Ten years on – Is Cyprus still a re­tire­ment haven?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Rum­mag­ing through the ar­chives, at­ten­tion was brought to ten years ago to­day. In 2004 – de­spite hav­ing Li­mas­sol as Europe’s sec­ond cheap­est city – Cyprus was still ranked the most ex­pen­sive coun­try to re­tire to in Europe. As we all know, ten years can be a very long time.

Ten years, three Pres­i­dents, one fi­nan­cial cri­sis and still un­for­tu­nately no Euro­vi­sion win­ners later, we find our­selves won­der­ing ex­actly where we stand. Is Cyprus still a haven for those look­ing to set­tle in the warmer cli­mates or are ex­pa­tri­ates set­tling down else­where in the EU to en­joy their re­tire­ment?

With UK ex­pa­tri­ates in Cyprus peak­ing at 24,046 in 2008 (ac­cord­ing to Cyprus Property News) and with this num­ber in de­cline as well as fall­ing house rates, you would be for­given to be­lieve you should be wit­ness­ing a mass ex­o­dus. How­ever, cur­rent re­ports would sug­gest that Cyprus is in fact mov­ing along steadily in com­par­i­son to the rest of the EU.

A re­cent sur­vey by ex­patar­rivals.com showed that while Ni­cosia is still the is­land’s most ex­pen­sive city, it only ranked “as the 88th most ex­pen­sive out of the 100 cities in Europe that were sur­veyed. When only fac­tor­ing in con­sum­able prod­ucts, how­ever, that rank­ing rock­ets up to 48th.”

Now, be­fore we start con­tem­plat­ing hi­ber­na­tion flee­ing dur­ing from su­per­mar­kets win­ter months to or cut costs, it must also be stated that the stan­dard of liv­ing in Cyprus is still much cheaper than other Euro­pean coun­tries. Lo­cal taxes must also be looked at as well where some re­gions of Cyprus en­joy less than a third of coun­cil tax when com­pared to the likes of the UK. Also, when com­par­ing gro­ceries to the likes of the UK, Cyprus still holds its own as be­ing sub­stan­tially cheaper for the same bas­kets of goods.

As stated be­fore, the num­ber of UK ex­pa­tri­ates is in de­cline, how­ever, on closer in­spec­tion it can be seen that those leav­ing to re­turn home, de­spite tax ben­e­fits on pen­sions, are of an older age-range. There seems to be no clear in­di­ca­tion of why there is a de­crease in older ex­pats leav­ing Cyprus, but sta­tis­tics show that as one gen­er­a­tion leaves, an­other is slowly tak­ing its place. Cyprus is now find­ing its feet with new blood, of a younger gen­er­a­tion – not only with a brand of mu­sic re­pul­sive to the hu­man ear, but also look­ing to in­vest and set­tle within the is­land.

Cur­rent sta­tis­tics show that since 2008, some 60,000 Brits have bought property in Cyprus. With prices drop­ping by 10.5% (glob­al­prop­er­tyguide.com) in 2013 to give apart­ments an aver­age value of GBP 87,000 and houses an aver­age of GBP 275,000, it’s a good time for for­eign in­vestors to start afresh in a new cli­mate. A re­cent re­port co-pro­duced by the Cyprus In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Agency (in­vest­cyprus.org) ranks Cyprus 37th out of 185 economies in the ease of start­ing a new busi­ness – al­though not top ten, this must still prove an im­por­tant fac­tor to in­vestors who can see a coun­try on the rise.

One such lo­ca­tion hugely ben­e­fit­ing from home-based and for­eign in­vest­ment is Li­mas­sol. In­vest­ment into Li­mas­sol has al­lowed them to es­cape their bit­ter­sweet ti­tle of “Europe’s 2nd cheap­est city” with hav­ing cur­rently de­vel­oped its 300 mln euro ma­rina with its se­lec­tion of homes, so­cial and re­tail op­por­tu­ni­ties at­tract­ing a whole new host of clien­tele with busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. It will ob­vi­ously be a work-in-progress to keep it fresh and ap­peal­ing as well as fin­ish­ing other projects to pro­vide more homes and of­fice space, how­ever, any­one who has had the chance to visit this new de­vel­op­ment can al­ready sense the ex­cite­ment and new life which is be­ing fed in to the city.

Al­though there is a long way still to go, the trend of fresh in­vest­ment into Cyprus is wel­com­ing for ev­ery­one. De­spite the lack of el­derly pale ex­pats roam­ing the beaches, we now have a gen­er­a­tion with money in their pocket de­ter­mined to in­vest and be suc­cess­ful. Over­all, this will im­prove ca­reer prospects for those liv­ing on the is­land as well as give the chance for a con­struc­tion in­dus­try to find its feet in prepa­ra­tion for new lives in the sun.

It has been a long ten years, but Cyprus is fight­ing back to the po­si­tion she de­serves to be in through home and for­eign based in­vest­ment. With the flux of new, younger ex­pa­tri­ates we all hope that they can hang around af­ter their work is done and make Cyprus a re­tire­ment haven once again.

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