Cyprus Mail
Life & Style

Is there any truth to the suburban dream?

Welcome to suburbia. It’s more white pick-up trucks than white picket fences out here, but it’s definitely the suburbs. How do I know? Because I’ve just moved here…

Yes, for the first time in my life, I’m living the suburban dream. Life up till now has been one long bright lights, biggish city whirl: decades of fairly central capital living. But there comes a point where heading out each night to dance on bars no longer holds the fascination it once did (mostly because I can’t climb that high anymore), and even the thrill of snaffling a parking space on a crowded street begins to pall.

It’s something my partner and I had been thinking about for a while. We’re not café-going millennials, we don’t feel the need to Instagram the Old Town every weekend, and it’s been a good ten years since either of us attempted clubbing anything other than the odd piece of chicken. We tend to eat in or order out, we both have the luxury of working remotely, and there are no kids needing constant transportation to school/activities/parties. Life in the suburbs made sense…

It was my other half’s brother-in-law who finally tipped the balance. “When,” he opined, “you get home after work, close the door, and just want to sink into the sofa, there’s no longer any point to living in town.” So with that, carefree and childless, we packed on up and moved on out to Latsia, not sure whether we were about to live the dream or enter our own personal suburgatory…

It’s been a month, and it’s still strange. Firstly, it’s quiet out here in the burbs. Not just because people don’t want to visit us (“Wait. Beyond IKEA? I’ll pack a lunch”) as frequently, but because there’s little traffic. Gone are the sirens, the roadworks, and the 2am wacky races down Makarios, the exhaust echoing between high rises. The ever-present din has been replaced by the gentle hum of lawnmowers and the chirp of crickets. Yes, there are dogs – we did try to stipulate a bark-free area. Our estate agent sniggered; apparently there’s no such thing in Cyprus – but somehow the odd bray from a hunting dog is more acceptable than the constant yap yap of the frustrated poodle on the city balcony below.

Also, it’s pretty. You can see the stars at night. At Easter, when we’d just moved in, we stood on the verandah and watched our neighbours walking home after midnight mass, little pinpricks of candlelight glittering against an indigo sky. There are fields, and trees, and corner parks un-beset by bored teens. There’s sky out here, and it reaches all the way to the mountains, unblemished by tower blocks and pollution. For years, my home office view was a Romanian’s living room (I’m not saying it wasn’t interesting, especially of a Saturday morning drinking sesh) and a pollution-veiled glimpse of Armenias. Now, I type looking out over a river bed (dry, but I have high hopes!) backdropped by cypress and olives. And there’s space – space to park, space to breathe, space to live…

Yes, you do get more bang for your buck in the suburbs. We exchanged a cosy (read: small) three-bedroom flat in the city for a four-bedroom detached with a garden. It’s light, and bright, and big. Sometimes we play hide and seek just for the hell of it! Speaking of games, there’s space for kids out here. Okay, we don’t have any, but in the city we were woken at 6am by the terrors above. But out in the burbs, the kids head out to play.

That said, there have been setbacks. We have to drive everywhere now, and I’m not loving the carbon footprint. Plus, thanks to ingoing traffic and glut of ringroad roundabouts, a trip into town is an undertaking worthy of Tacitus. But perhaps our biggest challenge was internet. Oh how I envy the cabled ease of those living centrally. We’ve gone from a heady 70mbps to a measly 10, because that’s all you can get out here. Upon arrival, we asked our neighbours for provider advice, and had to dash home for a stiff drink when they told us they don’t have internet! We’ve since discovered we’ve enough bandwidth for work and Netflix, but that was a seriously dodgy moment for a couple spoiled by years of instant access!

There’s a difference, too, to the social structure. In town, we lived cheek to cheek with Pontians, Slavs and Latvians, next door to Greeks, Sri Lankans and Indians. Here, there’s no tantalising noontime aroma of kottu roti or latka, no impassioned all-night row made all the more absorbing because you have to guess what it’s about. Head to the nearest AlphaMega (no queues! There are NO queues out here!) for a population cross-section and it’s much of a national muchness: a smorgasbord of locals garnished with the odd Brit.

And then there’s the surfeit of salons. If every single person in Latsia partook of a rinse and set each morning, the hairdressers and barbers out here would still spend much of their time snipping away at their own split ends. Manicurists too: Google ‘nail technician near me’ and the map goes red with potential. And tavernas: day or night, there’s a souvlaki place in the vicinity ready to rush deliver your mixed. But you’ll have to pay for everything with cash: even the kiosks don’t take credit cards out here, and the lack of plastic payment has tripped up these town mice more than once.

However, once you’ve navigated the traffic out of town, remembered to stop at an ATM, and chosen between pork and lamb, it’s all good. Who knows, maybe it’s time to exchange our convertibles for pick-ups. But the oleander hedge stays. That white picket fence, we’ve learned, is just a suburban myth…

ALIX NORMAN is a Cyprus-based freelance writer and editor

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