Located between the two Americas in the Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands is a tropical paradise that is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and increasingly an expat hotspot.
With almost twice as many companies as people and known to be a major offshore tax haven, the Cayman Islands is a popular destination that offers an excellent quality of life for expats who can afford it.
Living in the Cayman Islands as an expat
The country encompasses three islands, made up of the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Each island is famous for its particular features. Grand Cayman is known for its beach resorts, and scuba diving and snorkelling sites. Cayman Brac is popular for deep-sea fishing, especially for tuna, marlin and barracuda. Little Cayman, which is the smallest island, is known for its diverse wildlife.
A large portion of the population in the Cayman Islands is made up of foreigners. The biggest demographics include those from Jamaica, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Honduras. While foreign land ownership is easily accessible, immigration laws are strict on the islands.
The Cayman Islands uses its own unique currency (The Cayman Dollar) which is tied to the US Dollar. The main economic sectors in the Cayman Islands are finance and tourism, and the capital, George Town, is home to more than 600 banks, which means expats working in finance should have no problem securing work.
The islands are also serviced by various efficient modes of transport, and expats should have no issues getting around.
Cost of living in the Cayman Islands
Rent is likely to be an expat's biggest expense. Finding suitable accommodation that meets both budget and taste may be challenging. Expats should therefore try to negotiate a living allowance into their employment contracts.
As the islands have a tax-free earnings policy, tax is added to everyday items, which makes them eye-wateringly expensive. Fortunately, salaries are often quite high, which offsets the exorbitant cost of living.
Expat families and children in the Cayman Islands
The standard of education in the Cayman Islands is terrific, and education is compulsory for all children, so expat parents will find the Cayman Islands an ideal place to raise a family. Public school education is free for Caymanian children as well as expat children in certain situations, but there are also a number of private and international schools located around the islands, and expat parents tend to prefer these.
Expat parents will also have no issues finding qualified medical professionals when their children are unwell, as the quality of healthcare in the Cayman Islands is excellent. With state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained staff, the Cayman Islands was one of the first countries in the world to mandate health insurance for all residents.
Climate in the Cayman Islands
The weather in the Cayman Islands can be characterised by the dry and wet seasons and by warm temperatures throughout the year. As the climate is tropical marine, the islands experience tropical rains and hurricanes between June and November. Expats should pack their umbrellas and raincoats and ensure they closely follow the storm warning systems.
For expats who can afford it, this tax-free haven may be the ideal destination. With its laid-back lifestyle, sundry outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, the Cayman Islands offer one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.
Population: Around 78,500
Capital city: George Town
Neighbouring countries: The Cayman Islands is in the Greater Antilles, which comprises countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Geography: The Cayman Islands is in the western Caribbean Sea and the islands are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Ridge (or Cayman Rise). Caymans Islands consists of three islands; the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Political system: The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory with its own elected Legislative Assembly. The elected government exercises executive and legislative authority, but the British appointed Governor may step in and exercise complete executive powers in consultation with the elected Premier of the Cayman Islands.
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: English
Money: The Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) is divided into 100 cents. The US Dollar is also widely accepted. ATMs are available on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, but are concentrated in George Town.
Tipping: Most restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10 to 15 percent service charge to the bill, otherwise a gratuity of the same amount is expected. At hotels, a 10 percent government tax is also usually added to the cost of your room. Taxi drivers expect a 10 to 15 percent tip as well.
Time: Local time is GMT -5
Electricity: Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Internet domain: .ky
International dialling code: + 1 (345)
Emergency contacts: 911 is the all-purpose emergency contact number for fire, police and medical services. Their medical facilities are up to date and equipped to deal with most problems, however, some complicated medical matters may require local stabilisation and transport to facilities in Miami.
Transport and driving: Drive on the left-hand side. It is easy to hire a car, but drivers must be over 21 to hire a rental car and must provide a valid international licence and passport, as well as purchase a driving permit from island authorities. Public transport on Grand Cayman includes taxis, limousines and buses, which travel through all the main districts. Cayman Airways provides air transfer between islands, and the only interisland boat charter is through private hire.