Who are you?
I am Patricia Alves, the creator of a Youtube channel called Find Your Blue about relocation to and life on the island of Cyprus.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I am originally from Brazil and have lived abroad half of my life. My last move with my family was from the US to Cyprus in June 2022 after nine years of living in Northern California. We decided to move for lots of reasons, but most important among them was safety, the cost of living and healthcare.
What challenges did you face during the move?
The logistics of moving a family in the smoothest way possible was overwhelming. We tried to make it a joyous time for our (very reluctant) kids since they were already mourning the loss of their friends. We were simultaneously setting up our new house, school and car in Cyprus via the internet, shipping a few boxes with essentials, preparing the California house to be rented out and moving our belongings into storage while planning an eight-day stop in London for a holiday before our arrival in Cyprus.
Did you need to obtain a visa, residency permit or work permit? What was the process like?
My husband and kids are citizens and we had already obtained their papers. We had the help of a local tax specialist to set up a financial structure that would allow us to take advantage of the tax incentives available to us and to help me obtain my residence permit as the spouse of a citizen. The process was smooth, but slow.
How does the cost of living compare with your previous country?
We found that the price of things can be higher due to shipping costs, but this expense was offset by the lower taxes, healthcare and cost of services in Cyprus, all of which are much more expensive in the US.
Is it easy to open and use an account with a local bank?
It took us a couple of months to be able to open a bank account, we could still transfer money easily using the JCC system and the Revolut app.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We are lucky to have family here. We were able to view our rental through video before committing and securing a contract.
Are there many other expats in your area?
We find that there is a large expatriate community in our area and in all coastal areas of Cyprus. They are mostly British families who feel very comfortable here.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
The local people really open up when you try to speak their language, even though 95% are fluent in English. It is just a great way to start a conversation. People are very nice and helpful.
What do you like about life where you are?
We are in a beautiful almost rural area, but only a five-min drive from the sea in the village of Pyla. Larnaca is the largest city in our vicinity. We have access to some fabulous beaches, easy access to the northern region, the mountains of Troodos, quaint villages, the capital Nicosia, ancient ruins and the modern city of Limassol.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I think our biggest hurdle has been learning Greek. It is not essential to our lives here, but we are committed to learning due to our family ties. It is not an easy language to learn, but the EU provides heavily subsidized lessons to any foreigner (at a cost of 10 euros/year!) at the local schools. You just need to have started the process of obtaining your local ID.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The slower pace of life is something that takes time getting used to coming from a frantic, stressed-out culture, so you have to remind yourself that this is what you wanted. The locals like to say siga-siga, meaning slowly-slowly.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
My channel aims to help make that transition easier. My main advice would be to start preparing at least one year in advance, especially if you want your kids to attend international schools which have limited space. I would talk to a tax specialist early on as well.
What are your plans for the future?
Our immediate plans are to establish a routine for our kids and their many interests, prepare our teenager for college in Europe, and to grow my brand-new channel.
To view Patricia’s latest video, visit her YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/S7YXt4GwC-k.