Located between the two Americas in the Caribbean Sea, the tropical paradise that is Cayman Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and increasingly an expat hotspot.
The country encompasses three islands, made up of the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Each island is famous for 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.
With almost twice as many companies as people and known to be a major offshore tax haven, Cayman Islands is a popular destination for expats who can afford it. In fact, a large portion of the population 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, the immigration laws are strict on the islands.
The quality of healthcare in Cayman Islands is excellent. With state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained staff, Cayman Islands was one of the first countries in the world to mandate health insurance for all residents.
The standard of education in Cayman Islands is also terrific, and education is compulsory for all children. 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.
The islands are serviced by various modes of transportation, and expats should have no problems getting around.
Cayman Islands uses its own currency (The Cayman Dollar) which is tied to the US Dollar. The main economic sectors in 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. As the islands have a tax-free policy on earnings, tax is added to everyday items which can be exorbitantly expensive. Fortunately, salaries are often quite high, which offsets the high cost of living.
Rent is likely to be an expat's biggest expense. Finding suitable accommodation that meets both budget and taste may be difficult. Expats should therefore try to negotiate a living allowance into their employment contracts.
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, Cayman Islands offers one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.
Population: Around 64,000
Capital city: George Town
Neighbouring countries: Cayman Islands is in the Greater Antilles, which is comprised of countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Geography: 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: 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 transportation 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 license 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 inter-island boat charter is through private hire.