It's never too late to improve your quality of life and you can find all the quality you need by relocating to Cyprus. With an idyllic lifestyle, a rich culture, 340 days of sunshine a year and a convenient position in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus combines a high standard with a low cost of living in a modern and well-functioning environment.
Moving to Cyprus also offers retirees the stability afforded by full EU membership status, first-class healthcare, no inheritance tax and a dedicated tax regime that is designed to enable retirees to get the very best out of their pensions and savings income.
- Climate: Cyprus enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long, warm, dry summers from May to October and mild winters with occasional rain, lasting from December to February. Summer and winter in Cyprus are separated by short autumn and spring seasons. The average daytime temperatures during summer range from 21C to 34C. During the cooler months temperatures can range between 7C and 15C, but even in the depth of winter there are generally six hours of bright sunshine during the day.
- Culture: Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and, it is said, "scratch the soil anywhere in Cyprus and you will find traces of its magnificent past". Situated at the maritime crossroads of the eastern Mediterranean basin, Cyprus has a rich and varied history involving the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Genoese, Venetians, Ottomans, British and Turks. Evidence of the island's 10,000 years of history is scattered all over on the island's landscape.
- Food and drink: Cypriot cuisine is Mediterranean in style, but with Turkish and Lebanese influences. Plenty of olive oil, fresh fish and lean meat, fruit, herbs, pulses and greens offer delicious flavours and aromas and make for an extremely healthy diet. Cyprus also has a rich history in winemaking, producing wines ranging from delicate whites and full-bodied reds to the rich sweet dessert wine nectar known as Commandaria.
- Scenery: Cyprus boasts some 650 km of coastline: the eastern coast is famous for fine white sandy beaches and shallow turquoise waters, the secluded coves of the western coast offer a more tranquil experience, while the grey sandy beaches of the southern coast lend themselves to long winter walks. Cyprus has been awarded 69 Blue Flag beaches, the highest per capita award in the EU. The mountains and forests of the interior offer walkers and cyclists some welcome respite from the heat. The Troodos Mountains, covered in snow during winter, are also a popular resort for skiers.
- Accessibility: As a popular holiday destination, Cyprus is well connected to Europe's main cities, as well as to Asia and the Middle East. Flights from mainland Europe are fast, efficient and increasingly economical. By air, Cyprus is five hours from London, four hours from Frankfurt, 1.5 hours from Athens and 3.5 hours from Dubai. Of the two international airports in Cyprus, Larnaca serves the most destinations and is easily accessible from the capital, Nicosia, as well as Ayia Napa and other coastal resorts. Paphos Airport on the West coast is smaller, flying passengers to selected airports in Europe.
- Expatriate community: Cyprus has the second highest percentage of foreign citizens in the EU, with 13% of the total population originating from other EU member states and around 7% from non-EU countries. The biggest group of expats living in Cyprus consists of British nationals, but there are also large numbers of expats from the US and Eastern European countries.
- Real Estate: Cyprus offers a good stock of residential properties for sale or rent –¬ from townhouses and apartments to villas, cottages and sea-side bungalows ¬– and in a wide range of modern and traditional styles. With three quarters of the population concentrated into its five main cities – Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos and Famagusta – Cyprus offers its residents the choice to enjoy a dynamic urban lifestyle or to embrace a more relaxing way of life in the countryside villages.
- Real Estate Purchase: EU/EEA citizens can purchase property in Cyprus with no restrictions. Non-EU/EEA nationals are permitted to buy and hold the freehold in one property in Cyprus. The property can be either an apartment, house, villa on a building site or plot of land limited to no more than 4,014m2. Owning real estate in Cyprus entitles the owner to obtain a multiple-entry national visa. There is also a 'fast track' permanent residence permit for those who purchase real estate valued above €300,000 (see Residency by Investment).
- Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): The TRP – often known as the 'pink slip' – is suitable for non-EU/EEA citizens who want to stay in Cyprus for longer than 90 days, or who are applying for a Permanent Residency Permit (PRP), which can take 12 months to be approved. The TRP is valid for one year and can be renewed on an annual or bi-annual basis (it ¬will be automatically cancelled if you are absent from Cyprus for more than three months continuously). There is no entitlement to work. Requirements include being able to show title of property ownership or rental agreement for minimum of 12 months, proof of sufficient financial resources deriving from abroad and health insurance with minimum level of cover.
- Permanent Residency Permit (PRP): The PRP (Category F5) is suitable for non-EU/EEA individuals who want to relocate to Cyprus. The PRP is valid for life but will be cancelled if you are absent from Cyprus for a period of two years. There is no entitlement to work. It typically takes 12 months for approval. Requirements include being able to show title of property ownership or rental agreement for minimum of 12 months, proof of sufficient financial resources deriving from abroad (including proof of regular income of minimum €9,568 per year, plus €4,613 per year for a spouse and each dependent) and health insurance with minimum level of cover.
- Fast-Track PRP: The Fast-Track PRP is suitable for non-EU/EEA individuals who want to relocate to Cyprus. It is valid for life but will be cancelled if you are absent from Cyprus for a period of two years. There is no entitlement to work. It typically takes two to three months for approval. Requirements include being able to show contract of purchase of new real estate with a minimum value of €300,000 (ex-VAT) from funds derived outside Cyprus, proof of sufficient financial resources deriving from abroad (including proof of regular income of minimum €30,000 per year, plus €5,000 per year for a spouse and each dependent) and health insurance with minimum level of cover.
- Language – Cypriots are highly educated and multilingual. The everyday spoken language of Greek Cypriots is Cypriot Greek, but English was the sole official language during British colonial rule until 1960, so around 75% of the local population can communicate in English fluently. The business community, as well as the public sector, have widely adopted the use of the English language, and English features on road signs, public notices and advertisements. German, French and Russian are also widely spoken in commercial situations.
- Healthcare – Ranked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the healthiest countries in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has an excellent healthcare system provided through both the private and public sector. Cyprus has an island-wide National Healthcare System, which covers both inpatient and outpatient care and is available to all citizens and permanent residents. EU citizens who are visiting Cyprus can receive free outpatient or inpatient non-routine treatment with a European Health Card. Non-EU visitors must pay for healthcare. There are a broad range of medical insurance options.
- Tax Residence: Tax residency in Cyprus has many benefits and exemptions for non-nationals, especially retirees. For an individual to be considered as a tax resident in Cyprus, they must spend more than 183 days in a year in Cyprus. In addition, Cyprus offers a '60-day Rule' regime, which enables foreign nationals to enjoy Non-Domiciled Tax Residency status by spending only 60 days in Cyprus within a calendar year, instead of 183. The tax benefits include no tax on worldwide dividend and interest income for non-domiciled individuals for 17 years, no tax on retirement gratuities and access to a special tax regime on foreign pension income (see below), no tax on gains arising from the disposal of investments (shares, bonds, etc), and no estate duty, wealth or gift taxes.
- Tax: One of the advantages of obtaining a Category 5 Permanent Residency Permit (PRP or Fast Track PRP) is the low tax rates on pension income that apply to individuals retiring in Cyprus. A foreign pension received in Cyprus can be taxed either at the standard personal income tax rates in Cyprus or at a special 5% flat rate for any amounts exceeding €3,420 per year. Under the standard personal income tax regime, the first €19,500 of earned annual income is tax-free, the 20% from €19,501 to €28,000, 25% from €28,001 to €36,300, 30% from €36,301 to €60,000, and 35% above €60,000. Further, there is no withholding tax in Cyprus, and non-domiciled tax residents are exempt from the Special Defence Contribution Tax. Cyprus also has double tax treaties with more than 60 countries, allowing for less taxation on types of income streams such as dividends, interest, assets and royalties for residents of Cyprus. Finally, Cyprus imposes no inheritance tax, making it easy for those retiring in Cyprus to leave wealth for their families free of tax.
So, retirees looking to improve their quality of life, need look no further than Cyprus. Moving to Cyprus is not an indulgence, but a balanced and rational decision related to your health, finances and a desire to lead an active and interesting life. It is a reliable destination in an unreliable world.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.