Want to live in Cyprus?
Boundless natural beauty, seemingly endless sunshine and a relaxed island lifestyle make Cyprus an attractive place for expats looking for a slower pace of life. Though earning potential here is lower than in other EU countries, the low cost of living makes up for it.
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. As there has been a general trend in recent years among foreign investors and expats moving to Cyprus to buy rather than rent accommodation, demand has skyrocketed prices. A lot of the property on the island is fairly newly built, so the standard of accommodation in Cyprus is high.
You’ll find plenty of rental options in Cyprus, including furnished or unfurnished apartments, villas and traditional rural stone houses. Villas are spacious, multi-roomed Mediterranean-style homes featuring lush gardens. Apartments are cheaper than villas and are frequently found in seaside areas, with their elevated position allowing for great ocean views from the upper floors. Rented apartments in Cyprus usually come furnished, while houses tend to be unfurnished.
Newspaper advertisements and online searches are good places to start looking for rental accommodation. Real estate agents can also 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 while house hunting, but expats may be able to negotiate a longer stay at a good rate.
Potential tenants will need to apply via the estate agent, if one is involved, or directly with the landlord. Be ready to provide your passport, visa and proof of income as part of the application.
Leases can either be short term (lasting six months or less) or long term (typically 12 months). Before moving in, you’ll need to pay a deposit equal to one month's rent. Utilities are usually an additional cost on top of rent.
Local culture in Cyprus
With its laidback lifestyle and relaxed attitude, most expats find it fairly easy to settle in. For the most part, acclimatising to life in Cyprus is unlikely to require any drastic cultural adjustments.
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 is important in Cyprus and respecting people's religious beliefs – whether they be Greek Orthodox or Muslim – is sacrosanct.
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' – quite literally. This can be a sensitive topic and is best avoided. Still, Cypriots are almost uniformly welcoming of foreigners, and regardless of which part of the island you choose to live in, you’re sure to find your new countrymen to be friendly and hospitable.
Education in Cyprus
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.
Standards in Cyprus’s state schools can be inconsistent, though it’s certainly possible to find good public schools on the island. These are tuition-free and can be a great way to immerse children in the local language and culture if the family plans on staying in Cyprus for the long term.
Private schools can be found in all of the country's larger cities. The standard and curriculum of these vary considerably, but facilities are usually better and classes smaller than in public schools.
The majority of expat families opt for international schools, which teach a particular country’s curriculum in that country’s main language. Attending an international school associated with their home country can provide expat children with a sense of familiarity and continuity. International schools are pricey though, with tuition rising grade by grade. There are additional expenses to consider, such as registration and enrolment fees, books, uniforms, lunches and extra-curriculars.
Keeping in touch in Cyprus
Cyprus has a well-developed telecommunications sector, most of which is dominated by Cytamobile-Vodafone. Competitors include Epic and Primetel. Internet, landline and cable TV bundles are commonly offered and are a good way to save money.
To get connected to the mobile network, you can get a pay-as-you-go SIM card or sign up for a contract with any of the three major providers. Expats who won’t be staying in Cyprus for the long term should opt for prepaid, while postpaid contracts are better for those who intend to settle down on the island.
It’s easy to access the internet in Cyprus, whether through home ADSL and broadband connections, or out and about at free WiFi hotspots. Speeds vary greatly but are improving throughout the island.
Cyprus Post manages all letters and parcels on the island but can be unreliable. For important items, it’s recommended to use private courier companies such as DHL and FedEx.
Healthcare in Cyprus
Healthcare in Cyprus is cheap and effective, and is another major draw for expats relocating to the island. 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 by residency status. Anyone staying in Cyprus for three months or more is considered a resident, allowing them to register online with the General Healthcare System (GHS) and select a local doctor.
Many expats choose to take out a private health insurance policy to access a wider variety of hospitals and facilities, and to skip the public sector's occasionally long waiting lists.
Both state-funded and private hospitals can be found in all of Cyprus's major cities. Doctors working in both sectors of the medical industry are often trained overseas and most, if not all, speak an acceptable level of English.
There are many pharmacies in Cyprus, especially in highly populated areas such as Paphos, Larnaca and Limassol. Some pharmacies are only open during regular business hours while night pharmacies stay open in the evening and can be contacted 24 hours a day.
There are nationwide emergency services in Cyprus, but they can be inconsistent and relatively slow. Some private hospitals have their own ambulance services, but charge for transporting patients.
Getting around in Cyprus
With one of the highest car-ownership-per-capita rates in the world, driving will most likely be your primary mode of transport in Cyprus. There’s no railway network, so public transport is largely restricted to buses.
There are several kinds of bus services in Cyprus. Bus services within cities are reliable and frequent. Inter-city buses are less frequent. Rural buses between villages and cities are the most limited, as they only leave once or twice a day.
There are several taxi services in Cyprus. Urban taxis are the most widespread and offer 24-hour services in all major cities. Booking in advance is recommended, but taxis can also be hailed from the street. Uber doesn’t operate in Cyprus but there are similar ride-hailing services available.
Driving is the most effective way of getting around. Road signs are usually in both English and Greek, roads are generally well maintained, petrol stations are widely available and traffic is less congested than in other European cities. 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 about the condition of the roads before going for a drive through the country.
EU drivers can drive until their foreign licence expires, while licenced drivers from a list of pre-approved countries can legally drive for up to six months. If you fall in neither category, you’ll need an international driving permit.
Cost of living in Cyprus
For the most part, Cyprus has an attractively low cost of living. Rent is reasonable and groceries in Cyprus tend to be cheaper than in the UK, especially when it comes to fruit and meat. There is no rail network in Cyprus, but buses services are adequate and inexpensive. Most people on the island opt to own a car or use private taxis, which can become expensive.
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Top tips for Cyprus
See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Cyprus.
Do at least a 2 week 'reccie' visit. Rent a property for at least the first 12 months. Join local forums for expat advice and try to meet up with people with similar circumstances. Visit all the schools and let your children have a voice in which one they prefer.
All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.
All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.
This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.
Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.
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