Moving to Cyprus

I get quite a few email messages from people wanting to know practical details about living and working in Cyprus. So here are is a compilation of some basic things you need to know if you're considering moving out here. Please note, however, that I am not an expert, and cannot answer specific questions about importing, finding jobs, or buying houses. Please use the links I've provided or contact employers, estate agents or customs officers directly.

Working in Cyprus

Unless you are a Cypriot or Greek national, or - since May 2004 when Cyprus entered the EU - a European citizen, you need a visa to stay for more than three months, and a work permit if you want to do paid work in Cyprus. If you have been offered a job, your future employer should be able to deal with this, or at least give you help, appropriate documents, and perhaps someone to arrange this. Finding a job after you arrive may be difficult unless you are highly qualified, and fluent in Greek as well as English.

The alternative to a work permit is to have sufficient income from elsewhere. For instance, if you are retired, or work as a writer or artist, or own a good business, or have property that you rent out, and can prove that you have a regular income from the UK or other country outside Cyprus, then you may be able to get a visa on these grounds, although not a work permit. You will probably have to re-apply annually, each time ensuring that you have around 2000 in a Cyprus pounds bank account, and bank statements showing regular income from abroad. If you are in this category, you will probably have to continue paying tax in your home country, and it will be illegal for you to do any paid work actually in Cyprus (unless you are a European citizen).

For more details, see the Cyprus government FAQ page.

Housing in Cyprus

Finding property to rent for a year or two is fairly easy, and considerably less expensive than in most of Europe. Property in Cyprus is usually owned by women, and passed down to daughters as dowry; hence there are plenty of houses and flats waiting for young girls to claim their inheritance. Long-term rentals are more difficult. Prices vary depending on area as well as kind of house, and also depending on who you know. It is sometimes best, on arriving, to take a short-term rental while looking out for something more suitable, and getting to know the local estate agents - who may then find you a better deal.

Buying property is possible, although you need written permission to do so; however this is generally granted without problems. Some people buy land and then have a house built to their specificiations; this may be the most inexpensive and satisfying solution, but be prepared for a long wait, since time schedules in Cyprus can be more Middle Eastern than European!

For some ideas of prices in various places around the island, there are several relevant pages listed at the Cyprus Real Estate directory.