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A postcard from the home of Aphrodite: Living in Cyprus as a foreigner

calendar 6/26/2020 8:00:00 AM
author Admin System

My name is Richard. I'm from Canada. After a successful 35-year career in the investment world, I wanted to try something new and move to a gorgeous place where I could relax while optimizing my taxes. And, of course, in a place where my two children and my wife could have the same quality of life as back home.

And I discovered Cyprus. I was captivated by its history at once. The island is older than the ancient Greeks, which has witnessed the occupation of Greeks, Assyrians, Romans, Crusaders, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans, and British and is steeped in history, tradition, and culture.

From a couple of college courses in the Classics, I remembered that Aphrodite was said to be born from the foam of the sea in Cyprus, and that's why the island was so gorgeous.

I have to say that I didn't know much about Cyprus before starting to do some research.

But I was amazed by what I found. And two years ago, we started the process of moving here.

Modern Cyprus is indeed true to its legends. Its natural beauty has only increased with the construction of large residences, yacht clubs, schools, and parks for high-income people. I laughed at and loved the story of Saint Mamus, the patron saint of low-tax, a Christian who didn't want to pay taxes to the Romans and was pardoned after taming a lion.

Cyprus seemed like a terrific place from the beginning, thanks to its awe-inspiring views. My wife loves archeology and Ancient Greece, so that did the trick for her.

But I have to say that what captivated the most was that we can all be a bit like St. Mamus in Cyprus, thanks to its terrific tax policy.

We also loved the fact that Cyprus is such a multicultural society. Coming from Canada, we wanted our kids to be able to live in a place where they would know and meet many people from different cultures and countries. Well, aside from the locals, Cyprus also has a strong set of expat communities such as Russians, Europeans, Middle Eastern, and Latin Americans that love living, playing, and investing in this beautiful island.

In fact, Cyprus has the second-largest expat community in the EU.

We love our country, but its tax policy wasn't good for us. Financing the welfare state took its toll, and it hit hard on us. I worked a ton to build my career. and it didn't feel fair to be giving so much money in taxes. In the last three decades, the tax burden has almost tripled after adjusting for inflation. It has risen way faster than the costs of basic needs.

We needed a legal and attractive way to find a better future for our children.

And we found it in Cyprus.

While geographically and politically, it is close to all the wonders of Europe, Cyprus is a million miles from the mental and spiritual decline of paternalistic socialism. If you believe in maximizing your spiritual, financial, and personal freedom from statism, then investing and living in Cyprus is for you and your loved ones.

From that point, we wanted to be soon swimming in the warm waters of the Aegean Sea with the Goddess of Love.


Going to Cyprus

We wanted to move to Cyprus, so we started looking for the best options. And we found the Cypriot Residency by Investment Program, which fitted perfectly for us.

The minimum investment for the residency program is a €300k real estate investment, of which €200k must be paid before applying. The purchase can be made in four different combinations:

·            One residential real estate

·            Two residential real estate properties

·            One commercial + one residential

·            One office + one residential

We went with the first option. We started our immigration process with an expert, sent the documents, filled all requirements, and in a mere two months, we were ready to move to Cyprus. We acquired a brand-new apartment in Limassol. Our kids are 18 and 23, so we could include them in the program, and now they can study in any European university with much ease.

If you want to know more about our residency and citizenship services in Cyprus, check out our article right here.


Living in Cyprus

Cyprus has its own word for hospitality: Flinoxia. This is, culturally, almost an imperative based on ancient Greek traditions to make guests feel at home, and the birthplace of Aphrodite will make you truly fall in love and feel at home.

We felt Flinoxia from the beginning. Our neighbors were always welcoming and eager to help us. We felt at home almost immediately. Also, Limassol is probably the most cosmopolitan city in Cyprus. A large number of expats live here, and we loved the many worthwhile visits such as the Limassol Castle and the Amathus Ruins.

We live in Neapolis, which is within walking distance from the beach and quite close to Anexartisias, the main shopping center of the city. My wife loves the shop-till-you-drop culture in Cyprus, and we can relax on the beach on the weekends after going shopping all day.

If you're looking for romance, Cyprus has some of the best restaurants in Europe and more than 100 wine trails. We live in Limassol, but the island is quite small, meaning you can move along smoothly and also enjoy Nicosia, Paphos, or Ayia Napa whenever you want.

We also love skiing, and guess what? You can also do that in Limassol, and you can do it in the house of the Gods, Mount Olympus, which is the highest point in all Cyprus. You can ski in Cyprus during the winter, between January and April.

Cypriots of all classes and occupations work to live rather than live to work. Life is relaxed, happy, and not conditioned by the problems of the world.

Cyprus is one of the globe's safest countries. This gave us a ton of peace, as we would move to an exotic place while keeping our quality of life. The island has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. In general, the few crimes that occur on the island are minor crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching. Armed robbery and violent crime are virtually non-existent. In our case, we've never been victims or witnessed a crime in Cyprus.

The island has a decent urban public transport, but most routes finish working at 6 p.m. and earlier on the weekends. During the tourist season, the routes are stretched until midnight. Rural buses connect the primary cities such as Nicosia and Larnaca with towns and touristic destinations. Nevertheless, they are generally limited to two daily routes. However, due to the island's small size, it's still quite easy to move around. Still, I'd generally recommend buying a car if that's something you can afford to have some peace of mind because public transportation can collapse during tourist seasons.

In Cyprus, you'll have the lifequality of a regular European country, but with a way lower cost. In fact, when compared with some European countries, the cost of living can be 50 % lower, and about 20 % lower when compared to the US, but you'll still have a fantastic healthcare system and good public services. This has made Cyprus a top relocation destination for many, but I've I said, the main reason that I moved to Cyprus is its terrific tax system.


Taxes in Cyprus

Cyprus has one of the best tax systems in Europe. This is a key feature when considering where to relocate and, especially, where to retire. It has a territorial tax system, meaning only the Cyprus-sourced income is taxed in Cyprus and offers a non-dom regime for foreigners that spend 183 days or 60 days in the island depending on certain conditions. As a resident by investment that lives in Cyprus most of the year, I was able to acquire the non-dom status.

Also, Cyprus has one of the most terrific double taxation treaties for low tax jurisdiction. It has over 65 agreements, including Canada.

But the non-dom regime offers a 50 % personal income tax exemption for five years for employment income above €100k per year and an exemption on the SCD (Special Contribution on Defense), also known as the Defense tax for 17 years.

The SCD includes exemptions on:

·            A 17 % capital gains tax

·            A 30 % interest income tax

·            A 3 % rental income tax

To exemplify this, let's say you earn €200k from employment and €235k from a combination of dividends, interests, shares, and foreign real estate. Your taxes will look like this:

To exemplify this, let's say you earn €200k from employment and €235k from a combination of dividends, interests, shares, and foreign real estate. Your taxes will look like this:


Source

Amount (€)

Tax (%)

Tax (€)

Exemptions

Employment

200,000

Progressive from 0 to 35

30,360

50 % for the first 5 years, taxable amount of 100,000

Dividends

50,000

0

0

Fully exempt

Interests

30,000

0

0

Fully exempt

Share disposals

5,000

0

0

Fully exempt

Capital gains from foreign real estate

150,000

0

0

Fully exempt

Total

435,000

 

30,360

 

 

Thus, from a total income of €435,000, you'll only pay €30,360 in taxes in Cyprus, which is about 7 %.

If you want to know more about the non-dom status and being a tax resident in Cyprus, please check out our tax residency article right here.

That was pretty much everything I needed to be convinced to live in Cyprus. Over such a similar income, I'd be paying about 40 % in taxes in Canada.

Cyprus is one of the hottest relocation destinations on the planet. Its dynamic business environment and tax regime attract entrepreneurs, its culture and nightlife drive adventurers, and its calm ambiance and fiscal benefits lead retirees to the island.

My family is happy here. My kids are eager to study in some of the top European universities, we all relax on the beach during the weekends, and go shopping or to one of the dozens of spectacular cultural places in the island. Our life quality has only increased thanks to the tax optimization opportunities

I'm starting to take the first steps to establish a financial business in Cyprus, taking advantage of its reputation as a solid financial and investment jurisdiction and the tax benefits it'll offer. In these two years, the home of Aphrodite has been heaven for us, and we hope it continues to do so.

Cyprus has existed since before the birth of the Greek gods. The island has seen gods, empires, kings, wars, economic downfalls, and more. And Cyprus remains the same: an island where people spend their time chilling out, spending time with their friends, eating mouthwatering meals, and drinking wine. Like the grand philosopher Epicurus, Cypriots relish friendship, good food, and the little pleasures of life above the daily worries.

 

The home of Aphrodite has much to offer to foreigners, and it receives them with open arms. In Mundo, we offer top-level financial, immigration, investment, and corporate services in Cyprus. You can check our Country Focus for more information and, if you have any inquiries regarding our services, contact us right now!

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