Cyprus – a new life under the sun
If you’ve never thought about retiring in Cyprus, well, why not? The country is an attractive prospect for retirees in more ways than one. Apart from year-round sunshine, Cyprus has all the things that are so important when you retire: excellent healthcare, a relatively low cost of living, a relaxed lifestyle, plenty of leisure activities and – perhaps most important of all for your difficult – earned pension – there is a very low tax rate for pensioners.
Perhaps you are a few years away from retirement and starting to make plans for the future. If you are still active, your retirement in Cyprus could be the start of a whole new life for you. Retiring in Cyprus allows you to enjoy your new life and the pleasures of a beautiful Mediterranean island, safe in the knowledge that along with all that sunshine, all of life’s essentials are taken care of.
Property in Cyprus
Of course, you will need to live somewhere, but try not to rush into buying a property in Cyprus; however, it is a very important decision. However, if you already know Cyprus well – perhaps having spent many happy holidays there – you may already know where you want to buy a property to live in until you retire. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to rent a property first so you can get to know the area before committing. There is a fantastic selection of reasonably priced property in Cyprus, whether you choose to rent or buy.
You can choose between traditional Cypriot country houses inland or a spectacular beachfront property with spectacular ocean views. There are many apartments, townhouses or villas in Cyprus, but remember that access is important, especially if you are retired. That beautiful wrought iron staircase or quaint old house may be tempting now, but will it be practical when you can’t move? It is also important to consider how close the property is to local facilities. You may not always want or be able to drive, so it is a good idea to choose a property in Cyprus that has easy access to shops, restaurants and medical facilities.
The main areas of Cyprus to consider are Larnaca, which is close to the international airport and has a large selection of coastal and inland properties. Limassol is a lively seaside town with easy access to the Troodos Mountains if you prefer a property in a traditional Cypriot village. Famagusta and the areas around Protaras and the beautiful town of Paralimni are also favorites of retirees. By far the most popular choice for those buying holiday or retirement homes is Paphos. It has its own international airport and properties of all kinds can be found either near Paphos town or in one of the many surrounding towns and villages. There is also a great support network for pensioners, especially those from the UK.
Low taxes for pensioners in Cyprus
If you’re starting to think that retiring in Cyprus might be a good idea, the fact that retirees pay such low tax in Cyprus could be the deciding factor in your decision. If you receive a foreign pension in Cyprus, it may be paid directly into your bank account and depending on your country of origin may be index-linked, such as UK pensions. If you are a UK resident and intend to retire in Cyprus, you can get more information about your personal pension status from the Department for Work and Pensions, who can be contacted on (0044) 191 218 7777. If you are considering permanent retirement in Cyprus, it is a good idea to consult an independent financial advisor before making any decisions. If you become a permanent resident of Cyprus with retired status, your worldwide income will be taxed there and you will have a choice between two tax systems:
· The first CYP2,000 (£2,700/EUR3,400 approx) is tax free and you are then taxed at 5% or;
· The first CYP10,000 (approx £13,500/EUR17,000) is tax-free and thereafter you are taxed at standard rates (between 20% and 30%).
Healthcare in Cyprus
Another thing that may influence your decision to retire in Cyprus is the standard of healthcare, which is an important priority regardless of your age. Healthcare facilities in both the public and private sectors in Cyprus are of a high standard and as the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the EU, pensioners from other EU countries are entitled to free or low-cost healthcare in the public sector. Pensioners must obtain an E121 form from their home country and in the UK, which is the Department for Work and Pensions (see contact details above). When you arrive in Cyprus, you must take your E121 to your health center or public hospital, where you will be issued with a medical card. There are two types of medical cards, one for free treatment and one for discounted treatment. The type of card you will be given will depend on your annual income (including pensions) and personal circumstances. More information can be found on the Cyprus Ministry of Health website.
Cost of living in Cyprus
The cost of living is another important factor if you are thinking of retiring in Cyprus. Although prices have risen over the past few years, prices in Cyprus are still relatively low, especially when you compare them to other popular retirement destinations. Fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally can be bought cheaply in season, and meals in local taverns cost around €16 per person on average, including wine.
Leisure activities and golf in Cyprus
If you’re wondering what to do with all that free time, Cyprus offers endless leisure activities to keep you busy and active. There is hiking and cycling on some of the beautiful nature trails in the spectacular Akamas Peninsula, horse riding, a whole range of water sports or skiing in the Troodos Mountains in winter. These are just a small selection of ways to enjoy this wonderful outdoor lifestyle in Cyprus. There is also a lot of golf – a very popular pastime for retirees in Cyprus. For those who love the game, Cyprus now has three championship golf courses near Paphos and one near Limassol. The Cyprus Tourism Organization has committed to a total of 14 golf courses on the island over the next few years and some big names such as Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus are lending their names to golf course developments. The latest course under construction is just outside of Larnaca, in the village of Tersefanou, which is scheduled for completion in 2010.
Residence permits in Cyprus
So if you have decided that Cyprus is the place for your retirement, all you need to know now is how to apply for a residence permit. You can stay in Cyprus for up to 90 days without a permit if you are an EU citizen or a citizen of a number of other countries, including the US, Canada and Australia (the full list of eligible countries is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus). You will need to apply for an immigration permit (category F) through the District Aliens and Immigration Department or the Immigration Department of your local police station. There is a department in each of the main cities. Your application (on form M.67) must be submitted together with evidence that you have sufficient annual income to support yourself. The current minimum amount is CYP 5,600 (approx. £7,600/EUR9,600), although each case is considered on its merits. The amount is per person and there is an additional amount of CYP 2700 (£3700/EUR4600 approx) for each dependent. Residence permits are issued for five years and are usually automatically renewed upon request.
So go forth and enjoy your well-deserved retirement relaxing on the beautiful island of Cyprus.
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