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Moving to Cayman Islands

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 transport, 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.


Fast facts

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. 

Weather in Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands experiences a tropical marine climate, so expats can always expect warm weather. Temperatures rarely drop below the mid-70s (25°C) year round and there are two main seasons: dry and wet.

The dry season lasts from November to April (winter), while the wet season lasts from May to October (summer). In addition, the hurricane season falls in the wet season, from July to November.

Dry season temperatures hover in the mid-70s (25°C). It is the most popular season on the islands because of the hot, sunny weather, but the humidity can be overwhelming and some find the heat oppressive.

Few people come in the rainy season, and possible hurricanes are a further deterrent during this time. However, it is the warmest time of year and often reaches well into the 90s (30°C).

Expect thunderstorms, tropical rains and hurricanes come June/July. While severe hurricanes have caused property damage, flooding and power cuts, there has been little injury thanks to the effective storm warning systems, emergency services and disaster preparations. There have been earthquakes in recent years, but again little damage and no injuries have resulted. 

 

Embassy contacts for Cayman Islands


Cayman Island embassies

  • British Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also represents Cayman Islands): +1 202 588 6500

  • British High Commission, Ottawa, Canada (also represents Cayman Islands): +1 613 237 1530

  • British High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also represents Cayman Islands): +61 2 6270 6666

  • British High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (also represents Cayman Islands): +27 12 421 7500

  • British Embassy, Dublin, Ireland (also represents Cayman Islands): +353 1 205 3700

  • British High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand (also represents Cayman Islands): +64 4 924 2888


Foreign embassies in Cayman Islands

  • United States Consular Agent, George Town: +1 345 945 8173

  • Canadian High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica (also responsible for Cayman Islands): +1 876 926 1500

  • Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for Cayman Islands): +1 868 822 5450

  • Embassy of Ireland, Washington DC, United States of America (also responsible for Cayman Islands): +1 202 462 3939

Public Holidays in Cayman Islands

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

National Heroes' Day

25 January

24 January

Ash Wednesday

17 February

2 March

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

Discovery Day

17 May

16 May

Queen's Birthday

14 June

13 June

Constitution Day

5 July

4 July

Remembrance Day

15 November

14 November

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December 

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December

Working in Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands has a thriving economy, boasting an exceptionally high GDP per capita. The islands are a popular business and financial centre, based on the tax-free status on incomes and their well-developed communications infrastructure.

The two biggest economic sectors on the islands are finance and tourism. The Caymans are the fifth-largest banking centre in the world, reflected in the high number of banks in comparison to a relatively small population.  


Job market in Cayman Islands

Most of the banks located in Cayman Islands are licenced to operate internationally and with limited domestic activity. International conglomerates include HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. An expat qualified in the financial sector is a good candidate for finding a job on the islands, especially in investment or insurance.

Management positions in construction are also usually available to foreigners, as there are not enough qualified Caymanians to fill these posts. 

Tourism is another thriving sector, but finding a job as an expat can be difficult due to the seasonal nature of the industry. 

Teaching is also an option for expats, as many teachers are recruited from England, Canada and the US. The most popular time for open positions is between December and February every year. 


Finding a job in Cayman Islands

Most expats who look for work in Cayman Islands do so through a Cayman Islands recruitment agency. In order to work on the islands as a non-resident, a work permit has to be secured prior to moving to the islands, which can only be done with the guarantee of an employer. Recruitment agencies will be able to advise expats on their prospects, potential salary and suitability.

If an expat has a work permit, they can register with the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) for access to their database of jobs.

Other methods of job searching include local classifieds, internet portals and social networking sites such as LinkedIn.


Work culture in Cayman Islands

In contrast to the laid-back island lifestyle, work culture in Cayman Islands is rather conservative. Respect for authority and those in senior positions is vital, and expats should always be courteous and formal in the workplace. 

Company structures are hierarchical rather than egalitarian, but employees' input is nonetheless valued and taken onboard. 

Doing Business in Cayman Islands

As a self-governed British crown colony, Cayman Islands is a conservative and modest society, which is reflected in how business is done.

Respect for authority and those in senior positions is vital when doing business in Cayman Islands, and expats should be aware of the courteous attitude that dominates the islands. 


Fast facts

Business hours

Office hours are 8am to 5pm and banking hours are from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Business language

The language of business is English.

Dress

Business attire is generally quite casual on the islands, but business suits should be worn when meeting bank executives, senior officials and heads of business, and when attending business functions.

Gifts

Gifts are not commonly exchanged, but if giving a gift something inexpensive is appropriate.

Gender equality

While women can be found in the workplace and more are reaching senior positions, gender inequality still tends to exist. 


Business culture on Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands are a society where family and respect for authority and seniority are very much commonplace. Often the manager of a company will take on a protective position, looking out for employees that extends beyond a professional sphere. 

Greetings

It is normal practice to shake hands with business contacts. People are addressed by their titles and surnames. Business cards are usually exchanged after a meeting.

Communication

Caymanians are polite and conservative people, so confrontational behaviour or an overly-familiar attitude is frowned upon.

Attitude towards foreigners

As a large part of the population is made up of foreigners, expats should not encounter any problems with how foreigners are treated. 


Dos and don’ts of business

  • Don’t be late as punctuality is valued

  • Do be courteous and polite at all times

  • Don't be over-familiar with people who have just been introduced

Cost of Living in Cayman Islands

The cost of living in the Cayman Islands is relatively expensive. Because of tax-free salaries, VAT is increased on everyday items, pushing up the cost of living significantly. However, in order to offset this, salaries tend to be sky high. 


Cost of accommodation in Cayman Islands 

Accommodation will likely be an expat's biggest expense, but the prices vary dramatically depending on the area. Accommodation in George Town, the capital, is likely to be the most expensive owing to its proximity to amenities. Other sought-after areas, such as Seven Mile Beach, are also eye-wateringly expensive due to their popularity with tourists.


Cost of education in Cayman Islands

The cost of education varies depending on the type of school a child attends. For non-Caymanian students, public schools charge more than for local students. However, this is still considerably less than the fees of private or international schools. 

Private and international school fees range from school to school, but are generally rather exorbitant. Some schools offer a sibling discount. Most private schools prefer fees to be paid annually.


Cost of living in Cayman Islands chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for November 2020 in George Town.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

KYD 3,700

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KYD 3,200

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

KYD 1,550

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KYD 3,160

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

KYD 4.83

Milk (1 litre)

KYD 2.78

Rice (1kg)

KYD 4.10

Loaf of white bread

KYD 3.87

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KYD 11

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

KYD 9

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

KYD 9

Coca-Cola (330ml)

KYD 1.85

Cappuccino

KYD 4.35

Bottle of local beer

KYD 5

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

KYD 85

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

KYD 0.30

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

KYD 118

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

KYD 293

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

KYD 1.24

Bus/train fare in the city centre

KYD 2

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

KYD 1.20

Accommodation in Cayman Islands

There is a large selection of apartments and condos available for long-term rent in Cayman Islands. Expats will find that costs vary substantially, depending on location and proximity to areas such as George Town and the 7 Mile beachfront. Many places come with facilities such as tennis courts and pools. 

Rental accommodation is relatively easy to find, and annual leases are generally available. During the tourist season (November and February) it can be more difficult to secure an annual lease. Monthly costs vary depending on whether the place is furnished or unfurnished, location and size. 


Types of accommodation in Cayman Islands

There are various types of accommodation for expats to choose from when renting, including houses, condominiums, apartment complexes and rooms/apartments in larger houses. The most common types of properties available are two- and three-bedroom condos and townhouses, which are popular for long-term renting. 

Household goods can be purchased locally, while most landlords provide a full range of crockery, cutlery and other household items if the place is furnished. Most accommodation in Cayman Islands is furnished. 


Finding accommodation in Cayman Islands

There are real-estate agents situated across the islands who can help house-hunting expats. Alternatively, there are many websites advertising property online, which can be useful for expats. Expats should act quickly when signing a lease as properties tend to go quite quickly. 


Renting accommodation in Cayman Islands 

Those working on the island for two to three years generally rent property rather than buy. The property market is well run thanks to the transient nature of expat stays on the islands.

Once expats have decided on suitable accommodation, they must approach the landlord as soon as possible to negotiate a suitable lease agreement.

Making an application

The first step in the rental process after finding the desired accommodation is to file an application. Prospective tenants can either do this directly with the landlord or via an estate agent. The landlord or agency will perform various checks, after which a lease is signed between landlord and tenant.

Leases

A standard rental contract is usually valid for a year with the option to renew at the end of the initial term. In Cayman, tenants are sometimes able to negotiate shorter leases, but this is up to individual landlords. If the property is furnished, a full inventory of items will need to be drawn up and signed. 

Deposits

Tenants will have to pay a deposit, usually equivalent to one month’s rent, in addition to the first month’s rent to secure the rental agreement. This deposit belongs to the tenant and must be paid back at the end of the lease, unless the landlord deems it necessary to make use of some or all of the deposit for breakages, outstanding rent or other expenses the tenant may be liable for as agreed to in the contract.

Utilities

Renters need to carefully check the terms of their lease to determine which utilities are included and what additional expenses they’d be liable for. Usually, utilities such as gas, water, electricity and internet usually aren't covered by the landlord, but this varies from property to property.

Healthcare in Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is home to a broad range of medical services, including hospitals, clinics, specialist doctors and general practitioners. The standard of healthcare on the islands is excellent. Most of the facilities are located on Grand Cayman, but there are health centres on all three islands. The hospitals have received recognition for their technologically-advanced excellence in a number of specialities. 

Healthcare and medications can be costly, so health insurance is needed. Health insurance coverage is mandatory for every resident. In fact, the Cayman Islands was one of the first countries to implement this policy.  


Public healthcare on Cayman Islands

Public healthcare is available in the Cayman Islands, but expats planning to use these services will still need to take out compulsory health insurance to cover them while they are on the island.

Public healthcare services are generally cheaper than private healthcare services, but expats can expect longer queues, lower quality facilities and fewer amenities. 


Private healthcare on Cayman Islands

Most expats in the Cayman Islands will opt to use private healthcare. Due to the high costs associated with this, expats will generally take out a comprehensive health insurance plan which will cover any specialists and emergencies during their time on the islands.

Private healthcare on the Cayman Islands is generally of a high standard and expats can expect to find well-trained medical professionals and short waiting lists.


Emergency services on Cayman Islands

There are ambulances across Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac and these can be called using 911.

While the islands are generally well equipped to handle most medical issues, some complicated surgeries or severe emergencies may require medical evacuation to overseas hospitals. Expats should be sure to take out a medical insurance plan which will cover them for cases such as these.

Education and Schools in Cayman Islands

The education system in Cayman Islands is generally of an excellent standard, and expats will be pleased to know that the islands have a number of schools to choose from. Education is compulsory from the age of four to 16 for all children living on the islands and is free to all Caymanian children and those who qualify as residents. 

Expats who are employed by the government will have the option of sending their children to a public school, provided there is space. However, if they are employed in the private sector and earn a certain amount per month with two dependants on their permit, then the child is to attend a private school. 

All children are required to take a medical test before entering a public or private/international school. The school year begins in September. 


Public schools in Cayman Islands

Public schools in Cayman Islands are based on the English model and follow the Examinations Council curriculum, which is similar to the English GCSE system, making assimilation easier for many expat children.

For English-speaking expats, public schools are a viable option for their children, as the language of instruction is familiar. 


Private and international schools in Cayman Islands

There are various private and international primary and secondary schools on the islands that follow either the American or British system. Some of the schools are faith-based. Many of the schools are located in George Town on Grand Cayman.

While there are a number of private and international schools across all three islands, expats will find that space is often limited and there are long waiting lists. Early applications should therefore be a priority. 

Admission and enrolment procedures vary from school to school. Tuition for private and international schools is usually expensive, but they tend to offer high standards of learning, good facilities, smaller classes and sundry extra-curricular activities. 


Homeschooling in Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Department of Education Services states that any person who is recognised as a legal resident in Cayman Islands can homeschool their child with the approval of the Department of Education Services. 


Special-needs education in Cayman Islands

Special-needs students are accommodated as far as possible in mainstream schools in Cayman Islands. For children whose disabilities are too severe to be accommodated in mainstream classrooms, there is a special education school called the SEN Special Day School, which caters for students with intellectual disabilities, autism disorder and multiple disabilities. The Alternative Education Center (AEC), on the other hand, takes in older students who are considered to have behavioural difficulties that make it impossible for them to attend regular school. The centre acts as a 'second chance programme' of sorts, tailored to the individual needs of young troubled learners.


Tutoring in Cayman Islands

Many Cayman parents opt to have their children tutored. Tutoring is helpful in cases where children need assistance in specific subject areas such as maths or science, studying for important entrance exams, or for learners with learning difficulties. An excellent tutoring company in Cayman Islands is the Cayman Learning Centre and School.

International Schools in Cayman Islands

International schools in Cayman Islands are a popular choice for expat parents looking to ensure continuity in their children’s education. Standards are generally high and teaching staff are usually well-trained.

These international schools offer a range of curricula and extra-curricular activities, and are a great option for expat parents hoping to give their children a smooth transition into life in Cayman Islands.


International schools in Cayman Islands

Cayman Prep and High School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 3 to 18
Websitewww.cayprep.edu.ky

Cayman International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and American
Ages: 2 to 18
Websitewww.caymaninternationalschool.org

First Baptist Christian School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American 
Ages: 2 to 11
Websitewww.fbcs.edu.ky

St Ignatius Catholic School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National CurriculumCambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Ages: 3 to 18
Websitewww.st-ignatius.com

Triple C School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 2 to 18
Websitewww.triplecschool.org

Transport and Driving in Cayman Islands

There are a few options for getting around the Cayman Islands, including buses, taxis and private cars. The islands are home to two international airports.

Expats will find that the roads are in good condition and that navigating the islands is relatively simple. Traffic drives on the left-hand side and the easiest way to get around is by car. 


Public transport in Cayman Islands

Public transport in Cayman Islands is not that extensive, but it suits the small population’s needs. Expats may be surprised to learn that ferries do not travel between the three islands because of how deep the water is. In order to reach the other islands, private boats can be hired.

Buses

On Grand Cayman, a bus connects all districts of the island. While there are some bus stops along major routes, one can flag down a passing point at any stage. Passengers can alert the driver when they need to get off. Expats should be aware that the buses look like shuttles rather than the domestic buses that they may be used to.

Buses generally operate from 6am to 11pm on weekdays, with extended hours over the weekend. Depending on the location, buses leave every 10 to 20 minutes.


Taxis in Cayman Islands

Taxis are available throughout the islands. Expats should note that taxies are not metered, but rather operate by fares set by the government. Conditions such as bad weather, late-night or early-morning trips and more than three passengers affect the fare. It is recommended that expats confirm the fare before getting into the taxi. Apps such as Uber and Lyft aren't available in Cayman Islands for now.


Driving in Cayman Islands

In order to drive on the islands, expats will need either a visitor’s permit or have a valid international driver’s licence. If driving a privately owned car, expat’s need to visit the Vehicle and Drivers' Licensing Department. Paperwork needed includes an expat’s passport and domestic driving licence. A visitor’s permit will then be issued for the duration of one’s stay.

Scooters and mopeds can be rented on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman. Expats must wear helmets at all times when on a scooter or moped, and be cautious when changing lanes.


Cycling in Cayman Islands

The well-maintained roads and naturally flat terrain of the islands make getting around by bike very easy. Bicycles can be rented along the beachfront. Expats should make sure to lock up their bicycles properly with a bicycle lock.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands has one the largest and most respected financial sectors and is home to more than 600 banks and 100,000 companies.

Because of its tax-free status on incomes, the country is famous as a host of offshore bank accounts. These accounts are transparent in nature, and the islands are well known for being open about transactions, despite the opinion that flares up occasionally about 'shady' offshore accounts.

Expats will find that banking is efficient and easy on the islands. 


Money in Cayman Islands

The official currency is the Cayman Islands dollar (KYD) divided into 100 cents. It is commonly abbreviated as CI$ before the amount. The KYD is permanently fixed at an exchange rate to the US Dollar. 

  • Notes: 1 KYD, 5 KYD, 10 KYD, 25 KYD, 50 KYD and 100 KYD

  • Coins: 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents and 25 cents

There are ATMs all over the islands and US Dollars are also widely accepted. 


Banking in Cayman Islands

The islands are home to a sophisticated banking system and a large number of banks, making managing finances straightforward and accessible.  

Opening a bank account

All expats looking to open a bank account will be subjected to a thorough check before being able to do so. Expats should note that some banks will not offer chequing services to a new account holder who has just arrived on the islands. 

If an expat changes jobs while on the islands, they must get a letter from the new employer stating their salary for the bank. 


Taxes in Cayman Islands

While the islands are famous for being a tax haven, it is by no means completely tax free. The government relies heavily on indirect taxes, pushing up the prices of everyday items that can make the cost of living bitterly expensive. Still, there are no taxes on income, capital gains or wealth tax, which makes the islands an attractive destination for expats.