Thessaloniki Student Housing

A brief Thessaloniki student housing guide

Based on the Greek Ministry of Education, there are approximately 330.000 students at Greek public universities at any one time. Thessaloniki accounts for nearly 1/3 of the total number of students in Greece with an estimated 100.000 students (including those attending private colleges and other higher education establishments).
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For a city of 800.000 people (city population 2011) this means a particularly high proportion of students, which is evident from the lively atmosphere and nightlife. The majority of the students are coming from other Greek cities, from Europe via exchange programs and from the Balkan countries in order to study at high quality private colleges. Estimating that on average a full-time student spends about 4 years in Thessaloniki (excluding exchange students), this means that there are approximately 25.000 new students in the city every year. And they all need a place to stay…
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This article will provide a brief guide to the types of available student housing, the areas, prices, and things to be aware of regarding student accommodation in Thessaloniki.
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1. Types of student accommodation

1a. University public dorms.
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The University of Thessaloniki offers dorms to students, based on need and mainly on financial criteria. They are provided free of charge. In practice this means that it is pretty difficult to get a dorm room even if you are eligible to get one. The dorms are mostly located close to the university campus, but their quality is very low and maintenance is a big issue, along with issues about safety etc.

1b. University Student Hostels.
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These are private properties (entire buildings) which are subleased by the University and are provided mainly to exchange students requiring accommodation for a few weeks or months. These are usually ERASMUS students. As of 2011 there are two student hostels, “Matsi Street 7” and “Kassandrou Street 134”, both very close to the university. They offer fully furnished “dorm-style” rooms with ensuite private bathroom and kitchenette (Kassandrou 134) single and double rooms, a laundry area and wireless internet access.
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1c. Private hostels.

For students wishing to stay only a few days/weeks, these hostels are more appropriate and a better solution than a hotel. However, these are hard to find as private hostels that rent rooms/beds by the day/week are not legal in Greece unless they are Non-Profit Organizations.
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1d. Private rental flats.

These are standalone flats (studio, 1 or 2 bedrooms) located all over the city that students can rent from private owners. You can usually find them through real estate agents (beware) or online ads. You will need to find the appropriate one to suit your needs. Most of them are unfurnished or partly furnished and are more suited to students who plan to stay in Thessaloniki for a few years (as you’d have to buy electrical appliances, fridge, cooker, etc).
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When you move in you will need to enter into a contract with the electricity company DEI, the water and sewage company EYATH and the gas company for heating (or oil if there is petroleum central heating). Be aware that apart from the rent you will need to pay for the monthly “communal” expenses (i.e. elevator maintenance, cleaning, communal lighting, repairs, etc.), so check for the rough monthly amount beforehand as this can vary wildly. This is obviously not the best solution for a student coming to Thessaloniki for a few months or a year as the hassle is too much.

1e. Rental student studios.

This is a new breed of student housing that is very popular with both full time students as well as exchange students. This trend began in the late 90s with just a few companies offering this type of accommodation. The main concept is that of a building with rental studios, where each student has his own private fully furnished room with en-suite bathroom and fully equipped kitchenette. This creates in effect a private high quality dormitory with single bed studios. The student atmosphere is maintained along with the feeling of privacy and safety.

Some companies offer additional amenities such as a laundry area, gym, storage for bulky items, bicycle parking, etc. This solves the main problems a student would have if he rented a studio from a private owner. In addition to this, some companies offer an ALL IN rent which includes the cost of heating, electricity, water, communal expenses, etc. even a fixed line ADSL internet connection. This way students won’t have to deal with the Greek public authorities in order to get a contract for everything. This is especially suitable for exchange students who don’t have the time or knowledge to deal with this.

Finally, some companies also offer a number of additional safety measures (fire alarms, access control cards, etc). There is usually a porter at these buildings for anything that the students may need. However, be careful which company you choose as few offer all of the above.

2. Student accommodation areas

Since the university campus is in the city center of Thessaloniki, the most popular student accommodation areas are also there. However, since the city center is expensive, most students look for properties to rent near the university above Egnatia street and mostly around the streets of Agiou Dimitriou and Kassandrou. This is also where many student shops and cafes are located.

Other areas popular with students are towards the east side of the city such as Depo, Toumpa, Harilaou, etc. These however are far from the center on foot and lack the distinct “student feel” of the areas near the university. In addition, traffic can be very bad at certain times of the day towards the university.

Overall, both the city center and the areas to the east are very safe all day long.

Lastly, there are the areas to the west of the city center such as Stavroupoli, Evosmos, etc. where rent prices are lower but these areas are not favored by students. They are very densely populated and traffic is also a problem, plus many students (and especially their parents) do not choose these areas as they have a reputation for higher crime rates.

3. Accommodation prices

Rent prices range from 200 euros per month for a standalone studio in Evosmos to 650 euros per month for a 2 bedroom apartment in the city center. The communal expenses can also range from 15 euros for a studio without central heating to 80 euros per month for an apartment with central heating. Of course rent prices can fluctuate depending on the condition of the flat/studio.

On average a student will pay about 350euros for an unfurnished studio near the university plus 30euros/month for communal expenses. Don’t forget to add the monthly cost of electricity, water, heating, telephone/internet, etc to this.

ALL IN prices for the organized student studios which offer all kinds of amenities and include electricity bills, water bills, heating, hot water, internet, laundry, gym, etc. can range from 390 to 460 euros per month for a furnished studio near the university. For the average student who wants to have the privacy of his own place, but also live the student life, this is the most economical option which also saves him the hassle and stress of dealing with the Greek public sector. One last advantage is that you can plan your budget ahead, as you know how much your living costs will be, so there will be no surprises at the end of the month…

4. Legal issues

In order to rent a private property you need to know the following:

If you are a EU citizen, you will need to get a Tax Registration Number (ΑΦΜ) from the local tax office. This is an easy procedure that takes 5 minutes and that only requires your passport. If you are a non-EU citizen you first need to get a residence permit and then get the above Tax Registration Number. This is absolutely necessary in order to legally rent a property in Greece.

If you stay at a hotel you need to know that you cannot stay for more than 3 months.

If you rent a property, you have to sign a lease.

Do not accept to stay at rental rooms without signing a lease as this could get you in trouble. You need to know that it’s illegal to stay anywhere without a lease, unless it is a hotel.

Always insist that the landlord hands you back a copy of the lease “stamped” by the tax office. It is not uncommon for landlords to rent properties without a lease or without an official “stamped” lease – this is illegal. Do not put yourself in a position where you could get in trouble. Always demand to sign a formal lease.

Hotel Infrastructure in Thailand

Bangkok, capital of Thailand is the heart and soul of the country and one of Asia’s most dynamic cities. You will be pleasantly surprised in this frantic and steamy tropical city offering gleaming skyscrapers, glittering temples, colorful street markets, sophisticated shopping malls, bustling nightlife, and a vibrancy at every turn which reflects the incredible economic growth of the last few years.

Despite Bangkok became a booming, modern capital with a lot of tourists recently, it still manages to retain its unique Siamese heritage in the wonderful food, Buddhist tolerance, exotic architecture, culture, and Thai hospitality. If you use “Sky train” symbolizing Bangkok’s rapid development you can get some great views over a capital in constant change and a convenient way to get around the main areas. Bangkok is one of the most exciting and exotic cities in the world without any doubts!

When you are in Thailand you will be pleasantly met with a great tradition of hospitality and nowhere is this clearer than in its hotels. You will see the famous Thai smile and get excellent facilities, excellent service etc. Take any international poll and you will find at least one Thai hotel in the top ten in the world! And moreover, whatever your budget, there is something to meet your means as accommodation in Thailand is not just a series of top-of-the-range hotels and luxury Thailand property. You can choose from various guesthouses, resorts, rooms with a view to the city or to the ocean!

Thailand hotel infrastructure is excellent and hotel accommodation is available in all categories, from the most basic, cheap guest house to hotels that range top by international standards. And you can find accommodation not only in Bangkok, but hotels of all categories, right up to the top in provincial towns and tourist destinations as well.

Usually luxury five star hotels are located in very expensive districts of Bangkok together with famous and popular property in Thailand around. There are many things to see and to do in Bangkok, such a great Metropolis that is also a great place for shopping. Bangkok offers you an extraordinary selection of Hotels, tourism infrastructure, Thailand property, Resorts and Serviced Apartments from budget Guest House and Cheap Hostels to 5 stars Hotels and Resorts.

Thailand has international standard accommodation not just in the capital Bangkok and some popular beach resorts but almost all over the country that is not typical for most developing or newly industrialized countries attracting foreign investments in property in Thailand projects. Tourism in Thailand became the biggest business and reason for such fast development. Only 10 or 15 years ago tourists couldn’t find international standard hotels, but today you will see them at far off places like Mae Hong Son which a few years back wasn’t even accessible by road all year round.

Foreign visitor can even experience both nature and the comfort in exotic luxury accommodations built right in the jungles, for example in Kanchanaburi province if they wish and ready to pay.

Among all Southeast Asian countries the Kingdom of Thailand draws the highest amount of visitors as this country has irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms. Thailand has everything from the verdant limestone islands of the Andaman Sea and the stupa-studded mountains of Mae Hong Son, to the tranquil villages moored along the Mekong River and the pulse-pounding dance clubs of Bangkok and every type of traveler will find what he needs for great vacations.

Hotel Security: Top 5 Tips To Staying Safe and Secure In Hotels

Whether guests at a seven star hotel or a seven dollar hostel there are certain things that travelers need to consider when staying in overnight accommodation. Here are our top 5 tips for staying safe and secure in a hotel environment.

1. Room to Improve: If you have the option to pre-book a room or choose where in a hotel to stay think about a few things.

  • What floor to stay on – the general consensus is between the 2nd floor and 6th floor. This way people can’t easily gain access to your room windows but fire fighters can reach with their ladders.
  • The risks of the area – Are you staying in a hostile environment? If there is a risk of IED’s, car bombs or suicide bombers think about getting a room at the back of the hotel or the opposite of where cars can drive up to the entrance. Perhaps even away from the general lobby area.

If you are not happy with the location of your room, ask to move to a different one.

2. Fire first:

This is a saying we use to remind travelers that as soon as you arrive at your hotel spend a few minutes to ask yourself, what if there was a fire or other emergency?

As soon as you get into your room, place your bags on the bed and exit the room. Look for your nearest fire exit and nearest fire extinguisher, picture reaching these in the dark and count either steps or number of doors between your room and the these points. You may have to find these in the dark or when there is smoke blinding you. Don’t stop there, check the fire exit and ensure it is in fact a viable option. Then when you are happy head back to your room.

3. Fire second:

There was a tragic story of a whole family dying from a small fire within their home. They were sleeping with every door open and all the toxic fumes traveled freely throughout each bedroom killing the occupants as they slept. When fire fighters arrived they only found the pet dog alive as he was shut in a small utility room. The door had protected the dog from the fire and fumes. This story re-enforces the fact that a room can protect the inhabitants from smoke and heat for a considerable amount of time if done properly.

Fire second is a saying we teach our students. Once you have identified the fire exits and returned to your room, ask yourself again, what if there was a fire? If there is no escape from the exits then this room will be your citadel, your safe room.

  • Look at the window, does it open, what floor are you on? Can you jump? If not does it open to give you fresh air.
  • How does the door open and unlock. Is there a key? If so always leave it in the same place.
  • Is there a bath – in an emergency you can fill this up with water and use it to douse the door and walls.
  • If there is a fire and you cant escape then wet towels and block any gaps around the door.

If traveling to less developed countries or regions think about taking portable fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Both are cheap, small and easy to use and well worth the small amount of space they take up.

4. Double the Door

Your hotel room door is your best barrier to external risk. When inside your room make sure that you use all the locks provided. Do not open the door unless you are a 100% sure to whom you are opening it for. If there is a peephole, use it.

There a few great items on the market that can provide a second layer of door security think about taking these, as they are small and cheap.

  • Door wedge
  • Door lock ratchet

When you leave the room, use the peephole, make sure there is no one outside. When you come back to the room do not assume that it is secure. The majority of hotel room locks can be defeated quite easily, many people have access to the keys and it would be a mistake to assume that no one could have got in. Take caution, have a quick look around and then relax once you have checked and the door is locked behind you.

The Hamas chief Al-Mabhouh killed by Mossad in a Dubai hotel room made the mistake of assuming his hotel room was secure. Mossad used either a very simple and easily attainable machine to decode the electronic door or the tried and tested string and wire technique that can open many doors which have the tiniest of gaps between the door and floor.

It is not just the intelligence services that know these tricks, many criminals and attackers have the means and the motivation to go to these lengths.

5. Complacency is a dirty word:

  • If you hear an alarm, do not ignore it. React quickly and use your pre-determined exit. We do not mean panic and run out in your underwear screaming, but just make sure you do react. Get dressed, get your shoes on, stay calm, prepare to leave the hotel and take your room key, if there is a fire and there is no escape you may have to get back to your room, close your door behind you. Try and avoid using the hotels muster point or emergency gathering location. Sometimes hostiles will use an alarm to gather people in one spot before attacking or carrying out a secondary attack.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, check that there is in fact NO reason, take a few seconds to listen, look and sense if something is wrong. If nothing go back to sleep…
  • If you see smoke or fire when in a hotel do not assume someone else has reported it. Initiate a fire alarm or call the hotel. Especially when you are in your room call the emergency services as well, do not assume the hotel will call them. Hotels are unwilling to call the emergency services until they have checked out the incident themselves for fear of creating a false alarm. This can cause a significant delay. There have been many horror stories of deaths and injuries caused by these delays. Take control of the situation yourself.
  • Do not assume that because you are in a hotel you are safe. If you are in a lift and someone else comes in that you are unsure of wait for him or her to push a floor before you do. Make sure no one is following you towards your room.

Most importantly as with all of our advice, do not develop irrational fear, do not think that everyone is out to get you. Instead just increase your awareness, listen to your sixth sense and take the time to prepare for certain scenarios. Time spent preparing and planning is never wasted, it can also mean the difference between life and death.

Hosteling – Keep Travel Costs Low

You might think of hosteling as something that college students do while traveling through Europe for the summer. However, hosteling is not just for the college crowd anymore, and now includes people of all ages and backgrounds. If you are a traveler on a budget, staying at a hostel can be an adventure that will add to your travel experience.

Staying in a hostel will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and many travelers would prefer to spend the money on a traditional hotel. Hostel traveling is best suited to those traveling alone, or to young people traveling in groups. Hostels are not really recommended for families traveling with young children. In fact, many hostels do not accept children under a certain age.

Most hostels are set up like dormitory rooms, with several bunk beds arranged in the room, with anywhere from four to ten bunks per room. Each traveler is assigned a specific bed upon check-in.

Nearly all of the hostels in the United States group their accommodations according to gender, with the female guests in one section of rooms and the male guests in another. In multi-level hostels, males and females are often separated by floor.

It is not uncommon, however for European hostels (and those elsewhere around the world) to allow mixed genders to share a room. Make sure to ask about the policy of the hostel before you check in. I, as a woman traveling solo, have never encountered a problem with these arrangements, and I have stayed in hostels throughout Europe, including Rome, London and Amsterdam. Some visitors might be surprised or offended by these sleeping arrangements.

The bathroom accommodations at hostels differ also, with some rooms containing a shared bathroom and shower, while other hostels will have shower and bathroom facilities located in the hallway. If you would prefer not to share a bathroom with strangers, make sure you ask about the hostel’s policy ahead of time.

More often now, reservations are becoming increasingly vital at hostels, especially during the summer months in popular cities. It is now not at all unusual for hostels in popular tourist cities to be booked solid for months, where once it was common for travelers to be able drop by the hostel and expect to get a bed.

Price is by far the biggest appeal of staying at hostels. The nightly rate for a hostel is usually no higher than $25 or $30 per night, with most costing even less. With the average hotel room cost somewhere around $100 to $150 in many cities, it is easy to see why hostels are becoming such a popular alternative.

Another benefit of staying in a hostel is that the staff is extremely accommodating and knowledgeable about the local area. Unlike many staff members of some luxury hotels, who travel in from the outlying areas and rarely see the city in which they work, hostel staff tend to live in the city, and have an personal knowledge of the local sites, including which attractions are can’t miss and which ones aren’t worth the trip.

Hostels also usually have access to discounts and coupons for local area attractions and restaurants, and they can provide information on the best restaurants and hangouts around.

While not everyone will find a hostel appealing, and the accommodation of a local hostel are simple at best, they can be wonderful options for lodging for the budget minded traveler. After all, the goal of travel is to get out and see the world, and hostel travel lets you save money on lodging so that you can do just that.

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