So you wanna live in the Caymans?

First off, I’m not moving anywhere. But you may be tired of shoveling snow and being stuck in winter traffic. You have seen my pictures of the Cayman Islands and dream of taking your millions of dollars and moving to Cayman Brac to live in a tax free paradise, nice! Lets take a look at what it takes to live that dream.
Step one, get there. There are no direct flights to Cayman Brac from Canada but Air Canada does fly to Grand Cayman fairly regularly from Toronto. The short air-strip must wear down the brakes on these planes as they try not to skid off the end into the harbour. Delays are pretty normal around here, it is island time after all, get used to a slower pace of life (Train drivers from Japan would explode trying to follow the Cayman Airways schedule). In 2019, this flight will cost you around $300 or so (one way, I assume your not going back).
From Grand Cayman you have exactly one option to get to Cayman Brac, and that is with Cayman Airways. The flight is about 40 minutes and often they can’t load your luggage onto the plane as they run out of space. Your suitcases will show up eventually, but pick up some duty free emergency rum for your carry-on with this in mind. As of 2019 this flight will cost you about $110 CAD (one way).
When you arrive in Cayman Brac, you may find the airport pretty much empty. This is where you will wait for your bags, which may or may not show up depending on how heavy the aircraft was loaded that day. On one occasion when my bags didn’t arrive I asked the agent when I should return the next day to get them “When you hear da plane fly over, it is time to get your bags”. I mean, it makes sense.
Of course you are going to need a way to get around. The island is just big enough that a bicycle won’t cut it; you’re gonna need a car. Because the Caymans are a British colony, they drive on the left hand side which takes a bit of getting used to. They will accept your Canadian driver’s license down here.
Since they drive on the left, it is best to get a car with the steering wheel on the right. This makes importing used cars from Japan a popular option. This Japanese Toyota “Funcargo” was a good size and could haul your scuba & climbing gear. Any goods imported onto the island are taxed at 25%, including used cars. A decent used car in the Caymans will cost you at least 10-15K CAD.
Our car’s GPS thought we were still in Tokyo (which is where I assume this car shipped from). The lady in the corner would speak to us in Japanese, no idea what she was saying.
Of course, you are going to need some fuel for your Toyota Funcargo. That fuel is brought onto the island by boat which makes it very pricey. I did the currency and unit’s conversion for you; this gas is $2.13 CAD per litre. All electricity on the island is also generated from diesel fuel that is imported, making electricity fairly expensive as well.
Unless you are a caped crusader, living in a cave may not be that appealing. You’re going to need a house.
Many people dream of buying a plot of land on the beach and building their dream home. Here is a perfect example, 175K USD for 220 feet of picturesque beachfront property. In the Cayman Islands there is no property tax making owning land a great place to park some cash.
Unfortunately, many people underestimate the cost and headaches of attempting to build a house on a remote island. Forgot some building material, you’re waiting for the next barge to bring it down; it could be months. There are numerous examples on the island of people that attempted to build a house and ran out of money or steam.
Need a stove or fridge for your new house, here is what you can choose from locally. Otherwise, you’re ordering it in via barge.
Of course, you can also buy an existing house. Cayman Brac has some very interesting houses. Like this one built on top of a giant rock. Note this houses security system… a canon in the front yard.
Or this aptly named Bubble House. Although more affordable apartments exist, you can rent this exact house for ~$9000 CAD per month (it is a bit cheaper in the summer). To buy a house, the range is pretty wide but budgeting at least one million would be a good bet and much, much more in Grand Cayman. Side Note: As of Dec 2019, the most expensive condo in Grand Cayman was just sold for 13 million USD, a Condo!
In the Caymans, even this fancy chicken coup would be too expensive for me. If you can afford to live in a chicken coup and want residency in the Caymans, you can apply for a “Certificate of Permanent Residency for Persons of Independent Means.” Which basically means you can become a resident of the Caymans if you have a ton of money.
Exactly how much cash does it take? Well, you need to prove you have an annual income of at least $190,000 CAD without engaging in employment in the Cayman Islands. In other words, you need to make almost 200K a year with passive income only (stocks, bonds etc…). You also have to invest at least 1million of your money into the Cayman Islands, of which at least 500K has to be in real-estate. By the way, there is also a $20,000 fee to apply, plus lawyer fees, pocket change really.
Besides the warm weather and beautiful beaches why you might wonder are you going to pour millions of dollars into the Cayman Islands…. No Tax! That’s right, 0%. You make 200K per year, pay 0 tax. The corporate tax rate is also 0% if you want to start a company down here. If you are very wealthy, this makes the Caymans a very attractive place to live as a tax avoidance strategy.
Oh and by the way, now that you’ve got your housing, residency and tax situation figured out… The Cayman Islands occasionally experience devastating hurricanes. Hurricane insurance is prohibitively expensive so you just have to roll the dice and hope you don’t end up like this house or at least have the funds and patience to repair periodically. There are numerous abandoned houses and even entire resorts that were too expensive to repair after a bad hurricane.
Enough about housing. How about some food. Just about everything is brought in on a barge. If the seas are rough, the barge simply doesn’t come and you do without. All goods brought onto the island are taxed at 25% making food pretty expensive. As an example, a stick of butter would be roughly 11 dollars CAD.
Being surrounded by the sea means there is plentiful fresh fish. The Cayman Government even provides these fish cleaning huts.
Being the Caribbean, curry, rice and peas as well as plantain is a staple for food. This meal would have cost about $19 CAD.
Due to the warm climate, it is possible to grow your own food to keep the costs down. Star fruit here.
Being a small island there isn’t much in the way of recycling. They don’t have the facilities to recycle and shipping it back to the US would be far too expensive. Having to throw out what we consider recyclable was a strange feeling. Although there is an aluminum recycling bin at this beach, I wonder where it actually ends up.
Speaking of garbage….. the local Cayman people are constantly having to clean up their shore line. They tell me that in Haiti there are less than scrupulous trash companies that simply dump the garbage into ravines. When the heavy rains come the garbage is washed out to sea eventually making its way to the shores of the Caymans. The garbage isn’t from the local Cayman population but from other countries. I was told that after the earthquake in Haiti the empty bags of emergency drinking water would constantly wash up on the Cayman shoreline.
How could I forget, you’re going to need internet in order to keep looking at my pics while you work on your suntan. Lucky for you, there are submarine cables connecting the Caymans back to North and South American so internet speeds are reasonable; not mega fast but quick enough to watch Netflix. There is also cell coverage on most parts of the islands.
If going to church if your jam, this outdoor church seems like a great spot. And yes, those are old school bus seats; I guess they do recycle after all!
Eventually, the party has to come to and end. When your time comes, this doesn’t seem like a bad place to get some rest.


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