Moving to Paphos
Short of inventing a time machine, moving to one of the Mediterranean’s ancient cities is the closest it’s possible to get to experiencing life in the classical age. Paphos, a city of just 90,000 inhabitants on the southwest coast of the island of Cyprus, sits so lightly atop its 3,000+ years of history that UNESCO has made the entire town a World Heritage Site.
As well as an ancient Greek temples, tombs and an amphitheatre there are the remains of a Roman agora, a Byzantine fort and 12th century Christian catacombs to keep amateur historians occupied for years.
A major tourist destination by virtue of the sites of historical interest, beautiful sandy beaches and the warm mediterranean climate, Paphos is also popular with retirees and with people who work in the port of Limassol, around a 40 minute drive away.
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The Cyprus banking crisis of 2013 saw two of the country’s large banks collapse and necessitated a bailout from the European Union. In return for propping up the financial system bank depositors lost up to 60% of their savings. The disruption caused by the bailout actions, as well as the further funds that need to be raised by the Cypriot government in order to satisfy its Eurozone partners, leaves the political and economic future of Cyprus in great uncertainty.
Comparing Paphos vs London
Those moving from London to Paphos will enjoy winters a lot more than they used to - in Paphos low temperatures in January and February rarely drop below an average of 7 °C. With more than twice as many hours of sunshine per annum than London, there are plenty of potential beach days. The summer is subject to heatwaves though, with drought conditions not uncommon.
The cost of groceries, eating out and rent are all considerably lower in Paphos than in the UK capital, even despite the recent tumblings of the British Pound against the Euro. Property is also much more affordable. Paphos General Hospital is well regarded while the city sees much lower crime (though petty crime is on the increase) and far less pollution than London.
While there might not quite be the same amount of cultural activity in Paphos as in London, there is an annual opera festival which takes place in the harbour in September. Then in October, local artists open their studios to visitors as part of another annual arts event. There are several wineries in the surrounding area which welcome tasters and tourists.
Paphos also makes an excellent base for exploring the rest of Cyprus - a surprisingly varied island which encompasses the ski slopes of the Troodos Mountains (including Mount Olympus), the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, occupied since 1974, and the business center of Nicosia, the Cypriot capital.
Moving to Paphos from the UK
Among those relocating from the UK to Cyprus, Paphos is a very common choice - largely due to the already large British community who already live there: some estimates are as high as 10,000 UK expats.
As well as the resident Brits, driving in Cyprus happens on the left, road signs are in English, most Cypriots in Paphos speak English and there are plenty of British shops, bars and even schools. In short, there’s very little danger of experiencing a cultural shock.
With an average flight time from London to Paphos of only 4 hours and 20 minutes, and with budget airlines serving the route, there’s also the advantage of remaining relatively close to friends and relatives back home.
On the downside the pound has fared quite badly against the Euro since 2009. The savings of British retirees therefore don’t stretch as far in Cyprus as they once did. But property prices in Paphos have also fallen over that period which, when combined with low low tax rates for pensioners (though these are now subject to change), could leave room for an affordable retirement in a sunny clime.
After a long boom Paphos property prices collapsed in 2009. The cause was two-fold: the global economic slump and the subsequent weakness of the pound hugely reduced demand from British buyers; the title deed scandal which saw many people who’d paid in full for their Cyprus properties without ownership documentation years later.
At the moment, house prices in Paphos are on a knife edge - while demand from British and Russian buyers has remained low there has been a surge of interest in the city from Chinese families. On the other hand, some believe plans for a new four-lane road through the town will suffocate this new uptick in house prices.
You can currently purchase a 3 bedroom townhouse in a gated complex, 10 minutes from the airport for around €150,000 (£127,500).
The median price for a 3 bedroom villa is around €300,000 (£255,000) with prices reaching to nearly €900,000 (£765,000) for one with a pool and an ocean view.
Property transfer tax in Cyprus is paid by the buyer and is charged at 3% of the purchase price up to €85,430, then 5% on the next €85,430 and 8% on the remainder. This tax is paid by individuals - if you buy a property in joint names the tax is calculated as if you’d both bought a property for half the amount, leading to a significant saving.
Title deeds can still take many years to be transferred to a new buyer so be sure to choose your lawyer carefully and discuss this issue in depth with them.
Schools and Education in Paphos
The Republic of Cyprus spends nearly 7% of GDP on education, putting it among the top three education spenders in the EU. State schools will accept all children registered in their catchment area and deliver teaching in Greek so, unless you’re relocating with a very small child, private schooling is likely to be the favoured choice.
The most famous private school in Paphos is the International School of Paphos which caters for pupils from Kindergarten through to ‘A’-level. The school has excellent facilities and is located 5km northeast of the town centre.
The very small Drake House, in the village of Tala, and the Private Institute of St George, about ten miles out of town, are other popular private schools with English speakers.
School fees in Paphos will come to around €5,000 (£4,250) per school year. In state school days start at 7.30am and end at 1.35pm for secondary school children and start at 7.45am, finishing at 1.05pm, for primary-schoolers. Private school timings vary with some following timings closer to those found in the UK (e.g. 8.30am to 3.30pm).
There are no tertiary education institutions in Paphos. The closest university is to be found in Limassol which has around 10 options for school leavers looking to stay in education.