Escape To Paradise – The Ultimate Guide to Retiring in Cyprus

Expats & Business | Updated: 25. Apr 2023

Cyprus is without question one of the most scenically beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It sits to the East of the Med, close to Turkey to the North and Syria to the East. It is at the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Those who are lucky enough to have made the move here enjoy an excellent standard of living and a lifestyle that is the envy of much of Europe. These are the reasons why retiring in Cyprus is so popular.

The island was divided in two in 1974 following the attempted coup and the resulting fallout. As a result, northern Cyprus falls under Turkish rule, and the Greeks rule South Cyprus. The two sectors sit on either side of a buffer zone running for 180 kilometres from east to west. It covers an area of 346 square kilometres. However, Cyprus immigration between North and South consists of a simple border crossing.

In the North of the island, the currency is the Turkish Lira, and the official language is Turkish. In the South, the official language is Greek, and the currency is the Euro. However, about 80% of the indigenous population has at least some English. Cyprus has developed a vibrant tourist trade, and the island sees approximately 4 million tourists annually.

The Cyprus Lifestyle

If you are considering retiring to Cyprus, the island has a great deal to offer. The Cypriot lifestyle is very relaxed and easygoing. Both the climate and cuisines are genuinely excellent, and most agree that the gentle Mediterranean way of life is extremely conducive to a happy life. Those who make a move to retire in Cyprus soon settle into this relaxed way of life. 

Late at night, the major towns offer all that you will need by way of entertainment. In contrast, in the daytime, there's plenty by way of retail therapy. Healthcare is not an issue, with many world-class facilities on the island. The countryside areas are less developed but offer sensational scenery. 

Advantages of Retiring in Cyprus

Don't worry about how people will treat you if you retire in Cyprus. Cyprus culture dictates that elders are very well respected. In social situations, people will serve the most senior person first. Of course, the climate is a huge advantage. The warm sunshine soon makes those aches and pains disappear. 

The island has a slow pace of life which most retirees like. Stroll down to your local cafe and enjoy a light al fresco lunch overlooking the sea. Most places are not far from the coast. Cyprus is also very safe, with a very low crime rate. You'll find that Cyprus is safer by almost every measure than Britain. Of course, you should still adopt a sensible approach. Don't advertise your wealth, and you'll be fine. It's best not to flash your money around or leave your phone unattended, but that's sensible anywhere. Apart from that, you won't have any issues.

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Challenges and Obstacles

The obvious one is the lack of transport sometimes. There are no rails here nor inland waterways. Bus services generally are good but not if you need to reach outlying areas. Some of the villages in Cyprus are really difficult to reach without a car. Though, of course, there are always taxis.

The summer can be challenging if you cannot cope with sweltering weather. It gets scorching here, reaching more than 40ºC in August. Internet connectivity is still a fair bit slower than in other European countries. Some older people's attitudes can seem a little out of date. Fortunately, attitudes are beginning to improve, especially with the young.

Relocating to Cyprus

Once you decide, the actual move may seem somewhat daunting, but it needn't. Whether renting or buying a property in Cyprus is relatively straightforward. Likewise, all the usual day-to-day issues can be relatively easy if you approach them methodically. This article will later cover things like opening a bank account, tax issues, healthcare, etc. 

With regards to getting here, travel from International destinations is easy. Cyprus welcomes 4 million people from all over the world every year. So air links are many and varied. In addition, almost 22% of Cyprus' 1.2 million population are ex-pats. As you can imagine, many specialist moving companies can help with your relocation issues. Importing the contents of a three-bed house typically costs around €1500.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Cyprus varies between cities and the countryside here. Still, it will undoubtedly be much more favourable to what you usually experience. The cost of living is about 10% cheaper than in the UK, and that's before the recent massive price hikes in the UK. For example, the total utilities on an 85 square metre apartment would be around €175 per month. 

Taxi fares have a flag drop of €5.00 and €1.15 per km. A half-litre bottle of local beer is around €1.35, a litre of milk is €1.50 and restaurant meals from approximately €14.00.

Getting Residency

Temporary residence permits in Cyprus are also called pink slips. They are issued to Non-EU passport holders travelling to Cyprus for long-term stays. They are issued for 1 to 2 years and, if needed, extended for a further 1 to 2 years. Cyprus residency for UK citizens is relatively straightforward.

Cyprus issues pink slips in the following categories:

Third-country nationals who apply for a visa extension and who have enough funds to support themselves. They can also be for foreigners who have businesses in Cyprus.

Any spouse of Cypriot citizens or parents-in-law from third countries, or children of foreigners applying for family reunion and residency permit.

Non-EU nationals owning property in Cyprus qualify automatically. This does not, however, grant them employment rights.

Applicants with temporary entry permits from consular authorities of Cyprus in other countries can apply for an extension in particular circumstances, I.e. humanitarian reasons, property holders in Cyprus etc. However, these are required to be "FINAL" permits.

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beach in cyprus

Permanent Residency

Once here on a temporary permit, you can apply at a later date for permanent residency. There are a few options to qualify for a Permanent Residency Permit in Cyprus.

Purchase a new property in Cyprus valued at €300,000 minimum. This is the fast-track option. In addition, the Cyprus Golden Visa program allows non-EU, non-EEA, and non-Swiss nationals buying property or setting up a business here to acquire legal permanent residency. It also dramatically increases their eligibility for EU citizenship and to apply for Cypriot citizenship.

Another method is to legally reside in Cyprus for a continuous period of more than five years. You and your family members may then apply for the permit.

Types of Visas

There are three types of short-stay visas in Cyprus.

The Regular Short Stay enables a person to stay in Cyprus for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. These visas may be either single or multiple-entry.

The Multiple-entry short-stay visas may be for 1 to 5 years, depending on the purpose of the visit. It allows the holder to stay in Cyprus for any 90 days within a 180-day period for the duration of the visa.

The Cyprus Pro Visa is only for Russian citizens travelling to Cyprus on direct flights from a Russian airport. These simplified tourist visas allow Russians to apply for a visa online or via email. They are supplied with a visa-on-arrival letter, and then their passport is stamped on arrival in Cyprus.

Visa Fees are as follows:

  • Regular tourist visa €20
  • Multiple-entry short-stay visa €60
  • Visa On Arrival €20
  • Airport Transit Visa €15
  • Tourist Visa Extension €30

The Yellow Slip, Cyprus, is the common name for the Registration certificate. It is available to European (EU and EEA) citizens wishing to stay and work or remain as visitors in Cyprus. This certificate does not allow the holder to travel to Europe or other countries without a visa. It is only valid in Cyprus.

Foreign nationals may work in Cyprus if they have an employment visa. A work permit in Cyprus for non-EU citizens is issued to foreigners employed in Cyprus by Cypriot companies.

Becoming a Citizen

To apply for citizenship by naturalisation, the applicant must live in Cyprus for a five-year total within an eight-year period. The applicant may leave Cyprus for approximately 4.5 months in each calendar year. During the last 12 months, before applying, they must live in the country permanently.

To qualify for full citizenship by investment, you must: 

1: Purchase property to the value of at least €2 million (ex VAT). It can be either a single property or multiple properties to that amount. If you wish to include your or your spouse's parents, an additional €500,000 is required.

2: Donate €100,000 to the Cypriot Government Research and Development Fund and a further €100,000 donation to the Cypriot Land Development Organisation. The total investment must be €2.2 million.

3: Have clear criminal records.

4: You must commit to the investment before applying for the Golden Visa.

5: Money for the investment must come from abroad.

6: Fulfil the required documentation for the application (i.e. property purchase documents, police records, proof of available and legal funds etc.)

Marriage in Cyprus

Getting married in Cyprus presents no real issues. Foreign nationals have to apply personally for a marriage licence. Applications should be made at the office of the municipality, in other words, the local mayor's office, in the town in which they intend to marry.

Civil ceremonies take place at the Town Hall or other licensed venues. You need to reside in Cyprus for three days before the wedding. Marriages can be conducted in English. However, in the event of a church wedding, there needs to be a civil ceremony first. 

Documentation needed for marriage in Cyprus is:

Full passport with a minimum of six months before the date of expiry

The bride and the groom need photocopies of the picture page of the passports.

The two witnesses need photocopies of the picture page of their passports listing their names, addresses and occupations.

Full Birth Certificates (complete with mother and father's names) bearing the stamp apostille.

If either the bride or groom are divorcees, the Decree Absolute and previous Marriage Certificate, bearing the stamp apostille.

If either the bride or groom is widowed, the Death Certificate of the previous spouse and previous Marriage Certificate, bearing the stamp apostille.

If either applicant has changed their name, the Deed Poll Certificate, bearing the stamp apostille.

If either the bride or groom is adopted, the Adoption Certificate. In the case of Non-UK Citizens, the Certificate of No Impediment / Certificate of Freedom to Marry bearing the stamp apostille.

Healthcare System

Cyprus has excellent medical facilities covering all kinds of medical requirements. You should, however, ensure that you have proper health insurance before you retire in Cyprus.

Medical Insurance

State healthcare in Cyprus does not come for free. Healthcare costs are covered by what is called co-payments. The state and patient both provide contributions. The national health service in Cyprus is called the General Healthcare System (GHS). All ex-pats moving to Cyprus should buy good international health insurance before moving to the island. This will avoid any unplanned health expenses at a later date.

Schools

There are excellent schools in Cyprus, both local and International. There are excellent educational facilities in all the big towns and cities on the island. 

Paying Taxes

Cyprus is keen to attract inward migration by talented people. With this in mind, they introduced new taxation incentives in 2022. So even if you are not working as a retiree, you will benefit from some of them. Here's a list of beneficial taxes in Cyprus:

1: People working here as a non-resident and earning more than €100,000 per year receive a 50% tax exemption for the first ten years.

2: Corporation tax is 12.5%.

3: You may trade shares and securities and pay no tax.

4: There is zero tax on the profits from foreign property sales.

5: There is zero tax on shareholder dividends.

6: There is no tax on dividends paid to any company by other companies holding shares.

7: Stamp duty is typically zero.

8: There is no tax payable on profits from foreign-held establishments.

9: No tax payable on the sale of company shares.

10: Tax set at just 2.5% on IP rights or revenue.

11: Cyprus signed Double Tax Treaties with 65 countries.

12: Social insurance payments are 15.6% on insurable earnings for 2023.

Probate in Cyprus

Should the worst happen, and a retiree dies in Cyprus, there is an excellent probate service if needed. A person named executor in someone's will may have to apply for probate. This legal process gives them the authority to divide the estate of the person who has died according to their will.

Probate in Cyprus begins with an application to the country's probate courts. Then, the executor distributes the assets of the deceased's estate to the rightful heirs according to the law and the will of the deceased. There is a named executor in the will who resides outside Cyprus.

How to Set Up a Bank Account

There are good banks in Cyprus. The most popular ones are; the Bank of Cyprus, the Cyprus Development Bank, and the Hellenic Bank. They are perfectly safe places to deposit your money. It usually takes two weeks to open a private account and four weeks for a business account.

It is worth noting that the well-respected magazine Euromoney named the Bank of Cyprus as the 'Best Bank' in the country for 2022. This accolade is worthy of note as it recognises the Bank's drive to reduce NPLs and return to profitability.

Cyprus bank opening hours do vary between different banks. However, most banks open Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and close between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Credit unions also work on this timetable. In addition, banks and credit unions are usually open Saturdays at some point. 

Owning a Vehicle

You do not need a residency permit to drive or buy a car in Cyprus. However, to purchase a car and transfer the paperwork to your name, you will need a valid driving licence from your home country and a certificate of insurance. You can  arrange insurance using your home driving licence. Road tax on private cars is between €10 and €99 depending on the engine capacity.

Acquiring a Residence

The housing market in Cyprus is very buoyant. There are plenty of beautiful apartments, houses and villas for rent or purchase. City living comes at a premium, as one would expect. There are, however, many choices when looking at retirement homes in Cyprus.

When buying a property, there are two different types of title deeds to consider. 

TRNC Title, otherwise known as Kesin Tasarruf Belgesi or Absolute Possession document. The TRNC covers land and properties given over to Turkish Cypriot refugees by way of compensation for land they lost following the 1974 war. It was agreed that if the two sides of the island ever reach a settlement based on the United Nations Annan Plan, all deals covered by this title may be subject to compensation claims by the previous Greek Cypriot owners. However, any compensation payments will be minimal as the value is based on pre-1974 levels. Furthermore, most of these properties were built on what previously was grazing land, which is worth very little.

The TDM Title, otherwise known as Turk Mali Degil or Non-Turkish Title, relates to land previously owned by Greek Cypriots that was given over to Turkish settlers after 1975. Therefore, purchasing land under this agreement can be a higher risk.

To purchase a property, you must pay a reservation fee, generally between €5,000 and €10,000. It is best to appoint a lawyer. They will take care of due diligence, reviewing and preparing the contract of sale, negotiating contract exchange and completion, and registering the contract of sale at the Land Registry Office. They will also represent you at the Land Registry Office for the title transfer and application to the Tax Authorities for reduced VAT. Finally, they will arrange your application for permission to buy an immovable property in Cyprus.

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Legal fees for all the above typically cost between €2,000 and €5,000 or 1% of the purchase price.

Hiring a Lawyer

It is best to hire a lawyer. Property purchases are complicated. There are many excellent law firms in Cyprus. You should always visit the island in advance, sound out a few, get personal recommendations and then make your choice. 

Where to Live in Cyprus

There is a considerable choice when it comes to choosing where to live. Take your time, travel around the island and see what each area offers. Even in the big cities, there is much variety. North Nicosia is very different from South Nicosia, for example.

Do you want a bustling neighbourhood with vibrant nightlife or a quiet spot by the sea with quiet streets vacated by small cafes and just a few shops? If country life appeals, there is plenty of choice in the island's interior. But no matter where you go, you will never be far from the glorious Mediterranean and the fantastic beaches. Houses with views of the beautiful marinas in Cyprus come at a premium.

Travelling in Cyprus

As previously mentioned, Cyprus has no rail network or inland waterways. All travel has to be by road, or for coastal areas, by boat. Public transport is reasonably well-developed, so it's easy to get to any corner of the island. Getting to some of the more remote inland villages is more challenging. 

By far, getting around by car is the best way to go. It gives you the freedom to go anywhere on the island. Be wary of some of the small tracks, however. They can be narrow and extremely steep. 

Final Thoughts About Retiring in Cyprus

If you are considering retiring in Cyprus, come and spend some time here. You will not be disappointed. It is very easy to make friends among the large ex-pat community. In addition, you will find a style and standard of living that will be better than most European places.

The climate is delightful indeed, and even in the sweltering summer months, it's easy to find a spot by the sea with a nice breeze to cool you down. The standard of food on the island is superb. The Turkish and Greek influence has resulted in varied island cuisine. 

FAQs

Can a non-EU citizen retire in Cyprus?

Answer: Yes, non-Eu citizens will find it very easy to retire in Cyprus.

Is Cyprus a good country in which to retire?

Answer: Yes, for all the reasons stated in this article, Cyprus is an excellent place in which to spend your retirement.

What is the minimum pension in Cyprus?

The minimum pension for Cypriots is about €400, so retirees moving here generally find the cost of living very acceptable.

What are the disadvantages of living in Cyprus?

Answer: There are not many disadvantages to living in Cyprus. Probably the main one would be the lack of music and theatre experiences. The huge world acts don't come to Cyprus very often. 

What do I need to do to retire in Cyprus?

Answer: To retire in Cyprus, you need a decent pension and an open nature. You will have a great lifestyle here if you accept people into your life.

Is Cyprus friendly to foreigners?

Answer: Yes, Cyprus is very friendly towards foreigners. There is a long history of people moving here. Local people respect foreigners, especially the elderly. 

Is English spoken in Cyprus?

Answer: About 80% of local people speak English.

Is it a good idea to buy a house in Cyprus?

Answer: Yes, it's a good idea to buy a house here. The property market is buoyant.

Can you just go and live in Cyprus?

Answer: Yes you can live in Cyprus without much effort, as long as you fulfil the requirements set out in this article.

Why is property so cheap in Cyprus?

Answer: Property in Cyprus isn't really cheap. It reflects the market. It will be less expensive than most European cities, for sure. For example, you will get more for your money in Cyprus than in the UK.

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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