8 Things a Greek Girl Noticed Living Between LA and Greece

Joanna Kalafatis is a Greek American travel writer and actress. She has travelled to over 35 countries. Joanna recently wrote an article on Business Insider on the differences between living in LA and Greece. Joanna spent the first few years of her life in Greece, before relocating to the United States. She couldn’t stay away from her stunning native nation for too long, much like the flood of tourists helping the islands smash records for tourism. Joanna currently works six months a year in the US and the other half in Greece, travelling back and forth between Los Angeles and Athens. After visiting both nations frequently over the past few years, here are 8 differences she has noticed:


I find Greeks tend to be much blunter than Americans.

Greeks sometimes come across as impolite, particularly to visitors. But the social culture of the country does not value being extremely courteous or smiling at strangers. When I’m in Greece, I genuinely value knowing where I stand with people. My Greek friends give me a lot more constructive feedback and real conversations. However, whether engaging with strangers, friends, or customer service representatives, Americans typically smile and show some level of friendliness and courtesy.

I can party all night (and into the morning) in Athens.

As is well known to LA locals, Los Angeles closes rather early for a large metropolis. As do many North American cities. Due in significant part to the time restrictions on serving alcohol, most establishments close by 2am. I can easily go out till 4am in the morning in Athens. I can extend the night even further if I’m ready to go to one of the many bouzoukia (clubs with live Greek music) or the club district.

Beach life is very different. There are some incredibly beautiful beaches in LA and Athens.

Even while I have concerns about the environmental impact of having infrastructure so close to the water, Greeks have a tendency to build cafés and bars extremely close to the shoreline, so there are always refreshments nearby. When I go to the beach in Los Angeles with friends, I normally bring coolers since we can’t get food or drink service on the sand like we can when we’re camping. If you don’t live very close, it becomes more of a full-day plan to visit the beach in Los Angeles.

LA has more regulations for recreation and public space

Going to the beach is one of the many recreational activities that seem to be regulated in Los Angeles. In most recreational areas, glass containers, alcohol, animals, and loud music are prohibited. Additionally, staying late could be construed as loitering. I see young people in Athens hanging out till 2 or 3am in the morning, drinking beer in the city square, and skating through public parks. In Los Angeles, it’s practically hard to do that without receiving a warning in writing or a side-eye.

The streets are much wider in LA (and in all of North America overall)

Putting geographical differences aside, compared to Greek standards, LA streets, shops, and even parking lots are enormous. In Greece, I often leave an inch or so between my bumper and the bumper of my neighbour. Some of the main streets in Athens are too narrow for many of the larger cars I see in Los Angeles.

What Greeks consider bad traffic pales compared to LA

A few major thoroughfares in Athens can get somewhat congested during rush hour. But I don’t ever have to slow down for traffic when I’m driving on the city highways in Greece. Finding a moment in LA when the freeways aren’t congested is difficult, unless it’s 1am in the morning.

Athens has a lot more people walking around

Both the city centre and many of the more suburban neighbourhoods of Athens are relatively walkable. Streets featuring exclusively pedestrian traffic and centre squares dotted with bustling cafés, shops, restaurants, and bars are popular sights. It’s great to see more people walking the streets. Due to the city’s strong vehicle culture, the majority of the sidewalks that border LA boulevards—if any exist at all—seem empty.

Restaurant service is very different

In Greek restaurants, it can be frustrating to wait long for the check to be paid. In addition, restaurants usually give free fruit or dessert after a meal, which makes me stay longer. In the US, service can feel rushed towards the end of a dinner, despite being faster and generally friendlier. I keep getting reminders from servers that they left the bill on the table.

Nevertheless, I  understand the difference. Greek servers typically care more about their hourly income, but US servers typically rely on tips, which necessitates higher turnover.

Greeks in Greece are not accustomed to mandatory tipping like most tip 15-20% in North America.

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Joanna Kalafatis’ Source Article: Business Insider

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