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Expat Advice: Working in Limassol, Cyprus

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Limassol is a working city in its' own right and therefore does not survive on tourism alone.

Major shipping & insurance companies are located in the city, all kinds of offices for property and building, lawyers etc. Also shops, restaurants, bars, hotels with all kinds of nationalities employed there.

What type of work do you do and how did you find your job?

I've had various jobs in the UK during my working life since 1976 up to leaving in early 2004.

However, my main role has more often than not been in customer supporting roles or customer care.

Before leaving UK I was working with a team of 5 people for one of the top 3 UK tour operators in charge of a customer care budget of £3m per annum.

I orginally started work with a tour operator in Limassol but even after 10yrs in the industry in UK, I found this was not for me in Cyprus as the work covered 6 days per week and for less than half my UK salary. I lasted 4wks and 1 day - then left.

I then worked in a property developers & estate agent office for almost 12 months but was forced to leave when the building market took a tumble in early 2005.

A month later I started working for an online gaming company where a group of us started together in Customer Support. We were all trained to play and understand casino and poker games with an exam at the end of each training week.

I am now working for a different online gaming company of which there are several of this kind in Cyprus. The office I work in offers customer support 24/7 in many different languages. We also have an IT team, website designer, graphic designer, affiliate managers and offer the sites in approx 17 different languages.

To work in this office all staff must have a native "foreign" language (not Greek) and be able to read, speak and write fluently in their own language plus the same in English. They should also be familiar with pc programs and be able to work with email, excel, word and online chat.

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Expats in Cyprus may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, a leader in international insurance for expatriates. Allianz's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Their flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget..

How did you obtain your work permit? What advice would you have for others about work permits?

No work permit is necessary in Cyprus for EU citizens.

If you are coming from a country that is not an EU member, it will be difficult for you to obtain work here. Your prospective employer will have to pay to gain the certificates and act as a sort of "sponsor" for you.

If you are the only person who has unique skills for the job in hand, then it's possible an employer may go out of his way to obtain the necessary paperwork - otherwise, he will choose an EU employee as the cost to him will be a lot less.

Have you taken language and cross-cultural training courses to prepare for your assignment? If so, how have they helped you on the job?

Before leaving the UK, I took lessons at night school and learned to read, write and speak Greek.

Cyprus has a different dialect than that I was taught so I also took private lessons for a further 6 months after arriving in Cyprus.

I can read and pronounce everything that's put in front of me but I do not have a huge vocabulary so do not always understand what I am reading. However, I can get by in conversation and can mostly understand what is being said around me.

There is no on the job training for languages in my present position.

If you were transferred abroad by your employer, were you guaranteed a job upon repatriation? What type of mentoring programs does your employer offer?

I applied for an overseas position with my UK employer and was offered a job in the Limassol office.

Sadly, I was not given the full information and facts behind the work although I was aware the salary would be roughly half of that I earned in the UK.

I left this position quite quickly. However, there are other positions within this company and training courses are run each year in the UK for new intake staff and for those moving up in their roles or to a different position.

New staff undergo a 2wk training programme before joining the Support teams.

The company I work for now has scope to move around and progress within the business. I originally started in a customer supporting role and now work in promotions and retention with an increase in salary and presently no longer working a shift pattern.

What advice would you offer others about finding jobs and working abroad?

Research, research then research some more!

Visit the country you plan to move to, talk to people who are resident and working. Find out about local salary, employment regulations and any benefits if they are available.

For example, in Cyprus if you have worked for more than 6 months in your position you may be entitled to claim unemployment benefit. It mainly depends on your Social Insurance contributions so you should ensure your position is legal and that your employer is paying and deducting your contributions on your behalf.

It can take up to 12wks before you receive your first unemployment cheque. Please always plan ahead for any eventuality and ensure you have finances in position before moving abroad.

In Cyprus, there are localities that depend purely on tourism and either close or become extremely quiet out of the main holiday seasons. If you intend to work in the tourist sector (hotels, bars & restaurants) you should seek a resort that is open all year round. Work in Ayia Napa & Protaras is very difficult to come by in the winter. Paphos quietens much more after Christmas until Easter whereas Limassol does still stay open but again some bars & restaurants may close for a couple of months.

If your work will not be in the tourist industry you should be aware that the west (Paphos end) consists largely of retired UK expats and the east (Ayia Napa end) does not offer much in the line of office positions.

Nicosia is the capital and the biggest city so has a greater variety. However, with all capital cities, it's the most expensive place to live but salaries are generally a little higher.

Larnaca is up and coming and is probably the 2nd place to gain work in comparison to Limassol, which is multiculteral and more cosmopolitan in comparison to Paphos.

Most countries have a government job portal but be aware jobs may be advertised only in the local language. In Cyprus, there are a number of employment agencies with websites - so, Google is a good place to start.

Visit forums to seek out information from expats who are already in a similar situation as yours.

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If you're not involved in our Cyprus Forum, it's a great place to meet others in your area, get answers to questions about moving to Cyprus or offer advice to a newcomer.

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