I started this blog to document my adventures and share them with family and friends far away and in doing so, hopefully inspire others to live their dreams. I'm honoured when people say they like reading it and love receiving messages through this website and my instagram. The most common thing people contact me about is moving to the Cayman Islands - what it's like to live here as an expat and how easy it is to make the move. So I thought I'd answer my most frequently asked questions in a post!
1. Do I need a visa? What about if I'm British?
All expats need a work permit to live and work in the Cayman Islands. A work permit is essentially a visa and unless you are a Cayman passport holder or have enough wealth (a lot!) to be able to prove that you can support yourself long term, you need one. And yes, that includes Brits. Cayman is a British overseas territory but that means absolutely nothing if you're a British citizen looking to live and work here - the same rules apply to you as any other expat.
So how easy it to get a work permit? Well first you need a job and employment opportunities for expats are most prevalent in the financial / legal services and hospitality, although it's not impossible to find roles in other sectors as well. Essentially prospective employers have to be sure that there are no Caymanian's available to fill the role they're hiring for in order to justify employing an expat and therefore apply for a permit. Then you have to submit paperwork including your professional background and relevant qualifications, a full medical, blood work and police clearance to immigration for their consideration. If approved, work permits are usually valid for 1-2 years after which you can apply again for a renewal, and you can keep doing so for a maximum of 9 years before you have to apply for permanent residency if you want to stay longer. Permit fees are usually covered by employers, who also have an obligation to contribute to health insurance and pensions for all employees.
2. Is living in Cayman expensive?
The short answer is yes. It's true that we don't pay any income tax - but there are plenty of indirect taxes in the form of duties on consumer goods and you have to remember that nearly everything has to be imported, which means that the cost of living is high. Rents are comparable with central London or New York (but hey, you're living in close proximity to one of the world's top rated beaches!) and a punnet of tomatoes is on average around $5 in the supermarket - life in paradise comes at a price so be sure to factor that in when you're looking at what you might be earning.
3. Is it a good lifestyle?
Yes, our lives are exactly what they seem like in our Instagram feeds! #sorrynotsorry! You work hard but as soon as you leave the office, you're essentially on holiday in the Caribbean! Going for a beach walk or wake boarding before or after work are common occurrences and I've yet to experience a day bad enough that it can't be cured with a dip in the ocean and a sunset cocktail. Weekends are spent at the beach, snorkelling, diving, floating in the pool and enjoying the sunny outdoors. On a small island, everything is close by and long commutes simply don't exist - friends are only ever 5 minutes away and impromptu gatherings are easy to organise. The only downside is a lack of anonymity - there's no such thing as popping out for a pint of milk and not bumping into someone you know! But in every other way, we really are living the dream.
4. Are there good hospitals and doctors?
Cayman is one of the most developed islands in the Caribbean and has a solid infrastructure - schools and hospitals are of a high standard and permit holders are required by law to have private healthcare so you have easy access to a large number of clinics and two hospitals.
5. How do I find a job?
You can research companies on the island related to your profession and contact them directly or you can speak to one of the recruitment agencies - there are several but Stepping Stones or CML are a good place to start.
What other questions do you have about living in the Cayman Islands or moving abroad? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a message via the contact page!