Bright blue waters, world renowned clean sandy beaches, and a Mediterranean lifestyle – it’s no wonder Cyprus is an alluring destination for many expats hoping to live life in shorts and a t-shirt. There is a myriad of reasons to relocate to the sun-soaked island and any one of them might be enough to see you booking a one-way ticket to paradise—whether it’s to spend your days out on the water or your evenings enjoying quality time with delicious local delicacies. If you’re more economically minded, you may choose to move for the strengthening economy with falling unemployment. Here are a few of our favourite reasons to relocate to sunlit Cyprus.Leisure Activities
If you’ve been living in not-so-sunny Britain and want an outdoor lifestyle, Cyprus has plenty of hobbies for you to take up. If you’re keen to explore myth and untouched history, you might want to try diving at wreck sites for an exciting underwater adventure. Cyprus’ Zenobia wreck diving site at Larnaca Bay is ranked as one of the top 10 best wreck dives in the world.
The Zenobia began its origins as a Swedish roll-on-roll-off ferry and when building finished in 1979 she was ready to set sail. The ferry was loaded with over 100 lorries full of cargo like cigarettes, tractors and forklifts, for her maiden voyage to Syria in May 1980. The journey began well, but en route to Athens the ship’s Captain reported steering problems and the ferry began listing (leaning) to port. After examining the vessel, it was determined that too much water had been pumped into ballast tanks and so the water was removed and the crew set sail again for their penultimate destination, Larnaca.
It wasn’t too long before the excess water problem struck once again and engineers were able to diagnose that the computerised system was causing too much water to be pumped into the tanks. This was reportedly an error in the software. On June 4th the ferry was towed about a mile out of the harbour as a precaution and the ship’s crew had to be evacuated by lifeboats. On June 5th the captain requested that the ferry be brought back into harbour but the request was denied. Engineers and the remaining maintenance team left the boat, which was listing at a 45-degree angle. Some speculate that the dismissal of the engineers was an error and instead they should have remained and tried to fix the problem. Two days later the Zenobia capsized and sank to 42 meters, taking around £200 million of cargo with her.
To this day, mystery surrounds the state of the art ferry that didn’t even complete its first voyage. There were no deaths from the shipwreck and the whole ordeal was relatively slow, but she’s been named ‘The Titanic of the Mediterranean’.
Theories and myths shroud the Zenobia’s memory and there are several opposing ideas as to why she sank, such as insurance fraud, espionage, and arms on-board. What’s more, it’s reported that the owners never claimed the insurance money and in a tragic turn of events, the captain took his own life shortly after the ship sank.
Now, the Zenobia is home to an array of fish and sea life and thousands of divers visit the wreck every year. The rusty wreckage covers 172 meters in length and less experienced divers can view plenty of the ferry from the outside as well as enjoying the local marine life which includes turtles, barracuda, tuna, colourful shoals, and more.
More experienced divers can visit the inside of the wreckage and some visitors make it as far as the engine room. You can view the lorries and cargo, bridge, cafeteria, accommodation and the upper decks. This site alone attracts 45,000 visitors every year and helps to encourage tourism and economic growth to the nation.
If diving isn’t quite the water sport for you, there are endless other options, such as snorkelling, jet skiing, parasailing, boat hire, windsurfing, canoeing, wakeboarding, and fly fishing.
It’s no secret the Cypriot banking system struggled between 2012-2013 in what’s known as the Cypriot Financial Crisis. The Bank of Cyprus was flat-lining and panic set in causing worried citizens to queue at the bank to retrieve their funds. Cyprus looked like another Eurozone member that would be close to collapse. Countries such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal had already been bailed out of their own crises and Spain had also asked for aid to support its banks.
The bailout came in the form of €10 million from a group of financial institutions known as the Troika. The European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission (EC), who make up the Troika, imparted conditions to the bailout; one of which was that the Bank of Cyprus would seize uninsured deposits under €100,000. Most of the accounts holding these funds were thought to be of Russian possession for those using Cypriot banks as a tax-free haven.
The Cypriots handled the reforms well and were able to focus on economic reform and growth through the strict measures implemented. The Cypriot economy did so well at recovering with the bailout funds in hand that it managed to save 30% of the money even being used.
2017 is expected to be another year of solid expansion. In fact, economists have predicted in excess of 2.5% growth in 2017 and around 2.3% growth in 2018. Unemployment is falling and was 1.6% lower in 2016 than the previous year and some industry sectors are performing extremely favourably, like restaurants and hotels as well as manufacturing and construction.
Amid Eurozone banking crises in destinations such as Italy and unpredictable elections in countries like France and the Netherlands that could potentially destabilise the Eurozone, Cyprus seems like an economically good choice.
Cypriot cuisine is similar to dishes found in nearby Greece and Turkey and there are a host of menus waiting to tantalise the taste buds of any passionate foodie. Food is meant to be enjoyed ‘siga siga’ which translates into ‘slowly slowly’. You can enjoy food with family and friends in a relaxed atmosphere al fresco. Make sure when eating in Cyprus to take your time and truly savour the delicious flavours.
If you’re a keen tapas eater, you’ll want to try some of Cyprus’ meze. Meze is a combination of hot and cold appetisers and can consist of Mediterranean specialities such as tzatziki, tahini, taramosalata, hummus, and halloumi. Cheese lovers can enjoy salty grilled halloumi for breakfast and experience the bacon of cheeses in it’s native land.
Cyprus is also well known for it’s kebabs and so any meat eater will want to tuck into to succulent chunks of pork, lamb and chicken seasoned with lemon, olive oil and oregano. For seafood lovers there are also fish kebabs served on skewers and cooked to perfection. Some Cypriot specialities, like kebabs, are served with pita bread and salad – and that’s exactly how souvlaki is presented. Also known as souvla, this delicacy is thin slices of lamb pork or chicken.
Trying all the local flavours is a must and so ordering Moussaka is essential for your Mediterranean tasting experience. Moussaka is a well-known Mediterranean casserole dish with succulent lamb and aubergine layers topped with a white béchamel sauce. The dish has Greek origins and is supposedly a creation from when the Arabs introduced aubergine to the nation.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, ask for ekmek kadayifi – a traditional favourite similar to bread and butter pudding. Maybe wash it down with a Cypriot coffee which comes with a frothy cream on top known as kaimaki. If you want to blend in with the locals, enjoy it sweet with some sugar.
Lifestyle and Culture
Cyprus is in a great location and is positioned at the crossroads of three continents – Africa, Asia, and Europe. If you’re thinking of travelling once you’ve relocated, you’ll be in an ideal position to access all the corners of the earth and never too far away from another exciting country or way of life. Being in such a central location has meant that Cyprus’ own culture is built up on many influences which has contributed to the nation’s rich and diverse heritage.
Being a former British colony Cyprus has a large and well-established expat community and even holds the third-highest number of foreign citizens in the European Union. The majority are British expats, but there’s also a host of other European nationals, as well as Americans and Russians.
Cyprus also remains part of the European Union – so if Brexit is contributing towards your wanderlust, Cyprus may be a good choice with its added benefit of being an EU member.
Most people decide to make Cyprus their new home because of the weather – and we don’t blame them. With approximately 340 sunny days a year giving a seemingly endless amount of vitamin D, clear skies and crystal waters, the nation is a haven to sun seekers who want dry weather and the opportunity to wear flip flops all year round. There are plenty of forests to explore and mountains to climb making the country diverse, relaxed and inspiring.
Property prices are slowly stabilising in Cyprus and it’s expected that demand for property will increase over the coming years. At present, you can buy a stylish three-bedroom house in Larnaca for around €360,000, or a modern three-bedroom apartment for €320,000. However, if you’re on a lower budget you can invest in a three-bedroom villa for only €115,000 in Paphos.
Studio and one-bedroom apartments in Paphos and Famagusta begin in the region of €29,000 and climb steadily higher the more modern or stylish the home. Two bedroom properties in the same regions begin at around €46,000 and with so many properties on the market for sale, you won’t have a shortage of places to view.
When buying a house abroad it’s always worth comparing quotes from both a bank and a currency broker. A broker could offer you better rates than a bank and will keep you up to date on market movements to help you make sure you get the most for your money. What’s more, a broker can limit your exposure to adverse market swings which might cost you thousands as your house purchase is processed.
Plenty of different factors can impact an exchange rate, such as economic data, political events, and central bank actions. Let’s take a look at how your finances would have stood before and after the UK’s EU Referendum.
Before the referendum, the pound sterling to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate was trending in the region of 1.30. If you’d have had a £300,000 budget, you’d have been able to buy a cosmopolitan house in Larnaca without a problem because you’d have been in receipt of €390,000.
However, following the election the pound weakened and sank to 1.16. Your £300,000 budget just a month later would have only given you €348,000 – meaning the house you want might have been pushed out of reach.
If you’re looking to buy a house in Cyprus, a reputable broker can fix an exchange rate in place for you, so you can have stability during purchase and eliminate the need to worry about unfavourable market shifts.
Whether you’re moving overseas to retire or work, you may find yourself transferring funds overseas on a regular basis. A broker can help you with regular overseas payments and ensure you’re stretching your pension, salary payments, or anything else to get the most currency for your money. Brokers can also transfer your funds with no hidden fees or tagged on commission, meaning what you’re quoted is exactly what you’ll get.