Larnaca, Cyprus Report of what it's like to live there - 06/29/06

Personal Experiences from Larnaca, Cyprus

Larnaca, Cyprus 06/29/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

Visited before-1 Month in Nicosia-3 Months in Larnaca - will be living here for 3-5 yrs.

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

Relocation from North America/Caribbean for work purposes - Corporate.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Anywhere from 5 - 8hrs from London to any Eastern North American city.4 hrs from Cyprus to London.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

You can find small apartmmnts to very large houses. It depends on what you want and how much you are willing to pay. You can get anywhere within 10 - 20 minutes in the city.

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

You can find everything here, fresh vegetables and fruit are inexpensive. Depending on where you are relocating from, you will feel the initial 'HIT' with the currency exchange. Some items are more expensive, but only a bit. You can get good cuts of meat from the butchery too.

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

Furniture, maybe certain dried goods, anything that will make your initial relocation less expensive if you are coming from North America. On the whole, you can buy everything here.

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

WHY WOULD YOU WANT FAST FOOD???? There are a variety of fabulous restaurants here, some of which are less expensive than McDonald's!!

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

You can find reliable, qualified homecare, and housekeepers here. Cost varies, however you can find affordable people. Best to get references / recommendations from your consolate/embassy.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can access your accounts from any ATM. Banking here is very good.

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

Yes, one would have to research to find out what denominations are available in their community.

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

English-language newspapers are inexpensive and news programs are available.

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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 would be fun and challenging to learn Greek, but you can get on with just speaking English. Most Cypriots speak English, but some of the older Cypriots/seniors may not.

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

Wheelchair accessiblity is limited, though it is getting better. Sidewalks generally are ok, unless there is a car parked on it.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Driving is on the leftside with the steering wheel on the right.

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

There are buses that travel between the city centres to the outer villages, affordable yes, but do take upto an hour to get to certain desitnations.

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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?

Best not to bring your vehicle, unles you are relocating from Europe, it might be cheaper. The roads are very good here, I dare say better than some North American cities. Having relocated from the Caribbean, where the roads are horrendous, the roads are superb here. If you want to go exploring into the mountains, it is best to have a 4x4/SUV.

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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?

Very inexpensive and accessible.

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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?

You can buy pay as you go phone cards here without having to sign up with a local cell phone company.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Calls are relatively inexpensive, int'l calling on cellphones are cheap and the line is very clear.

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Pets:

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

Good vet clinics available here.

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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?

Yes, if you are hired by a local company who has sponsored/applied for your work permit, or if you are part of the European Union of countries. No, if your are ex-pats from North America. The exception would be if you were hired for a specialized job or position.

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

Tourists/locals dress very casually due to the heat. Dress code at offices are generally conservative, men usually where ties, in the summer months, men often opt not to wear ties. Cypriots dress impecabbly when attending social events or even just going out to dinner.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate - Unhealthy. Breathing can be hindered from construction dust and sand storms that blow up from north Africa.

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

None, it is very safe to walk in the evenings. No security concerns regarding burglary or carjackings.

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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?

Best to get a local Cypriot or an Ex-Pat who has lived here for many years to recommend a reliable doctor. Or to get a reference from your Consulate/Embassy.

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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?

Very sunny and hot, on average the island is sunny 340 days, but cool in the evenings. In the winter it can drop to 3 celcius, and the Troodos Mountains can get snow at times.

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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 are English/Greek International schools and there are French International schools. We have collegues who have enrolled their children in the French school in Limassol & Nicosia.

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

Not sure on this point.

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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?

Are available, you can also have babysitters/ nannys come to your home too for an afordable cost.

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Expat Life:

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

There are many different Expat communities here, a large community of British,Irish, some French, American, Canadian.

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2. 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 lots to do, it depends on what you what for entertainment. Outdoor theatres/concerts, and depending on the time of year,there are festivals and fairs for everyone to enjoy.

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3. Morale among expats:

On the whole very good, many people like living here as the weather is favourable. Some ex-pats have experienced some challenges, but you have to make the best of it. Right?

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

The city is great for families with young children, you can go to the beach where the water is fairly shallow, older kids can do dancing lessons, play sports, go horseback riding. There are many activites for couples and singles. Limmisol and Agia Napa are the places to be for the night life.

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

Unfortunately homosexuality/lesbianism is frowned upon on the island.

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

There is the tension between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots due to the occupation of Northern Cyprus. I haven't experienced any prejudice (and I am a person of colour). On the whole, Cypriots are cautions and guarded people, and will be so with foreigners until they get to know who you are. Generally they are curious about where you are visiting from, and if you engage in conversation with them, they tend to relax and open up a bit more.

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

There are many great activities, it depends on what you want to do and consider 'fun'.

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

Copper works and pottery. Cypriots craftsmen are know for their copperwork. Lefkara handmade lace is also beautiful, and affordable silver jewellery make for nice gifts when returning home.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes of course,if you have a planned budget.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, Cyprus has a lot of history and culture, great food and many places to explore.

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

Electrical appliances if you are relocationg here from North America, the plugs don't work, unless you get adaptors.

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3. But don't forget your:

Humour and patience...customer service here on the whole is poor or lacking. Many of the retail shops employ Russians and Eastern Block citizens who speak little or no English (or Greek), and they do not smile or greet you when you approach them for assistance.

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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