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What's Living in Cyprus really like?

According to the latest statistics there are upwards of 60,000 British expatriates living in Cyprus. But is the Republic really the carefree paradise every estate agent claims it to be?

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Most expats living in Cyprus agree that it's much preferable to the UK

 
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Face it; the Republic of Cyprus has some major advantages over popular destinations, such as Spain and France. For starters, pretty much everyone speaks English, then there's the weather, the low taxes & crime rates, the pace of life, and all the other things estate agents are so fond of quoting. But this doesn't make it a land of milk and honey, where life is simple, and everything always goes to plan. Cyprus, like the UK, is a real country, where life comes with its own issues, quirks and annoyances. Read on...

 

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If you live in the Republic, here are a few of the things you'll be confronted with in daily life

Before you read on, remember that this is written by someone who's been quite happily living in Cyprus (Oroklini, in fact) since 2005, and has no immediate plans of leaving. From my perspective, life here is great; nobody is trying to deny that. If it wasn't, I wouldn't live here. However, it's time for estate agents to take off the pink-rimmed specs, and give prospective clients the facts instead of glossing over important aspects of what is a life-altering decision.

Firstly, it must be said that the Republic functions at the same speed as most Mediterranean countries. Things move slowly and unhurriedly. This extends to almost every aspect of life, such as government offices, utilities companies, banks, and more or less everyone else you're likely to come into contact with in daily life. For expatriates hailing from efficiently-run North European countries, this can cause no end of frustration.

This laid-back approach does not, however, extend to the traffic police. Speed traps and spot checks are common, and tickets are liberally dispensed. Unlike back home, Cypriot traffic police also have a habit of hiding around blind corners and behind roadside obstacles so they can catch you talking on the phone, or not wearing your seatbelt. Furthermore, the likelihood of talking yourself out of a fine drops dramatically if you can't speak Greek.

 

Konnos Bay in the Resort of Protaras on the East Coast

The Potamos Liopetriou Fishing Shelter near Ayia Thekla

 

There are locals, and there are locals...

By and large, Cypriots are a friendly, amiable bunch; indeed, they can be some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. After living in Cyprus for any given time though, you begin to notice that there are two very different types people native to Aphrodite's Isle, at least when it comes to dealing with British expatriates, or foreigners in general:

The first batch is exceedingly friendly, welcoming, and utterly genuine. With them, what you see is what you get, and so long as you fit in as a part of their local community, and aren't one of those cantankerous, stand-offish Brits who give the UK a bad name all around the globe, you can't go far wrong.

But then there's the second bunch. These are the people who see foreigners as nothing more than a means of making extra money. Again, they are friendly and welcoming; they are, however, anything but genuine. One perfect example of this is a (presently nameless) restaurant on the Oroklini seafront which has two menus, one in Greek and one in English.

At first you may think that there's nothing unusual about this, as Oroklini and Pyla have a fairly large British population, but then you realise that a bottle of Othello Vintage is priced at €12 on the Greek menu, and at €18 on the English one. Once you've been living in Cyprus for a while, it becomes easy to spot the signs of this shameless approach to tourists and Non-Greek-speaking expatriates; for newcomers, however, telling the difference is all but impossible. It's always best toget talking to the local expatriate community when you first move here, because those who've been here for a while will be able to steer you clear of the worst culprits.

Bad News travels fast...

If you're planning on moving to Cyprus and trying to make a go of living in the Republic, one of the main things to bear in mind is the fact that Cyprus is an exceedingly small island. In fact, as a whole, the Republic of Cyprus oftentimes feels more like the world's biggest village than a country. And while this can be one of its most endearing features, it's also grounds for caution.

You see, what most newcomers fail to appreciate is that news travels fast in this society; this is especially true when it comes to news about outsiders upsetting the locals. As a result it's entirely possible to upset an entire village by getting on the wrong side of just one person. This may seem like an exaggeration but it's a fact, so it really is best to stay on the right side of people.

  The Resort of Protaras seen from Ayios Elias Church
The Beach at Pissouri Bay  

And then there's the Green-Eyed Monster

As previously mentioned, there's an element Cypriot society which sees foreigners as an opportunity to make some extra cash. That same element also tends to be intensely jealous of foreigners living in Cyprus and becoming successful in the local business arena.

You should be aware that if you're planning to open a business which competes, either directly or indirectly, with locally-run companies, there will probably be some difficulties as soon as you're perceived to become successful. This usually manifests itself as random inspections by by the health department, the VAT office, or whatever other authority oversees your particular sector.

And, since the competitor in question is bound to be related to some local officials, you're likely to be given the run-around by the council too when it comes to obtaining whatever permits are necessary for you to carry on your business. There is of course very little anyone can actually do to stop you, especially in view of the fact that the Republic of Cyprus is answerable to European law these days, but that won't stop a jealous competitor from trying to kick up a little dust in an attempt to dishearten you.

As previously mentioned, this information is not an attempt to put you off the idea of living in Cyprus. It is a way to offset the rosy picture painted by other estate agents with a few realities. All-in-all, life in the Republic has an awful lot going for it; just don't expect it to be as perfect as most Cyprus property websites make it out to be.

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The Towns of Cyprus

From Latchi and Polis in the island's north-west to Protaras' beaches and Ayia Napa Resort in the south-east, Cyprus' towns and villages each have their own, very individual character. And while some have without doubt become 'Little Britains', where expats living in Cyprus outnumber natives by three to one, others have retained a more traditional atmosphere.
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Disclaimer. Please note that the information given on this website is displayed for guidance purposes only. It does not replace the need for professional advice, either legal or otherwise. E&OE

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