Moving To Cyprus – Everything You Need To Know

Expats & Business | Updated: 25. Apr 2023

Before moving to Cyprus, it's worth thinking about the country's most incredible history. People have lived here since the Stone Age. It was formally settled as long as 3,000 years ago. Originally it was settled in what was known as the Ten Kingdoms. These were; Amathus, Chytri, Idalium, Kition, Kourion, Ledra, Pathos, Salamis, Soli, and Tamassos. 

It gained its independence in about 669 BC. Still, it was conquered, first by the Egyptians in 570 BC and then by the Persians in approximately 545 BC. In the 4th Century BC, Euagoras I, King of Salamis, took over the island and attempted to gain independence from Persia. The country became a Roman province in 58 BC.

Culture & Lifestyle

For anyone considering relocating to Cyprus, Cypriot culture on both sides of the border is rooted in the two represented religions, Islam in Northern Turkey and Christianity in Southern Turkey. The family is always at the centre of the social structure here. The extended family always helps their relatives and grandparents, particularly Grandfathers, have an unbreakable bond with grandchildren. 

Age and position are extremely important, and elders are very well respected. In social situations, the most senior person is served first. Religion is significant here. Although two are completely predominant, all religion is constitutionally protected. In the countryside, congregations are predominantly female. Church attendance is less strong in the cities. 

For those gaining Cyprus permanent residency, one should shake hands, smile and maintain eye contact when meeting people. However, in the north of the country, remember that adherent Muslims do not shake hands with women. The host will introduce you to the other guests at social occasions. When leaving, it is good manners to say goodbye to all individually. 

Tipping is standard but optional; there will be no issue if you don't leave a tip. For restaurant meals that don't include a service charge, 4 or 5 Euros is sufficient.

The island is rich in historical and architectural culture. The older parts of the cities are stunning, and the castles and ancient ruins are a big part of the tourist trade here. Food-wise, Cyprus has terrific cuisine. The Greek and Turkish influences have seen a wide variety of meals served in the local restaurants. Outside of the cities, it may be a struggle to find vegan food, as traditionally, the cuisine is heavily meat-based. 

On the social side, locals tend to enjoy a more sedate life, and cafe culture is significant here. You will see families strolling along the seafront in the evenings. For the young party set, there is plenty to do with some of the best nightclubs in Europe. There really is something for everyone here.

Language

If you are moving to Cyprus, note that in North Cyprus, the primary language is Turkish. In the South, it's Greek. Around 80% of islanders speak English, so you'll find it easy to get around. In outlying countryside areas, English is less prevalent. Nowadays, an increasing number of people have a little Russian.

Economy

The World Bank describes the Cypriot economy as "High Income". At the same time, the International Monetary Fund placed it on its list of "Advanced economies." Cyprus suffered a financial crisis in 2012/3 as part of the broader European debt crisis. However, it has bounced back well despite the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Cyprus is an open, free market economy based on the service industry, with some light manufacturing. As a result, the country is ranked 23rd worldwide for its quality of life. 

Tourism is a massive contributor to the economy. Initial tourism grew faster in the north, but now the whole island sees vast numbers of tourists annually. Total annual tourist numbers are 4 million, with about 400,000 visiting the north.

Agriculture is enormous for the country's economy. More than a third of the island's arable land is sufficiently irrigated. The main growing areas are in the Mesaoria Plain and around Paphos in the southwest. The country produces potatoes, tangerines, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, olive, wheat, barley, tomatoes, watermelons, and melons. Additionally, livestock provides a third of the island's agricultural production. Surprisingly fish production is small, and much of the island's seafood is imported. 

Natural mineral production is good, with copper, iron pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, and chrome ore contributing to external trade. In addition, petrol is imported for motor vehicle use and electricity production. 

Cost of living

To the South of the border, the Greek part of Cyprus uses the Euro. To the north, the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus uses the Turkish Lira. As a result, living in Cyprus is cost-effective. People moving to Cyprus from the UK, in particular, find it much easier to live. In particular, they like the tax Cyprus has to offer. Inheritance was abolished in 2001, and stamp duty is low and capped at €20,000. 

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In addition, Income Tax Rate in Cyprus is as follows:

  • 0 - €19,500 0%
  • €19,501 - €28,000 20% 
  • €28,001 0 €36,300 25%
  • €36,301 - €60,000 30%
  • €60,000+ 35%

There is a UK-Cyprus double tax treaty in place. This ensures that people don't pay taxes twice on the same income when moving to Cyprus.

Inward investment is welcomed for those thinking of moving companies to Cyprus. However, finding work can be troublesome for foreigners as you compete with locals. Nevertheless, some knowledge of Greek helps, for although the primary business language is English, most employers demand some Greek. The jobs in demand are in medical, IT, telecoms, accountancy, and sales & marketing.

Schools

In the public sector, schools are for all children aged 5 to 18. Attendance is mandatory from ages 5 to 15. The language of instruction is Greek, but English is taught as a second language from first grade. Other languages are available in middle and secondary school years. For those wishing to receive British-style education in Cyprus, The English School of Kyrenia is a private co-ed school for pupils aged 2 to 18. 

Healthcare system

The country has an abundance of excellent medical facilities. Always ensure that you have adequate health insurance before moving to Cyprus.

Crime Rates

Crime rates in Cyprus are excellent. This is a very safe place to live, work and holiday. By almost every measure, the island is safer than the UK, for example. As with everywhere in the world, a sensible careful approach is always best. Don't advertise your money or leave your phone lying around. But apart from that, you'll have no problems.

Residency in Cyprus

Suppose you are thinking of emigrating to Cyprus. It is possible to get a Permanent Residency Permit in Cyprus by investing €300,00 in a property (the fast-track option) or residing legally for five years continuously before applying for the permit. However, permanent residency in Cyprus for non-EU citizens means you must apply for residency as a third-country national. Therefore, one should check the requirements for entry and read the Cypriot government guidelines on visas.

Visas

Visitors may enter Cyprus for a period of six months without a visa. To obtain a visa, contact the embassy or consulate. 

Work permits

To apply for a work permit in Cyprus, you will be required to submit the following:

  • A valid passport
  • A Completed and signed visa application form
  • A Certificate of medical clearance
  • A Certificate of police clearance
  • Proof of financial means to cover your stay in Cyprus
  • Your travel health insurance
  • A work contract complete with the seal of the Department of Labour
  • Any other documents to support your application that the Cyprus diplomatic mission may ask for.

Citizenship

You may apply for citizenship after completing seven years of residency or, in the case of being the parent of a Cypriot child, five years of residency.

Registering a Company

To register a company in Cyprus is similar to another country. You will need to fulfil the following requirements:

  • Obtain a registered office
  • Appoint your directors
  • Complete an annual audit 
  • Appoint your company secretary
  • Meet minimum share capital requirements
  • Hold an annual meeting with shareholders

Opening a Bank Account

Banks include; the Hellenic Bank, Bank of Cyprus, and Cyprus Development Bank. All banks are safe places to deposit your money. However, these, in particular, are good for business accounts. It usually takes about four weeks to open a business account and two weeks for a private account.

Renting Property

The cost of renting obviously varies depending on the property type and location. For example, the average price of renting a three-bedroom apartment in Famagusta is about €100 per month. This compares to a high of about €1280 in Limassol and a low of around €400 in Famagusta. 

Buying Property

Thinking of buying a house in Cyprus? It's pretty straightforward. If you are an EU national, buying property in Cyprus has no restrictions. However, for non-EU nationals, there is a restriction that you can only buy around one acre of land or one house/apartment. All foreigners buying property in Cyprus must first apply for permission at the Council of Ministers.

Moving belongings

When moving to Cyprus, bringing your belongings here is relatively straightforward and not too expensive. This is because so many people are moving, and many companies have sprung up to do the job. Check with others who have experienced it to get a company you can trust. Moving the contents of a three-bed house should cost you around €1500.

Driving Regulations

Driving here is very straightforward and similar to the UK. They drive on the left.   

The main points to note are:

  • Use dipped headlights in the daytime on all roads and all year round.
  • Ensure seatbelts are worn by everyone in the car at all times
  • Riders of motorcycles or mopeds must wear crash helmets at all times.
  • You must ensure that you have at least third-party insurance recognised in Cyprus.
  • Only use your horns in emergency situations to prevent an accident. It's forbidden to use your horn between 10.00pm and 6.00am and near hospitals at any time.
  • If you're caught committing a minor driving offence in Cyprus, you may be given an on-the-spot fine of up to €85
  • Children under 12 years and/or less than 150cm in height must use appropriate restraints or child seats. Children under five are not allowed in the front passenger seat. 
  • Do not drink and drive. The alcohol limit for all drivers is 0.05% (half the allowed in the UK, for example). Random testing may be carried out at any time.

Life Insurance

As with anywhere, life insurance provides peace of mind for your loved ones should the worst happen. There are plenty of good quality insurance brokers here. No matter where you are, it's always a good idea to have life insurance; Cyprus is no exception.

The Ex-pat Community

For those buying an apartment in Cyprus, the most vibrant ex-pat communities are in Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos (Over 50% of ex-pats live in Paphos). There is an abundance of restaurants and other places to socialise. Making friends in Cyprus is easy, and there are ex-pat social media groups.

Cyprus as a Tourist Destination

There is no doubt that this is a wonderful tourist destination. Four million visitors come every year, and a high percentage come regularly. Paphos is the most visited tourist destination, it is steeped in history, and there is much to do. However, apart from the prominent larger cities and resorts, there are many lesser-known, unique places. Here are just some of the highlights:

Ayia Napa

There is no better spot for the young at heart who like to party than Ayia Napa. It has some of the best nightclubs in Europe and has become one of the most significant party towns in the Med. However, away from the party scene in the quieter winter months, there are plenty of lovely places to visit. The Blue Lagoon, Nissi Beach with the sea caves and the famous Love Bridge are all favourites.

Kakopetria

High up in the Solea Valley, this is a real highlight of Cyprus. Explore the mediaeval quarter with its winding streets, and try the traditional syrup doughnut called Loukoumades in the village square.

Omodos

Famous for its wine, Omodos is one of the oldest and most important religious sites. Wandering around its cobbled streets is a joy! There is a famous annual wine festival in August.

Pageia

High up on the cliffs, this small town affords incredible views of Coral Bay. It's worth staying overnight, but you will need a car to visit all the local historical sites. The Kykkos Monastery is about 20 km away. 

Platres

Up in the Troodos mountains, this makes a welcome cool break in the height of summer. It is packed with stunningly beautiful landscapes. First, take the Caledonia trail to visit the fantastic Caledonia Waterfalls and then to see the Trooditissa monastery.

Lefkara

This famous lace-making town is one of the prettiest places in Cyprus, with its charming cobbled streets. Leonardo da Vinci came to Lefkara in the 15th Century to buy the best lace for the Duomo di Milano.

Protaras

Head out to the east of the island, near Ayia Napa, for some of the best scuba and snorkelling. Then eat excellent seafood at the famous Kafkaros Tavern. In the town, you can explore the Church of the Profitis Elias.

Polis

For nature lovers, Polis provides the perfect spot from which to explore the Akamas Peninsula. This is a lovely spot for some downtime, with Latsi Beach being close. If you have a car, drive out to the stunning Avakas Gorge, you'll need walking boots or waterproof sandals to negotiate the streams. 

These are just a few of the highlights of this beautiful island. But there is much more to see and explore.

Travel Restrictions

The buffer zone that separates North from South is a restricted area. It runs 180 kilometres from east to west and covers an area of 134 square kilometres. Apart from this area, visitors are free to visit the whole island. 

Regarding Covid 19, as of April 2022, Cyprus no longer requires visitors to complete the passenger locator forms (Cyprus Flight Pass) for entry into the country.

Getting a Lawyer

Should you require the services of a lawyer, there are plenty of reputable companies spread throughout the island. Additionally, any large city will be home to a good law firm. 

Tips for Moving to Cyprus

There are certain things that you should know before moving here. First, buying a house in Cyprus is relatively easy as long as you retain the services of a good lawyer. Once here, you can apply for a temporary residence permit. Cyprus welcomes people wishing to live and work here.

Most people speak English, and there are excellent schools and healthcare facilities. Life in Cyprus is easy and laid back. There are low crime rates, and the island has one of the longest life expectancies in Europe. The weather is incredible, allowing you to see the island's nature year-round. Don't miss out on this. 

Use social media to find out about ex-pat communities and social activities. There are 1.2 million ex-pats on the island. Making friends and enjoying social interaction makes your stay a much more pleasurable experience. When doing so, respect local traditions and superstitions. 

Enjoy your new life in Cyprus.

Mediaeval History

Cyprus fell under the rule of Constantinople before being invaded by the Arabs and the Byzantine Muslims in 650 AD. These ruled jointly for 300 years though they were constantly at war with each other. Finally, the resurgent Byzantine forces conquered the island in 965. 

Richard the Lionheart landed here, in Limassol, during the Crusades in the 12th. Century. He took control of the island, marrying Berengaria on the 12th. May 1192, and making her Queen of England. Richard then sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar before it was occupied again, this time by the French. They established The Kingdom of Cyprus and installed Latin as the official language, replacing it later with French. Even later still, Greek was recognised as the second official language. 

The Latin Church was established in 1196, and the Orthodox Cypriot Church began to experience religious persecution.

The Kingdom of Cyprus

Cyprus remained a Kingdom for a turbulent 400 years. The Roman Catholic population was mainly confined to coastal cities, like Famagusta, together with the traditional capital Nicosia in the interior. The Roman Catholics maintained power and control, with the Greeks inhabiting the countryside.

Genoese merchants arrived and slowly began to dominate, and eventually the island was sold to Venice in 1489. However, the Ottomans soon began raiding before finally taking control in 1571.

Ottoman Rule

The mainly Muslim Ottomans took control with 100,000 soldiers entering the island. They coexisted with the Turks living here and made the island a rich supply route for Venice, exporting cotton, grain, salt, sugar, and other goods. Many Muslims came to Cyprus during this period, mixing with the local Greek Orthodox Christian population.

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The Russo-Turkish War finally ended Ottoman control of Cyprus in 1878. Which gave the British the opportunity to take control. Great Britain. Unilaterally annexed Cyprus in 1914. After the First World War, Turkey relinquished all claims on Cyprus. In the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, Turkey renounced all its rights over Cyprus. The islanders had new hopes that control of Cyprus would return to Greece. However, in 1925, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Britain refused to cede Cyprus to Greece. Instead, it annexed it, declaring Cyprus a Crown Colony. 

Modern History

1931 saw the October riots as Greek Cypriot anger spilt over. Cyprus was put under the autocratic rule that would remain until the start of World War Two. A 1950 referendum saw a massive vote of 80% in favour of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. Their call was ignored by the British and the international community. Therefore, a period of enormous instability ensued. In 1955 Greek Cypriots formed the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (EOKA), and the liberation struggle for Greek rule started in earnest. However, their campaign did not result in union with Greece but, in 1960, the independent Republic of Cyprus.

With Archbishop Makarios III as President and Dr Fazil Kucuk as Vice-President, the Greeks and Turkish looked after their own people. This was destined to fail, and in 1964 the United Nations sent in a peacekeeping force. Six decades later, they are still there. 

In 1974, a military coup sponsored by the Greek military government took place. Turkey then invaded the northern part of the island. These Turkish forces remained after a cease-fire, and the island was partitioned. The Turkish Federated State of Cyprus was named in 1975 and changed to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983. 

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro in 2008. However, northern Cyprus continued to keep the Turkish Lira. The island maintains its uneasy peace with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force maintaining the border.

FAQs

Is moving to Cyprus a good idea?

Answer: Moving to Cyprus is a very good idea for people with the right attitude. Immerse yourself in Cypriot life, and you will love it. The food, the weather and the scenery are second to none. 

Can you just move to Cyprus?

Answer: Yes, both EU and non-EU citizens can come to Cyprus for 3 months. To stay more than three months and/or take up employment, they must officially register as residents. To remain permanently, you need to obtain a registration certificate to apply. Your family may move with you if you qualify.

How much money do I need to live in Cyprus?

Answer: To live in Cyprus, a single person's estimated monthly costs are €745 without rent. It is a lot less expensive than in other countries in Europe. For example, it is estimated to be 57% cheaper than the UK.

Can I live permanently in Cyprus?

Answer: Yes, you can live permanently in Cyprus. You can fast-track a Permanent Residency by investing at least €300,000 in real estate. This residency covers your family and does not expire. In addition, you can apply for Cyprus citizenship after five years of residing in the country.

What are the disadvantages of living in Cyprus?

Answer: There are not many disadvantages. One would be the lack of public transport. You will indeed find life easier with a car. Those finding work here may also be surprised at the low salary compared to the rest of Europe. This, though, is a counter-balance with the low costs. Shoppers may be disappointed with the limited shopping options. If you are into theatre and big music concerts, your options will be severely restricted.

Can Brits still move to Cyprus?

Answer: Yes though Brexit has changed some things. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, UK citizens eligible for residence rights and family members can continue to live, work or study here. Citizenship status allows you to continue to work. Those with residence permits or permanent residency are not allowed to work for an employer. However, they can have shares in a company and receive dividends as normal.

Can I transfer money to Cyprus?

Answer: Yes, moving money here is easy. Use bank transfers, withdraw from ATMs or spend using your debit or credit cards. In addition, Apple Pay and Google Pay are available.

Would I be required to pay tax to the UK and Cyprus?

Answer: No, you will not be required to pay tax to the UK and Cyprus, as a UK-Cyprus double tax treaty is in place.

Will I need a lawyer when relocating to Cyprus?

Answer: Not absolutely, but it is always best to employ a lawyer when moving abroad to avoid any pitfalls.

Franz Langstein
Autor
Hi! Ich lebe seit 5 Jahren auf dem wunderschönen Zypern und hoffe, ich kann dir mit meinem Wissen vor Ort den Urlaub oder gar das Auswandern erleichtern :-)
Your travel blog all about Cyprus.
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