You may be able to haggle over rates outside the high season and for long stays, for which many hotels offer special rates. Hotels located in large towns, cities and coastal resorts are the most expensive, and rates in cities such as Athens (while lower than in other European capitals) can be very high. However, inexpensive hotels can be found in most towns, where a single room can usually be found for around €25 and a double for under €50, although usually without a private bath or shower.
Minimum and maximum rates are set according to the facilities and the season, although there’s no season in the major cities. Rates are considerably higher in tourist areas during the high season of July and August, when rooms at any price are hard to find. On the other hand, outside the main season, particularly in winter, many hotels offer low half or full board rates (even better rates are offered for stays of a week or longer).
Hotels aren’t a cost-effective, long-term solution for home hunters, although there’s usually little choice if you need accommodation for a short period only. Bed and breakfast accommodation is also available in Greece, although it isn’t usually budget accommodation, in which case you need to choose a hostel.
An alternative to renting is to exchange your home abroad with one in Greece for a period.
This way you can experience home living for a relatively small cost and may save yourself the expense of a long-term rental. Although there’s always an element of risk involved in exchanging your home with another family, most agencies thoroughly vet clients and have a track record of successful swaps. Homelink International claims 99 per cent of its clients enjoy successful swaps. There are home exchange agencies in most countries, many of which are members of the International Home Exchange Association (IHEA).
There are many home exchange companies in the US, including HomeLink International with over 12,500 members in around 50 countries (Tel. USA 813 975 9825, www.swapnow.com). Two long-established home exchange companies in the UK are HomeLink International (Tel. UK 01962-886882, www.homelink.org.uk), which publishes a directory of homes and holiday homes for exchange, and Home Base Holidays, 7 Park Avenue, London N13 5PG, UK (Tel. 020-8886 8752, www.homebase-hols.com). The Home Exchange Guide by M. Simon and T. Baker (Poyeen Publishing) contains comprehensive information and advice.