Nicosia, Cyprus Report of what it's like to live there - 07/18/13

Personal Experiences from Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia, Cyprus 07/18/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, numerous worldwide.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home is DC. The trip is via major European cities, and it takes longer than you expect--from London, about six hours. Don't transit through Paris--CDG's old wing, late, etc.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years, ending summer 2012.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Varied -- some are apartments for singles, some are houses for families. All have HARD floors (concrete or tile).

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Produce still has a seasonal feel to it--amazing when it's in season, however briefly. The fruit/veg stand across from the embassy has a good selection.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Food is expensive, eating out is expensive, and the quality is decent but rarely great.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants, mosquitoes--but nothing like the southeast asian or west african bug situations.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

For the work they do, it's underpriced. Most are hired from the Filipina/Sri Lankan community, pseudo part time.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but they are expensive.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We never used an ATM. We did use a credit card some, but preferred cash because of the international charges.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It helps a little to know a little. It helps a lot to know a lot.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Mobility and assistance--few places would be accessible, although in Nicosia it would be easier. Few people are willing to assist you when needed.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe, yes. Frequent, no.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We had no problems with our sedan.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Very few and far between.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

More break-ins are occurring.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

For typical things, decent. For unusual situations, it may take some persistence.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Decent. Dusty but not unbearably so.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is hot and dry with very little rain. Beaches can be quite humid.

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Schools & Children:

1. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Full-time day care for children under three is VERY difficult to find. It is not common to place infants in daycare -- the few places we visited made us want to cry.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Decent.

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2. Morale among expats:

Sinking.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Better for families.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No, it is not.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, there are. This is not a country that is friendly to outsiders, especially dark-skinned ones.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Amazing history here. Nice places to visit.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots! Swimming, hiking, boating, archeology. The night scene is not great.

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8. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Not for longer than two years.

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2. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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3. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"Bitter Lemons" by Lawrence Durell

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