For many years, Cyprus was an area of the world which few expats visited unless they had direct experience or relatives in the region. However, there have been dramatic changes in Cyprus over the last 20 years and it is now starting to emerge from the shadows having seen the introduction of a comprehensive transport network linking the country with other areas of the world. There have also been a number of changes to the political scene over the last few years which has calmed somewhat and indeed there have been, and continue to be, talks regarding the position of governments in Northern Cyprus and Southern Cyprus. So what exactly does Cyprus have to offer?
As with so many popular expat hotspots around the world it is the climate which many people are attracted to and this is no different with regards to those looking at living in Cyprus. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean neighbouring Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Greece to name but a few. The island itself is dominated by two mountainous regions although in general the weather and climate in Cyprus is hot for the vast majority of the year. There is very little rainfall between May and September and for many periods of the year the weather will remain constant with very few clouds in the sky and a beating sun.
There are variances on the general weather of Cyprus between the higher regions and the lower regions but in general the winters are fairly mild with snowfall rarely lasting for more than a couple of weeks – although there may well be stormy wet weather during the winter period. The coastal regions of Cyprus can often be assisted by the cool sea breeze which can reduce the temperature markedly and take away the sting of what can be a very hot sun. For those who do not appreciate the heat and sun, for the vast majority of the year, there may be issues if you are looking to move to Cyprus.
For many people the landscape and climate in Cyprus is very important when choosing a place to live :-
“Anyone tell me about Sea Caves area and any other areas which they think might be suitable, we will be looking for a 4 or 5 bedroom villa and we must be able to see the sea”
When looking at the economy of Cyprus, and living in Cyprus, we really need to look at the Northern Turkish occupied area and the Southern Cypriot occupied area to get a real feel for the Cypriot economy. The southern region of the country is the more prominent economy and the only government on the island which is officially recognised by the vast majority of countries around the world.
There has been significant diversification over the last few years and the gross domestic product per capita is actually above that of the European Union as a whole. The area has attracted a number of offshore businesses to the region and the recent discovery of oil is something which is being investigated by the authorities and will no doubt add to the wealth of the Cypriot government and the Cypriot population in due course.
The Northern Turkish occupied area of Cyprus is dominated by the services sector including trade, tourism, education and light manufacturing. Many believe that this is the area of the country which is open to further development and which will grow significantly in the years to come. A number of direct transport routes have been opened up which has increased the number of visitors to the region and more and more expats are now looking at Cyprus as a possible venue for the future.
Checking out the pros and cons of Cyprus as well as the Cyprus economy is vital if your move is to be a success :-
“What I want to know is the pros and cons of living in Cyprus and what to expect. I’m not naive enough to think that Cyprus is a magic place and we’ll live in peace forever, but we both think we’d be happier!”
While the employment market in Cyprus is obviously split between the North and South regions there has been a marked increase in unemployment since the worldwide recession kicked in, with the tourism industry an area which has been particularly hard hit. While it is difficult to get an exact figure regarding unemployment in Cyprus there is no doubt, as recently suggested by the government of Cyprus, that unemployment will rise in the short to medium term and the tourism industry, which has already had a difficult 2009, will also have a difficult 2010. Against this background the short-term outlook for employment in the region, for expats and Cypriot or Turkish nationals, is difficult to say the least although many believe once the economy is stable and back on its feet we will then see a return to growth.
However, in the meantime those who are looking to relocate to Cyprus without an employment position already in place may need to take additional funding to cover themselves in the short to medium term.
Is self employment in Cyprus a real option for expats looking for a new homeland?
“We are considering moving to Cyprus (undecided about North or South) and would like to know the rules and experience concerning self-employment. I am currently a Brit working as a massage therapist (my husband is a photographer) in France.”
As Cyprus became more and more popular with the international community it was inevitable that we would see an increase in property prices in the North and in the South. While the South of Cyprus underwent its own boom time sometime ago, purely and simply because it was recognised by the international committee, the Northern region is now starting to prosper. As a consequence, property prices in the North of Cyprus have been squeezed higher in the short term due to demand from expats and businesses moving to the region. However, this is not the end of the story!
There have been a number of ongoing disputes regarding property in Cyprus, particularly in northern Cyprus, with regards to the Turkish occupation of the area and the “takeover” of land and property from the original Cypriot owners – many of whom fled the region when the island split. While we have seen some headway with regards to this particular issue over the last few months there are concerns that some properties, while a minority in number, may well be subjected to legal action in the foreseeable future from their original owners.
Even though there is a definitive cut off point which ensures that new properties should be clear of this particular issue, it is worthwhile making the legal checks when acquiring property, especially in Northern Cyprus.
As the economic downturn continues to hit areas such as Cyprus, there has been a fall in demand for property in the region and finally we are starting to see developers adjusting their targets and their prices. As a consequence, a number of property experts in the region believe there is value in the Cyprus property market and the prospects for the future are positive. However, whether we will see property prices fall further in the short term, with 2010 expected to be another difficult year, remains to be seen.
There is no doubt that as and when the expat market wakes up again, and visitor numbers to Cyprus pick up, we will see an increase in demand for local property. Choosing the right location at the right price can be tricky as property prices in Cyprus can vary ;-
“Where to live? It would be great not living too far from the airport as we may travel a lot. And we would like to live in a good neighbourhood, maybe with other expats.”
The community of Cyprus is a very divided affair with the Northern section accounting for about 30% of the island and the Southern area accounting for the remainder. This is replicated in the demographics of Cyprus with the population made up of Greek Cypriots (77%), Turkish Cypriots (18%) and other nationalities making up the remaining 5%. There is a large UK presence in Cyprus although we have also seen a large influx of workers from Thailand, Philippines, Russia and other areas of the EU.
Expat committees are now more visible in Cyprus than ever before and with the UK connection this particular band of expats continues to grow in number. The close association between Cyprus and the UK continues as does the relatively friendly relationship between the two governments. As a consequence English-speaking expats will have little difficulty finding assistance on the island and indeed the locals, both in the north and south, are very welcoming to those from the UK and other English-speaking countries.
In such a close-knit community is very important to widen your social network to include expat communities as well as local committees. There have been reports of locals becoming upset by the close-knit expat communities effectively “cutting them out” but over the last few years these concerns seem to be reducing.
There are many expats in Cyprus who can help if you are planning a move :-
“We are still researching costs for our impending move to Cyprus in the Summer 0f 2010
Comparison exercise on a cost basis of £1 = 1 euro, shows that our monthly income of around £2,120 is well sufficient to meet our proposed outgoings (rental payments aer covered). However, some comments on this forum are making us doubt our ‘ maths skills!”
While there is no doubt that the Southern area of Cyprus has the more developed infrastructure and transport network, compared to the Northern area, there have been developments in all areas of the island. While the “green line” continues to be split the northern and southern areas of Cyprus there are hopes that one day we will see the resumption of direct transportation links between the two areas and hopefully the island will at some stage be united again.
One of the main reasons why the Northern area Cyprus has become something of an expat hotspot and popular tourist destination over the last few years is been introduction of direct air links to the region. It is only recently that the area has been officially recognised by a small number of governments in the international community and as such demand has grown for direct transport links. Investment by the Turkish Cypriot government has also added to the improvement in transport links in the region and many believe there is a firm basis for significant future growth in both the northern and southern areas of Cyprus.
It will be interesting to see how quickly and how strongly the two economies recover once the worldwide recession is over and the tourism market sparks into life again. While this may not happen until the end of 2010, or possibly 2011, there is a feeling that the Northern area of Cyprus is especially well positioned to take advantage of the eventual upturn.
While in general the political scene of any potential expat hotspot is never mentioned, Cyprus is an island which has been split for many years and has seen its fair share of political upheaval. However, thankfully recent years have seen the two warring parties come together on numerous occasions to try and at least patch up a worthwhile agreement as a starting point for more comprehensive future talks. So far there have been signs of “give and take” from each side at the moment we still appear to be something of a definitive agreement on governing the country and bringing together the two distinct populations of the island.
Even though Cyprus is an island which has been ravaged by problems between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, living in Cyprus is becoming an option for more and more people. The introduction of the “green line” effectively minimised any short-term issues with regards to aggressive behaviour between the two “governments” on the island. There have been talks, on and off, for many years regarding a wide-ranging agreement between the two parties but as yet no formal arrangement is in place and friction does rear its head from time to time.
As we mentioned in the article above, the southern area of Cyprus is far more developed and has an infrastructure which has for some time attracted the attention of overseas investors, overseas visitors and expats. However, the recent introduction of direct air links to the northern area of Cyprus has resulted in a significant increase in expat and tourist interest, something which is forming the basis of the northern Cyprus economy.
There is a very strong link between northern Cyprus and the UK which has resulted in a significant number of UK expats and UK tourist visiting the region. Indeed there are two army bases on the island of Cyprus which are manned by UK personnel. The UK government has had, and continues to have, a direct influence over parts of the region. The climate and the culture of Cyprus were for many years overshadowed by the political issues but in recent times we have seen a marked improvement in popularity for the region.
Cyprus is a relatively small country with a relatively small population and as such the economy has for many years depended upon sectors such as tourism, entertainment and to a lesser extent over recent years, offshore business investment. However, many believe the economy of Cyprus as a whole, and especially the northern region, is well-positioned for the future and should bounce back fairly strongly once the tourism industry spark back into life. When this will happen is anybody’s guess, but a recent statement by the government of Cyprus suggest that 2010 may be just as difficult as 2009 for the Cypriot tourist market. Then after that, hopefully we can start to look to the future again.