Surrounded by the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean, Cyprus offers a unique experience of sun-soaked island living. The country has many cultural influences, having been part of the Roman Empire, a British colony and, most recently, being divided between the North and South following the Turkish invasion.
Living in Cyprus as an expat
Tradition runs strong through the island’s sun-kissed villages, but Cyprus is open and welcoming to expats – even more so if they make an effort to adapt. Indeed, how expats approach Cypriot culture and whether they want to be part of its local communities will have a significant effect on how they are received by locals.
The tourism industry accounts for a large part of the islands’ economy. Expats looking for work in Cyprus can also consider teaching English and picking fruit to make a living. Those skilled in finances, manufacturing and mining will also find a lucrative job market.
There’s a variety of housing options to choose from on the island. Though some old stone options exist, much of the real estate is modern and well equipped with amenities. Property is also comparably cheap and generally high quality. That said, some cities are more expensive than others, so expats should consider where they live carefully.
Unfortunately, the island has a limited public transport system. Without a railway network, many expats in Cyprus prefer owning a car. Driving is relatively easy, but some roads are unpaved and the going can get rough. A sizeable bus network provides convenient travel in and between cities, though the operation times for these can be rather limited. Taxis are also abundant, but these can be pricey in cases of long trips. When moving about in a city, many residents choose to walk or make use of the smartbike-sharing scheme called Nextbike.
The island offers an excellent and affordable healthcare system. In fact, many expats move to the island exactly for this reason. The public healthcare scheme is financed through taxes, making it cheap and widely accessible. Private healthcare is also outstanding and won’t break the bank. The island also has ample pharmacies to see to residents’ needs, with some only closing after 10pm.
Cost of living in Cyprus
The island has a generally low cost of living. With low property prices, cheap food and a high quality of living, Cyprus is a very attractive option for expats, finance-wise. Eating out in on the island is generally reasonably cheap, especially in smaller establishments. Although there’s a limited public transport system, the bus network here is inexpensive and generally easily accessible. The cost of petrol can accumulate quickly, but refilling your car is cheaper than in many other countries.
Expat families and children in Cyprus
The quality of public schooling varies throughout the island. Excellent free schooling is available in places, though, and expats should research schools thoroughly before making any decisions. Language barriers may be a problem in public schools, though, which is why many expats prefer private or international schooling. Most international institutions offer the British or American programmes, and the International Baccalaureate is also widely available.
When it comes to eating and entertainment, Cypriots are as passionate as they come. The cuisine caters for different tastes and is often described as a fusion of cultural flavours. Traditional food is strongly and unsurprisingly linked to that of Greece and Turkey, consisting of slow roasts, stews, kebabs and assorted appetisers commonly known as mezze. Expats of all ages will find most of their entertainment needs met, with hot summers on the beautiful beaches, scenic drives through the mountains and forests, or visits to the island’s various monuments and ancient monasteries.
Climate in Cyprus
The island has a typically Mediterranean climate, with sunny days most of the year. Between May and October, hot days are common with occasional rain, while winter comes around between December to February.
From its unique and quaint villages to the orchards and vineyards that stretch boundlessly over its hilltops and the ancient architecture that inspires a sense of a mystical past, Cyprus is a tiny treasure surrounded by pristine waters. With its low cost of living and high quality of life, the Mediterranean island is an option well worth considering for those looking for somewhere to retire or start a new chapter.
Population: 1.2 million
Capital city: Nicosia (also the largest city)
Other major cities: Limassol, Larnaca
Neighbouring countries: Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus shares land borders with Greece to the northwest, Turkey to the north, Syria and Lebanon to the east, Israel to the southeast and Egypt to the south.
Geography: Cyprus is an island nation located 47 miles (75 km) south of Turkey. The island is dominated by two mountain ranges: the sprawling Troodos Mountains and the comparatively smaller Kyrenia Mountains. A central plain known as the Mesaoria lies between them.
Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Orthodox Christianity
Main languages: Greek and Turkish are the island's official languages, but English is widely spoken.
Money: Cyprus uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account in Cyprus, but require proof of identification (passports are acceptable) and proof of residence. ATMs are widely available.
Tipping: A service charge of 10 percent is sometimes added to bills, but no additional tip is necessary.
Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from March to October)
Electricity: 240V, 50Hz. Plugs with three flat blades, as used in the UK, are standard.
Internet domain: .cy
International dialling code: +357
Emergency contacts: 112 (European); 199 (local)
Transport and driving: Traffic in Cyprus drives on the left-hand side.