Helping You Build a Life Overseas

Meet Chris Parsons – British expat in Cyprus

Chris Parsons moved to Cyprus in 2003 after spending some time on the island and deciding, for many reasons, that it had more to offer him than the UK. A retired media professional, Chris is very active as a photographer, a contributor to local media (both on a voluntary basis) and is also a supporter of local animal protection. He lives with his partner, Lesley Smithers, in a village about 30 minutes outside Paphos.

What led you to move Cyprus?

I moved to Cyprus for a new and fresh lifestyle, following a few traumatic years in the UK, thanks to developing epilepsy after an injury. I initially came to Cyprus for a month to get away from things in the UK, but found that after spending time here I was able to think about my life more logically and thoroughly than I would have been able to do in the UK.
Upon my return to the UK, I found myself increasingly thinking about Cyprus and the huge contrast between the cold dark and wet October days of the UK and the very pleasant warm and uplifting Cyprus weather. With this in mind, I concluded in a fairly short space of time that my quality of life would be much better in Cyprus, and so decided to return for a further three months. 
Not long after my next return to the UK, I made a snap decision to return to Cyprus for good; and on March 19th 2003, I stepped off the plane in Paphos – my new home! I intended to forget feeling like a tourist as soon as possible and enjoy early retirement.

Tell us about your activities. What are your current projects?

After being here for a while, I began to develop my photographic skills as a hobby – and I found this very therapeutic. This then led to me publishing many posters of the island, along with postcards and greeting cards. I recently produced a selection of greeting cards, which were successfully sold to raise funds for one of the Paphos Hospices.

What advice would you give to people thinking of moving or who have just arrived?

If asked (which I have often been) what advice I would give to anyone thinking of coming here to live, then it has to be firstly, to do just as I did, and come for an extended stay (say three of four months) before making a decision. 
If you have recently arrived here for good, I would strongly recommend that it’s a good idea to always remember that Cyprus and the Cypriots are your hosts – regardless of how long you intend to stay. Learning even a little of their language will go a long way. Obviously, life isn’t always perfect, and there will be some things that it takes you a while to get used to – but it’s important to remember that you chose to live here. In a funny sort of way, I find the Cypriot ‘work hard, play hard’ way of life quite appealing; and as far as family values go, then I don't think anyone is better than Cypriots – visiting grandma on Sundays is still compulsory here.

What do you miss about the UK if anything?

I miss a few things in the UK: real ale, country pubs, cricket, and walks in the park, for example, but there are so many wonderful things to do here – from visiting the Troodos Mountains, to enjoying a swim in the warm summer sea. I also enjoy exploring the countryside and tiny traditional villages that haven't changed in years, and to sit down to a fresh fish meze on the harbour side in Latchi, complete with a bottle of crisp white local wine.

What have some of the highs been in your time in Cyprus?

I have chosen to live in one of those tiny traditional villages up in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, where there is no better place to learn Greek. Village life is of course very different to town life, and my partner Lesley and I wouldn't swap it for the world. We love the welcoming and warm Cypriot people of our village and this year has been a bit of high point in my twelve years here as I have had the honour of serving on the community council – and among other things, to assist in organising various events, for example, our annual village festival. Organising events in Cyprus can be challenging at times, but it's worth every minute when you realise just how very important it is to show respect and become involved in Cypriot life, and how rewarding it is to be welcomed by such generous people.