I often wonder whether we appreciate how lucky we are to be born and live in Cyprus.
Examining what is happening worldwide from civil strife, wars, earthquakes, poverty, and floods, we must thank God for providing us with Cyprus’ earth paradise.
- Weather – Underestimated by many of us how the good weather affects us psychologically. When in Cyprus, people from very hot or cold countries behave in a more relaxed and “happy” way, and their radiance passes on to others.
- Countryside/beaches – A rarity to have such good countryside and clean beaches and those who visit the fashionable European resorts have problems with the wind (see Aegean islands), dirty sea (see South of France) and dangerous “jellyfish” with the most suitable beaches having to fence off the bathing areas to protect bathers from sharks.
- Short distances – Not to be underestimated. Within one hour, you are just about everywhere, from Troodos to Limassol and the airport to the other towns, golf courses and other theme projects.
- Criminality – This is a major consideration by foreign people in particular. Cyprus (thank God) is way behind by comparison to other EU countries, although petty thefts are on the increase.
- Tolerance – This is well known by the local people, to the extent that we wish they could increase their complaints to the authorities – placing on them some more pressure to improve our policing and public awareness.
- Schools – All sorts of schools in most languages and at all levels.
- Cost of living – Affordable to the vast majority, and the cost of living is going down. We have so far had deflation, and incoming competition from supermarket chains and other franchises is all the best for consumers.
- Migrants – Not an issue at this point, despite being a major problem in the more “advanced” EU countries. So far, we have no ghettos of non-locals, apart from recent arrivals in the old part of the towns and initial problems starting to appear at some villages, especially in the Paphos region, where the sign of a problematic picture is appearing (Chlorakas, Yeroskipou, now Droushia). However, this is more related to opportunistic landlords renting cheap properties and grouping tenants together.
- Healthcare – The state takes care of old and poor people by providing housing aid, a monthly guaranteed income (approx.. €600), pensions are paid on time (as opposed to Greece), and the public hospitals are of a good standard. Those who can afford private health have a choice from excellent private hospitals, and if unaffordable, the state undertakes to send special cases abroad. Anyone can visit government hospitals either for free or at a low cost. The national health scheme (GHS) is a major success of this government, but it relates to locals and EU nationals, excluding many foreign residents, such as the British.
- Childcare — not as affordable as it used to be in private nurseries due to the economic situation, but free childcare in public nursery schools is provided.
- Filing of complaints – One of the few countries with a bearable and effective ombudsman and a more effective Auditor General, but we still have a long way to go.
- Climate change – One of the subjects to worry about is the future climate changes and water shortages, although the desalination plants and the water dams, so far, seem to help. We have to keep an eye on this – but better than the flooding and fires in other countries. Cyprus has effective firefighting, leased helicopters from Russia and buying more planes for the purpose, despite pyromaniacs who started the recent fires.
- Family living – Not what it used to be with close-knit families, but we are still there with families staying together.
Let’s look at some setbacks:
- Red tape – What a disaster and disappointment. It is getting slightly better but at a terribly slow pace.
- Kickbacks – A well-known phenomenon in all countries but in ours, it seems that it is now coming to the surface – bad, but there is hope for the future.
- Petty politics – All the worst cannot be avoided, neither do we expect improvement in the immediate future.
- Discrimination – A phenomenon by some authorities between locals and foreign residents.
- Legal System – Practically in disorder. Delayed justice is not justice –and it applies to Cyprus. Efforts to improve the situation have been going on for years, and we hope that now with the freezing of some EU funds, there will be action for improvement.
- Civil service – Acceptable at top positions, but the prevailing system and small politics make improvements difficult.
- Economy – Bad like everywhere, but we seem to be getting better. We are not expected to reach the pre-2000 economic levels before 2022.
- Nepotism in small countries is the norm but not unknown in bigger EU countries.
Cyprus is at the top if one is to place the pluses and minuses in a balance sheet.
In Italy, a friend bought an apartment and had to pay a €1,000 kickback for the electricity connection.
After two months, the man on the spot to conduct the connection asked for another €400 so that “he will not cause him problems”.
We do not have this in Cyprus.
A wealthy friend said that Cyprus is a country that has a social status problem.
He said: “I cannot show off my wealth, I have a car like anyone else, I go to the kebab house like any other, there are no exclusive posh clubs, it is embarrassing to have a Rolls Royce, so I am ‘forced’ to behave like any other person of an upper-middle-income level”.
In a recent survey, global migration experts ranked Cyprus in the world’s top ten among citizenship by investment programmes for high-net-worth individuals.
The recent cancellation, however, of the CIP has not shown its teeth as yet.
According to the report, Cyprus ranked fifth in terms of best relocation destinations, the only other European country to be included in the top 5 was Switzerland.
The report referred to Cyprus’ geographic location, stable political situation, low crime rate, good weather, favourable tax environment and highly educated multilingual workforce as some of the advantages that attract foreign investors to the island for residence and work.
Antonis Loizou, Real Estate Valuer, Estate Agent & Property Consultant, his views are his own