The British love affair with Cyprus
With Cyprus’ economy showing signs of a recovery, the British love affair with this stunning island is stronger than ever. Based on Unique Living’s recent appearance in The Times (19 December 2014), we explain why the British cannot stay away and how one of our vendors, Terry Emery, has made a life for himself and his wife in Akrounda, on the outskirts of Limassol.
It is no secret that Cyprus has suffered severely by economic crisis’ of late, which has had an impact on the property market. However, the combination of a fabulous climate, beaches, affordable cost of living and the familiarity of the language, legal system and large expat communities, the British have not been deterred from buying property in Cyprus – whether it be to live there permanently or to own a holiday home. Furthermore, property prices have reduced significantly, up to 40% in popular areas such as Paphos, tempting buyers keen to grab themselves a bargain.
However, Cyprus has been trying really hard to improve things and the economy is beginning to show signs of a recovery. Economic stability and international investment is quickly changing things, and other popular areas such as Limassol are now attracting high-end property buyers as opportunities remain very strong.
This commitment is demonstrated in Cyprus’ biggest infrastructure project which opened in July of this year – the completion of a £278million state-of-the-art Limassol Marina. As quoted by our The Times piece, the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades said “This should remind everyone that the Cypriots are determined not just to stand on our feet, but to move ahead.” Luxury properties at the Marina have sold quickly and according to the developers, 60% of these homes are owned by Russians, with around 40% of overseas buyers not only motivated by the yachting opportunities but that they shall receive full Cypriot citizenship if they invest €5million.
Furthermore, the economies of Nicosia, Lanarca and Limassol are being boosted thanks to the discovery of oil and gas fields in Cypriot waters, with oil companies setting up their offices in Cyprus. According to the developers of Limassol Marina, 5,000 expats will arrive in two-three years in need of homes. Together with the considerable tax advantages that exist for businesses great and small, the infrastructure is being put in place to make this beautiful island something very special indeed. All of this activity has helped create confidence for international investors and the banks have stabilised as major hedge funds recognise the long-term potential of investing in Cyprus.
Limassol in particular has become the place for the wealthy to own property, including the British. Unique Living talks to one of our British vendors, Terry Emery, who retired to Limassol 10 years ago with his wife Debbie to build their dream home overseas – The Emery’s Villa in Akrounda.
Why did you choose to retire to Cyprus?
My dream for some years, as the prospect of retirement came closer, was to retire somewhere in the European sunshine and build one luxury single storey villa a year, primarily to keep my mind occupied. I saw my retirement as a three phase entity – family and friends, travel and a reason to get out of bed! Cyprus was chosen as we had visited so many times for holidays and had never been bored with the island. The weather is beautiful, most people speak English, they drive the same side of the road, the currency was stable and there were lots of British retirees all over the island.
We chose Limassol because we didn’t want to live on a holiday home development. It’s become more expensive to live here, but you can sense positive change too. Euro Disney is apparently on its way and fashionable restaurants have arrived around the Marina. The infrastructure being put in place is making the island something truly special.
Why did you want to build your dream home?
I have always wanted to buy some land on which to build a substantial family home for when I retired, anticipating it being regularly visited by family and friends alike. My business in the UK was manufacturing timber frame houses and I believed that by the time my dream house was completed, Cyprus could well be ready for some new ‘green’ technology in house building. When asked why I wasn’t going to build my house in timber frame, I thought it inappropriate at that time to tell a Cypriot builder how to build in his country!
How did you find the land you wanted to build on?
In 2004 I was extremely lucky to have met with a local builder who had bought a fabulous piece of land for his own home which, fortunately for me, did not meet with his wife’s approval! The site was a fraction over 1 acre (4307 m2), beautifully located overlooking the famous Germasogeia dam. At this time I thought I would probably work for another 2 or 3 years in the UK before I finally ‘hung my boots up’.
What were your inspirations behind the design?
In the end, the design evolved over 2004/05. My wife and I wanted something modern yet embodying traditional aspects of ancient Greece and old English styles within the concept. The inclusion of 2 storey columns, pediments, quoins, hipped roofs with proper overhangs etc., all seemed to work really well.
Aspect, as always, was very important. The easy way would have been to build along the contours of the mountainside, but the house would have ended up facing completely the wrong way! So we chose to cut into the side of the mountain to enable the house to face south and towards the sea in the distance which meant we could line up the pool with the dam, with the sea for a totally unprecedented and fantastic view. Accordingly, the inside layout was designed to maximise the views of the lake from the kitchen, lounge and four of the six bedrooms.
Tell us about the construction of Emery Villa. Were there many changes to your original design?
Construction commenced at the end of 2005 and took approximately two and a half years to complete, during which time a number of major changes took place.
My wife decided that the kitchen area was not big enough, so this was extended which also increased the accommodation area above. My parents-in-law were coming to live with us but sadly, father–in-law passed away unexpectedly during the construction period which caused mother-in-law to decide to stay put in England. So we changed their living/dining area into a multi-media room, with a large recessed cinema screen and a superb professionally installed surround sound system, which also enabled films/TV to be watched in several bedrooms, the lounge and the kitchen at the same time if required.
Before the pool was built, we searched the land for a possible bore-hole location to construct our own well. We were blessed in this regard. The builder arranged for an ‘expert’ to visit the following day. I expected some technician from a laboratory in Nicosia, armed with seismic/specialist sonar equipment to enable the search to be thoroughly conducted. Imagine my surprise when a very old man, with a single tooth in the middle of his mouth turned up with a forked wooden twig – his water diviner! He walked various areas of the site when his twig literally started dancing vigorously in his hands! He got quite excited and marked the spot precisely with some spray paint, insisting that we do not vary – not even 1 cm., from this precise position. ‘Central Eating’ as he became known, was spot on, as not only did we manage to find a potential bore-hole site, it turned out to be a very strong find, delivering very high quality water, not quite potable, but excellent for pool and garden irrigation purposes!
Having found our own independent water supply we decided to build a ‘decent sized’ pool – for some serious swimming – a fabulous way to stay fit and healthy! This also meant we could produce an interesting garden layout across most of the site with palm and deciduous trees, shrubs, fruit trees, lawn and the like – all irrigated with our own water!
Water in this part of the island is generally quite hard, so we installed a salt water softener at source so all water coming into the property is softened – goodbye to all those problems normally associated with hard water, kettles and pipes remaining ‘un-furred.’
The original plan showed a double garage as part of the basement, which we decided to change into a bright and ventilated games room/gym with a double bedroom, shower room/wc, office, storeroom and laundry room all on the same level as the pool and the outside fully fitted kitchen c/w fitted dish washer, built in barbeque and lots of granite worktop surface, where we enjoy al fresco dining – all complete with outside sound and feature lighting.
Are there any eco-features to the property?
The Cyprus government was, at this time, providing incentive schemes to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels for heating, so we elected to install a state of the art geo-thermal heating system which not only fed the under-floor heating system throughout the house but also provided all the domestic hot water needed. Our dependence upon oil or gas became zero – just a little more electricity to run the geo-thermal boiler, with the built in option to pump in additional heat to the pool at the beginning and end of each season. We calculated that this increased our ‘pool season’ by approximately one month per annum.
What do you love about your home’s position?
The way the property is located on the hillside gives it commanding views in several directions – mostly over conservation areas and looks simply splendid as you drive into the village!
Tell us a bit about Akrounda….
Akrounda is approximately 7 minutes from the main highway (which runs roughly along the southern coastline of the island, from Protaras right across to Paphos) and approximately 15 minutes from the beaches. This part of Cyprus, just slightly north of the bustling city of Limassol, is a ‘quietly sort after’ area with a number of famous residencies.
Limassol’s Marina has now been completed to a very high standard, with fascinating courtyards around the old castle, featuring many shops and fashionable restaurants – all within a short drive from the property.
This unique, high specification villa is located in an outstanding position, set in the countryside on grounds that extend to 4,307 sq.m with stunning views across Germasogeia dam and the sea – offering peace and tranquility. This uniquely designed villa has a living area of 573 sq.m’s and a 15 x 5 meter swimming pool with pool house and barbecue area.
The spacious property is built over three levels, with 5 double bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a large first floor lounge with separate balcony, fully fitted kitchen, games room and a superb home cinema with fully retracting screen and surround sound.
The villa is offered fully furnished and title deeds are available on request.
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