirus, you should have plenty of options when seeking out spots to live that won’t break the bank. Some will be more expensive than others, like Thessaloniki, which is a bargain as far as cities go but not cheap per se. Others promise to be easy on the wallet more generally, offering low property prices and all-round living costs.