21 Things to Know Before Moving to Cyprus
If you’re after incredible cuisine – with a mixture of Greek, Turkish, and Italian influences – white sandy beaches, incredible healthcare options, and traces of Greek mythology at every corner, Cyprus is the place for you.
And, as if all that wasn’t enough, Cyprus even welcomes expats with open arms, with roughly 70,000 British expats currently living on the island (Anglo Pacific, 2020).
But there are a few extra details you should know before moving to Cyprus – and we’re here to clue you in.
The Rock of Aphrodite, where Aphrodite – the Greek goddess of love – was born
1. There have been decades of division
Since 1974, the island has been divided into two parts: the sovereign state of the Republic of Cyprus, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (a self-declared state).
The division is still in force today, with a UN-controlled zone separating the two parts. Despite 40% of the northern part of the island being heavily dependent on aid from the Turkish mainland, Turkey remains the only country in the world to acknowledge the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
2. Almost everyone speaks English
Cyprus has two official languages: Greek and Turkish. Whilst most people on the island speak these two languages, roughly 73% of the population also speak English.
So if you’re not fluent in Greek or Turkish, don’t worry – you’ll be able to get by easily with English in most parts of the island.
3. It's the original island of love
Cypriot legend claims Aphrodite – the Greek goddess of love – was born in Cyprus, in the foam (afros in Greek) near a rock, off what's now called Aphrodite's Beach.
Today, islanders claim the waves that break over the rock create pillars of foam that look just like the goddess herself.
4. There are great healthcare options
The standard of both public and private healthcare in Cyprus is pretty high. In fact, the Lancet’s healthcare ranking places Cyprus in 26th position in its global comparison – sitting higher than the likes of Portugal, Croatia, and the US.
The public health insurance system is governed by the Ministry of Health and financed by taxes. It provides healthcare coverage for both employed and self-employed residents in the country, as well as civil servants. To access the public healthcare system, you must be either a Cypriot citizen, an EU national, or the owner of a residence permit.
5. It has one of the longest life expectancies in Europe
The current life expectancy in Cyprus is 82.2 years – one of the highest rates in the EU. Women in Cyprus can expect to live about 84.2 years, compared to 80.2 years for men. What’s more, this figure has increased by three years in the last decade, and is still continuing to rise.
Whether it’s the excellent healthcare system, the Mediterranean food, or the sunny weather, the Cypriots are certainly doing something right.
6. Cyprus has very low crime rates
Cyprus is incredibly safe. In fact, a recent study ranked Cyprus as the fifth-safest country in the world.
But how exactly has this tiny island nation managed to beat so many other countries around the world?
It mainly comes down to Cyprus’s high police-to-citizen ratio, with 466 personnel per 100,000 people. Expats can also expect low theft rates in Cyprus, with only 111 theft reports per 100,000 people.
Cyprus's largest caravanserai, located in Nicosia, soaked in golden sun
7. Low cost of living
The cost of living in Cyprus is much lower than in the UK. In Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index 2020, Cyprus earned a very respectable 36th place.
To give you an idea of how much more affordable cities are in Cyprus compared to the UK, check out the table below.
|Comparing basic cost of living
|1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)
|Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)
|Transportation (monthly pass)
Data from Wise, 2020
If you’re about to move to Cyprus, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into Euros.
However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.
That’s why we’ve done our research and compared all the major money transfer services on the market, so you can choose the right one. Check out our expert ratings and find the best money transfer provider today.
8. The weather is incredible
It’s no secret that Cyprus has some of the world’s best weather, which is typically one of the key reasons Brits choose to move here.
Here, expats can enjoy long summers, which last from mid-May to mid-October, with temperatures ranging from around 24°C to 28°C.
Of course, you’ll still have to put up with winter – but temperatures usually stick to around 10°C, and will stoop a little lower to around 3°C in the higher Troodos Mountains.
9. Enjoy nature in all its glorious forms
Aside from the country’s famed beaches, there are plenty of places in Cyprus to let your inner nature nerd free.
If you’re after charming villages and mesmerising Mediterranean nature, the Troodos mountains – also known as the ‘green heart of Cyprus’ – are the way to go. You’ll also find an array of hiking trails to explore and wildlife to watch.
Alternatively, you can head over to Akamas, a woodland and mountain range, and take in the breathtaking scenery. A number of sites in this region – such as Fontana Amorosa, Love’s Spring, and the Baths of Aphrodite – are steeped in stories linked to the mythical Gods.
10. The beaches are out of this world
With 650 kilometres of coastline to explore in Cyprus, there’s something here for everyone – whether you’re searching for bustling beaches, hidden coves, or peaceful spots.
Plus, if you enjoy swimming, you’ll be pleased to know you can take a comfortable dip from early May to October thanks to the warm sea surrounding the island.
Some of the best beaches include:
- Coral Bay – A golden sandy beach, protected from strong winds by the surrounding cliffs. The beach has also been awarded a Blue Flag, meaning its waters are clean and safe for swimming
- Pissouri Bay – Although this stretch of sand sits in one of the quietest spots of the southern coast, many families gather here to indulge in fun activities, such as water skiing and surfing
- Nissi Beach – Despite being around the corner from Cyprus’s party central, Ayia Napa, this beach couldn’t be more different. Here, sunbathers can soak in the warmth of the Cypriot sun, whilst thrill-seekers can enjoy the watersports centre in the turquoise waters
Tourists and locals alike come to admire Phaphos's breathtaking Agioi Anargyroi Church
11. There are lots of close-knit expat communities
Almost 22% of Cyprus’s 1.2 million people are foreign nationals or expats – meaning there are plenty of communities that can help you to settle right in.
Clearly, this tiny island has a lot to offer. For British expats, the most enticing factor is, of course, the weather, along with the slower pace, excellent quality of life and rich culture.
12. Hankies have many powers
The humble handkerchief has untold powers in Cyprus. As part of local culture, it’s tradition to tie a hankie to a tree for a bit of good luck. A key example of this is the tree that stands outside the entrance to the Christian catacombs in Paphos – its branches are adorned with handkerchiefs, ribbons, and rags.
Locals suggest that if you want your lover to come back to you, you should attach something that was once his or hers to increase your chances. Islanders also say infertile women can bear children, lost husbands can return, and family feuds can be resolved with the help of a hankie.
13. Everyone has a car
Let’s get one thing straight – public transportation within Cypriot towns is sparse, and there is no operational railway service between some areas of the island.
This is why just over 600 per 1,000 inhabitants in Cyprus own a car – one of the highest rates in the EU.
Thankfully, UK nationals shouldn’t struggle with driving in Cyprus, since the signs are written in both Greek and English, and you’ll still drive on the left side of the road.
14. There is a very laid back lifestyle
Depending on where you live, the pace of life in the UK can be somewhat frantic. If you want a break from the hustle and bustle, Cyprus is the perfect place to be.
The Mediterranean culture is very strong in Cyprus, meaning the locals like to take advantage of the slower pace of life. Here, spending time with family and friends is a part of everyday life, and you’ll usually find that the stores close early to help make this possible.
As the locals say, Sigá-sigá (slowly slowly).
15. There are great education opportunities
Cyprus’s education system sets the bar high. With its practical curriculum, high graduation rates, accessible study programmes, and easy access to several international schools, Cyprus is definitely up there with the best places for expat schooling.
What’s more, Cyprus spends more than 7% of its GDP on education – the third-highest share in the European Union, after Denmark and Sweden – and ensures public education is free for all students aged four to 18 years.
16. The country is very rich in history
Cyprus has an incredibly rich history, with some of its oldest known settlements dating back to between 6,000 and 9,000 years ago. Some key historical locations include:
- Kourion city – Here, you will find the magnificent Greco-Roman Theatre, which still plays host to performances all year round. Despite being built in the 2nd century B.C., excavations still discover hidden treasures today
- Amathus – Located 11 kilometres east of Limassol, these ruins date back to 1,100 B.C., and, according to legend, are where Theseus left to for battle with the Minotaur
- The Venetian Walls of Nicosia – These are the remains of the fortifications that were put in place to defend the city against the invasion of the Ottoman army back in 1567
17. A whole town has World Heritage status
Cyprus is home to Paphos – a small town with a lot of history.
Here, you'll find an archaeological site dating to the 4th century B.C., which is home to preserved remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses, and tombs.
The sheer number of historical artefacts in the town has made Paphos a Unesco World Heritage Site.
18. It’s a very superstitious country
Similar to Greeks, Cypriots are very superstitious. Some of their most common superstitions include:
- Smashing plates – This old-time Greek tradition spread to many of the Greek islands, as well as Cyprus. Usually carried out at weddings and other celebrations, plates are thrown onto the floor and smashed while singing and dancing
- The komboloi – Also known as worry beads, the komboloi is used as a meditative tool and is popular amongst men in Greece and Cyprus. Moving the beads between your fingers is more than just a means of passing the time – it reflects a way of life
- Tuesday 13th – Unlike in Western lore, in Cyprus, the unlucky day is Tuesday the 13th, rather than Friday the 13th
- Evil eye – Some Cypriots believe that someone can catch ‘the evil eye’ – also known as matiasma – from someone else’s jealousy or envy. To avoid the matiasma, those who believe in it wear or prop up a little blue marble glass with an eye painted on it
19. Cyprus halloumi is the real deal
Halloumi cheese is served everywhere in Cyprus. Whether it’s eaten raw, grilled, or fried – Cypriots can’t get enough of the stuff.
And, since it’s pretty simple to make – goat or sheep milk is just soaked in brine and mint – a lot of Cypriot families make it themselves.
20. Cyprus has the world's oldest wine label
Cyprus’s commandaria wine is thought to have been created over 5,000 years ago. Produced in the high-altitude slopes in southwest Cyprus, the wine has a distinctive sweet taste to it.
It even earned a seal of approval from royalty. King Richard, the Lionheart of England, is said to have been so taken with commandaria that at his wedding he pronounced it “the wine of kings and the king of wines.”
21. There’s a festival dedicated to wine
The world’s largest and most popular wine festival is held in Cyprus each year, in the last week of August and the first week of September. The Limassol Wine Festival includes events dedicated to winemaking, which start every day at 19:00pm and end at 23:00pm.
But the festival is more than just drinking wine. You can also take part in the traditional pressing of the grapes, listen to live music, watch creative performances, and enjoy traditional Cypriot dishes.