Who are you?
My name is Anastasia and I am thirty years old. I have two children aged six and twelve and am currently expecting my third child. I have been with my partner for five years. I am currently working as a freelance writer. Writing has always been my passion and a few years ago I got into freelance writing as a hobby. I’m very family orientated and I love to read.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I live in a small village in Cyprus. My family and I moved here in November 2012 because we believe Cyprus has a lot more to offer us as a family that what England does.My partner is half Greek and his parents had made a decision to relocate to Cyprus a couple of years ago. After a lot of discussion on the matter we agreed that for our own personal situation that it was a viable decision for us to make too.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Personally, we didn’t find that many challenges because we were lucky enough to have not only family that were relocating at the same time but family already living in Cyprus. My in-laws were buying a property in Cyprus and having their belongings shipped over in large storage containers. We were able to stay in an apartment owned by other family members close by until we were ready to find a place to rent ourselves. Any belongings we had were shipped along with everyone else’s and stored until it was needed. We have had an immense amount of support from the family that already live here in the sense of aid and advice, for example giving us an insight into the way the school’s are run, what supermarkets are in our area, how to register with doctors etc. Also, my partner and I both work from home so we didn’t have the added pressure of trying to find work.
How did you find somewhere to live?
When we first arrived in Cyprus we were lucky enough to stay in a family own apartment. Within a few weeks we had arranged viewings with two different estate agents on properties that would suit us short term. During the process of making a decision, a neighbour informed us that he could arrange a couple of viewings just down the road from my in-laws as he maintains them for people who were interested in short term lets for their holiday rental properties. We fell in love with property number two and it was situated within walking distance of the local school. We signed a six month lease within a week. Since then the same neighbour advised us of a bigger property on the same complex that had just come up for a long term rent. We arranged a viewing, met with the owner as she visited for a holiday and again fell in love with the property and drew up a contract as soon as we could. We are due to move in.
Are there many other expats where you live?
The village where we live is predominantly Cypriot but there are quite a few expats here too. The complex that we live on is fairly empty and we have both Cypriot and English neighbours alike. The local school is a Greek speaking school and our local corner shops and restaurants are Greek speaking only. Some areas of Cyprus have larger expat communities but for the village we are in the ratio of English to Cypriot families is roughly 1 in 6. We do get a lot of holiday makers renting in the village when they want a quieter holiday or as they are visiting their expat families.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
In my experience, moving into a small village from a city as big as London has been lovely. Villages such as this in Cyprus tend to be tight knit yet at the same time very welcoming to newcomers. Most Cypriots you encounter have good English skills and those that don’t are patient and polite. They do expect a little effort on your part to learn basic Greek, such as ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ but manners are important no matter where you live. The pace of life is so relaxed here that neighbours put their selves forward to say hello and be helpful without intruding. In general, everyone knows someone here so if you need advice there is always either a direct neighbour or a friend of a friend ready to lend a helping hand. The only issues that seem to arise tend to be between expats themselves.
What do you like about life where you are?
I like the fact that everything is so relaxed here in Cyprus. We have access to a shared swimming pool where we live as most complexes do and being a popular holiday destination there is always somewhere to go and something to do. You do need access to a vehicle as it is quite secluded but if you do there are plenty of beautiful beaches, mountains and churches to visit to keep you occupied and as a mother I find that invaluable. The schools here are very supportive and the children are polite and friendly and the kids regularly go on trips which is something my local school in England didn’t often do. Here the children are taught very strong family, religious and historical values and to be proud of whom they are and where they come from.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
There isn’t much to complain about in all honesty, at first we were in need of finding a balance; the shops spoke a different language and so did the school and people, but considering we had a lot of family support we found our feet quickly. It is very different living here than where I used to live in London but I wouldn’t change it for the world, that’s half of the reason why we chose to move here in the first place. The only dislike I do have, as I’m sure will be reflected by other expats, is to do with shopping. I do miss my big chain supermarkets and clothing stores and the price and accessibility of both. It takes a lot of getting used to but a shopping trip back to England every now and then to buy clothing essentials and to visit family isn’t the hardest thing to do.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
If anyone is intending to move over here permanently, there are a few things that they should bear in mind. Income, location and future intentions. Cyprus is made up of different lifestyles on several scales, with loud cities such as Nicosia where the noise goes through the night, to quiet villages like where I am myself where it is peaceful and tranquil. There isn’t much activity or night life in the more rural areas so it’s definitely important to do your research.
An income is very important; rent may be much cheaper than in the UK but the cost of food, travel and day to day living can be much higher. I would strongly advise in making sure you have savings to help you to set up because being left with no financial backup is a real possibility in the current financial climate. Knowing where you plan to be in 5 years will help an expat family or individual decide on where best to be also, for example an expanding family will need to be close to schools and amenities, or an elderly or retired couple may find it easier to live nearer the mountains where solitude is favoured.
What are your plans for the future?
We are settled in nicely now, our family will be expanding with a new addition very soon, our children are very happy, we have a regular income and a beautiful property to move into shortly. Our plans are to continue living a quiet, peaceful lifestyle, to bring up our children to be great members of the community and to continue to visit the amazing sights that Cyprus has to offer. We are busy every day now and maintaining the balance of our life is the most important goal we have. Being able to own our own property in the future is the main goal to begin working towards now.