North Cyprus is Expat Paradise Recognized
When traveling on the open sea, one does not like to hear that they are approaching ”the perfect storm”. There are however those rare exceptions. North Cyprus, located in the Mediterranean Sea, part of the European continent and just a ferry boat ride from Asia is one perfect storm I was glad to be advised of during a day cruise off the Turkish coast.
It is now my permanent residence, new home, and true love.
I’d like to share my good fortune with you and tell you about this place that has it all and seems to lack nothing. I will attempt to address each of the six reasons why I believe that North Cyprus is the perfect storm or simply ”paradise.”
North Cyprus has:
1. Perfect Weather
2. Perfect Swimming
3. First World Infrastructure
4. English-Speaking people
5. Foreign Resident Friendliness
6. Extremely Affordability
First, a little technical background:
I only discovered North Cyprus after taking the aforementioned cruise ship, even though I had been to southern Cyprus before. A British tour boat guide from the southern part of the island had took us to near the North Cyprus-controlled town on Famagusta and said it was now a ghost-town. He added that we shouldn’t try to visit it because it was now occupied by Turkish forces. This turned out to be no more true than a ghost story. You will hear some tall tales about North Cyprus but make sure you do your own thorough investigation of whatever you hear. I believed the tour guide at his stern word and didn’t visit North Cyprus for the first time until five years later. Five years I could have been living in North Cyprus. Believe me if I ever see that tour guide again, well, let’s just say the beer is not on me.
North Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey. It constitutes the northern portion of the island of Cyprus and has been in existence since 1974 when Turkish Cypriots felt they were being pushed out of the co-sharing government promised as part of the terms of the British pull-out. Unable to stop the sometimes violent persecution against them, Turkish Cypriots retreated with the help of military intervention to the north part of the island where the majority of their people have historically lived. As you can imagine, there are hurt feelings on both sides of the island and they are beyond the scope of this article.
As a result of the lack of international recognition, North Cyprus has had to work for prosperity. While southern Cyprus is part of the EU, North Cyprus is not. This has worked out largely to the benefit of the island, which has become a playground for wealthy and middle class Russians and
Israelis as well as a new home to many Britons, both young and retired. There are Vegas style resorts casinos dotting the otherwise lush, unspoiled landscape. Northern Cyprus consists of endless kilometers of beach, mountains, orchards, and a little of the desert-like landscape the
south is known for having.
I started by saying that North Cyprus is the perfect storm for those looking for paradise but the term is a bit ironic since there are rarely any rainy days on the island. This brings me to number one on my list of the six reasons why you should consider North Cyprus for your next home
North Cyprus enjoys a year-round median temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are over 300 days of sunshine per year, leaving just enough days of precipitation to provide for a vivid spring landscape and lush overall environment. Winters are mild and short with temperatures averaging in the low to mid 60′s while summers, which last through November average in the 80s. Spring comes early with wildflowers in bloom by late February.
There are no hurricanes, monsoons, earthquakes, tornadoes or any other severe weather events to worry about.
Unlike other islands there is no time of the year that is a bad time to visit, and the weather varies just enough so that you never become bored from the one season effect.
Water temperatures average in the 70′s year-round making swimming feasible in all except the coldest months of winter when the outside temperature might make a dip in the jacuzzi sound more tempting then a swim.
The waters of North Cyprus are sparkling blue. No matter the depth of the water, odds are you will see clearly to the bottom. There are rarely any waves, so you can swim in the sea just like in a
gigantic swimming pool. The calm waters also make for perfect sailing.
I was never big into swimming until I came to North Cyprus. Now, you can’t get me out of the water. The warm, azure water of the Mediterranean here will lure you in and if you are like me, make itself your second home.
First World Infrastructure
After many years of being a British colony, North Cyprus like the rest of the island enjoys a world class infrastructure. Recent economic prosperity as the property market continues to boom and foreign investors support development of resorts and casinos has also helped the local government continue to develop first world, first class infrastructure throughout the
Just beware, that like in the rest of Cyprus, people drive on the ”wrong side” of those first class roads and if you are not used to that, it can take some getting used to at first.
There are ferry boats to take you the 40 some miles to the Turkish coast and crossing the border to southern Cyprus is little more complicated than using a toll booth (although there is no charge to cross the border). From southern Cyprus you can also arrive in Israel or Egypt via cruise boat.
North Cyprus has an international airport, although many use Larnaca airport or Nicosia airport in the south and a regular shuttle service to arrive in North Cyprus. This makes the island anything but remote as you can easily get about to anyone in the world here.
You won’t be relinquishing any of the comfort of first world living by coming to North Cyprus. In fact, you may at times find it more developed than back home.
While it is always advisable to learn some words in the local language, North Cyprus uses English a de-facto second language. Nearly all signs, including street signs, are in Turkish and English. If only one language is used, it is generally English. Movies are shown in English. English-language schools abound. As a former British colony, use and knowledge of English is widespread. English is the official language of business as well. You don’t have to ask people here first ”do you speak English?” It is taken for granted that they do. That being said, you may find some people, especially in more remote areas that do not speak English.
I don’t feel at all like a gringo here. The island is exotic but there is not the cultural and language gap here as in many other island destinations.
Foreign Resident Friendliness
North Cyprus is happy to have you a resident in their country. The North Cyprus government has made it much easier than most countries to obtain short and then long term residency. They do require that you take medical tests to prove you do not have certain transmittable diseases and
that you have sufficient funds to not become a burden to the island. If you can pass that test, then you can obtain a yearly residence permit for North Cyprus that can become permanent after 5 years.
It is estimated some 50,000 British citizens alone have already taken them up on this offer.
If I told you all of the above, but that it costs a small fortune, your interest might wane quickly. At least mine would have. The best thing about North Cyprus, the part of the deal that real clenches
it the title of ”paradise”, is that it is one of the last places in the world and certainly amongst first-world islands or European countries where the average person can afford a good lifestyle without having to have come into a huge windfall of money or have a great job secured.
Just how affordable is life in North Cyprus? You can rent a seaside villa for under $900 a month and a 2 bedroom apartment in a resort style complex for under $450. You can buy a penthouse apartment for $70,000 or a 4 bedroom villa with underground pool for under $150,000. You won’t come close to these prices in the south and you will be hard pressed to find the same size and luxuries in homes as in the North anyway.
It should be noted that North Cyprus is one of the few places in Europe where property prices are going up. They’ve already risen 10% from this time last year. In addition to the seaside real estate, North Cyprus also provides golf homes on world class golf courses.
(As disclaimer, due to the international dispute, properties without an original Turkish Cypriot title deed or part of the government compensation program may have disputed ownership and care should be made to avoid purchasing this kind of property until a solution is found.)
As far as other living costs are concerned, you won’t pay the normal island markup. Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown locally as well as brought over from Turkey. Turkish factories where many popular clothing lines are designed bring their goods to North Cyprus selling at prices below what they charge to wholesalers. Eating out at a taverna and enjoying a number of local meze and a bottle of wine won’t cost much more than a run to your local McDonalds. You may even get a show at no extra cost.
Really the question isn’t if you should move to Paradise (North Cyprus), the question is rather, where in North Cyprus?
One place to consider is the village of Karaman. Karaman was leased by the government to private members of the international community from Europe and North America starting in 1979. One British expat described the feel in Karaman as that of a ” British hamlet in the 1950s.” It is indeed entirely international and laid back in feel while uniquely North Cypriot in presentation. There are a number of quaint shops, an Angelican church and a restaurant called ”Levant” run by a Canadian couple. Levant is a great place to celebrate the holiday season starting with American Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s, eggnog and all. Here the expat community is close knit and devoted to creating a sense of true community with locals and other foreigners alike.
Karaman is in the mountain foothills and a bit of a drive from the beach, but a great place to unwind and enjoy a cool breeze. If a small town European feel away from the noise and clutter — and heat – is what you are looking for, Karaman might be right for you.
It’s just one of the many fascinating places in North Cyprus to
Somewhere in the Bible, Cyprus is referred to as ”the place that has it all and lacks nothing.” That is my definition of paradise and I’ve recognized it here in amazing North Cyprus. I might suggest that if it sounds like paradise to you as well to act quickly before the rest of the world recognizes it too.
Rob Brewster is a part-time property agent at Privilege Property’s North Cyprus Office. Most of the year he is too busy swimming, sailing and enjoying life with his wife and children to work! In order to share his love for the islands with other expats, help them find their dream home and
yes, pay for his boat slip he directs four annual inspection trips on the island. If you are interested in finding out more about one of these trips or North Cyprus in general contact him at email@example.com.