At home in a place in the sun

It's not just the climate that makes Cyprus a favourite for British buyers - the prices are just as hot
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This time of year finds most of us hunting out winter woollies as autumn brings with it the chilly reminder that another long winter will soon be making its presence felt. But knitwear is the last thing on the minds of many Brits right now as they pack their swimming costumes and head to homes on the sunny island of Cyprus.

This time of year finds most of us hunting out winter woollies as autumn brings with it the chilly reminder that another long winter will soon be making its presence felt. But knitwear is the last thing on the minds of many Brits right now as they pack their swimming costumes and head to homes on the sunny island of Cyprus.

According to recent findings from Sainsbury's Bank, 112,000 more Brits plan on moving abroad within the next six months. Cyprus is not just a climactic hotspot: prices on average are 30 per cent lower than Spain, making it the fourth most popular destination after Spain, France and the US. "There's no doubt about it. Prices are attractive and the guide books say that Cyprus has 320 days of sun a year. It does, and it makes a big difference as everyone feels better in the sunshine," says Michael Cartwright, who, as director of Leptos Estates, has lived on the island for many years.

Cartwright believes Cyprus is now the destination of choice for buyers looking to retire to the sun. "The market's changed dramatically and 50 per cent of buyers now come here for permanent retirement with the rest split equally between those who want a holiday home and those looking for a good investment."

Like many agents and developers, Cartwright believes that the recent dip in the Spanish market has boosted Cyprus's popularity further and its recent entry into the EU has sealed approval. "It's always been well known and liked by the British, but we're getting many more Dutch and Belgian buyers who've always been a bit nervous - but now that Cyprus is in the EU they feel that it's a very safe bet. The market has expanded and become far more cosmopolitan."

EU entry also guarantees nationals free medical care via the E111 system. Many residents attest to the excellence of facilities on the island, and say they feel happier and healthier living in a place where they can enjoy leisure activities throughout the winter months. Currently the island has three golf courses with a further three in the pipeline and all types of water sports are available and accessible.

Paphos, in the west where plans for a 1,800 boat marina were recently unveiled, is said to enjoy the best climate on the island. This is where Leptos have around 70 new developments including Peyia Hills, just above Coral Bay, where one-, two- and three-bedroomed condominium apartments start from £65,000. Apollo Beach Village, just three miles from Paphos Harbour, has townhouses from CYP200,000 (£238,000) and detached villas with private pools on sale from CYP380,000 (£452,000). At Eden Gardens a small cluster of townhouses with pool and communal gardens within walking distance of the Tomb of the Kings Road near the harbour area start from £105,000.

It was a combination of factors which prompted Eileen and Harry Brooks to buy into Leptos's Paradise Gardens. "We were amazed simply by what we could afford and by how beautiful it was," says Eileen. They have a permanent home in Oxfordshire, but now that Harry has retired they intend to spend winters on the island. "We spend the summer months on the Thames in Oxfordshire but at this time of year, when you would just be hibernating back in the UK, we come out here and it's fabulous."

By October, the intense heat of the summer has gone but temperatures in the upper seventies mean that all activities are still possible "You can swim in the sea well into November," says Eileen, who doesn't enjoy sunbathing but who does get a psychological boost from the temperate climate. "You just find that your spirits are lifted." The Brooks also enjoy exploring the island, in particular the Trudos mountains where they ski. "We've skied all over Europe and the US but we couldn't believe the quality of the snow up there, it was fantastic."

In 2000, the Brooks paid CYP47,000 (£56,000) for a two bedroomed apartment. Similar apartments now sell for CYP116,000 (£138,000), but, while appreciative that they have doubled their investment, this was not a priority. "Our main purpose was to buy something for ourselves and our families to enjoy, but this will help us trade up and move up the ladder as one day we plan on buying somewhere with a garden." Eileen estimates that on their development around 95 per cent of properties have sold to British buyers, but their immediate neighbours are Cypriot and the Brooks now hope to learn the language and integrate into the community.

With its British links Cyprus may be a relatively easy destination for relocation, and developer Cybarco believe that buyers at their Pissouri development will easily adapt to new lives on the outskirts of this peaceful village. With a summer population of just 1,000, Pissouri appeals to those looking for a quieter pace although all amenities including shops, tavernas and banks are accessible. Five three-bedroom terraced villas, Pissouri Alpha, and 19 terraced apartments set around a large communal pool, Pissouri Epsilon, are being built on the hillside with breathtaking views of the coast as far as Limassol and Mount Olympus.

Built in traditional style, prices at Pissouri start from CYP102,700 (£123,000) for a two-bedroom apartment rising to CYP168,000 (£200,000) for a three-bedroom villa set in a large garden with a private pool and individual parking space. Cybarco's Yiannis Kalyvites says: "There's good access to both Paphos and Larnaca airports and the fact that these properties are set high on the hill in an elevated position means that they enjoy lovely breezes in the traditionally hot months of July and August which is perfect for British tastes."

Leptos Estates: 020-8883 2333;

Cybarco: 020-8371 9700, www.cybarco.com

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