A turn towards the Troodos villages
Recently we are witnessing a growing interest in country homes, mostly in the Troodos area villages. Even though demand is mainly for housing of a certain type or character, there is also some interest, albeit limited, for plots suitable for construction where we must all pay attention to the new regulations for individual housing in non-residential areas.
Platres is certainly the most popular village for such an investment, but the supply of houses and land for development is next to nil. Also, Platres has three specific areas which are in primary demand: the upper road (Aidonia street), the middle road and the lower road. Anywhere outside of these three areas, the demand drop drastically, while land situated on an uneven topography has extremely high development costs.
Rising and until recently neglected villages for cottages or village houses is Kalopanayiotis, Pedoulas and certainly Prodromos. The general rise in climate is one of the reasons that potential buyers want to invest at a higher altitude than the villages at a lower elevation like Moniatis or Trimiklini.
The profile of the potential buyers is usually mid-income pensioners, people who have a special interest in nature, those who like to read, seek peace and quiet, and the occasional company. This has helped to create certain “neighborhoods” of pensioners from similar professional or work backgrounds, whereas in nearby villages one can find “outsider” residents (mainly from Nicosia) who have their own groups. This trend seems to be on the rise with the rate determined by the availability of housing for sale. In many villages an amount of about 25% of homes is abandoned or in a very poor state. There is an intention for supply, but owners who do not believe they will find buyers or are afraid of village gossip, will not put up “for sale” signs, which ultimately limits the demand as well. Perhaps the village “mukhtars” ought to take up the initiative to attract new buyers as this will not only contribute to tourism in the area and improve the income of villagers, but will also help to find funds to renovate some of these houses. Until now, the pioneers in this field had been foreign buyers (mainly British) in villages mostly of the Paphos district where some of these villages have enjoyed an obvious upgrade. Perhaps a small estate agents office should take action and the degree of success will depend on locating such houses available for sale. To this end, the government houses in the Troodos area that are expected to be offered on the market for sale or long term lease as part of the privatisation process, will be of great interest.
In addition, prospective buyers should also consider the impact of the weather conditions on these homes and the availability of handymen or small contractors who would be necessary for repairs, broken pipes, power failure, etc. The maintenance costs of such holiday homes is particularly high, as is evidently the lack of supply of suitable technicians; for example, if the refrigerator breaks down, it is most likely that someone will have to come from the nearest town and not a nearby village. Also, investors should consider that the construction costs are very high and could rise to twice that of building a house in town.
There is a growing trend by some city romantics to make their own wine or zivania, which is an occupation for far greater experienced people than amateurs who want to be occupied with such a hobby. Alternatively, pastimes include nature trails, visits to byzantine churches and monasteries, all of which add to the quality of life. At the same time, very few villages provide facilities such as supermarkets, retail shops and restaurants in the winter months, so retirees (even those visiting just on weekends) would need to travel from one village to another to find what they want. Only a handful of villages have managed to maintain some level of such facilities, such as Omodos and Platres. When it comes to costing, consider the following: • Buying land suitable for construction of a house will cost EUR 50 to 500 per sq. m. depending on the village, location and elevation or levels.
• Buying a ready house in a “habitable condition” could be EUR 2,000 to 3,500 per sq.m. depending on the village, type of construction and location of the property.
• Also, calculate a maintenance cost of at least EUR 1,000 a year, depending on the mishaps that will arise from malfunctions and construction wear.
So, buying a village house in the mountains is not a cheap affair and one needs to have a decent-sized wallet even after the renovation of the building, while the ideal age to live in such a property should not exceed 75 years, depending on the person’s state of health, and due to increased medical need, physical strain from frequent walks up and down steps and villages built on uneven levels.
A friend of mine recently told me that he only walks “downhill from the monastery of Trooditissa to Phoini. My wife waits for me at the end the journey in the car, because sometime my back aches.” Another friend built an external elevator, only that one day it broke down when he was init and he had to wait for six hours for the maintenance man and the fire service to get him out. These are some of the problems one will face and although I fully understand the romantic at heart and the desire to return to village roots, the real living conditions should be seriously taken into account.
As regards public infrastructure, most all villages undertake some level of i mprovement works, such as conference or exhibition centres, the adventure park for children and a sports centre in Platres, and various projects in Kalopanayiotis, a commendable initiative from the last mukhtar and the village council.
Typical Cypriots as we are, we must not forget our favourite pastime - eating, for which allow me to submit the following suggestions: • Souvla - Prodromos and Platres; • Homemade food – Platres; • Trout - Phoini, Platres, Kakopetria; • Entertainment – Omodos; • Supermarkets – Moniatis; • French cuisine quality – Phoini. If you are still interested in buying a holiday home in the mountains, rent a house for a period, not only to see if in the end this is your dream, but also to consider building and maintenance costs, as well as facilities in the area.