Cyprus is one of the oldest inhabited countries in all of Europe, having been settled over 9,000 years ago according to recent archaeological finds. Pre-dating even the famous Egyptian empire, Cyprus was once the home to pygmy elephants and hippopotamus. These days it’s better known to tourists and expats alike as a source of reliable weather popular for those seeking warmer climates.
Enjoying the warmest temperatures in the whole of the Mediterranean with a balmy average of 19’C even in December it also boasts twice the hours of sunshine enjoyed by London. Unsurprisingly for such a climate, Cyprus receives over two million visitors each year, almost half of those coming from the UK alone.
However the Cypriot financial crisis of 2012-13 may have brought to a close the British love affair with Cyprus either for holidays or a longer term expat destination. The crisis led to an unprecedented bail out of the financial system in Cyprus and a downgrading their credit rating to ‘junk’ level. In order to meet the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, spending has been cut in many public services while taxation has risen dramatically.
In essence, since the meltdown, living in Cyprus has become ever expensive as the government aims to claw back as much cash as possible to service its sizeable new borrowing that was necessary prevent a total financial meltdown. The bad news is that many British expats are now finding themselves in a financial bind as the cost of living in Cyprus squeezes their limited pensions to breaking point.
A recent report from Sky News tells the story of international removals firm Peter Morton Removals who claim they are now receiving upwards of 30 enquiries each day from British expats seeking to relocate back to the UK. While few would claim that the UK is cheap it seems that for many expats the expat dream of retiring to the sun has long since withered and died.
Not that Cyprus necessarily needs to worry about lost tax revenues from expats just yet. The vacancies created by Brits heading home are apparently being rapidly filled by new expats from Russia and China. New money is being wooed into the country with promises of EU passports for new citizens. As a result many non-EU nationals are now viewing Cyprus as a gateway to Europe.