Living in Cayman
Cost of Living
The cost of living is generally higher than in the United States or the United Kingdom, as most commodities are imported and have to bear the cost of freight and insurance, plus customs duty if payable. This is partly offset by the absence of income and property taxes.
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 can cost between CI$800-1500 per month. A 2 bedroom condo is around CI$1400-2500 per month. A 3 bedroom single family home on private land can cost upwards of CI$3000 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 furnished (furniture and major appliances); however, utilities are rarely included in the rental price. Electricity can amount to $200 per month, for two persons sharing a two bedroom condo and water can amount to $80 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. To view available rental properties visit the following property websites:
Local listings can be found on:
The local newspapers (Caymanian Compass) also run daily classifieds with the Friday issue being extensive.
The most common mode of transport in Cayman is definitely by car, though
There is public transport in the Cayman Islands and the cost of riding the bus in CI$2.00 per ride, weekly and monthly bus passes are not available. The buses run from 6am to 11pm every fifteen minutes, Monday to Friday and every half hour Saturday and Sunday.
There are a number of car dealers on the island from whom new and used cars can be purchased, Vehicles are imported from the USA, Japan and Europe. Both right-hand and left-hand drive cars are allowed. The minimum cost for one year's inspection and licensing is CI$185 ($160 registration, $25 inspection).
A typical four door car will start from $3000 upwards depending on the model and the year of the vehicle
You will not be able to complete the transfer of a car from another owner, be it private or a dealership, until you have car insurance. The average cost of third-party cover for a mid-sized CI$5,000 car is likely to be between CI$450 and CI$750 per year. Comprehensive insurance on a nearly-new but second-hand CI$16,000 car would be in the region of CI$850 per year (with a no claims discount factored in), and insurance on a new CI$32,000 BMW would cost over CI$3,000 per year (without a no claims discount).
Cayman has many car rental companies. Rates are higher in winter (from mid-December) but lower in the summer (from mid-April). A mid-size car costs from about US$55 to US$60 per day in winter, to as low as US$37 in summer. Jeeps cost from US$85 to US$95 in high season and US$75 to US$80 in low season. Insurance is additional. Most rental car companies give resident rates so be sure to ask. 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 licence.
Obtaining a Driver's License
If you have a full domestic driving license from a country within the Geneva Convention Road Traffic Agreement, you can obtain a full Cayman license. This basically means people from all the major European countries, most major English speaking countries (including the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa), and the following Caribbean countries - Jamaica, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago are entitled to obtain a Cayman driving license without having to take any further tests. If in doubt, call the Licensing Department on (345) 945 8344.
You are allowed to drive on your domestic driving license for the first three months of moving here (if you do not have a work permit) and then you must apply for a Cayman license. If you have an international driving license, you can legally drive on it for one year. However, you cannot convert an international driving license to a Cayman license; you can only convert your domestic license to a Cayman license. The best advice is to obtain a Cayman driving license as soon as possible. If you wait for over three
If you do not have a valid domestic license from a Geneva contracting state, you will have to take both a written test and a road test to obtain a Cayman driver's license before being able to drive in Cayman.
Brand new Cayman driving licenses can be obtained for three or five years and cost CI$85 or CI$125 for those that already have a driving license from a country within the Geneva Convention Road Traffic Agreement and just need it converted. For those needing their existing Cayman license renewed the cost is $60 for three years or CI$100 for five years. However, if there is a declared disability that affects your driving, then a driving license may be issued for one year only.
Expats working in the private sector must enroll their dependent children into a private school; they are not entitled to attend the Government Schools. Expats employed by the Government may send their children to a Government School if there is a place available. It is required by law that each school must see a copy of your immigration paperwork stating that your child is a dependant on your work permit.
Private schools on the island follow either the British school system (e.g. Cayman Prep and St. Ignatius) or the American school system (e.g. Cayman International School and Triple C).
Please note that at most private schools a second child will receive a 10% discount on fees and any third or subsequent children will receive a 15% (or more) discount. Most private schools also prefer fees to be paid per term or annually.
For more information on education and schools in the Cayman Islands visit www.caymannewresident.com.
Several airlines serve the Islands, including the national airline Cayman Airways, American Airlines, USAIR, Northwest, Delta, Continental, Air Canada, British Airways, and Air Jamaica. The national carrier serves Miami, Houston, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Chicago; Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Havana, Cuba; and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Direct links with other US gateways, such as Atlanta, New York and Charlotte, are provided by the US carriers serving the Islands.
British Airways operates a twice-weekly direct flight from London to Grand Cayman and return, and Air Canada operates once-weekly from Toronto.
A range of charter services are available from North America. There are also frequent charters from Cayman to Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and other nearby countries.
The local currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$), divided into 100 cents. The Cayman Islands dollar is pegged to the US dollar at KYD 1= USD 1.20. However, the cash rate is traded at CI$1 = US$1.25 which means that US$20 cash is worth CI$16 or US$5 is worth CI$4.US Dollars are accepted everywhere as are travellers cheques. Almost all shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards and there are cash-dispensing ATMs throughout the Cayman Islands. Currency denominations are CI$ 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 dollar bills.
There are various banks on Grand Cayman. Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd., Cayman National Bank, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Ltd., HSBC Bank (Cayman) Ltd., RBC Royal Bank Cayman Islands, Scotiabank (Cayman) Ltd. To open a bank account you will need proof of identity and a letter from your employer.
This can take up to a couple of weeks to set up so it is worth bearing that in mind when you arrive on island and ensure you have access to your existing funds to cover your relocation and set up costs.
There are many beautiful beaches and water sports on offer, with excellent snorkeling and 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 New Resident magazine/website provides a list of clubs and contact details. www.caymannewresident.com.
There are plenty of tourist attractions to work your way through including Boatswain's Beach (turtle farm), a visit to Hell, the Butterfly Farm and Pirates Caves to name a few.
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 Caymanian Compass, as well as being available at many locations throughout the island.
Eating out is a large part of the culture in Grand Cayman, and there are many restaurants, bars and cafes on the island. Seafood restaurants are in abundance in the Cayman Islands, but there is also a good selection of Chinese, Thai, Indian, Steakhouses, Sushi bars and English pub grub to choose from. An experience not to be missed is Champagne Brunch or Afternoon Tea at the Ritz-Carlton.
Visit www.caymangoodtaste.com for more information on restaurants in the Cayman Islands.
A high standard of general and specialist medical care is available in Cayman, both through the state system and by private practitioners and facilities.
A wide range of specialists, including visiting doctors from the US and elsewhere, operate from private clinics. Grand Cayman is well served by private dentists and optometrists.
A mandatory health insurance law became effective on 1st July 1997. This requires all residents to have minimum private sector health insurance to cover basic medical expenses, with the premium shared evenly between the employee and employer.
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 sundry items can be obtained seven days a week at most service stations.