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Chimaobi Okeke: Cheat Sheet For Moving to Cyprus From Nigeria. How to, Costs and Experience

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Magnus had a chat with Chimaobi Okeke over in Cyprus. Chima migrated from Nigeria to Cyprus a couple of years back. In this interview, he shares his experience and process of his migration and how the journey has been for him so far. 

Magnus Okeke: At what point did you Japa from Nigeria?

Table of Contents

Chimaobi Okeke: I think at most. Two years, maybe a year. Six months later, in 2021

Magnus Okeke: Did the Covid thing happen for you in Nigeria or over there?

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah. Because it happened, I was in Nigeria. So yeah, I’ll say I travelled in 2021.

Magnus Okeke: What motivated you to Japa from Nigeria?

Chimaobi Okeke: More than anything. I think it was just that innate desire to travel and see other places. Even before coming to Eastern Europe, I’ve been to other places and African countries, Asian countries. So there’s this thing that happens when you travel, you tend to see things from other people’s points of view. You tend to understand the culture from other people’s point of view and then other than that, I needed to get a master’s degree and also change my environment.

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There were multiple reasons for the decision. I pretty much could have stayed in Lagos, it wasn’t that stressful for me.  I could do work remotely. For me, it’s a combination of multiple things and oh, almost forgot better opportunities. Why would I forget that?

Magnus Okeke: So when you were leaving Nigeria, what were the things you had to get together before you left? Because this has always been a headache for most people. They tell you things like “Hey I’m looking for scholarships or I’d like to apply to scholarships or I got this scholarship”

What did you have to put together? Of course, I know you have to do your passport, which is like a constant, but what else did you have to get together before leaving?

Chimaobi Okeke: For documents basically, it was my Educational documentation, things like SSCE and any other professional certificate I have and I used in getting admission. I had to get original copies of those certificates. Photocopies or soft copies were not allowed.

In the case of arrangement, for living it was during the covid era. The school had this arrangement where once you come in, they provide you housing for a while till you go sort yourself out. But first, there was a mandatory three weeks. I think, three weeks where you quarantine, where you have to be isolated in a hotel, or in your hostel, and everything was provided for you. Food was served and the rest of them.

 Magnus Okeke: What happened to your property in Nigeria?

Chimaobi Okeke: Mmm. It was absorbed by my younger ones and friends. So, they distributed it among themselves, they shared the property. 

I didn’t go with the majority of my clothing. I travel light. The only things I travelled with were almost essential things that I know I couldn’t really do without.

When I came to the country, that was where I bought the clothes, I was going to use

Magnus Okeke: Okay. How are you able to finance? How were you able to finance your travel and everything?

Chimaobi Okeke: I saved. Tech money is good money, right?

Magnus Okeke: Yeah. It is, it is. I’m trying to act humble.

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah, yeah, Let’s. we need to motivate people to go into this.

In summary, I didn’t bother anyone. I had 3 admissions, one in Germany from a private university where I still had to pay, one in the UK and one in Cyprus. I just had to evaluate the cost and what I wanted. For the UK, I was almost spending three times what I would have spent if I had been based in Cyprus, which informed my decision. I decided, okay, let’s go with Cyprus, it’s almost three times cheaper. 

I have friends who are in the UK and when they tell me how much they are paying for rent and electric bills, it is almost equivalent to what I pay for three months.

Magnus Okeke: What has your experience been like over there? You know, meeting Nigerians and the people and the environment and security.

Chimaobi Okeke: Let me start with security. You don’t have any problem. There is really no security issue. Although I have heard cases where in some areas Nigerians have started misbehaving a bit, “flying colours”, and all of those things. The police there have become a bit aggressive, but in the area where I stay, I’ve never seen an armed policeman. In terms of security, you don’t have a security problem. 

The cost of living depends on where you decide to go to. There’s the high end, the middle end and then there’s the low low end. It depends on your taste, if you want to go high then you most likely be spending a good amount of money.

Magnus Okeke: Is citizenship something, you’re looking to explore over there?

Chimaobi Okeke: Citizenship is like 10 years. I don’t think that’s something within my power.

Magnus Okeke: Yeah, it is a long time. I actually thought it was like three or five years.

Chimaobi Okeke: I haven’t really explored that option, It has not really crossed my mind. Am I looking for citizenship? 

Magnus Okeke: Do you have communities, like Nigerian communities where you can connect with fellow Nigerians?

Chimaobi Okeke: I am not the best person to ask a question.

Magnus Okeke: Are you an introvert? Or you just hate people.

Chimaobi Okeke: I don’t hate people. The people I have had the opportunity of chatting with, Nigerians that I have come across, I do see them having these Whatsapp “Africans” “ West Africans” or “Nigerians”. I want to believe there are groups out there that are dedicated for Nigerians, I just don’t know about them.

My movement because I work remotely is in and out. Whenever I’m going out, it’s most likely to get groceries and all of those are basic needs. 

Magnus Okeke: What about cinemas and malls?

Chimaobi Okeke: I haven’t been to the cinema. My ideal fun or what I do for fun doesn’t involve going to the cinema. I’d rather be going skydiving, sea diving, and rock climbing, those are the kind of things I find appealing as against going to see a movie or hanging out.

Magnus Okeke: One of the most important questions I wanted to ask you is, what are the opportunities that people can actually explore in Cyprus? I’ve heard in my circle that someone went to Cyprus to study. Hearing that Nigerians are moving to places like Cyprus, the UK, makes me want to know what’s out there.

For example, you just mentioned skydiving, you can’t just go skydiving in Nigeria, you’ll die or get kidnapped. What’s it like? What are the opportunities that a Nigerian can explore in Cyprus?

Chimaobi Okeke: The reality for me is a bit different. Again owing to the fact that tech is almost universal, it is much less attention to who you are but much of what you can do. Let’s limit this to the reality for tech people. I do hear a lot of stories and again Cyprus is a weird place in the sense that there is not just one Cyprus, there is North and South and depending on which part you are, you could either get pretty f***** up in the sense of job opportunities.

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On the Northern side, for me the reality is different. The stories I hear are that people come to Europe, they want to wash plates and do menial jobs but the fact is that these kinds of menial jobs are still there, just not as readily available as it was in the past. 

Magnus Okeke: Basically, you’re saying don’t go to Cyprus with the hope that you’d find those menial jobs?

Chimaobi Okeke: Especially if you decide to come towards the northern side. That will be a very risky move. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that. If you are coming towards the south, maybe. I have heard guys who moved towards the south say that the menial jobs are easier to land, but if you have some hard skills, especially within the tech space, you’re good to go.

Magnus Okeke: What’s it like if somebody says “Hey I want to go to Cyprus, want to work from Cyprus for a foreign company”? Is that easy to do from over there?

Chimaobi Okeke: That’s perfect. if you are working for a foreign company and you’re not dependent on fear, I can tell you that the amount of money you will spend living here is way cheaper than what you will spend living in other European countries, way way cheaper. The rent, the electricity, the internet.

If you have to base it on Lagos, you are almost looking at the high-brow areas of Lagos. You are getting almost equivalent or even more.

If you have that remote work, sure, come here. You won’t regret it.

Magnus Okeke: What about education?

Chimaobi Okeke: Pretty nice.

Magnus Okeke: Okay, when you say pretty nice, can you explain? I’m just wondering, is it expensive to school in Cyprus? If I pick up my bags now and say, “Hey, I want to go to Cyprus for maybe a BSC program or BBA, or master’s program. What do you think?

Chimaobi Okeke: Three times cheaper than the UK.

Magnus Okeke: Wow! What do you think the average school fee will be? Tuition fees

Chimaobi Okeke: Per semester, you could have schools that would charge you 1,000 euros, and you can have schools that will charge you 500 euros.

Magnus Okeke: Are you joking? That is ridiculously cheap. I’m sorry but I have to laugh.

Chimaobi Okeke: I’m really serious, I am telling you. If you have that external source of income, here is so much better and you don’t have to worry about things you might have to worry about in Nigeria.

Unlimited Internet for three months and I pay (if converted to Naira) maybe 30k.

Magnus Okeke: What about obtaining a visa?

Chimaobi Okeke: When I was making my move, they had this same package with a Dubai sort of system where you get a visa on arrival.

Magnus Okeke: Yeah, that was at the time, though.

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah, Nigerians started misbehaving, they started having these clashes with Nigerians fighting here and there. They started adding restrictions. I don’t know what the situation right now is but I think the visa process is still pretty much easy. It took me almost a month from the moment I decided I wanted to go 

Magnus Okeke: Did you have to go to the embassy or you applied through the website?

Chimaobi Okeke: I did mine through an agent. What I know is that when you land there they give you a package. When you land in the country you have to talk to someone. I find that very annoying. You are doing your visa interview when you have already landed in the country. And if something goes wrong…..

Magnus Okeke: They deport you. It’s so annoying because you already stepped foot in the country.

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah.

Magnus Okeke: And now you’re about to be deported again. That stuff is scary.

Chimaobi Okeke: Yes, it’s crazy. You just find out that people will come, sign a form and then the next thing you know, they tell the person “Step aside” Once you step aside, the next thing the person is seeing is a return flight.

Magnus Okeke: How do you avoid something like that from happening? How do you prevent it from happening?

Chimaobi Okeke: You really have to be careful with the agents you go with. Preferably go with agents that have a track record of getting people here. There are agents that just want the money. They won’t go through the due process and sometimes the country will make certain regulation changes that if the agent is not following what’s going on, by the time you come here it will affect you.

Take for instance, there are people who had the issue of the minimum balance that had to be in their account. 

Magnus Okeke: Proof of funds?

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah, proof of funds. Three years ago, they weren’t so heavy on the proof of funds but due to some changes, I think there’s now some policy in place that you have to show a higher proof of funds. If you go with an agent that’s not informed, you’ll just end up coming down here and they’ll ask you for your proof of funds and you’ll be like “What do you mean?” and they’ll be like “The next flight is on its way”

You really have to be careful with the agents and also understand that here is not for everyone. That’s the truth. This country is not for everyone.

Magnus Okeke: If you hadn’t gone through the education route, what other routes you do have gone through?

Chimaobi Okeke: There’s work and visa process.

Magnus Okeke: That’s if your company is in Cyprus, right?

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah and you get hired, they get an apartment for you and then do all of that.

Magnus Okeke: Do you Miss Nigeria?

Chimaobi Okeke: For real! I do! Very much!

Magnus Okeke: There was this thing that happened during the election where I called a friend who is not in Nigeria, I don’t want to just disclose this country. He was telling me that if there was good leadership in Nigeria that he would have come back, and that if a particular person had won the election he would have come back to Nigeria. I’m not going to ask you the same but I want to know what would make you come back to Nigeria. 

Chimaobi Okeke: It’s not like I’m running away from Nigeria. One of the main reasons for me will be family. That will be like the cornerstone for any reason why I’m coming.

Magnus Okeke: Your parents are siblings?

Chimaobi Okeke: Yeah, spend some time. Then maybe if there was an opportunity, a business opportunity and a consulting opportunity in the tech space, those are the reasons I could come to Nigeria. Nigeria is not that terrible, to be frank. I’m one of those people who gets defensive when people try to blacklist Nigeria as a country.

I do come to Nigeria annually. 

Magnus Okeke: Yeah before we stop the recording. I want to ask you when you visit Nigeria, what food do you always want to try?

Chimaobi Okeke: When I come around, I want to rush towards spicy foods because I’ve not been eating spicy food but what I find is that it becomes a process. It burns my throat, for the first few soups that I’ve eaten, it burns my throat but other than that, then the process of having to learn how to eat pepper again, I go for just vegetable soup.

Magnus Okeke: Do you have any last words? Warnings, advice, and tips, especially for tech bros who would like to visit Cyprus. When people want to visit these countries, what they look out for are the routes. “How can I get there?” “What routes are easy to visit?

Chimaobi Okeke: If you want to visit Cyprus, the route is very easy. School is one of the easiest.

Magnus Okeke: Would you recommend someone visit the North or the South?

Chimaobi Okeke: Depending on your pocket, if you are working remotely and you don’t want to depend on the economy, you just want a change of environment, I’ll suggest the North. If you’re looking for somewhere with economic incentives, the South is way better than the North when it comes to that. The opportunities for tech bros, the better you are. the better the opportunities. 

One thing you should know is that although they tell you that they speak English, English is a luxury language. They speak English but English is more like a luxury language. it’s not the most common. Most people who speak English are probably well-educated or well-travelled. The school will tell you that English is widely spoken, na lie.

Magnus Okeke: Well, do you think that you would be considered for a job more in Cyprus by companies if you speak English or it’s not a bonus?

Chimaobi Okeke: It’s not a bonus. If you speak English and speak their own local language, big Bonus.

Magnus Okeke: All right. Thank you so, so much for doing this.

You can watch the full interview in-depth on our youtube channel. Remember to comment, like and subscribe.

 

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