Cost of Living in Cyprus
The cost of living in Cyprus has directly and indirectly been affected by the country’s banking crisis, the measures imposed by the European Union in exchange for a bail-out loan and, at least partially as a result, the country’s shrinking economy. The so-called “haircut” levied on deposits exceeding 100,000 EUR in March 2013 affected the savings of consumers and employers, leading to salary cuts and retrenchments, and resulting in unemployment reaching around 17 percent in 2013.
For decades, British pensioners in Cyprus have moved to the island for its relatively low cost of living and favourable tax conditions which, until recently, allowed their pensions to go further than they could in the UK. Unfortunately, as a result of the banking crisis, many who kept their savings in Cyprus have lost significant amounts. This adds to the financial problems people have generally been experiencing as a result of the country’s economic context, and means that many expats in Cyprus have had their purchasing power reduced.
While prices in Cyprus may be low for expats from stronger economies, the cost of living is high in relation to the average Cypriot’s income, which is only around 1,300 EUR (in contrast to the average salary in Berlin, which is over 2,000 EUR). At the same time, however, many expats who have the means do still choose to move to Cyprus, but are more likely to deposit their savings in their home countries.
According to Xpatulator, the cost of living in Cyprus is fairly similar to other European countries. In October 2013, the website ranked Nicosia, the island’s most expensive city, as the 88th most expensive out of the 100 cities in Europe that were surveyed. When only factoring in consumable products, however, that ranking rockets up to 48th.
In contrast, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey in 2012 ranked Nicosia at 128th out of 214 cities, down from 119th in 2011. The 2013 Human Development Report, which bases its rankings on a combination of life expectancy, education levels and income levels, puts these rankings into context, however, placing Cyprus at 31st out 187 countries.
There are still compelling reasons to move to Cyprus, aside from the weather. The costs of accommodation, communications, education and healthcare are all fairly low and, for the most part, of good quality. On the other hand, the prices of consumables such as groceries and magazines are fairly high, while clothes are usually subject to import taxes, driving up the cost of clothing.
The south of Cyprus tends to be more expensive than the Turkish-occupied northern part of the country, especially in terms of rent. Most expats prefer to live in the south even though the north is cheaper – its economy is about a fifth of the size of southern Cyprus, which generally has better job prospects and higher salaries.
Cost of accommodation in Cyprus
Taxation in Cyprus, especially property tax, plays a big part in reducing the cost of living in the country. While Council Tax in the UK costs around 1,700 EUR for Band D houses (worth between around 80,045 EUR and 104,159 EUR), residents in Cyprus can be lucky enough to pay a fifth of that.
A decent two bedroom apartment in Nicosia generally starts at around 100,000 EUR and the same holds true for Limassol. Similarly sized apartments can be rented for 500 EUR or less and, as is the case with buying property, can be found for even cheaper in less populated areas. Expats who do consider buying property in northern Cyprus should, however, be aware that they may find themselves in the middle of an ownership dispute with Cypriots who were forced to leave their homes when Turkish forces invaded the country in 1974.
New expatriates who are fans of air conditioning should also be aware that electricity in Cyprus is reputedly the most expensive in the EU, while poor insulation in houses often means needing a heater between December and March (and having to pay for it). Internet costs, on the other hand, can vary between 20 EUR and 100 EUR a month depending on the package and provider.
Cost of food in Cyprus
Groceries in Cyprus tend to be cheaper than in the UK, especially when it comes to fruit and meat. Beer and cigarettes also tend to be cheaper, while cappuccinos are more expensive. Restaurants in the UK are generally a bit cheaper as well; although, if expats opt for smaller, local establishments they will be able to save quite significantly and sample some of the fine cuisine on offer in Cyprus, which is a cosmopolitan blend of Greek, European and Middle Eastern cooking.
Cost of transportation in Cyprus
There hasn’t been a rail network in Cyprus since 1951, although it was confirmed in 2012 that, somewhere within the next 15 years, Cypriots should once again have access to intercity trains. Buses are available and are fairly inexpensive, with a single trip during the day costing around 1.50 EUR, while an unlimited 24-hour ticket costs 5 EUR for trips in a single city. Unfortunately, they are not always reliable and routes can be limited, so many people opt for private taxis at around 1 EUR per kilometre and a flat 4 EUR tariff, depending on the location.
Cost of education in Cyprus
Expats with school going children in Cyprus have to make a choice between a largely free public education in Cyprus and a significantly more expensive private school which offers tuition in English. Prices vary depending on the location of the school, the grade the child has to attend and, most significantly, the institution itself. Tuition can, however, cost as much as around 13,000 EUR for a grade 12 child in a prestigious international school.
Cost of living in Cyprus chart (2013)
|Furnished two bedroom house||EUR 600|
|Unfurnished two bedroom house||EUR 550|
|Furnished two bedroom apartment||EUR 550|
|Unfurnished two bedroom apartment||EUR 500|
|Dozen eggs||EUR 3.50|
|Milk (1 litre)||EUR 1.50|
|Rice (1 kg)||EUR 2|
|Loaf of white bread||EUR 1.50|
|Chicken breasts (1kg)||EUR 8|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||EUR 4.50|
|Big Mac meal||EUR 6|
|Coca Cola (330ml)||EUR 1.95|
|Bottle of beer (local)||EUR 3|
|Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant||EUR 50|
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)||EUR 0.08|
|Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)||EUR 37|
|Basic utilities (Average per month for standard household)||EUR 146|
|Taxi rate/km||EUR 1|
|Bus fare in the city centre||EUR 1|