Nicosia, Cyprus Report of what it's like to live there - 05/14/08

Personal Experiences from Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia, Cyprus 05/14/08

Background:

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

yes

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

I am affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From D.C. anywhere from 14 to 20 hours depending on connections.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Good housing. Big houses with yards or terraces. If you live in an apartment they usually have big terraces too. Outdoor living is popular here.

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

Pretty much everything is available but it is very expensive. The produce is excellent. The beef not so much.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Specialty clothing and shoes. Toys for the kids, baby stuff (they are available here but more expensive). Some Mexican spices.

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

There are the typical fast food places like McDonald's, etc... there are also a lot of great Gyro places which are better. There are a lot of decent restaurants but if you are looking for Gourmet stuff, they are hard to find.

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Daily Life:

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

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

About US$7/hour.

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

They have plenty of ATM's available.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I don't know all of them. But everyone at post seems to have some church affiliation. Catholic, Protestant, Presbiterian, Orthodox.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

They are available, but I don't know the cost because we used AFN.

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

Very little. Most people know English.

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

A lot.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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

Public transportation is not the best. Most Cypriots drive cars. I've only driven in taxis and they can be safe but not that affordable.

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3. 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?

The roads are narrow here so a big SUV might be a bit bulky although still manageable.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Not as fast as U.S. standards, but I can't complain.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one. Everyone has one. You will be lost without one.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We use Skype. I have friend though, that use their landline to the States and they say it is affordable and clear.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Not that I know of.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual but fashionable. The Cypriots are big on designer names.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

Very few. I never had any problems and didn't hear about any in the embassy community. I always felt very safe here.

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

Our child was born here and we had no problems. The doctors were very personable, helpful and knowledgeable (Dr's actually have been known to make housecalls!). Medical care is one of the few things that is cheaper here than the States and we thought it was very good.

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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?

Hot, hot, hot in the summer which seemed to last forever. The spring is beautiful but too short. The winters here are mild, you will need a light coat.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is a good international school here, but I have no experience with it because I don't have any children in school yet. People I know seemed to be happy with it.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

This not the place to come to if you have a special-needs kid.

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3. 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?

It is available. There seems to be a big demand for them so make sure to check before arriving if you have to get on a waiting list.

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Expat Life:

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

Big. A lot of Europeans retire here. There is also a big U.N. community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. The main complaint is that the cost of living seems to be getting higher. When we were here the embassy community's morale was high. We had a good time here in Cyprus.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The Embassy is small but they had a lot of activities and get togethers for people.

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

Good for all.

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

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

Yes. This is a chauvinistic society. Racial issues are towards the Turks more than anything else becuase of the exisiting conflict.

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

In the city I would say going out to eat. Outside of the city going to the beaches, ruins, hicking.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Rugs, textiles, silver.

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9. Can you save money?

Not a lot.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy parkas. Your expectation of reliable punctual service.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience! Customer service is not the best here. Suntan lotion, repellant and cosmetics since they are double the price here.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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