A young couple tell the story of an adventurous decision to live abroad.
“It was a large step to make and yet we made it completely blind” says Ronald Stevens, a 26-year-old man who moved to Nicosia with his partner last year.
Moving to Cyprus made complete sense on lots of logical levels. The only problem was we had never been to this medium-sized Mediterranean island before.
There were lots of strange looks and questions from friends and family members about why we had chosen Cyprus, a place we had never even thought of visiting, let alone relocating to. All I could say to their enquiries was that it seemed to be the most practical option.
We wanted to live abroad and, because Cyprus is now part of Europe having recently joined the EU, it was possible to live here without much hassle.
The amount of English speakers in Cyprus is an advantage and we were both able to find work immediately for English speaking companies.
I work as a journalist and there tends to be work from companies who need people capable of writing decent English - the language in which most business here in conducted. As Cyprus is divided between north and south following the 1973 conflict with Turkey there are also plenty of interesting news stories on the island.
Many people think only of Cyprus as a holiday destination but it has a thriving economy and so my partner was able to find a job in finance.
Salaries are not as high in Cyprus as England, but there is a low rate of taxation - 10% once you are earning more than 19,000 Euros. There is also no council tax.
We have managed to find a large two bedroom flat in a superb central location for only 600 Euros per month. I’m certain this would be difficult to match in England.
Combined with a low cost of living, we feel we have a much better quality of life than in England. It was also a stroke of luck to move here just before the recession started.
Not everything is cheap in Cyprus; in fact the cost of groceries and any imported goods is high.
Our shopping bills come to more than 100 Euros per week for two people (about 87 pounds). Like everyone else we were not helped by the falling rate of the pound against the Euro.
Petrol started off relatively cheap at .77 per litre, but the price has now gone up to .89 per litre and will likely continue to rise.
Bills are affordable in Cyprus. Although the island has a water shortage (we did spend a few agonising days without water and face the prospect of more to come) water bills are low, between 16 – 20 Euros per quarter. Electricity is also reasonable at between 50 – 100 Euros per quarter.
Going out to eat and drink in Cyprus is expensive with bars in the capital charging more than 3.50 Euros for a pint and meals coming to about 50 Euros for two people.
But the great thing about living here is the fine weather which allows you to spend cheap weekends at the beach.
The beaches in Cyprus are not that fantastic on the whole but there are some dazzling, white sandy strips in Ayia Napa and the water is always gorgeous and clear.
The island is relatively small and we feel we have seen most of it in a short time. We initially rented cars from some local car hire firms here which worked out very well even though it was expensive. We would have gone with an international car hire firm to save money but at the time I was a beginner driver.
There are a few locations in Cyprus which really stand out for their beauty such as the Akamas peninsula in the south western region of Paphos. The Akamas is somewhere we would quite happily return to again and again.
Cyprus is also well placed within easy distance of many major Middle Eastern cities and we were recently able to fly to Cairo within an hour.
Although cultural differences with the Greek Orthodox Cypriots are large, they are friendly people and have been helpful to us on various occasions.
Our only bug bear is the noise in Nicosia. The driving tends to be quite bad and the use of the horn at all hours of the day, night and weekends is enough to drive you crazy. There are also an inordinate amount of high powered bikes and cars, such as Ferraris and Porches, for such a small country.
With the financial crisis creating lots of uncertainty and unemployment in England, I would recommend Cyprus to young professionals as a place to consider living. Relocating here is easier than we could have ever imagined and has been a rewarding experience.