LIVING IN CAYMAN
Cayman offers a fantastic lifestyle, please take a look at the key information you need set up your home, away from home.
The standard of living in the Cayman Islands is extremely high. The number of quality new developments, both in terms of real estate and amenities (such as Camana Bay), peppered with the sunny climate and glimmering turquoise ocean make Cayman one of the best places to live in the world (not that we’re biased).If you are planning on moving here, there are a few practical points to consider:
- The cost of living is generally higher than in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom, as most commodities are imported and have to bear the cost of freight and insurance, plus customs duty if payable. The high cost of living is partly offset by the absence of income and property taxes.
- Many companies within the Cayman Islands offer moving allowances to employees. Find out what this entails and budget accordingly
- You will most likely need a car, so this should be included in your moving budget, your relocation package may include a hire car which would be handy. There is a public bus service, it all depends on your personal needs. The second hand car market is thriving in Cayman and there are plenty of cars available – but be warned, they carry a higher premium than most people are used to.
- If you are bringing your children or pets, make sure you have all the appropriate vaccinations in place. For pets, there is a strict immigration protocol, especially if you are coming from a country that has rabies. Children entering the nursery or school system will need to have the appropriate vaccinations and depending on where you are coming from, there may be subtle differences. Find out more about families and pets here.
We have compiled some of the most useful tips on living in Cayman below:
Many of the available properties are condominiums (condos), which are similar to apartment complexes and sometimes come with a shared pool and/or a gym. A 1 bedroom condo typically ranges between USD$1200-1700 per month. A 2 bedroom condo is around USD$1800-4000 per month. Beach front properties can be considerably more expensive than inland properties. Generally a 1 year lease is required with an initial payment the first month’s rent and a damage deposit (equivalent to 1 month’s rent).
Most rental condos and homes are rented fully furnished, including couches, furniture and beds, as well as major appliances. Utilities are rarely included in the rental price. Average monthly electricity service is US$250-$450 per month, for two persons sharing a two bedroom condo. Water can amount to USD$80-$150 per month for two persons sharing a two bedroom apartment.
Some apartments/condos offer additional amenities such as cable, wireless internet, gym and swimming pool.
There are several real estate agencies on island that can assist with finding property for rent or sale.
The most common mode of transport in Cayman is definitely by car, though more and more people are using scooters, riding bikes or managing quite well using the bus service.
There is public transport in the Cayman Islands and the cost of riding the bus in CI$2.00 per ride. The buses run from 6am to 11pm every fifteen minutes, Monday to Friday and every half hour Saturday and Sunday. The bus service covers quite specific routes so if you intend to use the bus, make sure you are living close to a route.
Sourcing a car is quite simple with a large number of car dealers on the island from whom new and used cars can be purchased. Vehicles are typically imported from the USA, Japan and Europe. Both right-hand and left-hand drive cars are allowed. Manual (stick) and automatic cars are also commonplace.
All cars, scooters and motorcycles require inspection by the Department of Vehicle and Driver’s Licensing, and typically costs CI$185 ($160 registration, $25 inspection).
Motor vehicle insurance is mandatory. The average cost of third-party cover for a mid-sized CI$5,000 car is likely to range between CI$450 and CI$750 per year depending on insurer and coverage. If you have more than three years of no claims from your current insurer, it’s worth bringing this paperwork with you, certain companies will take it into account when you take out a new policy in Cayman.
Cayman has many car rental companies, with daily rates starting from US$55/day. Most rental car companies give residents a local rate, so be sure to ask (you need to provide a local license to get this discount).
To rent a car, drivers must have a credit card, be over the age of 21 years and have a valid Cayman or international driving license.
Obtaining a driver’s license is feasible and relatively simple procedure when relocating to the Cayman Islands. You are permitted to drive using your domestic license for the first three months of moving here, at which time you must apply for a Cayman license. The best advice is to apply for a Cayman license as soon as possible.
Several airlines serve the Islands, including the national airline Cayman Airways, American Airlines, US Airways, Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, and West Jet. The national carrier serves Miami, Dallas, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago and New York; Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; La Ceiba, Honduras; Havana, Cuba; and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
A range of charter services are available from North America. There are also frequent charters from Cayman to Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and other nearby countries.
Taking a staycation in the Cayman Islands is also a wonderful way to enjoy the islands but without the stress of travel. East End and Rum Point provide a beautiful spot to ‘staycay’ – a 45 minute drive and you feel like you are on a different island. You can stay in one of the resorts hire a villa or condo or take a boat trip for the day (the ferry runs from Camana Bay to Kaibo too, which is a fantastic day out).
A visit to the Sister Islands is also extremely worthwhile. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are a short hop on a plane (quite a small plane if you are going on the twin otter!) and both islands are simply stunning. Cayman Brac is slightly busier than Little Cayman and is the home to the iconic bluff (very popular with climbers) and has excellent diving, eating and relaxing on the beautiful beaches. Little Cayman is the smallest and least inhabited island and it feels like a different world. With hardly any cars (or people) the resorts are small and friendly and very focused on their surrounding environment. The National Trust is worth a visit (to see the blue footed boobie birds and frigates),as well as the endemic rock iguana and the stunning surrounding coral reefs.
There are various banks in Grand Cayman, including Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd., Cayman National Bank, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Ltd., RBC Royal Bank Cayman Islands and Scotiabank (Cayman) Ltd. To open a bank account you will need proof of identity and a letter from your employer.
Opening a new account can take up to a couple of weeks to set up so it is worth ensuring you have access to your existing funds to cover your relocation and set up costs.
The Cayman Islands host a wide variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Locals can be found relaxing on white-powder Seven Mile Beach, participating in water sports, golf, scuba diving and snorkelling. As one of the top dive locations in the world, there are over 200 dive sites in the clear aqua water surrounding the Cayman Islands, and no shortage of dive shops offering PADI courses.
Grand Cayman has a fabulous 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
There is a wide range of social and sporting clubs in the Cayman Islands, covering almost every pastime imaginable. Many expats find that joining a club is a good way of meeting people when they first arrive on island. The following activities are easily accessible and are often supported by clubs or sports groups:
- Beach Volleyball
- Horse Riding
- Scuba Diving
- Kite Surfing
- Football (soccer)
- Paddle boarding
The island also has an active ‘race’ calendar, including multiple 5k runs, a marathon, several triathlons, sea swims, golf days and walks.
What’s Hot is a free monthly magazine providing a guide to events, activities and entertainment for the coming month. It is distributed in the local newspaper, the Cayman Compass, as well as being available at many locations throughout the island and online.
Cayman is fast becoming the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
Food is a part of the culture and the food experience can range from delicious jerk stands and traditional Cayman fried fish to some of the best restaurants in the region.
Eating out is a large part of the culture in Grand Cayman, and there are many restaurants, bars and cafes on the island, ranging from simply delicious food on the go, to luxury dining. Seafood restaurants are in abundance in the Cayman Islands, but there is also a good selection of Chinese, Thai, Indian, Steakhouses, Mexican, Italian, Sushi bars and English pub grub to choose from. Cayman also has an excellent range of healthier food options, including vegan and vegetarian restaurants, as well as those that focus on simply “better for you food”. The supermarkets also have hot and cold deli sections, offering quick and easy meal options that are perfect for busy lifestyles.
An experience not to be missed is Champagne Brunch which can be found at many of the hotel restaurants and is a popular weekend activity. Afternoon Tea at the Ritz-Carlton is also a special treat not to be missed.
The Cayman Cookout and Taste of Cayman are two food festivals that are gaining a reputation locally and internationally. There are also multiple opportunities to attend food and wine pairing evenings, as well as wine tasting events.
Eating and drinking in Cayman can be more expensive than you might be used to but the quality is really outstanding. Check out Cayman Good Taste for more information on restaurants in the Cayman Islands.
Most grocery stores in the Cayman Islands carry the same quality and diversity of fresh fruits, meats, vegetables, organic food, deli food, seafood, poultry and other supermarket items as the US. Prices for groceries in the Cayman Islands are approximately 20% higher than the US, with all pricing in Cayman Islands dollars.
Supermarkets are closed on Sundays in the Cayman Islands. However, a limited selection of common items can be obtained seven days a week at most service stations.
A high standard of general and specialist medical care is available in Cayman, both through the state system and by private practitioners and facilities.
There are three major hospitals in Grand Cayman, including Health Services Authority, Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital and Health City Cayman Islands.
A wide range of specialists, including visiting doctors from the US and elsewhere, operate from private clinics. Grand Cayman is also well served by private dentists and optometrists and dental cover should be considered as part of your health care package.
All residents are required to have health insurance to cover basic medical expenses, with the premium shared evenly between the employee and employer.
Cayman is a very active and healthy island. The wellness industry is also well developed, supporting the body and the mind. Services include physio, massage, holistic therapy, yoga, to name a few and there is a big focus on sport, with a large selection of activities to keep you fit, connect with others and take your mind off stressors in your life.
You can also find fitness instructors, nutritionists, life coaches – all ready to support a healthy body and healthy mind, if you need some help.
Expats working in the private sector must enrol their dependent children into a private school; they are not entitled to attend the Government Schools. Expats employed by the Government may send their children to a Government School if there is space available. It is required by law that each school must see a copy of your immigration paperwork stating that your child is a dependant on your work permit.
Private schools on the island follow either the British school system (e.g. Cayman Prep and St. Ignatius) or the American school system (e.g. Cayman International School and Triple C).
Cayman Resident offers helpful information regarding education and schools within the Cayman Islands.