Cyprus vs Portugal From an Expats Perspective

What really are the differences between 2 similar EU destinations for an expat that has experienced both? This article considers the advantages and drawbacks between island Mediterranean life in Cyprus and continental Portugal. While many European countries attract significant numbers of expats there is no doubt that Portugal and Cyprus attract more than their fair share of travelling workers and expats.



The weather is obviously a vital element of any potential country of residence and while on the surface, if you have not visited Portugal or Cyprus, one can assume that both offer similar climates, however this is not always the case. In August the temperatures in Cyprus reach 40 degrees Celsius on a regular basis, which a number of expats seem to find very difficult to cope with, including high levels of humidity year round.

Ultimately it depends on the situation and personal preference, as in there are areas of Portugal which get hot at certain times of the year, however Cyprus definitely beats Portugal in general terms of extreme weather conditions. Portugal gets colder in winter and receives more rainfall than Cyprus during the year with the rainy months generally being from February to March.


Cost of Living

The cost of renting or buying a property has recently increased a great deal in Lisbon, however generally prices in Cyprus are also on the rise. In terms of standard expenses such as food and other goods and services, Cyprus appears to be far greater than Portugal at the moment.

Ultimately, although while varying from element to element, it is safe to say that Cyprus has a significantly higher cost of living when compared to Portugal. In Portugal, wages are certainly much lower than Cyprus, and a higher tax rate at all incremental salary levels.


The Economy

While there is no doubt that the Cypriot economy and the Portuguese economy are very different in nature, with Portugal now more of a services-based economy with particular emphasis on software, automation and business services, while Cyprus still heavily relies on tourism and entertainment still a growing percentage of the economic output of the island is coming from businesses in the finance and investment.

Portugal was one of the first members of the EU and is now an integral part of the Eurozone today. As Cyprus has also moved to keep up with the times, the Portuguese government have also undoubtedly been investing funding focused on exports, private investment and a number of high-tech sectors.


Property Development

Property development in Cyprus and Portugal, and many other areas of the world, is a subject which attracts many different opinions and different experiences. In most European countries one could encounter dodgy builders when you don’t have the right contacts, a job needs doing quickly and the appropriate research hasn’t been carried out.

Ultimately, finding a property developer who you can trust and is reliable will generally be the same procedure in both countries. Many people have been deceived by rogue property developers who are happy to quote low prices and provide a service to match.


Property Deeds

While there do not appear to be any specific problems with property deeds in Portugal, aside from the normal situation in that you need to ensure all documentation is correct and in place, unfortunately the same cannot be said of Cyprus.

It has to be said that many expats have been caught up in the Cyprus land ownership issue, with property deeds not delivered on time and some impromptu homeowners waiting years to receive the correct documentation. Indeed, there have also been reports that a number of properties have been reclaimed by the authorities on behalf of the “rightful owners” or indeed homes have been flattened where ownership of the land has been disputed.

The situation regarding property deeds and property ownership in Cyprus is one which continues to this day and is obviously an element which needs to be taken into consideration. On the plus side, it must be said that not all properties in Cyprus are in any way caught up in this particular issue.


Quality of Life

Generally speaking the quality of life in both countries is somewhat average and similar for a European country. Factors such as safety, cleanliness and spending power are all similar. Some minor points to note: shops are open for longer hours in Portugal, with many 24 hour places in cities while in Cyprus after 8pm you will be hard pushed to find any supermarkets open, with winter opening hours worse and limited working hours every Sunday.

If accessibility is what you’re looking for, Portugal has much more sociable opening hours and a lot more choice in terms of selection of goods as well. If you don’t have a car in Cyprus, there is very little public transport infrastructure and little desire to build on it; making it difficult to get around. In Portugal however there is the metro, tram, train and a number of regular buses than run according to a 24hr schedule.


Is Portugal or Cyprus right for you?

For many years Portugal, and in particular the Algarve, has been very popular with European expats for retirement however Paphos similarly so with UK expats. It ultimately boils down to individual preference, in that there are many plus points for Portugal and many attractions for Cyprus. If you are a beach fanatic, you will love most towns on the island of Cyprus. If you are more of a city dweller, the winding streets and more cosmopolitan vibe of Lisbon would be a great move for you.

If offered the opportunity to move to Portugal or Cyprus, the vast majority of Europeans may well choose Portugal ultimately because they are more familiar with the region, climate, the economy and the country itself. However that is not to say that Cyprus isn’t a wonderful destination that offers foreign visitors and expats looking to move to the region a wonderful taste of Mediterranean life, even if there are a number of minor issues which could be addressed.

As with any move overseas it depends on the individual’s lifestyle and significant qualities, whether a young student or a working family: different climates, economic outlooks and local communities are all subjective; not everyone is looking for the same lifestyle and standard of living essentially. Cyprus is obviously at an earlier stage of logistical development compared to its European counterparts such as Portugal, however it would be a mistake to disregard either for considering relocating for a different way of life.


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