The Island is divided into two parts and we will concern ourselves mostly with living in the North. But first, let's take a quick look at the South, The Republic of Cyprus.
The southern part of the Island is Greek in flavor and looks to the EU. Indeed, the RoC is proud to be a member of the European Union and you can find the EU flag flying from numerous poles.
Being a part of the EU comes with certain advantages; for example, freedom of movement means folks can visit and even move to Cyprus without problem. EU membership also means the stores are stocked with all the merchandise you would expect to see in any other European country.
As an aside, you can use your US, UK, or EU Passport to visit the South anytime. Oddly, crossing at certain gates is easier than others for an American. Your current drivers license is honored both North & South.
Of course there is always a little price to pay for so many advantages. European taxes, high real estate cost, and a heavy regulatory environment would certainly find a spot on a list of disadvantages. However; that's not the subject of this article.
Life in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is in many respects completely different. While the South has a population of about one million, the North is around 350,000. The economy is smaller and the average person doesn't live as well.
You will have to decompress here. In the United States, if the air-conditioner repairman says he will be there at three, that doesn't mean four; here it well may. Or it could mean tomorrow. Just relax. Yavash, yavash, or slowly, slowly is something of a national motto.
This seems to be a Mediterranean thing. Southern Italy has "in progress" as its motto and it means much the same thing. It will happen when it happens. As an American, you will have to unlearn the faster faster mentality that is absolutely normal in that far away place.
There are no Interstates and you cannot drive eighty miles an hour here. Indeed, it's all Kilometers and 65 Kph is about 40 Mph. The highest speed is 90 Kph on just a few divided highways. Again, decompress, you left all that behind.
To illustrate the point, you know in Walmart in the States you can buy those little alarm clocks with the red digital numbers? Every last bedroom in America has those clocks. Not only are they not available... anywhere. You cannot buy an alarm clock of any kind. Nothing - NO! Yavash, yavash.
Oh, and another thing; you are also going to leave the damn Walmart it came in behind. There is not one here.
In many ways the place reminds me of Florida in the mid-seventies. If you're old enough; remember those little fiberglass horses out in front of the store. There are still here, except they are inside and there will be several different kinds. Low-slung buildings, palm trees and sand line the two lane roads.
Friendly people wave as you drive by. Cars flash headlights if the Police are up ahead and you do most of your shopping in small shops where the owner knows you. You'll be invited to two or three places to share drinks with friends - every week. It's a place from my memories.
I had forgotten that life before I moved here. Its not for everybody, but if you do come here and embrace the slower lifestyle, you'll come to love the place as I do.