|It hasn't been all bureaucracy
Prior to moving we made a few preparations. About a year prior I joined a number of Cyprus forums, initially just lurked and then started to participate as our move date approached. There are some really helpful people on these (you very quickly learn who) and they certainly helped simplify the process we have just been through. Two notable ones were Paphos Life which is relevant for the Paphos side of the island and the Cyprus Eastern Forum which is relevant for the Famagusta side of the island. There are some common themes so both were worthwhile pursuits.
I also started the process of gaining us private medical cover. The company we went with were thorough in the screening process but I’m told by those that have made claims that they don’t quibble when you need care. It included questionnaires as well as physical check-ups which had to be done in Cyprus for those aged over 40. This was not a quick process taking us a little over 3 weeks from advising we’d like to proceed to being fully insured. I’m therefore glad that I did as much as possible from the UK as it minimised our non-cover period in Cyprus.
From the UK we also booked ourselves 2 weeks in a serviced apartment as well as a hire car for the same period. In hindsight we probably put ourselves under stress that we really didn’t need to by doing this for such a short time. The removal company shipping time turned out to be 3 weeks which means we actually did the move in two shipments effectively camping in our UK flat for a week so that our belongings would arrive in a timely fashion. It also meant we had to find somewhere to live quickly. Having done plenty of online rental research I thought this would be easy but once on the ground it became apparent that a lot of the online inventory was already rented / ‘didn’t exist’, had been taken by very good photographers or were ‘winter lets’ which I guess are then put on Airbnb (or similar) over the summer. Finding a place therefore took some time and caused some short term stress. While costing a little more, if I had my time over I would have booked temporary accommodation for at least 3 weeks and probably 4 weeks as this was the main problem area for us so far.
To keep the pressure off physically getting from the UK to Cyprus we made sure the removal company would be finished in the morning, we then dropped the keys off to the Landlord in the afternoon and spent the evening in a hotel close to Gatwick airport. I’d only been FIRE’d a few days and this was the first time we’d actually stopped. We had a nice meal and toasted to our new adventure.
From day 1 in Cyprus it really has been go go go with this being the first day we really have some genuine time to ourselves. I initially grabbed myself a Pay As You Go SIM for my mobile phone from a Cyta shop and then we set to getting a rental home as our first priority which we did knowing three things. Firstly, the framework developed a few years ago has up until now enabled us to now have enough of what we value. Secondly, we were committing to Cyprus for a 6 – 12 month period initially to make sure it was a place we could call home. We would therefore initially rent and if that worked out we would then buy. Thirdly, coming from a flat in the south east of England we didn’t know which parts of what was on the housing smorgasbord we would truly value long term vs what was ‘shiny’ today. We therefore decided to go for it with our rental to learn what brings us value and so have rented a detached house, with beautiful sea views, a pool and a wood burner. All of that of course comes at about half the price per month of what we were paying for our flat in the UK.
Once we’d found our rental home getting a contract in place was easy. All the agency wanted was a copy of our passports and a 1 month deposit from which we signed a rental agreement. Unlike the UK there were no reference checks and no tenancy fees. Our monthly rental also includes water (EUR15 per month) and refuse / community tax (EUR24 per month). Take that UK Council Tax... Oh and we get our bins collected twice a week within that charge.
Armed with a rental agreement we could then get the electricity connected. All they wanted was the rental agreement, a copy of our passports and a EUR200 deposit. In return we were connected as well as receiving a one page contract which I knew we would need later as it was evidence of ‘a utility bill’.
In parallel to this I then bought a small car and from the UK I’d also done a little prior preparation. For a number of years I had a company car for my work so I asked the company to write me a letter on company letterhead advising the company name / registration number, the period I’d had the car, that I had sole use of it for both personal and business purposes where I was the main driver, details of the fleet policy it was insured under and any claim details. Before leaving my company I then made sure this would be accepted by asking a Cyprus insurance company. This proved very worthwhile as it enabled me to gain a full 60% no claims bonus here in Cyprus giving us full comprehensive insurance for just a few hundred Euro’s. A no brainer in this context.
In the end I couldn’t justify a new car as it really wouldn’t have enhanced our lives, with our key criteria being simply safety and reliability, so through some forum recommendations went to a number of second hand dealers choosing one who had a car we liked who then did everything he said he would do. All I did was sign a contract, wire him some money, give a copy of our passports and give him the car insurance cover note which I secured once I knew the car we wanted. One observation is that second hand cars in Cyprus are expensive. To put it into perspective our second hand car is 7 years old with 80,000km on the odometer and it cost about 1/3 of the price of a new equivalent. In my budget I’m assuming it will suit us for 5 years.
So now we were mobile and had a place to live. It was now time to secure ourselves some bank accounts which is where a little humour crept in. There are a number of banks here with the two I’ve seen most frequently being the Bank of Cyprus and the Hellenic. We turned up to our chosen bank armed with passports, our rental agreement, our electricity contract and printed statements for my UK savings accounts / investment accounts. They asked us for passports, rental agreement, utility bill and payslips. When I advised them I was retired so didn’t have payslips but did have savings / investments to live off I was told that the best we could have was a savings account which could only withdraw money from cashpoint’s (ATM’s). I politely told them that we wanted a current account which could have online banking, pay directly in shops as well as withdraw at ATM’s. I was sent off to the branch manager where I produced my savings and investment account details. He had no interest in my savings accounts even though they contained more than £200,000 (remember I wasn’t asking for an overdraft here just a Visa debit card attached to an account) but as soon as I showed him dividends being produced in my Stocks and Shares ISA I was golden. Now the funny bit (well to me at least)... When they opened the actual account, which I might add took 2 hours and must have deforested a large portion of rainforest, they didn’t actually take my ISA evidence and instead took one of the savings accounts statements. I know, I don’t know either...
Internet wise there seem to be three main wired providers – Cyta who are the BT of Cyprus, Primetel and MTN. There are also many Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) however I just didn’t know how reliable these would be so stayed away initially. While Cyta are the most expensive it’s the company we went with simply because they allow a 12 month contract (where we also gained the first 2 months free) with the others require a 24 month sign-up. If we stay past 12 months we’ll change providers. All they wanted was a passport and an address. It’s been 3 working days since I signed up and we’re told we should be connected within the next 24 to 48 hours. Let’s see as I’ve already learnt the Greek phrase siga siga (slowly slowly)...
The last thing for us to then do was to get our appointments for immigration registration before Brexit day. We were initially told that appointments were May 2019 but by going through a red tape company we’ve been able to use one of their cancelled appointments meaning we’ll be registered in February 2019 or pre-Brexit day (at least for now while the Westminster omnishambles plays out).
In conclusion by doing my research from the UK, along with a couple of visits over the past couple of years, it’s made the getting established process reasonably painless. We have a few things to finalise but it’s nearly time to focus on other things including my decompression...