Athenians are paying more and more for basic consumer items. Clothing. Athens is more expensive than cities such as Rome and Paris, traditionally some of the most expensive markets for goods of this kind. Consumer spending by Athenian households on clothing and shoes was the highest among the 15 EU member states in 2004, according to Eurostat. Athens has risen to first place, up from second in 1999. Food. Here costs have also risen, although Athens still has some of the lowest prices among other European capitals. In 1999, it was 12th on the list of 15, but dropped down a place in 2001 and 2002, only to climb back even higher in 2003 to ninth place as fruit and vegetables prices soared. While in other capitals expenditure on food is declining percentage-wise, in Athens it has been climbing, though it marked a slight decline in 2004 down to 10th place. In Eurostat’s general price index for food, Greece as a whole showed a reduction of 2.9 percent at the end of 2004. Alcohol – tobacco. This is yet another category in which Athenians spend large sums of money in proportion to their incomes, and compared to that spent by other Europeans. In 2004 and 2003 Athens was in sixth place, up one spot from 2002 and 2001, when it rose from eighth place in 1999 – showing that as the years go by we are spending more and more on these goods as well. Health. Pharmaceutical products and health services were a heavier burden on family budgets in 2004 than in previous years, although Athenians seem to spend less than other Europeans (however, this does not include the huge sums handed over in under-the-table payments to doctors in Greece, and for which no receipts are issued). From 1999-2003, Athens was at the bottom of the list here, but rose one place in 2004, ahead of Paris. Communications. Between 1999 and 2001, Athenians spent less in this category than all other Europeans. In 2002, because of the rise in standard fees for land lines with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), and the change in the way telephone calls were billed, but above all a greater dependency on mobile telephones, Greece rose to eighth place in 2002 and the another notch next year, before slipping back to ninth in 2004. Housing. As there is a high rate of home ownership in Greece, outlay on rents is relatively low, as is expenditure on heating, water, electricity and home maintenance. Over the years, however, this is changing in comparison with our EU partners. Between 1999 and 2002, Athens was at the bottom of the list in this category, a place it has now ceded to Lisbon.