Living the Dream?

IMG_0571Life began in Cyprus 10 years ago now. For the first 12 months we were on holiday. We went out for meals in the many tavernas, drank the local Keo beers, enjoyed the family who came and went at regular intervals, swam in the med most days and enjoyed the weather. What a life.

But, reality kicked in as it often tends to do. We needed to earn money as our savings were dwindling. John, who was already a UK Chartered Accountant, sat the Cypriot Law and Tax exams and I started voluntary work and painting. We opened a local shop which served as John’s office and a place I could sell my paintings. I say paintings but I am certainly no artist. I put colours together! Life was busy but the sun shone and people were happy.

10 years on and life in Cyprus has not been 100% easy but that would be the same in any country wouldn’t it? Trying to find out about the information necessary to live and work in Cyprus can be frustrating when you first arrive. Asking local people, expats and Cypriots, where you can get such and such or how do I go about doing this……. the answers you get back will certainly be different and varied and probably none of them will be correct. It isn’t because they are all wrong but things change so quickly here that the building you used to go to is now a electrical store or that piece of legislation has changed not once but numerous times since that piece of info was correct. I will go even further and say that you may go to, let’s say, the Tax Office in Limassol and receive different advice than you would from the Tax Office in Paphos. When John asked the question why this was he was told by one of the big chiefs in Limassol that it depends on who interprets the rule book.

So the rule here is to find the local office in your town where you can get the upto date help and get to know them personally. It helps trust me. Never trust info given in a coffee shop and always check for yourself at the time you need to find something out because what you found out last month may have very well have changed this month. You get the picture?

Coffee shops are very interesting places to go to. When we arrived in the village there appeared to be lots of doorways and one obvious coffee shop. Wrong. We had 6 coffee shops, a barbers, two butchers and many more local enterprises hidden away behind these doors. John decided to go and have a trim so ambled into the village to visit Peter of London (most barbers are Cypriot’s who have lived and worked in London). John was a little confused when he went through the door and was offered a red wine at the small bar. Apparently that is what you do, have a drink while you wait your turn. John was liking this!

The two butchers in the village where also tried and tested. I am a strong believer in supporting local people but only if they provide what I need. One butcher was great, his meat tender and prices were good. The other was a ‘no go’ area for me. I did try his produce twice but the meat was always tough (the locals call it ‘hard’). Another local man bakes the local bread which can be bought from his home on baking day. The local shop has vegetables and fruit picked from the soil and trees that very day. Because the fruit and veg is so very fresh they smell and taste wonderful. My biggest gripe when I return to the UK is that I cannot get fresh pitta breads. This might sound a little petty but it does really get to me. Every supermarket I visit sell pittas but they are hard! There is no ‘give’ in the bread at all. When they are toasted they end up as cardboard. Sorry, but that is wrong. Pittas should have the same texture as bread. Soft to the touch and when toasted have an inside that is ‘bread like’ and don’t crack up when you cut them in half.

We can find everything we need here obviously but ….. sometimes it is cheaper to think of buying in the UK and bringing it back with you in a suitcase or getting it sent over by post.  Items for dogs and personal items especially anything to do with technology.  I order on line, usually from Amazon as there service has always been great, and it gets delivered to the address of my choice.  No hassles of searching for the products and using time and petrol.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and I am off shopping in peace and tranquility.  One of my better buys was for Charlie and Barney, our two rescue dogs.  In the heat of the summer they get far too hot.  I bought 4 sheepskin rugs and now they can stay cool and happy.   I have also bought my great Henry for 1/2 the cost it would have been in Cyprus and I just love my laptop deal.  For the family the Amazon gift vouchers are just brilliant. I can get just want I want, when I want. Happy days.

We have been here now for 10 years and have seen lots of changes. Prices have risen and the country has been through some major difficulties. We have seen many people return to the UK due to lack of funds or health reasons. But now the country is on the up and people are beginning to see the benefits. More and more tourists are coming to fill the hotels and rent holiday homes. Cyprus is a safe place to be, especially with what has been happening in the local areas during the past years.

The only downfall for me personally is family. I am living about 90% of my dream life. I miss my family very much so whenever possible fly back to touch base. Easy you may think, but it is not. The cost of flying back has risen over the past years. We could get return flights for less than £100 but now it is very rare and usually end up paying £300-£350 and more especially in school holidays.

Trying to arrange work around your trips back to the UK can be a nightmare. Some of my work commitments coincide with family events and birthdays so sometimes it is not always possible to return on the day that you would like. Then there is home life. John is busy working and there is certain months in the year when he has dead lines to work to and will work all the hours he can. I try hard to work around his schedule to ease his stress levels. As you may have read, we have two rescue dogs who are wonderful but need exercise and looking after each day. All these things have to be considered when I book a flight back. Last year I was a gold card holder for Monarch due to my many flights. This year I was 1 flight off this particular level so only managed silver. I will admit to not enjoying the flying now. One day we will be able to say ‘Beam me up Scottie”, Not in my life time though!

Would we move to Cyprus again knowing what we know now? Well, the answer has to be yes and no. You cannot put your life on hold just in case something happens to the family or to save more money. Life is too short and you never know when your last breath will be. We do not regret a thing. However we may have done things differently. If you are thinking of moving to Cyprus please do not hesitate to get in touch. We may be able to help.

My advice to you:-)

Enjoy life…. never wait for the right time….. it may never come.

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