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Moving to Cyprus

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.


Fast facts

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.

Weather in Cyprus

The climate in Cyprus is perfect for lovers of sunshine and those looking to live out their twilight years in warm weather.

The island enjoys typically Mediterranean weather patterns complemented by consistently sunny days. In fact, on average, the sun smiles down on Cyprus for around 320 days a year.

From mid-May to mid-October it's summer in Cyprus. The climate is hot and dry, and only occasionally punctuated by sporadic showers. Cloudless skies are fairly common and, in Nicosia, the average maximum temperature throughout July and August can easily reach 95°F (35°C) and higher. Expats should take care to stay hydrated and limit their exposure to direct sunlight in the day's hottest hours.

December to February is winter in Cyprus, when it receives most of its annual rainfall. Though Nicosia's average minimum 41°F (5°C) and maximum 61°F (16°C) temperatures are considerably lower than their summer counterparts, this brief bout of relatively chilly weather doesn't last long.

Many expats find that the period between September and October is their favourite time of year; a second spring of sorts, marked by pleasant temperatures and little rainfall.

 

Embassy contacts for Cyprus


Cyprus embassies

  • Cyprus Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 462 5772

  • Cyprus Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7321 4100

  • Cyprus Consulate General, Toronto, Canada: +1 613 563 0727

  • Cyprus High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +04 05 525 571

  • Cyprus High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 346 3298

  • Cyprus Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 676 3060


Foreign embassies in Cyprus

  • United States Embassy, Nicosia: +357 2239 3939

  • British High Commission, Nicosia: +357 2286 1100

  • Consulate of Canada, Nicosia: +357 2277 5508

  • Australian High Commission, Nicosia: +357 2269 7555

  • South African Embassy, Athens, Greece (also responsible for Cyprus): +30 210 617 8020

  • Irish Embassy, Nicosia: +357 2281 8183

  • New Zealand Embassy, Rome, Italy (also responsible for Cyprus): +39 6 853 7501

Public Holidays in Cyprus

  

2022

2023

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Epiphany

6 January

6 January

Green Monday

7 March

 27 February

Greek Independence Day

25 March

25 March

Greek Cypriot National Day

1 April

1 April

Orthodox Good Friday

22 April

14 April

Orthodox Easter Sunday

24 April

16 April

Orthodox Easter Monday

25 April

17 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Orthodox Whit Monday

13 June

5 June

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

15 August

15 August

Cyprus Independence Day

1 October

1 October

Greek National Day

28 October

28 October

Christmas Eve

24 December

24 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December

*If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday becomes a holiday. 

Working in Cyprus

Expats may find that working in Cyprus is made complicated by a large population of pensioners with a penchant for rest and relaxation, and the nearly perfect weather year-round. Neither factor encourages a strong work ethic nor a thriving economy – but nonetheless, expats determined to live and work in Cyprus can still find opportunities.


Job market in Cyprus

The tourism industry accounts for a large part of Cyprus’ GDP. The market in the south is generally stronger than in the north. The holidaymaker’s market remains relatively secure overall and expats tend to be most successful at acquiring jobs in the hotel and hospitality sectors. That said, opportunities are inconsistent throughout the year, as the positions are available in the summer months during peak tourist season.

Adventurous expats who are after a more modest way of living may find work picking fruit in the agriculture industry. Teaching English is also a possibility, although competition is fairly high and spaces are limited.

Aside from tourism, the economy in Cyprus relies on shipping, the service industry and energy. Expats with specialised skills relating to finance, manufacturing, and mining have the best chance of getting a job in Cyprus.


Finding a job in Cyprus

The employment of foreigners in Cyprus is overseen by the Department of Labour. According to law, non-EU nationals have to register with the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD), while EU citizens can work in Cyprus without any restrictions. All expats intending to stay longer than three months have to apply at the CRMD for a registration certificate as soon as they find a job.

Regardless of whether expats speak the language, the best method of finding employment opportunities is through online jobs portals. Networking is also effective and tapping into the right word-of-mouth channels is often more effective than poring over the island’s English-language newspapers, the Cyprus Mail and the Cyprus Weekly. These publications are still a good starting point, while District Labour Offices in major cities can also provide valuable information.

When applying for a job in Cyprus, expats should take any face-to-face meeting with potential employers very seriously. Interpersonal relationships are important to Cypriots, and even the most basic interactions may be the deciding factor in securing a job.


Work culture in Cyprus

The work culture in Cyprus may differ quite markedly from that of an expat's home country. The working environment can be quite rigid with few perks for employees. Punctuality and adherence to company rules are highly valued and it often takes Cypriot colleagues a while to warm to new people in the workplace. But, with a little patience, effort and tolerance, expats should be able to make some headway in building trust and a good reputation for themselves.

Doing Business in Cyprus

Expats doing business in Cyprus will find themselves in a relaxed working environment. The island has a long history of doing business with foreigners, so locals are generally open to and welcoming of expat business partners. Trust and personal relationships are at the core of business in Cyprus.

Services dominate the market in Cyprus, and tourism is especially prominent. Doing business here is generally easy, with friendly locals, and the main language of business on the island is English.


Fast facts

Business hours

8am or 9am to 5pm or 6pm.

Business language

English is largely spoken in the business world, but proficiency in Greek is highly useful.

Dress

Conservative dark suits for men, while women should wear a conservative dress or business suit.

Gifts

Gifts are not expected in a business setting. Expats who are invited to a colleague’s house should present a consumable gift, like chocolates or wine.

Gender equality

Women are treated as equals in the workplace, although there are proportionally fewer women than men in many senior positions.

Greeting

A handshake with direct eye contact is appropriate. Some devout Muslim Cypriots do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex, preferring a simple nod of the head. 


Business culture in Cyprus

Business culture in Cyprus is characterised by its laid-back attitude and value of strong personal relationships. This casual Mediterranean approach may take some getting used to for expats from fast-paced business backgrounds, but it definitely has its advantages.

Trust and loyalty

Trust is a cornerstone of doing business in Cyprus. Because things move at a slower pace on the island than in many other destinations, there is enough time for partners to get to know each other well and build up a strong business relationship. This usually means that both sides are reliable, which improves the chances of a successful partnership.

Loyalty in the Cypriot business environment is typically restricted to an individual and not their company. Expats should keep this in mind when considering changing jobs or retrenching staff.

Meetings

Business meetings in Cyprus have a tendency to go off-topic and may be completely lacking in concrete decisions. Expats should view meetings more as an opportunity to get to know their business associates. Only after a strong relationship has been established will actual business proceedings take place.

Expats should organise meetings well in advance and follow up on appointments closer to the date. Punctuality is always appreciated, although Cypriot business partners may arrive late.

Bargaining is commonplace, negotiations can be lengthy and proposals should be designed to leave room for concessions. That said, finalised contracts are generally followed to the letter.

Greetings

Business partners, especially those meeting for the first time, usually greet each other by way of a friendly handshake. Expats should note that religious observant individuals may not touch someone of the opposite gender.

Gift giving

Small gifts with company logos or gifts that are useful in the office are acceptable in Cypriot business relations. If invited to a Cypriot business partner's home for dinner should bring a small gift, such as flowers or a dish. White lilies are associated with funerals on the island and should be avoided.


Dos and don’ts of doing business in Cyprus

  • Do be patient and allow time for business relationships to develop

  • Don’t bring up politics, religion or other sensitive issues while getting to know business associates

  • Do be prepared to bargain – this is common practice in Cyprus and the locals are adept negotiators

  • Don’t lose composure or show excessive emotion in a business meeting

Visas for Cyprus

Expats applying for a visa for Cyprus should be aware of the political situation in the country. The Republic of Cyprus does not recognise the secessionist north and, consequently, its visa rules only apply to the south of the island. It also views all ports of entry in the Turkish-occupied north, including the airports, as illegal and advises that valid visa holders enter Cyprus through the south to avoid any problems.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cyprus, the legal points of entry into the country are the airports of Larnaca and Paphos, as well as the ports of Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos and Latsi.


Tourist visas for Cyprus

Some nationalities don’t need a visa for visits of up to 90 days, including residents of EU countries and citizens of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Residents from non-EU countries such as South Africa and India require a visa for Cyprus.

Those applying for tourist visas, also known as a short-stay visa, must be able to show that they have access to sufficient funds for their stay and must present proof of a round-trip ticket. If the purpose of the visit is to see family and friends, a letter of invitation must also be submitted.

Regular short stay visas allows entry to the country for up to 90 days, and can be issued for single or multiple entries in a 180-day period. Multiple-entry short-stay visas are valid for one to five years, but also only allow stay of 90 days in a 180-day period.


Business visas for Cyprus

Business visas have similar requirements to standard tourist visas, although an employer’s letter dated within one month of the entry into Cyprus is required to attest to the applicant’s salary. Self-employed expats can provide a solicitor, accountant or bank manager’s letter. If travelling on a business trip, applicants must produce an official letter of invitation from the company in Cyprus.


Residence and work permits for Cyprus

While visas allow expats into the country, they will have to apply for a long-term residence permit to stay for an extended period. Residence and immigration permits in Cyprus are administered by the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD).

Immigration permits for Cyprus

According to legislation, only expats who fall within certain categories can apply for an immigration permit. The success of an application is determined by the Immigration Control Board. These are the three categories most popular among expats: individuals who have enough money at their disposal to allow a decent living without having to work (this is the most popular category and includes pensioners and retirees), individuals who have been offered permanent employment that won’t create undue local competition, and individuals who intend to be self-employed, have the relevant permits and have adequate funds at their disposal.

Residence and work permits for Cyprus

The two-in-one Temporary Residence and Employment Permit for Cyprus is generally submitted by an employer to the Civil Registry and Migration Department via their local District Aliens and Immigration Branch of the Police.

In addition, the Ministry of Employment and Social Insurances has to certify the employment contract, proving that there are no Cypriots or EU citizens who are available or qualified to fill the post, before recommending that a third-country national be employed.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Cyprus

An enviable island lifestyle combined with an all-around low cost of living makes Cyprus an appealing destination for expats, particularly those looking to make their pensions from home stretch.

As a whole, the cost of living in Cyprus is comparable to European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania. Limassol is generally regarded to be the most expensive city on the island, ranking 156th out of 209 cities worldwide assessed for the 2021 Mercer Cost of Living Survey.


Cost of accommodation in Cyprus

The low cost of rent in Cyprus is one of the main benefits of life on the island. There's a wide range of types of accommodation, leaving expats with plenty of choices when it comes to the size, style and budget bracket of their ideal Cyprus home.


Cost of food in Cyprus

Groceries in Cyprus tend to be cheaper than in the UK, especially when it comes to fruit and meat. Restaurants are generally cheaper as well. If expats opt for smaller, local establishments they will be able to save quite significantly and sample some of the fine cuisine on offer in Cyprus, which is a cosmopolitan blend of Greek, European and Middle Eastern cooking.


Cost of transport in Cyprus

With no rail network in Cyprus, buses are the only viable option for public transport. Though available and fairly inexpensive, they are not always reliable and routes can be limited. Most people on the island opt to own a car or use private taxis.


Cost of living in Cyprus chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Nicosia in April 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 980

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 820

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 570

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 470

Shopping

Dozen eggs

EUR 3

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.40

Rice (1kg)

EUR 2.30

Loaf of white bread

EUR 1.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 7.50

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 5

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 6.10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 1.30

Cappuccino 

EUR 3

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 4

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 47.50

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.10

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

EUR 30.80

Basic utilities (average per month for standard household)

EUR 137.90

Transport

Taxi rate/km   

EUR 1.50

Bus fare in the city centre 

EUR 1.50

Petrol/gasoline (litre)

EUR 1.40

Culture Shock in Cyprus

Expats will probably experience some degree of culture shock in Cyprus, but those moving to the island will be relieved to know that, for the most part, acclimatising to life in Cyprus is unlikely to require any drastic cultural adjustments.

Emerging from a fairly tumultuous history, Cyprus has become a wealthy country with a high Human Development Index and sound infrastructure that attracts considerable foreign investment.


Daily life in Cyprus

The Cypriot lifestyle is generally relaxed and informal – the island's unofficial motto is 'siga, siga' – 'slowly, slowly'. While this easy-going attitude towards life often attracts expats to Cyprus, it can be frustrating when dealing with bureaucracy or administrative affairs. Expats who are used to an efficient bureaucracy are advised to adjust their expectations accordingly.

As informal as life on the island can be, the culture in Cyprus is broadly marked by respect, honour and humility. Expats from countries where self-promotion is considered a worthy personal attribute might find that they rub against the island's social grain.  


Religion in Cyprus

Religion in Cyprus is important and respecting people's religious beliefs – whether they be Greek Orthodox or Muslim – is sacrosanct. Expats shouldn't challenge Cypriots about their religious convictions, and shouldn't proselytise if they want to get along with the locals.


North vs South Cyprus

The history of conflict between the Greek and Turkish sectors of the population in Cyprus is a fairly fixed feature of the island's social fabric, both figuratively and – with the country divided between a 'Turkish North' and 'Greek South' – literally. This is bound to result in some discomfort for expats from countries with homogeneous societies. That said, most Cypriots are welcoming of foreigners, and regardless of where expats choose to live, they will find their new countrymen to be friendly and hospitable.


Driving in Cyprus

Expats often complain that Cypriots are bad drivers. This may be a relative judgement, but people who are new to the island should take some time to adjust to the rhythm of the roads in Cyprus before taking the wheel themselves.


Animals in Cyprus

Finally, animal-loving expats may be disturbed by the number of stray dogs and cats on the island, which are mostly left to fend for themselves and are largely ignored by locals. As is the case in a city such as Athens, they're a part of the country and, while Cypriots generally aren't 'pet people', cruelty to animals is certainly not a norm.

Accommodation in Cyprus

Expats moving to Cyprus will need to spend some time getting to grips with the country's property market and the options available to them. Choosing the right type of home in the right part of the country will directly affect the quality of an expat's experience in Cyprus. 

The general trend in recent years has been for foreign investors and expats moving to Cyprus to buy property rather than to rent on the island. This has influenced the property market, causing prices to soar with increased demand.

The process of renting and buying accommodation in the 'Turkish North' and 'Greek South' of Cyprus is largely the same; with one major difference being that in the south, properties tend to be newer, fancier, more expensive and easier for foreign nationals to purchase.


Types of accommodation in Cyprus

Expats moving to Cyprus will find plenty of housing options, including furnished or unfurnished apartments, villas and traditional rural stone houses. The standard of accommodation in Cyprus is generally excellent, as a lot of the property on the island is fairly new. Air conditioning and heating are common, and most houses in Cyprus have either a shared or private pool.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Rented apartments in Cyprus are usually furnished, while houses are unfurnished. Shipping furniture to Cyprus is a viable option (especially from within the EU), but reasonably priced furniture is easily found around the island.

Villas

Villas are spacious, multi-roomed Mediterranean-style homes. They feature lush gardens and often come with a pool. They usually consist of one or two storeys.

Apartments

Cheaper than villas, apartments are frequently found in seaside areas, with their elevated position allowing for great ocean views from the upper floors. Though they offer less space than freestanding houses, they are also much easier to maintain.

Traditional stone houses

Towards the centre of the island, in its more rural areas, traditional stone houses can be found. These are often somewhat dilapidated when purchased but are cheap, full of character and make for a fantastic home makeover project. 


Finding accommodation in Cyprus

Expats looking to rent accommodation in Cyprus will find that online property portals are often the best place to start. Newspaper advertisements can also be great sources of information, and estate agents can be helpful, but will charge a fee.

Looking for accommodation in the low season can be a good strategy – not only will there be more options for short-term accommodation to stay at while house hunting, but expats may be able to negotiate a longer stay at a good rate.


Renting accommodation in Cyprus

Making an application

Potential tenants will need to apply via an estate agent, if one is involved, or directly to the landlord. Expats may need to submit documents such as their passport, visa and proof of income.

Leases

Leases can either be short term, lasting six months or less, or long-term, 12 months. Some leases may be renewable, but expats should discuss this with the landlord before signing. The termination of a lease is usually a difficult process that requires a month or two's notice. A landlord can terminate a lease if rent has not been paid or if the landlord intends to demolish or use the property for family or themselves.

Deposits

Before moving in, tenants are required to pay a deposit equal to one month's rent upfront. If the property is returned in good condition at the end of the lease, the deposit should be returned to tenants in full. In case the tenant has damaged the house in any way, the amount for repairs and cleaning will be subtracted from the deposit.

Utilities

Expats will usually be responsible for their own utility bills. These can be quite costly and should be factored into the housing budget.

Healthcare in Cyprus

Healthcare in Cyprus is cheap and effective, and is another reason many expats relocate to the island. 

The Cyprus healthcare system is divided into public and private sectors. Public healthcare is cheap and subsidised, and even private healthcare costs can be quite affordable.

Both state-funded and private hospitals can be found in all of Cyprus' major cities. Healthcare facilities in the south of Cyprus are generally considered to be better than those in the Turkish-occupied north of the island.

Doctors here are often trained overseas and most, if not all, speak an acceptable level of English. It's nevertheless a good idea to take notes at appointments, in case it’s necessary to have a written doctor’s response for later translation. Expats shouldn't be afraid to ask their new doctor questions or have them repeat themselves.


Public healthcare in Cyprus

Public healthcare in Cyprus is administered by the Ministry of Health and is largely financed by taxes and mandatory social services contributions.

Access to public healthcare is determined via residency status. Anyone staying in Cyprus for three months or more is considered a resident, allowing them to register with the General Healthcare System (GHS) and select a local doctor. This can be done online.


Private healthcare in Cyprus

Many expats choose to take out a private healthcare policy to access a wider variety of hospitals and facilities, and to skip the public sector's occasionally long waiting lists. An assortment of schemes are available to expats in Cyprus, each tailored individually and based on certain criteria.

There are two main private health insurance options available to expats. Some choose the stability and flexibility of international private medical cover, while others opt for considerably cheaper premiums with a local private medical insurance company.

Treatment is often paid for upfront by the patient and is reimbursed within the month. Depending on the policy, it shouldn't be necessary to notify the provider before receiving treatment, although most companies do offer a 24-hour toll-free number should patients have any issues or queries.


Pharmacies and medication in Cyprus

There are many pharmacies in Cyprus, especially in highly populated areas such as Paphos, Larnaca and Limassol.

Cyprus pharmacies are typically open from 9am until noon or 1pm, when they close for a few hours and reopen from 3pm to 6pm or 7pm. Night pharmacies are open from 8am to 10pm but can be contacted 24 hours if medication is needed.


Emergency services in Cyprus

There are nationwide emergency services in Cyprus, but they can be inconsistent and relatively slow. Expats often rely on neighbours and friends to drive them to the hospital in non-critical situations.

Some private hospitals have their own ambulance services, but charge for transporting patients.

Emergency numbers in Cyprus

  • 112 – General emergency number for EU countries
  • 199 – Local emergency number in Cyprus

Education and Schools in Cyprus

Cyprus has state-sponsored education as well as private and international schools. The public and private systems are both open and accessible to expats, and parents usually decide between the two based on cost, language and curriculum.

Education in Cyprus is mandatory for all children aged 5 to 15, and is separated into primary school, gymnasium and lyceum – secondary school is composed of the latter two levels. The language of instruction in public schools is Greek.


Public schools in Cyprus

State-school standards are inconsistent and expats generally describe the system as 'hit or miss', but it is certainly possible to find good public schools on the island.

Many expat parents find that the main drawback to sending their children to state schools on the island is the language barrier. Younger children have the ability to adapt quickly, but older kids – and parents themselves – often struggle to succeed and communicate fluently.

That said, those who intend to stay long-term often prefer their children to be immersed in Cypriot culture.

There is no fee for expat children to attend state schools in Cyprus.


Private schools in Cyprus

Private schools are present in all of the country's larger cities (Paphos, Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca), but the curriculum taught and the standard upheld in each institution varies considerably.

Private schools in Cyprus can be costly, with tuition depending on the age of the child and the requirements of the school. Parents should also anticipate supplementary costs such as registration and enrolment fees, books, uniforms, lunch and school bus expenses.


International schools in Cyprus

Most expats living in Cyprus, especially those whose first language is English, send their children to private international schools. The most obvious benefit of these institutions is that children will be surrounded by others who speak their language, and will often have a better selection of extra-curricular activities to take part in.

The most common curricula offered are the British and American programmes along with the International Baccalaureate. These schools also tend to be rather expensive and expats should try to negotiate for the inclusion of education in their salaries.


Special-needs education in Cyprus

In Cyprus, special education policies favour inclusion and integration into mainstream schools as far as possible. The goal is for special needs students to attend mainstream classes, following the same curriculum as the other students with accommodations being made for their needs. If more support is required, special needs students may receive part-time or full-time tuition in a separate unit within a mainstream school, where classes are limited to few students. If neither of these options is suitable, students may attend a dedicated special school.


Tutors in Cyprus

Tutors can be highly useful for new arrivals to Cyprus, particularly those whose children need to adapt to a new curriculum or language.

Expat parents with older children often employ tutors to help with exam preparation. The Cyprus school-leaving certificate, called the Apolyterion, does not always equate to certain levels of testing in the UK and the US, and students who wish to attend tertiary schools in these countries may need to sit for additional exams.

Transport and Driving in Cyprus

With one of the highest car-ownership-per-capita rates in the world, driving will most likely be an expat's primary mode of transport in Cyprus. The island has no operational railway network, and public transport is largely restricted to private bus services and taxis, so options are limited – especially when travelling between urban centres.


Public transport in Cyprus

Buses

There are several kinds of bus services in Cyprus. Rural buses between villages and cities are the most limited, since they only leave once or twice a day. Inter-urban buses link larger cities and towns with each other and are far more frequent, while bus services that run within cities are generally the most frequent and reliable public transport service in Cyprus.

Different bus companies operate in each part of the country, such as the OSEL buses that run in Nicosia and OSYPA’s buses in Paphos. Because of this variation, buses in Cyprus don’t all look the same but most of them have their destination displayed on the windscreen.

Buses in Cyprus are independently operated and expats should check the bus routes of individual operators with their respective companies or at tourist offices. Services often cease in the early evening and are limited on weekends, while some are extended in the tourist season and run until midnight.


Taxis in Cyprus

There are several taxi services in Cyprus. Urban taxis are the most widespread and offer 24-hour services in all major cities. While expats are advised to book in advance, taxis can be hailed from the street.

Inter-urban share taxis provide a cost-effective link to other towns. Taxis are shared between a number of people with the cost being evenly split between all passengers.


Driving in Cyprus

Driving in Cyprus is the most effective way of getting around. The distance from Paphos to Nicosia, for instance, can be driven in two hours. Road signs in Cyprus are often in English and Greek, roads are generally well maintained, petrol stations are widely available and traffic is less congested than in other European cities. Cars are also easy to hire and readily available.

With that said, about a third of the roads on the island are unpaved, and while normal passenger vehicles should be able to drive on most of them, it may be best to ask locals for the best routes before going for a drive through the country.

EU drivers and holders of international driving permits can drive until their foreign licence expires, while licensed drivers from a list of pre-approved countries can legally drive for up to six months. These countries include the US, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Other non-EU expats can drive for a maximum of 30 days.


Cycling in Cyprus

Cycling in Cyprus is practical, considering the short distances between places. It isn't allowed on major motorways, but there are usually ordinary roads running parallel to these. Nicosia is one of the friendliest cities for cyclists, with its dedicated cycling lanes and its smartbike-sharing scheme, called Nextbike. There are more than 40 bike-sharing stations across the city in an effort to get residents to cycle as an alternative form of transport.


Air travel in Cyprus

Because of the schism between the northern and southern parts of Cyprus, only the International Airports of Larnaka and Pafos are considered legal entry sites to the country. Domestic flights can also be taken between these two airports.

Airports in Northern Cyprus are not legal points of entry to the country.


Sea travel in Cyprus

Many cruises are available on large ships and expats can also book a place on smaller vessels that travel to smaller islands surrounding Cyprus, making day trips and getting around the islands relatively easy. Unfortunately, no ferries between Cyprus and other countries exist.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Cyprus

With sophisticated financial infrastructure, expats should find banking in Cyprus to be a relatively easy process. The island is home to several reputable banking institutions, both local and international.


Money in Cyprus

The official currency of Cyprus is the Euro (EUR), subdivided into 100 cents.

The following denominations are available:

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c and 1 EUR and 2 EUR


Banking in Cyprus

ATMs are widespread in Cyprus and can be found in most towns and large villages, and online banking is widely available. Banks in Cyprus are generally open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 1.30pm.

Opening a bank account in Cyprus

Opening a bank account in Cyprus is easy, even for expats. The process can be started from abroad, though expats must visit a branch in person to finalise the account.

Expats will need numerous documents to open an account, including proof of identity, such as a passport, proof of address, such as a recent utility bill or bank statement, and a reference letter from the applicant’s previous bank.


Taxes in Cyprus

Expats are considered residents for tax purposes if they stay in Cyprus for 183 days or more in a calendar year. Tax residents pay tax on both locally and globally generated income, while those not considered tax residents pay tax only on income derived from within Cyprus.

Cyprus has double-taxation agreements with a number of countries, meaning that expats from these countries won’t have to pay tax in their home country in addition to taxes in their new host country.

Taxation is a complex issue – especially for expats in Cyprus. As such, they should seek the advice of a qualified financial advisor or accountant in Cyprus.

Expat Experiences in Cyprus

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Cyprus and would like to share your story.


Christy Fisher is an American expat living in Paphos. She moved to Cyprus with her husband when he got a job as a brewer at a new microbrewery on the island. Although she enjoys the sunshine and relaxed pace of life in Paphos, Christy says it can feel very isolated at times, and she misses having her own career and access to more art and cultural activities. Read more about her expat experience in Cyprus.

Asproulla, a British expat living in Cyprus, met and married a local Cypriot and mothered her kids on this small island. Though English by birth, her allegiances lie neither with the Queen nor with the Greeks or the Turkish. She merely recommends expats moving to Cyprus learn the local language and give her blog, Little White Donkey, the occasional glance. Read more about her expat life in Cyprus.


 

Emma, a British expat living in Cyprus, gave up the push and pull of county Kent for a peaceful, pastoral island life. She moved with her husband and six-month-old infant, and has great advice for young mothers relocating and looking to make friends. Read what she has to say about her expat experience in Cyprus.