If you are one of those many who dream to escape to warmer climes, enjoy a better quality of life for less money somewhere accessible and where we don’t have to centrally heat our homes for 10 months of the year, – there is one location which is just right for you. Let’s see how you can enjoy a better life living in Northern Cyprus.
The nation has a lot stacked up in its favour now that things have settled down on the property front, and relations between North Cyprus and Turkey are said to be at their best level ever thanks to joint policies and a mutual ambition to integrate further into Europe.
Northern Cyprus is a sun-soaked, vibrant, historically rich, culturally diverse and beautiful part of the world, resting in the Mediterranean and at home both in Europe and the Middle East.
It has had a very fast paced development from unexplored and inaccessible backwater just 10 years ago, to become a more robust favourite with holidaymakers, retirees and expatriates seeking a destination that is just a little off the beaten track – but not so far from it that you cannot enjoy a high standard of living!
Property matters in North Cyprus
Just 5 years ago Northern Cyprus was caught up in the worldwide property boom with everyone and his wife believing they could become rich, super rich, off the back of bricks and mortar. At the time Northern Cyprus was still underdeveloped in terms of real estate, and this resulted in many landowners building properties to sell to foreign investors and expatriates.
Some of the developments were well-constructed by professionals – many were bodged and thrown together. Well, now that the dust has settled on the global property market, just like in the UK even, there are developments that have stood the test of a little time, and they are fully inhabited and thriving. These are the developments any expatriate considering North Cyprus should be drawn towards!
Do not even consider buying off plan now – because you don’t need to. Why take the risk of something that has yet to be constructed when there are money worries on an international scale that could see your well-intentioned developer going out of business!
You are far better to look at pre-constructed stock that is either being sold as a resale, or something that is completed on an already finished and inhabited site. Follow this advice and you will have your housing needs well looked after.
Alternatively, just as you can rent in any other country in the world, why put all your eggs in one basket, why not rent a home on the island first to get a feel for it. And to see whether you would be comfortable committing to the island for the long-term. After all, property is a long-term commitment if you buy it.
What’s more, there is an ongoing dispute between the Greek Cypriots in southern Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriots in Northern Cyprus over who actually owns the land across both sides of the island on which property is constructed.
For example, before the 1974 conflict, the land that Larnaca International Airport is now constructed on belonged to a Turkish Cypriot family.
Following the cessation of hostilities and the division of the island, the Turkish Cypriots inhabited all the land in the North and the Greek Cypriots all the land in the South. Now, generations later, there is still arguing about who owns which land!
As a foreigner you may have absolutely no desire to get involved with this in-fighting as it really is none of your business. In which case, rent property or buy a home with the ‘right type’ of indisputable title deeds!
Working in North Cyprus
If you’re too young to retire or too active to want to retire, you’re going to want to know about the employment landscape in North Cyprus…
The majority of local citizens who are not self-employed or working in a family run business work for the state – with more government jobs available than in any other sector.
For a foreigner government jobs are not going to be an option. So, you will need to find opportunities.
If you’re a teacher or a college or university lecturer you may well find a job doing the same in North Cyprus. Education on the island is very big business, with a number of international schools and universities catering to thousands of students dotted about across the whole island.
There are limited jobs available in the real estate and tourism industries – and these tend to be over subscribed anyway…so your best way forward may be to find a niche that can be exploited, and open your own business locally.
Alternatively, why not consider an eBusiness, and find your niche via the Internet and work online. You could even consider trading online if you’re a canny and clever soul because Northern Cyprus has quite a good Internet infrastructure.
The lifestyle in North Cyprus
You can virtually have any level of lifestyle you want on the island – depending on how much disposable income you have!
For example, if you have mega bucks you can have everything from a personal gym to a cinema in your own home – as well as the ubiquitous pool in the garden of course, which you can use for at least 8 months of the year comfortably.
There are cinemas, clubs, bars, an incredible array of restaurants catering to all tastes and all budgets for those living in Northern Cyprus. There are casinos, discos, societies and sports clubs, public gyms, spas and beach clubs.
What’s more, because the local average wage and income is relatively modest, the cost of living well in the North can be easily within your reach.
An additional plus is the fact that the currency is the Turkish Lira and not the pound or the euro or the dollar. This means that Britons have been less hard hit by the fluctuating fortunes of the pound. Pound Lira relations have weathered the currency storm better than pound euro relations.
You can access English speaking, internationally trained doctors and dentists in North Cyprus – and private fees for seeing the best are not excessively high.
You can have your children educated at an international school – although these are fee paying. The English School of Kyrenia, for example, is accredited to the standard of UK schools and courses.
You can shop in a supermarket where the shelves are lined with international produce – or of course, you can save huge amounts of cash and shop at the weekly markets across the country.
You can sun yourself for 9 months of the year for free, never get bored of the blue skies and the beaches. You will find your Cypriot neighbours make you most welcome, and that there are plenty of expatriates who already call North Cyprus home.
Settling in and settling down
Just because there are many similarities between Northern Cyprus and the UK it doesn’t mean that things are the same on all levels.
There is plenty of bureaucracy for example, and you have to pay to have a visa to reside and/or work on the island – and pay every year for its renewal.
What’s more, there is some hostility or resentment towards ‘wealthy incomers’ from certain sectors of society including from some of the expats who have lived on the island for many, many years.
However, just as you probably don’t know, associate with or even like everyone in your community back home, realise that your life in Northern Cyprus will follow similar patterns.
You will find a friendship group and selection of acquaintances that you get along with – these will be your core.
When you arrive, don’t automatically try and make friends with everyone – because the first people you meet could well be in the bars, and they may be the sort who only hang around in bars. Or they could be the more curious and nosey locals – who you don’t necessarily want in your life and knowing your business anyway!
Just like anywhere in the world, pick your friends in North Cyprus carefully. You’ll then find you settle in and then settle down successfully and can enjoy an incredibly high standard of living in this safe, secure and beautiful country. And one final note – if you are looking for an affordable place to live abroad, North Cyprus is affordable for many of your day to day essentials, and you can live like a local and reduce your bills right down.
However, as soon as you start adding on bells and whistles, buying expensive white goods for your home or a TV, garden furniture or going out every night, the cost of living will rack up! If you’re on a budget, spend a couple of months ‘holidaying’ on the island before you commit to it, to see whether it is indeed affordable for you.