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Trouble in paradise? The issue of affordable housing in Cyprus.

When you think of Cyprus it is not unreasonable to think of idyllic beaches, vast mountain ranges, picturesque waterfalls and nature trails, nicely accompanied by a population of laid back Mediterraneans getting through the day surrounded by family, friends and copious amounts of food (souvlaki, yes please!).

How could such a peaceful sounding place have room for any kind of social issue? Well, Cyprus is no exception to the number of nations facing increasing housing issues and energy poverty.

An island that continues to develop at unprecedented rates, affordable housing has become a myth for many. Unaffordable rent prices continue to invade the most developed parts of Cyprus, such as its more cosmopolitan cities along the coastline. In Limassol, for example, rent prices are almost impossible to upkeep for the average person.

According to recent data by NUMBEO, a one-bedroom apartment in Limassol's city centre costs an average of €808.48 a month, meanwhile, the average monthly net salary (after tax) is €1,397.42

New housing developments in Limassol. Image credit: Primelocation.

Highlighting the severity of the housing problem further, Cyprus has currently the second-highest population share unable to keep their home adequately warm after Bulgaria, according to EU SILC (EU statistics on income and living conditions).

It is evident that affordable and warm housing is simply unfeasible and unattainable for many Cypriots, especially when taking into account other expenses we cannot avoid, such as that weekly food shop and petrol top-up.

In recent months, the Cypriot government has been forced to revisit its housing policy and issue new incentives for affordable housing. Working with Housing Europe, Cyprus is trying to find solutions to the housing needs of its citizens. This is especially significant for young people, who struggle to pay current rent levels and become property owners.

Homeownership is also increasingly rare amongst young Cypriots because of the lack of affordable loans available for this.

Mr Neofytou, leader of the governing party in Cyprus, argued that identifying the key issues currently affecting the social housing sector, and finding solutions to these issues, is quite straightforward.

First, Mr Neofytou identified the need for an 'umbrella organisation' that deals with housing policy and secondly, a thorough social housing strategy is needed.

A "proper strategy" is all well and good, but only if rents become truly more affordable for individuals, couples and families to live in. This might be difficult to achieve in a location known as a tourist hotspot, constantly developing and urbanising.

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