Nicosia, Cyprus Report of what it's like to live there

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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Nicosia, Cyprus 06/15/11

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. 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?

3 years

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3. How long have you lived here?

August 2010

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

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?

Single-family home with some exceptions. The 10-miles commute takes about 30 minutes.

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

Good availability of groceries, but prices are high.

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

Syrup, diapers, wet-wipes, spices, mac and cheese.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, TGI Fridays, Bennigans, and some very since local place to eat. Not bad prices -- a little more than in the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Lot of organic products.

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

Mosquitoes

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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?

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

Yes

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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?

Use only if necessary.

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

Yes, Catholic

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

10-15 channels; 20 euros a month

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

You need to know enough to communicate with domestic help.

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

Very inpatient people and very little space to get around, even with a stroller.

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Transportation:

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

No trains, some buses, and taxis are not affordable.

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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?

Small car or little SUV. My Hyundai Minivan is too big for everywhere I want to go.

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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, about 20 euros a month

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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 here.

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Pets:

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?

The airline would not accept my daughter's 4-H show rabbit.

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

Good

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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 many

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

casual

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Health & Safety:

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

Lots of break-ins for the Cypriots. Make sure you use your alarms system.

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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?

Okay, good for personal doctors; the hospital is fair.

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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?

Moderate with lots of mold. Very tough if you have a child with asthma that's triggered by mold spores.

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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?

Summer is hot -- perfect for the beach. Winter temps are mild, with the low during the day in the forties..

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Schools & Children:

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

American International School is in a nice setting. Small classes: 13 in 2nd grade. It is hard to get to and parking is awful.

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

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Futball

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Expat Life:

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

small

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2. Morale among expats:

okay

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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?

busy

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

Best for families.

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

yes

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

some

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

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

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

pottery

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Beautiful beaches only 45 minutes away.

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11. 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?

yes

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

big cars

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3. But don't forget your:

grill and sunscreen

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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 have any other comments?

Learn some Greek language.

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Nicosia, Cyprus 12/13/09

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in London and Amsterdam.

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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?

Washington, D.C.- The trip is usually just under 14 hours with a stop-over in London, Amsterdam or Germany.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Government - affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Very good. I lived in one of the many spacious apartments located close to Embassy and my commute time was less than 5 minutes walking distance. However, many families wind up in big houses a bit outside of town. Construction standards are generally very good. All homes/apartments have some outdoor space.

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

Much more expensive than in the U.S., although you will find almost all the products you're looking for.

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

In Cyprus, you'll find almost everything, but because it's so expensive it really pays to ship as much as you can. Toiletries were one thing I'd always buy online from the States.

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

Everything, including McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and TGIFridays. They're roughly the same price as in the States. There are also plenty of inexpensive kebab and gyro places.

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

No problems.

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Daily Life:

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

The embassy has 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?

There are plenty of domestics looking for work in Cyprus. I paid about 30 euros per half-day for my cleaning person.

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

Yes, but they are a bit on the pricey side.

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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?

No issues with this, they're accepted everywhere.

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

Yes. For all Christian denominations, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., you'll find a place of worship in Nicosia that should meet your needs. Jewish people, however, will need to travel to either Kyrenia or Larnaca.

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

Yes.

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

Very little. Almost every Greek Cypriot and most Turkish Cypriots speak english well.

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

Lots. In most of Nicosia, there are simply no sidewalks. When there is a sidewalk, people will often park their car on it. There are some handicapped parking spaces, but they'll often be used by non-handicapped people.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable. Buses are generally only used by domestics and the eldery.

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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?

You definitely need a car to get by in Nicosia. Any type should work, but you might want to consider buying or bringing a right hand drive car, since Cypriots drive on the right hand side of the road.

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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.

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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?

Cytanet works well and is preferable to MTN.

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Pets:

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?

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2. 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?

From what I can see, not that many.

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

Very formal, except for the summertime, when people will dress business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Good, no issues.

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

Very, very few. I never encountered any crime myself and have never heard a complaint from other expats. I would have to say it's much safer than your average U.S. city.

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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?

Generally, the medical care is quite good. No special health concerns.

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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?

Cyprus is, as you would imagine, hot and dry. While the weather reports will never indicate anything higher than the low 90's, in the summer the temerature is often well over 100 degrees.(This is done so the law requiring outdoor workers to stop working in excessive heat won't kick in).The spring and fall are great and you can easily enjoy the beaches between April and October. Winters are mild, although the Troodos does see some snow and there will always be a few weekends that allow for skiing. Generally, it rains heavily only one month of the year, most often February.

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Schools & Children:

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

No experience with this, but friends seemed happy with the American School and the English School.

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

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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?

Again, so experience here, but it seemed to me that there were plenty of nannies available and finding one shouldn't be an issue.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

From what I hear, yes.

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Expat Life:

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

In Nicosia, there's a fairly big diplomatic community. In Limassol, Paphos and Kyrenia, there are loads of tourists and retired British.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good. The big complaint is how expensive it can be. Also, it's good to get off the island every once in a while to shake things up.

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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?

There's a fair amount within the embassy community.

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

Yes for all. I would imagine that families must enjoy all of the outdoor activities Cyprus offers on any given weekend. There are also plenty of restaurants and clubs, although it's definitely not as exciting as bigger cities in Europe.

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

Nope, not really. The gay scene is very underground in both communities. Very few Cypriots are out, and in fact many are married with children. There's no gay club or bar in Nicosia, but you will find one in Larnaca, another in Limassol and an "unofficial" one in Kyrenia. They're certainly nothing to write home about and are only worth checking out on Saturdays. If you're gay you'll definitely need to get off the island and go to Tel Aviv, Athens and/or Istanbul every so often to keep your sanity.

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

Unfortunately, I would have to say so. Minority friends of mine reported that they were often treated rudely in stores and restaurants.

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

In Nicosia, you can wander the streets of the old town (on both sides of the Green line), enjoy nice restaurants and sightsee at the Cyprus Museum. Outside Nicosia, you can visit the beaches, drive up to the mountains, and view the churches, monastaries and castles that dot the country.

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

Lace, ceramics, art, icons, rugs.

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9. Can you save money?

It would be very, very hard, but I've heard of some people doing it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. Cyprus isn't always the most exciting place, but its laid-back atmosphere definitely grew on me. The weather and the ability to be outdoors almost all year round was a big plus.

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

Walking shoes - you'll be driving everywhere.

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach gear.

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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:

Music: Anything by Anna Vissi or Michalis Hadjiyiannis

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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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, 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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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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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