Cyprus or Portugal? Couple nearing retirement looking for a change. Not interested in a TOWIE lifestyle, but nice country, good walking with the option of a beach. Good food a big plus. Which?

(30 Posts)
XingMing Thu 08-Apr-21 20:17:36

We're ready to think about retiring. We have earned enough money and worked for it, so we are thinking retirement planning. We've lived in the SW UK for 30 years and the busier it gets, the less we like it. So time to move. We don't really want a place that hums with tourism in school holidays and is otherwise dead, which seems to suggest a location with a year-round life and activity. We aren't going to fit into a TOWIE environment comfortably. We will obviously spend time in any promising location. We will not need jobs, but the opportunity to contribute and meet like-minded people would be a big plus for social reasons. Your views or opinions or experiences will be read with interest.

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XingMing Thu 08-Apr-21 20:18:56

And we aren't Russian oligarchs either!

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PopLife Fri 09-Apr-21 09:52:19

Not your age OP and haven't made the permanent move myself, but I've spent a lot of time in Portugal since COVID hit and I would love to retire on the Algarve. Generally speaking, the Portuguese are a friendly, warm people who know how to enjoy life - easier to do when you've got warm weather, good food and wine, lots of natural beauty spots and a stronger social fabric! Places popular with British expats cater pretty well for English speakers. E.g there's an English radio station in the Algarve and you'll find dual Portuguese/ English signs dotted about in shops, hardware stores and so on. And you would find plenty of British retirees there. Can't compare with Cyprus, but I've done a lot of travelling and I think it's a special part of the world.

XingMing Fri 09-Apr-21 16:51:53

Thanks @PopLife. The only time I went to the Algarve was back in 1986, so my knowledge is well out of date. As noted above, we'll obviously visit anywhere we like the look of for a recce. I am fairly good at languages, so would take lessons from day one. DH isn't, hence the appeal of Cyprus.

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purrswhileheeats Thu 15-Apr-21 23:06:29

Cyprus is an interesting country, the remaining divided capital in the world!

It's beautiful and diverse - hot and humid around the coasts but cool and lush in the mountains, Mount Olympus is 2000m at the summit. You can swim in the sea, drive for an hour then ski.

The weather does go to extremes though, bitterly cold in January/February and most houses don't have central heating. June to September are the worst months on the south west coast - the humidity is unbearable (Paphos).

However, it's a lovely place to live grin There's a strong ex pat community which is making positive changes (eg. animal welfare).

Language - Greek is not that difficult if you just want to speak a few words, no different from learning French or Spanish.

XingMing Fri 16-Apr-21 09:48:33

Thank you @purrswhileheeats. I think we'd probably try to avoid the very touristy parts like Paphos but the warning of winter cold is appreciated: if central heating is needed for year round occupation, would it be electric... which brings up the utility costs. My sister spent 16 years in the ME and the utility bills (for AC mainly) were eyewatering.

DH was born in Nicosia (military family) but left when he was three, so has very limited memories of it.

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purrswhileheeats Sat 17-Apr-21 14:26:06

The Paphos region is huge, stretches from Polis in the north west to the villages along the south coast towards Pissouri/Limassol. It's very hilly and most retired ex pats settle in elevated villages above the humidity line - no a/c needed even in July and August.

Most people with central heating have an LPG system, you have your tank filled up for around €200 (depending on the size) and it lasts all winter, it heats your water too if there's not enough sun to hit the solar panels on your roof. It's swings and roundabouts though; my electricity bills are higher in the summer as I'm at sea level but only €15 more over the winter period with oil radiators on. My most recent electric bill for February to April (they're issued every two months) was €58 but I am frugal and have four cats to provide heat grin My July - September bill last year was €79 and that was sleeping with the a/c on every night for two months.

Have you been to Cyprus? The east and west are very different - the east has better beaches/coastline but the west is more beautiful IMO as you can see mountains everywhere, even next to the coast. You also have to remember that immigration rules have changed post-Brexit - you should be ok as retirees though as long as you buy property here and have pensions.


XingMing Sat 17-Apr-21 15:00:13

It sounds very agreeable indeed @purrswhileheeats. We are hoping to visit sometime later in the year, but will not be in a position to make any commitments for a while. Aged parents, university age child etc. etc. Just planning and considering the possibilities that we might want to explore. We shall have pensions, and will be in a position to buy when the time comes.

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Alcemeg Tue 27-Apr-21 19:34:37

I think if you're inclined to avoid touristy places, you won't like how the Algarve has developed over the past decade or so. It's pretty much a British colony now, and in summer absolutely jam packed (like, having to step between people's legs when crossing a beach). Also rather expensive.

You might prefer somewhere like Sesimbra, although you'd need to pick up speaking a bit of Portuguese as it caters more for holidaymakers from Lisbon than British tourists.

As someone who moves all over the place on wild impulse, I'd strongly recommend that you rent before you buy anywhere. That way, you can always change your mind about the area and even the country! It can take at least a couple of years for the initial novelty to wear off, and it's how you feel from then on that really counts. If you find yourself wishing you'd moved somewhere else, it's nice not to be tied to a property.

MumInBrussels Fri 30-Apr-21 05:52:53

You might want to look at the residency requirements for each country and see if there's a difference. Post-Brexit, unless you have EU nationality, these will matter, so if one of them suits your circumstances better that might affect your decision.

Badbadbunny Tue 04-May-21 16:26:14

We've been seriously thinking about retiring to Cyprus (OH was born there) but the Summer temperatures put us off as it's often too hot to be out in the day and we really don't want to be stuck indoors with the air con for 2/3 months of the year. (We've holidayed there a few times at different times of the year). We'd be wanting to go for say October to April and be back in the UK for May-Sep to avoid the oppressive Summer heat. Our plan would be to rent it out for tourists in Summer.

Frequentflier Tue 18-May-21 13:06:53

Marking this thread as DH and I want to retire in Asia in a couple of years time. Obviously a completely different kettle of fish, but I think we might have the same issues: making new friends in our 50s, language and so on.

bouncydog Wed 19-May-21 05:39:29

I would suggest you carefully investigate the requirements for each country post Brexit re visas etc. DH and I were thinking Spain but having now investigated a little more we would be so much worse off financially due to compulsory medical insurances, visas, capital gains taxes, tax rates etc.etc. We’ve reluctantly concluded that we will manage on the 90/180 day rules and rent in different areas returning to our home/visiting non EU in the interim periods. Of course if one of you has an EU passport or is an EU national then different rules will apply. I wish you all the best.

Sunflowergirl1 Wed 19-May-21 05:46:37

@bouncydog is correct. A friend of mine is looking at it is very difficult now. However, if you have a guaranteed income for two of over 32,000 euro and can afford full medical insurance then you can obtain a non lucrative visa for 5 years before gaining residency. However, be ready for costs in providing a mountain of documentation, paying to have it all translated, criminal records checks and being required to spend a minimum period per year in Spain. You will become a tax resident as well

LizziesTwin Wed 19-May-21 05:49:25

There’s a residence by investment visa for non EU citizens for Portugal, there might be the same for Cyprus, I don’t know.

bouncydog Wed 19-May-21 06:12:39

The issue for us is the tax residency. Eg if you sell a property and move to Spain in the year in which you sell the property you will have to pay tax on the sale even if it’s elsewhere in the world. So if we do decide to relocate there will be additional tax planning fees etc. The income requirements are not an issue and we are not tax evaders - careful planning is essential and I’m not really sure I want the hassle and all of the additional expense just for a bit more sun!

Hoppinggreen Mon 24-May-21 17:44:20

I can’t comment on the logistics but look at Ayamonte in Spain instead. It’s in an area known at The Spanish Algarve. Not too touristy and much cheaper. Happy to answer any questions about the area
We own a property there and will retire there in 10-15 years. DH is an EU citizen which makes things easier

Laureline Sun 30-May-21 20:15:06


There’s a residence by investment visa for non EU citizens for Portugal, there might be the same for Cyprus, I don’t know.

The golden visa system of Portugal is expensive, oversold & very often unnecessary option. They need to look into type D visas.

thegcatsmother Tue 01-Jun-21 20:50:23


In Portugal a US friend of mine is very keen on Cascais, and the area between Lisbon and Cascais might suit. Porto is also lovely, or so dh tells me.

What about Malta?

Sarahlou63 Sun 13-Jun-21 15:21:46

Cascais is very expensive - lots of Americans settle there. If you're prepared to swap the windy and damp Atlantic coastline for lakes and river then look at central Portugal. I live close to the beautiful, small city of Tomar - about 150km north of Lisbon. The region is gorgeous, not particularly touristy and the cost of living (especially property) is very low. Feel free to PM me for more info.

XingMing Sat 17-Jul-21 16:24:27

Thanks for all the comments. OP here, but just spotted my thread, which went off the boil a bit, and had dropped off my list.

DH was born in Cyprus, but is a UK citizen. I'm quite reasonable at languages so would aim to learn enough of whatever language is needed. The northern part of Portugal is appealing more than the Algarve. We shall have a reasonable budget, but also want to hold enoough back to get DS onto the property ladder in due course.

@Sarahlou63, I will find Tomar on the map!

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Embracelife Sat 17-Jul-21 16:32:22

Cyprus flight is 4.5 hours from London
Faro is 2.5 hours

So a significant difference in travel time if that is important

Sarahlou63 Sat 17-Jul-21 17:05:24

Here's a good example of something that's ready to move into;

XingMing Sat 17-Jul-21 17:13:47

Thanks, @Sarahlou63. The city and its lakeside location looks charming. Another place to visit on our tour!

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WithLoveFromMyselfToYourself Sat 17-Jul-21 17:23:40

I wouldn’t move to an island.
We live on the Algarve and I’ve been so glad of the option to drive between here and the U.K. over the past couple of years.
It’s not just Covid. Oil prices and possible future taxation on aviation could all be issues .

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