As the summer holiday makers start heading home, Paphos turns from a bustling Mediterranean destination back into a sleepy small town or as some say, a village. I have concluded my second consecutive summer here and anticipating the beauty of the coming autumn and winter seasons, I would like to share a few points about Cyprus for interested vacationers, people relocating and intending to buy property and live here, or anyone just interested in reading.
The thing that weighed heavy on my mind about moving to another country was learning a foreign language. Once my wife, son and I decided to move to Cyprus for the next few years and live close to our family I immediately purchased books for learning Greek. I feared the possibility of failure, but I approached it with determination and enthusiasm anyway. Unfortunately, the results were not good, any words learned were quickly forgotten. I hoped that maybe in Cyprus it would be easier. I was right, once we arrived I was able to pick up words much more easily and within weeks I had memorized forty words. At that pace by the end of the year I would be fluent which brings me to my first surprise.
My biggest surprise is that I now know less than I did before. The reasons are that most people speak English and many English speaking residents are not attempting to learn. I asked a few people about how good their Greek was, to see how long it usually takes to learn and to get some kind of average. I was very surprised to hear them tell me that they don’t speak and were not going to try. People who on first impression I would of picked as someone who would learn, and quickly had no interest. I have learned a lot since I have been here and I will learn Greek, I promise.
The second thing that concerned me was the anticipated culture differences or “shock” having come from the US. We were used to many things that are not available, (good and bad) but that’s another story. I feel no shock; of course we miss things such as the great television programming we were used to in America and the vast amount of choices. In Cyprus however, we have lots of real, quality, family time.
What is also surprising is the decline of the tourists in the non summer months. Yes, I know kids go back to school and parents get back to work however, to me everyone is coming here at the wrong time of year. The weather in Cyprus is absolutely wonderful all year round and the millions of tourists that visit this island only come when it’s absolutely blistering hot. The only thing to do at that time is to bear it and try and stay cool, and of course tan or burn which ever you prefer.
Living most of my life in Chicago and dealing with those types of harsh winters, I feel like I live in paradise during December and January. I sell homes and as I talk to home owners listing property with me to sell, I ask what kind of heating they own so we can write it in the description. I feel silly asking but not everyone is as immune to the cold as I am and the winters are seem mild to me anyway. One message that’s repeated on many websites promoting Cyprus is “340 days of Sunshine.” Well they are not lying and they need to push this message a little harder.
Another surprise is the actual population, or the lack of it. I must confess that I did a lot of research about the country, I looked at statistics regarding just about every aspect of the country and the region including history and especially business related issues, trying to figure out where my experience would be best fitted. I did not consider the small local population because the one time I visited Cyprus it was during the summer months and all the hotels, apartments and villas were full of people. I did not realize that they would only remain full for such a short time.
The cost of living was yet another shock. I thought coming from the U.S. to a small country meant a lower cost of living, especially since things I associated with higher standards such as fancy malls, theme parks, zoo’s, museums and theatres are not available in Cyprus. I accepted a high cost of living when I moved to Washington D.C. from Peoria, IL because there were reasons for the high price and I took advantage of them. In Cyprus, I couldn’t justify the even higher cost, until now.
What is it that makes Cyprus worth the price? The answer is of course my own personal beliefs obtained from observations and conclusions I feel strongly towards. First is the lack of crime, there is a feeling of safety that I have here that I never had anywhere. I forget to lock my house doors even when I leave to go far, I leave my car windows rolled down, and I don’t worry about my kids being abducted and other things you see in the news.
Second is the lack of pollution, not only are we in a country with the main source of revenue from tourism and agriculture, add the fact that we are in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, north of the least industrious continent Africa. I am not a scientist but I don’t see any obvious source of pollution and I feel the difference. The final point is the lack of time my family and I spend in traffic. There is no traffic, yes there are times when a driver might do something to delay a few drivers behind him or I see the occasional accident that has brought everyone to watch and wait for the policeman to arrive to record and measure all details for his report, but that only happened once and it lasted for five minutes. The time gained is spent doing meaningful things with family and friends in a stress free, unpolluted, beautiful part of the world.
Cleo is the owner of Cyprus marketing solutions Ltd. a Paphos based company providing proven internet marketing solutions specializing in selling property in Cyprus to families relocating to Cyprus and buying property in Paphos District and surrounding area.