Newsletter from an ExPat

This page is for you to learn about moving to Cyprus and the various processes involved ....  It was written by 'The voice of Experience' herself AKA Sylvie.
Questions answered here.                    Cyprus Antique maps

Part 2  - See Part 1 here

The continuing saga of Sylvie, 
a new resident of Cyprus

 New? I don’t feel so new now.

  The first anniversary of moving day is less than a week away. 

 In the words of Fagin, ‘I am reviewing the situation’. 

Time to share the musings and the reviews.

 The most asked question of the year?‘

‘Any regrets about leaving England, family and friends and relocating to Cyprus.’

 The answer throughout the year has varied with what ever is happening at the time, for of course there have been ups and downs.

 Had the most asked question been

‘Will you relocate back to England?’

My answer would always have been ‘definitely not’.

 So why the difference?

 The regrets stem mostly from missing people, especially family. I am sure these feelings are part of the adjustment. Most of my family and many friends have visited me in the past months. We had real quality time together; something that was impossible when we saw each other regularly but were stressed out with the problems of every day living. When folks arrive here they leave their daily grind behind them after a few days and relax into the Cyprus laid-back lifestyle. Then we have fun, renewing friendships and close family links.

In November I returned to Britain for two weeks. I tried to see as many people as possible in that time, but from the moment I arrived at Heathrow I was counting the days until I could return ‘home’’ to Cyprus. The cold and grey of Britain in winter held no attraction for me.

 The inevitable happened, I did not have my own transport so the number of people I could visit was limited. Those I did not get to see were upset because we didn’t meet. In the end I wondered if the whole expensive exercise was worth it. I am not sure whether I will repeat it again.

The family are enjoying having a relative living in such a good holiday destination, so maybe they will all visit me this year.

I did, however, learn some lessons about managing my visitors.

From the beginning of September until the day I left for England in mid November I had continuous visitors.

It was really fantastic to see everybody. But as the weeks wore on I realized I was unable to continue with my Cyprus lifestyle or meet my friends here because every day was filled with sightseeing, visits, beaching, swimming, meals out and all the things people like to do when they stay on this wonderful island. Each new batch of visitors arrived eager for their holiday. Whereas I became less and less like the hostess with the mostest as so many people came and went. They were refreshed and I became more and more exhausted.  It takes stamina to cater for so many guests over such a long period.

 This year the visitors begin in February and so far flights have been booked for most months through to October. So my new and unbreakable golden rule is nobody stays with me. I have booked accommodation for them close by instead. That way I get to sleep in my own bed every night and we all have some privacy.

 Traveling  around Cyprus becomes more and more enjoyable as the seasons change. All that I wrote in part one still applies, but more so. In June I purchased a brand new duty free car. It is great to have the independence of my own transport. There is no point in me describing the process of duty free car purchase because I am sure it will all change when Cyprus enters the EU in January 2004. Suffice to say the car purchase was a long drawn out affair with miles and miles of red tape attached; but all worth it in the end. As always a sense of humour and plenty of time is essential. One point about the car I eventually chose. I was advised to go for a large car, like a people carrier. At first this seemed like an unnecessary expense just for me to ride around in. I did take the advice and it is invaluable, not only for transporting the many guests, but also for going out with groups of friends. The costs of motoring are relatively inexpensive. The road network is good and improving all the time. Traffic is relatively light except for the dreaded 6 roundabouts above Limassol and morning and evening rush hours around any of the towns.

 Immigration, no problems at all with being an alien. The only times I have been asked for sight of my alien’s certificate is during the car purchasing process and for applications for loyalty cards at some of the big stores. After January 2004 I imagine full EU rules will apply for foreign residents and visas for EU citizens will be a thing of the past.. It is wait and see time on the effects of membership.

Language  The evening classes for Greek language lessons at state schools are  intensive; 4 hours each week plus  lots of homework. If you miss one lesson it is very difficult to catch up. The time factor for me was a problem (see visitor numbers). I missed a class and that was it. Now I pay 10 per hour for private tuition. I have one lesson per week plus homework. This suits me better as it is one to one and I can change the times when necessary.  I found the teacher via an ad in my local supermarket. She provides textbooks and records language tapes to help pronunciation.  I found a private language school who charged 8 per hour, but they insisted on a minimum of 4 hours tuition per week, plus a great deal of homework.

 Accommodation Renting out my home in England has worked very well for the whole of the year. My agent has been excellent. We keep in touch via e-mail and we are both very happy with that system.

I am just coming to the end of my year-long contract on my flat here in Larnaka.

The big question is should I now buy my own property? I feel settled and happy. Why not buy?

For now I don’t think I will. With the Cyprus problem so near to a solution and the entry to the EU just a year away what will happen to land prices here? Will they go up or down? I don’t have a crystal ball, neither does anyone else. My intuition tells me to wait a while longer. For you, if you are thinking of moving to Cyprus, the answer might be different. For me?? I am happy in my flat, if it ain't broke don’t fix it!! Right or Wrong?

Watch this space.

 Shipping household effects 

At the time of writing part one my household effects were rocking away on the high seas. They arrived safely, but it seemed to take forever for unloading and customs clearance. It all coincided with a public holiday (of which there are many) so that caused delay. It was exactly 9 weeks from my boxes leaving England to arrival at my flat in Larnaka. There was a small customs charge to pay. Everything was delivered and I had the option of the men unpacking the boxes and disposing of the packing material as arranged in England.

Everything worked fine. Only one small item was damaged.

Communication

 The arrival of my computer was a wonderful moment. It was easy to connect to Cytanet via an existing landline; it took just one phone call. I used their free telephone support system to help in solving the initial problems of logging on to a new system. Now I exchange daily e-mails with close family and keep in contact with most friends in this way.

Snail mail is OK for birthday cards and official stuff. The cost of postal stamps for Europe is unchanged at 31 cents for sealed envelopes and 26 cents for unsealed cards. The cost of telephoning to the UK has reduced during the year, and made it possible to speak to the family on a regular basis.

Finances 

Re income tax. I discovered there is an advantageous taxation system for ex pats in Cyprus. It is possible to opt to be taxed here rather than in UK. After 6 months of continuous residency I applied to be taxed here in Cyprus. I am still waiting to hear the outcome of my application. Plus entry to the EU will probably mean many changes. Once again, watch this space.

Health Care 

During the year I have paid to visit the dentist, a medical consultant and a laboratory for blood analysis.

I paid CYP 200 for emergency treatment to a broken tooth and subsequently for a crown. How does that compare with UK prices?

I had heard horror stories about standards of dental care here and intended to visit my UK dentist during my holiday. But the broken tooth changed all of those well-laid plans.

The dentist I visited had trained in Athens, spoke excellent English and worked from a modern, well-equipped dental surgery very close to my home. I had around 8 appointments prior to the crown being fitted.  His dental nurse was kind and helpful too. I will return to the same dentist if I need more treatment.

 For the medical consultant. I chose one on spec from the yellow pages. Made a telephone appointment and had a three day wait until she could fit me in. This compares with a 2-year wait I once had to see an NHS consultant in UK. 

I needed to have a blood analysis before I saw the doctor. For this I went to a laboratory near by and paid 20.Collected the results next day and took them along for the consultant’s opinion. For one and a half hours consultation I paid CYP20. I was given a thorough examination and good advice. Subsequent visits will cost me CYP15.

 Had I opted for medical insurance I would have paid out far more than this in premiums.

 Had I required hospital treatment I would have paid out considerably more than the insurance premiums.

 What will you opt for? Tricky isn’t it?

Conclusion 

I will conclude my ramblings on a positive note. I am here for the foreseeable future. No thoughts about moving back to the UK. All the talk of war with Iraq does not make me want to return.

 Like the rest of the world, I wonder what the future holds?

 Please feel free to e-mail if you have any points you would like to discuss, or any further information you would like.

See Part 1 here

See Part 3 here

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