Cyprus is a popular destination for expats of all nationalities and ages. However, since the country has a different food culture and retail sector from your home country, there are some items you might want to stock up on before arriving so you can save money and enjoy the products you’re accustomed to.Firstly, if you are able to eat like a local person, your food and drink bills will stay low.
Twenty years ago, much of Europe’s population had never heard of halloumi cheese, despite it being produced in Cyprus since the Byzantine era and its subsequent wide popularity in the Middle East. Today, the majority of European people can buy this cheese in supermarkets, choose it as a sandwich filling in cafes, and buy locally produced halloumi in their local farmers’ market. Halloumi is therefore one aspect of Cypriot cuisine which is familiar to most expats, and the locally produced product, using milk from goats, or from sheep which have been fed thyme, is very good.
Wine is much cheaper to buy in Cyprus than most European and US locations. This means eating out with a glass of wine is also more affordable. Local fish is more expensive, but you are likely to notice the superior quality.
Salad, potatoes, chicken, pork, lemons, olive oil and oregano are essentials for the food cupboard in Cyprus and are all reasonably priced. Seasonal food dominates the fruit and vegetable supplies, which enhances the flavour and means prices are low at harvest time. Ready meals and processed foods are not the backbone of the food industry here, as they are in the UK and US.
However, it’s hard to change your way of eating for the long term. If this cuisine differs from your usual fare, at some point you may want to revert to more familiar meals, even if it is for an occasional treat.
Imported Food In Cyprus
Access to imported food will depend on whereabouts in Cyprus you live. Expats in Cyprus tend to be scattered across the Greek Cypriot areas, unlike other locations such as Malta, where expat communities often draw newcomers to one preferred area. Any retailer importing food goods has to be sure there is a market for it, and there is more certainty of this around large population centres.
AlphaMega Hypermarkets actively cater to expats. The website can be read in Greek and English, and they have a commercial arrangement which means whole ranges of Tesco products are sold there. You will definitely pay a premium for each item, which reflects the importation costs of products shipped from the UK. If you miss British chocolate, pots of strawberry jam or baked beans, you can gather supplies here all year round.
Waitrose and M&S product ranges have also been expanding in Cyprus. These are premium brands in the UK, so the importation costs made them an expensive option. However, for a quality product which reminds you of home, they are it is an occasional treat worth enjoying.
Well-established import company A Sophocleous and Sons stocks a wide range of imported foods from different countries. Brands stocked include Waitrose, Saitaku, La Fiesta, William Jackson and Jamie Oliver. You do have to buy in bulk; the general public are welcome customers. Their premises are at Akrotiri-Kolossi Road in Limassol.
Carrefour used to offer bread, ham and other products which were popular with expats, although it also had a reputation for higher prices. In 2017, the chain was rebranded to Sklavenitis. Meanwhile, Lidl has started expansion into Cyprus and many foods expats were missing have become available there.
Sometimes you’ll find a local alternative to a food you feel is overpriced. Quorn is an example of this. The Quorn vegan pieces are expensive to import in small quantities to Cyprus. However, there are bags of other brand soya products available in the supermarkets. Some of them require a quick soak before cooking, but the price difference means it’s a worth making that extra effort.
Bringing Food To Cyprus
If you are keen to bring food with you, think about the conditions and restrictions for luggage.
Avoid all meat, fish and dairy products. Hours of travel with varying temperatures will affect the safety of these foods. Food poisoning is extremely unpleasant and can lead to emergency care in hospital.
Don’t pack glass into your suitcase. Baggage handlers throw the cases around and glass is easily smashed. If you are going to pack tea bags or coffee, do so in a plastic container.
Check the weight of your suitcase. Airlines are strict about enforcing weight restrictions and will impose charges for heavier bags. Tins of food, such as baked beans, will quickly weigh down your luggage. Bringing these tins to save a few euros on Cypriot prices is a false economy if you then pay for extra weight allowance.
Condiments in plastic containers are easily transported and are not usually as heavy as tins. Crumpets are fairly lightweight and should not suffer in transit for a day, but have the downside of a short shelf life. Quality cereal is a good item to pop into a suitcase if you have the room: it’s light, won’t spoil and may be better than local alternatives for your tastes.
The high price of shampoo, shower gel and washing powder can be a surprise to new expats in Cyprus. CThere are more limited cosmetics and health foods ranges are more limitedavailable in Cyprus. Obviously, you have to consider the weight when flying, but bringing some of these items with you is a sensible choice.
Parents of young children are hit hard by the price of essentials. Disposable nappies, baby shampoo and formula milk can be two or three times the UK price. It all depends on the brand you pick and where you are buying from.
Look out for the discount stores. They offer cheaper products, so it is worth experimenting to see if you can tell the difference between the familiar brand and the local alternative. This way you will also protect yourself from currency fluctuations.
If you need to buy toys, Jumbo has three big stores. Many Amazon third party suppliers will also deliver to Cyprus, and the parcels usually arrive quickly. You may need to pick up your parcel from a depot, depending on where you live.
Stocking Up On Clothes
There is a decent selection of clothing stores and shoe shops in Cyprus. Everything from formal wear to beach, leisure and party clothes and shoes can be found, along with accessories to match. However, the price can be higher than cheap clothing stores in the UK and US.
You therefore might want to stock up on clothes and shoes before heading for the airport, especially as the good weather will last longer than you are used to, so summer clothes will get plenty of wear.
However, discount stores are emerging, such as Terranova and Peacocks. If you have a branch of either store near you, it may provide most of the ongoing clothing you need. Just make sure you try your new purchases on first in case the sizes are different. Alternatively, online fashion sites such as the UK fashion chain NEXT will deliver to your home in Cyprus.
The standard voltage in Cyprus is 240 V and the frequency is 50Hz. The plugs have three pins, just like the UK. So, depending on the weight of your electrical item and the likelihood of problems getting through security at the airport, it may be worthwhile bringing equipment you already own. Electric blankets for cold winters top many expats’ wish list.
If you prefer not to bring electronics with you, there is plenty of choice for new items in Cyprus, and you can always purchase online.
In conclusion, what you decide to stock up on before heading for Cyprus will depend on where you will be living. If you’re heading for somewhere close to a large population, you will have plenty of local retail options available. There is very little you won’t be able to find. The downside is the price, which means you will find life expensive if you want to consume imported items every day.
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