Living In North Cyprus

Our comprehensive relocation guide to North Cyprus offers crucial insights, information, and facts to help you plan a successful move.

Embarking on a new chapter in North Cyprus? This guide is your comprehensive companion for a smooth transition to this charming Mediterranean destination.

In this guide:

  • North Cyprus highlights: what makes North Cyprus a desirable destination for expats.
  • Residency and visas: how to secure long-term residency.
  • Cost of living: essential costs, taxes, property, healthcare.
  • Healthcare and education: your options and costs.
  • Where to live: the most popular locations.
North Cyprus, harbor in Kyrenia and the mountains in the background
North Cyprus has been named one of the top destinations for beachfront property buys

North Cyprus overview

The main advantage of living in North Cyprus is getting all the perks of the Mediterranean lifestyle for a very attractive price. Indeed, in North Cyprus, your money can go much further than in most other popular retirement destinations

Since the northern part of the island is recognized only by Turkey, economically, it is not as robust as South Cyprus, and it still suffers embargoes. However, the cost of living and property in North Cyprus is much lower than in most European countries. 

Many expat retirees use this advantage and settle in the northern part of Cyprus to make their pension income go even further. 

The northern part of the island is also arguably the most beautiful part of Cyprus, featuring dramatic Crusader castles, white colonial villages, and miles of untouched, undeveloped sandy beaches.

What is it like living 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 megabucks, 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 eight months of the year comfortably.

There are cinemas, clubs, bars, and an incredible array of restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets for those living in Northern Cyprus.  There are casinos, discos, societies and sports clubs, public gyms, spas, and beach clubs.  

Moreover, because the local average wages are relatively modest, the cost of living well in the North can be easily within your reach.  

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 educate your children 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 you can save huge amounts of cash and shop at the weekly markets across the country.  

You can sun yourself for nine months of the year for free and never get bored of the blue skies and the beaches.  You will find your Cypriot neighbors make you most welcome and that there are plenty of expatriates who already call North Cyprus home.

North Cyprus Residence

When entering the TRNC (the north), you are given 90-day permission to stay visa. However, if you decide to stay longer, you must apply for a temporary residence permit as soon as possible.

A walk in the shade of the cloisters of Bellapais Abbey

Until you obtain a Permanent Residency, all residency visas are classed as “Temporary.”

Temporary residence main requirements

To apply for temporary residence, you must fall at least in one of the following categories:

  • You own property in North Cyprus and can demonstrate an income equal to at least one monthly minimum wage (9,885 TL per month)
  • You can demonstrate that your minimum monthly income is equal to three times the minimum wage in North Cyprus, which is currently 9,885 TL per month or 
  • You can demonstrate the yearly equivalent of this sum in your bank account.
  • If you own or are renting a yacht and arrive in North Cyprus, you, your crew, and your passengers can get a short-term residence permit of up to 6 months within a 12-month period.

Other groups of people who can apply for temporary residence are international students with a place in one of the universities and medical tourists.

Temporary residence application and documents

Residency applications are now online. You must present a photocopy of your property sale contract (kocan – deed) or rental contract in your name and a local bank statement showing the required funds.

Your valid passport, passport-sized photographs, and proof of address in the form of an original letter from your local Muhktar (the head of a local community, usually found running a corner shop or in a local community center) will also be needed.

Temporary permits are issued for one year and must be renewed annually. Married couples should produce their marriage certificate and a photocopy of it.

There is also a health check to pass before your permit can be approved.

If you are 60 or above, you no longer need to apply for a yearly residency stamp in your passport.
But if you’re over 60, you might get one for two years. It’s decided based on your request and application.

Retiring to North Cyprus

Retiring to North Cyprus offers numerous benefits, including an exceptionally low cost of living, affordable healthcare services, inexpensive properties, and the absence of taxes on foreign pensions.

You can find more information in our guide on Retiring To North Cyprus: FAQs.

Cost of living in North Cyprus

The TRNC is definitely one of the least expensive countries to live in along the Mediterranean coast. Compared to the cost of living in North America, the UK, or Northern Europe, it is a really good value, although it is gradually rising due to the influx of tourists and expatriate residents.

You will find that buying and renting a property is considerably cheaper than anywhere else in the Mediterranean.

If you shop at the local markets for fruit and vegetables, you will be surprised how far your pounds can stretch. However, imported products are expensive, as they can only be delivered through Turkey and are subject to heavy taxes.

Eating out is also inexpensive, especially if you can find little local taverns away from tourist districts.

Housing costs

The cost of housing varies based on location, size, and accommodation type. Rental prices for apartments can range from around $400 to $1000 per month, depending on the area and amenities.

Food and groceries

Grocery costs are generally reasonable. Local markets and supermarkets offer fresh produce and essential items at affordable prices. Weekly grocery expenses for a single person might come as low as $60.

A view down to the mediterranean Sea from the mountain village of Bellapais in North Cyprus
Bellapais

Dining out

A meal at a mid-range restaurant may cost around $25 to $40 per person. Local eateries and traditional Cypriot food can provide even more budget-friendly options.

Utilities and services

Basic utilities like electricity, water, and heating for an average apartment might total around $100 to $150 per month.

Internet services are available at an average cost of about $30 to $40 per month.

Cars and transportation

Car is a necessity in North Cyprus. You want to have the freedom to explore the island without having to rely on patchy public transport.

Cars are very expensive in North Cyprus due to the import taxes.

Cars imported from Europe incur a tax of 40.4% based on the car’s value, while vehicles from non-European countries face a 65.12% tax.

Additionally, all imported cars are subject to one-time charges, which vary according to the engine capacity.

You will find that most expats buy small second-hand cars trying to keep the costs down.

Property in North Cyprus

North Cyprus offers a variety of property types, including villas, traditional houses in picturesque mountain villages, and modern apartments along the seafront. Costs vary depending on location, size, and type of property.

  1. Apartments: Prices for apartments can range from around $60,000 to $200,000 or more, depending on factors like location, size, amenities, and proximity to the coast or Kyrenia or Nicosia.
  2. Villas: The price range for villas can vary significantly. Smaller villas might start around $170,000 to $250,000, while larger and more luxurious villas could be priced from $320,000 to several million dollars.
  3. Traditional houses: Traditional houses, often located in more rural or historic areas, can range from $100,000 to $300,000 or more, depending on their size and condition. In some villages such as Karmi, for example, traditional houses can only be leased.
  4. Land: If you’re interested in purchasing land for building your own property, prices can vary greatly depending on location and size. Land near the coast or popular areas could start around $20,000 per donum (a traditional unit of land area), while more prime locations might be significantly higher.

To find more information about the purchasing process and what to look out for, read our guide on buying property in North Cyprus.

Currency and banking in North Cyprus

The currency of the TRNC is the Turkish Lira (TL). It is not very stable, as a rule, and the exchange rate can work in favor of those who draw their income in pounds, euros, or dollars.

Transactions can be carried out in all leading currencies in the north. The Central Bank of Northern Cyprus is responsible for the monetary, credit, and exchange policy and acts as a banker to the government.

Commercial banks in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can either be branches of large banks based in Turkey or actual local banks in the TRNC.

It is easy to open a bank account in the TRNC. Although different banks can have different paperwork requirements, most of them will ask for your passport and/or driving license. Sometimes, proof of address will be necessary.

Most of the large banks have an English-speaking section.

There is also healthy competition in high street banking in the TRNC, with a number of recently opened banks offering better interest rates: Iktisatbank, Credit West, and Turk Bankasi are the most popular.

So, if you’re looking for a savings account, you’d better shop around to find the best offers.

Healthcare in North Cyprus

North Cyprus offers you a choice of state-run or public hospitals and clinics if you find yourself in need of medical attention. You will have to pay for all your treatment in the TRNC.

Karpaz National Park, North Cyprus

Private healthcare and hospital facilities are quite good in Northern Cyprus, with new centers, including the Near East University Hospital and Medical School, which boast world-class equipment and treatment opportunities.

Some private hospitals offer expats a membership system, where you can choose a certain level of an annual membership that entitles you to discounted fees for treatments.

Health insurance 

You might want to consider private medical insurance. However, it’s next to impossible to obtain a private plan from a local insurer if you are over the age of 70. Some expats take out international health insurance.

International health insurance can be quite expensive. To make sure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal. 

You may want to buy insurance with high excesses to be insured against the most expensive misfortunes only and pay out of your own pocket for minor treatments. 

In this case, your monthly insurance premiums can be quite low, and you will have peace of mind knowing that you are covered in case of a critical emergency.

If you are under 70 years old, one of the options is Emergency Health Insurance from some of the local insurance companies. Emergency plans are usually reasonably priced and will cover you in most cases of medical emergencies. 

Make sure you understand what emergencies your plan covers before you sign up.

Out-of-pocket payment

With the cost of healthcare in the TRNC being fairly low anyway, you might find this option the best one.

You might also choose not to bother with insurance at all. If you think your risks of getting seriously ill or needing emergency surgery are quite low, then you can just pay per visit to see a specialist.

Example costs of dental and optical treatments:

Dental treatment

  • Metal porcelain crown £90. 
  • Dental Implant £850
  • Root Canal Treatment £120

Optical treatment

  • A regular eye examination £20
  • Varifocal lenses £100

Emergency treatment and pharmacies

The emergency departments of all hospitals in North Cyprus have English-speaking personnel. However, they do recommend you seek the assistance of an interpreter for more complex medical matters.

Emergency medical treatment is administered in the Accident and Emergency Department. The emergency number for an ambulance is 112.

Alternatively (and this is the best way), make your way to the nearest hospital or health care clinic for immediate treatment. No one is refused emergency care, whether they have the financial means to pay for it or not.

Pharmacies in North Cyprus are famous for selling almost every single prescription drug you can think of over the counter. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines produced in Turkey are often far cheaper than in the UK, while the drugs imported from Europe are usually expensive.

Major hospitals in North Cyprus

Here is a list of major hospitals in North Cyprus:

  1. Near East University Hospital (Nicosia)
  2. Dr. Burhan Nalbantoğlu State Hospital (Nicosia)
  3. Lefkoşa Dr. Suat Günsel Hospital (Nicosia)
  4. Lefkoşa State Hospital (Nicosia)
  5. Girne American University Hospital (Kyrenia)
  6. Girne State Hospital (Kyrenia)
  7. Gazimağusa State Hospital (Famagusta)
  8. Dr. Akçiçek State Hospital (Famagusta)
  9. Güzelyurt State Hospital (Güzelyurt)

Schools and education in North Cyprus

There are state-funded, international, and private schools in North Cyprus.

The private and international schools are mostly in the Kyrenia area. The majority are day schools only, but the English School of Kyrenia also has some boarding places.  

When choosing a school, make sure you avoid commuting through Kyrenia during the school run. The city roads get very congested, and it takes a long time to get from the east to the west or vice versa.

International schools

Here is the list of international schools:

  • English School of Kyrenia – Bellapais
  • Necat British College – Alsancak
  • Girne American University School – Kyrenia

Private schools

Private fee-paying schools in North Cyprus teach in Turkish while also offering some lessons in English.  One of these is the DOGA chain of schools.

University education

North Cyprus is also home to universities that offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Some of these universities have gained international recognition for their academic offerings and research initiatives.

Taxes in North Cyprus

If you live in the TRNC for more than six months a year, you are considered a tax resident.

Due to the fact that North Cyprus is an unrecognized state, there is most certainly no tax treaty between your home country and the TRNC, and this makes the whole situation a bit more complicated.

Things to know:

  • The TRNC has not signed up to the European Savings Tax Directive. This means you can legally keep your money in offshore accounts and bring in only what you need.
  • North Cyprus government does not tax foreign pensions.
  • All profits generated within the TRNC, including income generated from property rentals or bank interest, are subject to taxation.
  • The taxation system follows a tiered structure, where tax rates range from 10 to 37 percent based on your income level.
  • You pay taxes on the money you earn from activities in North Cyprus and on the qualifying funds that you bring into the country from abroad.

Find out more in our guide on taxes in North Cyprus.

Traveling to and from North Cyprus

North Cyprus has reasonable travel connections with the world. You can fly to North Cyprus Ercan Airport or one of the airports in the south or use ferry services.

Traveling by air

Ercan International Airport, situated near Nicosia, is the primary gateway for air travel to North Cyprus. It offers regular flights connecting major cities and regions.

Since the TRNC is an unrecognized state, international flights must do a touchdown in Turkey before proceeding to North Cyprus or other destinations if flying from Ercan.

Flying to and from South Cyprus

It is possible to use the airports on the south side and then cross the border into North Cyprus. This way, you can access direct flights and have more options when planning your journey.

South Cyprus has two international airports – Larnaca International Airport (LCA) and Paphos International Airport (PFO). Larnaca Airport offers a vast network of routes, while Paphos Airport is smaller and offers flights primarily from European cities.

Traveling by sea

You can use ferry services connecting Turkey to North Cyprus. Akgünler Ferry Services, a Turkish company, operates a passenger and cargo ferry that connects Taşucu in Turkey to Girne (Kyrenia) in the northern part of Cyprus.

The ferry operates multiple times a week, with a sailing duration of approximately 6 to 8 hours.

Crossing to South Cyprus

Anyone can cross the border between North and South Cyprus in both directions as long as they comply with the existing visa rules.

EU citizens are free to cross the border between the countries.

Non-EU citizens, including Britons, need to comply with visa requirements specified by the EU for their country of citizenship. UK and US citizens can enter any EU country without a visa and stay there for up to 90 days. 

You can travel easily across the border in both directions, but only at designated points, with the most convenient ones being in Nicosia – the capital of both republics. 

Crossing the border is not a big deal, although you might have to queue sometimes, especially if you do it by car. 

Expats living in Cyprus on both sides frequently go to and fro and think nothing of it. Once you’ve done it, you’ll realize it’s very easy. Shopping and entertainment options are more abundant and sophisticated in the South, while nature and major historical sites are more impressive in the North.

Where to live

Here are the most popular areas for expats in North Cyprus:

  1. Kyrenia (Girne): Kyrenia is a charming coastal town known for its picturesque harbor, historic castle, and lively atmosphere. Expats are drawn to its mix of traditional and modern amenities, as well as its scenic beauty.
  2. Famagusta: Famagusta offers a mix of historical sites and modern living. The city is known for its ancient ruins and stunning beaches. The nearby resort town of Bafra is also becoming a hotspot for expat retirees.
  3. Nicosia (Lefkosa): As the capital city, Nicosia has a cosmopolitan feel with a blend of cultures. The Old City and modern areas provide a diverse environment, and it’s a hub for business and cultural activities.
  4. Iskele (Trikomo): Iskele is gaining popularity among expats due to its affordable living costs, serene surroundings, and proximity to the Karpas Peninsula’s unspoiled natural beauty. It is being rapidly developed, with new apartment blocks and modern complexes being built.
  5. Esentepe: Situated on the northern coast, Esentepe offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and a quieter lifestyle. Golf enthusiasts are particularly attracted to the area’s golf courses.
  6. Alsancak: Known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe, Alsancak is a favorite among expats seeking a relaxed coastal living experience.
  7. Tatlisu: This area is loved for its tranquil environment and proximity to the coastline. Expats looking for a peaceful retreat often find Tatlisu appealing.
  8. Karsiyaka: Nestled along the coast, Karsiyaka is known for its breathtaking views, relaxed lifestyle, and easy access to hiking trails.

For more detailed information on various areas, read our guide on the best places to live in North Cyprus.

British Residents Society (BRS)

The British Residents Society is a non-profit organization that provides support and advice for Britons in North Cyprus. The Society has direct access to the British High Commission and Government Departments of the TRNC and has a certain say in how expat affairs are managed there.

The group has agreements with several institutions in the TRNC, which means members of the BRS can access discounted or better-level services from those institutions. 

As an example, the BRS has negotiated discounts with some hospitals, but you have to present a valid BRS card to obtain this. 

Creditwest Bank can offer more favorable conditions to the BRS members than other TRNC banks. The bank also offers health insurance plans.

Besides advice and help, the BRS can help you integrate quicker and find friends. They also host and organize various social events and gatherings. 

Living in North Cyprus: final thoughts

North Cyprus ranks high in Expatra’s Best Places To Retire Abroad World Index as the best value-for-money retirement destination. The zero tax rates and low cost of living are great incentives for foreign retirees.

However, just like with any other retirement destination, to find out whether Cyprus is a good fit for you, you need to try living there. So, rent a property and spend some time in summer and winter in one of the expat hotspots in North Cyprus to see whether you can call it home.

And one final note – if you are looking for a cheaper 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 eating out every night, the cost of living in North Cyprus 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.

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