Nicosia, Cyprus Report of what it's like to live there - 08/05/22
Personal Experiences from Nicosia, Cyprus
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. Previous post was Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
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?
It's fairly easy to travel back to the States. You will need to do one layover in a major European city (Frankfurt, Paris, London, Munich, Vienna, etc). With about a 4-hour flight to western Europe, you're looking at a 12+ hour travel day.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Singles and those without children will most likely be housed in 2-3 bedroom apartments close (within walking distance) to the embassy. Those with families tend to live in the suburbs (Strovolos), which is about a 15-20 minute drive to the embassy. The homes in the suburbs are spacious with yards and I believe every house comes with a fireplace. Overall commute is easy no matter where you're housed. Housing here seems to be really nice!
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Comparable to the States. A few things are hard to find, but nothing you can't live without. For some reason they only sell jam, no jelly. And no Mountain Dew. Nothing that's a deal breaker. Grocery stores are very nice, modern, and clean.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing... Anything you can't find is an easy amazon shipment away.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Bolt and Foody are two companies that deliver food (like uber eats but better). You can also order from grocery stores on there. American fast food restaurant chains are plentiful here (Pizza Hut, Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's, KFC, etc.) along with typical Greek food.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of ants in the warmer months.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO and pouch. Chicago can be a mess sometimes but packages usually arrive on time. Sometimes within a week of ordering.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help seems to run at about $40/visit for a half day of work. Most people employ help once a week for cleaning.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The embassy has a good sized gym with all of the equipment you'd need. There are many private gyms throughout the city but they're a bit pricey.
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?
Yes. We try to use ATM's that are connected to a bank only and have had no issues.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You don't need much. Everyone seems to speak English in Nicosia and in the tourist areas near the beaches. It gets a little harder in the mountains and smaller towns but we've never had a problem. I think it's a bit harder to find English speakers in the north. The embassy does offer both Greek and Turkish language classes.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. There aren't many sidewalks.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
All available, safe, and affordable.
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?
Any kind of car will do fine here. Roads are in good condition and drivers aren't crazy. If you'd like to drive up to the mountains to see the snow then you'll need winter tires or snow chains. Snow chains are easily found on the local market here. It's a very safe country and there haven't been any fears of burglary or carjacking that I know of.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet is great and hasn't gone out once in the year we've been here. We pay about $40/month for a cable and internet bundle. The embassy has it set up and ready in your residence before your arrival.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We have google fi so can't speak to the local providers.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Vets here are great although a little pricey. Still cheaper than the States, though. Kennel services are available although I've never left my dog in one because I've heard mixed reviews. No quarantine for dogs upon entry. Pretty easy to import your animals and possible to do without a pet shipper, especially if you fly in on Lufthansa. There's not a lot of green space so it's harder to walk your dog unless you live in a house with a yard. LOTS of stray cats.
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?
Most work in the embassy. EFM jobs are few, though. Some EFM's have struggled finding employment within the embassy.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There's a few opportunities I believe with Caritas and dog shelters. Haven't looked into it.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Casual business. It gets very hot in the summer so the dress code is relaxed during those months.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Petty theft happens mostly around the beach, so keep an eye on your bags when in the water. Other than that Cyprus is pretty safe.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
It gets pretty hot in the summer months with a very dry heat so most people stay indoors. Medical care is pretty good. They don't typically medevac as even most major surgeries can be done here.
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?
Good. No air quality issues.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Nothing that I'm aware of. You can find anything here to meet your dietary restrictions.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Not that I'm aware of.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Summers (June-September) are hot and it will never rain. Winters (November-March) are wet.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Medium sized. Morale is low at work, but there's nothing the beautiful beaches can't cure.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
There's an "Americans in Cyprus" facebook group, but I think most embassy personnel tend to stick around other embassy colleagues.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Great post for all.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
I've never felt uncomfortable but I've been told I look like a local. My husband is white and has never felt uncomfortable, either. Greek Cypriots tend to be very welcoming. I cannot speak to experiences in the North.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
I think there are more problems in the North than in the South.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The beaches! They're breathtaking. Skiing in the Troodos mountains is also fun. Exploring the beautiful mountain towns is a great weekend activity too. Lots of archaeological sites to explore.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Hikers love the North because the trails are so beautiful. Try to see the turtles hatching on the beaches.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Not really a shopping post but Lefkara has beautiful lace. There's nice pottery around the island. I've heard the woodwork is great, too.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Everything is an hour or two away so you'll be able to see everything the island has to offer during your tour here.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I wish I had researched more of the history. It's sad but very interesting.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Ignorance on the history of the island.
4. But don't forget your:
Sunscreen and personal fans.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?