Thessaloniki was once considered to be a major economic hub in the Balkans, with manufacturing, shipping, and trade traditionally among the most important industries in the city. Today, the services and tourism sectors dominate the local economy that is slowly on the rise again after a difficult period.
Thessaloniki can boast some of the best outdoor recreation in Europe and as such it is a fantastic place to live for expats who like to spend time outside. The city, which is also known as Thessalonica and Salonica, is home to around 300,000 people but when the whole metropolitan area is included this figure rises to more than a million.
Thessaloniki has traditionally been home to a large Jewish community, which is thought to be the oldest in mainland Europe. However, the vast majority of people living in Thessaloniki in the 21st century are Greeks, although there is also a sizeable Turkish population.
Some problems across Thessaloniki have been caused by the rapid suburban growth and urban sprawl that began in the 1990s, with many buildings in direct violation of Greek planning laws. Expatriates moving to Thessaloniki should keep this in mind during their accommodation search and particularly when looking to buy property!
Thessaloniki is in a transitional climatic zone, which means it has a very variable climate. Temperatures tend to be around the 30°C mark during the summer months, which are dry. The summer season lasts from May to September, with July the hottest month in Thessaloniki. Summers are hot and humid, with rain usually only falling during thunderstorms, which are quite common. Thessaloniki has also been known to experience heat waves during the summer.
Winters are usually dry, but it is common for there to be frost in the morning. Temperatures can drop to as low as -10°C during winter. There is usually some snow, too, but not much, with January being the coldest month. Thessaloniki can also be a foggy place to live.
As a member of the European Union, foreigners from any other member state (as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein) can travel freely in and out of Greece and they usually only need to show an ID card to do so. Passports may still be required for transactions such as currency exchange or large purchases, though.
Visas are not required for EU expats planning to move to Greece for less than three months. For stays in excess of this three-month period, foreigners need to apply for a residence permit.
Citizens from outside of the European Union who want to move to Greece will have to obtain a visa. You can find more information on the type and application process in our article on Moving to Greece.