Expats will probably experience some degree of culture shock in Cyprus, but those moving to the island will be relieved to know that, for the most part, acclimatising to life in Cyprus doesn't require any drastic cultural adjustments.
Emerging from a fairly tumultuous history, Cyprus has become a wealthy country with a high Human Development Index and a sound infrastructure that attracts considerable foreign investment.
Daily life in Cyprus
The Cypriot lifestyle is fairly relaxed and informal. Amidst changes, the island's unofficial motto is still "siga, siga" – “slowly, slowly”. While this easy-going attitude towards life often attracts expats to Cyprus, it can be frustrating when dealing with bureaucracy or administrative affairs. Expats who are used to an efficient bureaucracy are advised to adjust their expectations accordingly.
As informal as life on the island can be, the culture in Cyprus is broadly marked by extreme respect, honour and humility. Expats from countries where self-promotion is considered a worthy personal attribute might find that they rub against the island's social grain.
Religion in Cyprus
Religion in Cyprus is important and respecting people's religious beliefs – whether they be Greek Orthodox or Muslim – is sacrosanct. Expats shouldn't challenge Cypriots about their religious convictions, and shouldn't proselytise if they want to get along with the locals.
North vs South Cyprus
The history of conflict between the Greek and Turkish sectors of the population in Cyprus is a fairly fixed feature of the island's social fabric, both figuratively and – with the country divided between a "Turkish North" and "Greek South" – literally. This is bound to result in some discomfort for expats from countries with homogeneous societies. Cypriots are almost uniformly welcoming of foreigners, however, and regardless of where expats choose to live, they will find their new countrymen to be friendly and hospitable. That said, some people have become a bit less receptive to foreigners in the face of austerity.
Driving in Cyprus
Expats often complain that Cypriots are bad drivers. This may be a relative judgement, but people who are new to the island should take some time to adjust to the rhythm of the roads in Cyprus before taking the wheel themselves.
Animals in Cyprus
Finally, animal-loving expats might be disturbed by the number of stray dogs and cats on the island, which are mostly left to fend for themselves and are largely ignored by locals. As is the case in a city like Athens, they're a part of the country and, while Cypriots generally aren't "pet people", cruelty to animals is certainly not a norm.
►See Healthcare in Cyprus for information about hospitals, doctors and pharmacies
Are you an expat living in Cyprus?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cyprus. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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