As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!
Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!
“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta
Let’s meet Jennifer: from rainy London to the legendary Athens
Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!
I am a 35 year old Spanish woman, from the Canary Islands. My passion has always been learning about different cultures, integrating with them, helping people who are in need of any kind, music and dancing.
My plan for the next few years is working for a NGO going internationally helping people, as well as continue learning languages.
Why did you move to your current country?
After living in London for 10 years, I thought it was about time to move somewhere with a bit more sun and better quality of life. Before coming to Athens I lived 6 months on the beach in Valencia, Spain. It was great, but way too quiet in winter, I needed to get somewhere with more action! So I started searching for jobs related to my career (Spanish Interpreter and Translator), and I was very lucky to get an opportunity for a multinational company, in Greece. I didn’t have to think twice!
What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?
I am working in the social media field at the moment and I have to say it’s pretty cool. The job hunting was short, I was contacted directly by the company via LinkedIn and I thought it sounded too good to be true, but here I am!
How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?
Omg, social life here is a must! I thought it’d be very difficult because of the language, but it turns out most people speak English or Spanish and everyone is very friendly, especially if they come from other areas that isn’t the city. There are taverns, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants everywhere! The weather makes it very easy to be outside too. I am very lucky that almost everyone in my company are foreigners, so we all help each other and don’t feel lonely.
Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?
If you love sun, sea, good food and the option to visit gorgeous islands easily, this is the place! I fell in love with Athens because while living in London I always knew that my next place had to be by the sea and somewhere warm. It turns out I am just in that place! I am in a beautiful neighbourhood next to the sea and very well positioned. I can’t get enough of this (for now, until my next destination!)!
What do you want to say to people looking to move there?
My top advice is not to get fooled from people taking advantage of you.
-Keep your belongings securely at all times on the streets.
-Find an area that you feel comfortable in.
-Make sure you meet someone who speaks your language so you don´t feel lonely at the beginning. Have fun!
How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?
Luckily I haven´t had to go to a doctor or hospital yet, but from what I hear you can´t expect much if you are a foreigner because it will be hard to find someone who speaks your language, or English.
It´d be better to have a private insurance, especially if your company provides it, so they can help.
How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?
This is a tricky one… So rents are cheap (if you compare it with a place like London), I pay 200 euros for a studio flat (it´s not that easy to find this deal), generally foreigners start paying around 300 euros for a room in a shared flat, and then they realise there are ways to find cheaper deals and better conditions.
It´s known that the average salary in Greece is really low (unless you are lucky and work for a foreign company, like me), that´s why the rents are cheaper.
What I find really expensive is the food. I still don´t understand how can locals afford eating properly. For example, I haven´t seen any meat cheaper than 8 euros for a small tray. A small piece of cheese costs 12 euros!
Maybe the locals know of other places and I´m missing out.
There are farmer markets every week, but it seems to me that their food goes off quite faster than the one from supermarkets (sadly), so it all depends on what you want and need.
Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.
I don’t like not being able to understand the language yet… Going to the supermarket is a bit of an adventure to me, because I don’t understand what it says on the packages and more than once I bring home the wrong thing.
Also, the signs of the recession the country had are evident. Most neighbourhoods are quite destroyed due to the lack of money to repair the houses etc, and I’m not talking about the historical ruins!
One more thing is that sometimes the locals try to take advantage of foreigners thinking that we are stupid, and they charge us more money than a local person, so you have to be careful!
Also, beware of pickpockets!!
Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend
Visit the Acropolis! Obviously 🙂
You can´t miss having a stroll in the evening, checking out the incredible amount of fun places to have a drink or two and a Souvlaki! I personally like going out around Monastiraki, in the city Centre, or Kastella in Pireus.
Did you find Jennifer’s experience useful? Then check out the other upcoming expat interviews in other cities!