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lindsaywilsontravels Mar 23rd, 2018 12:19 PM

Best Place to Move (cayman, T & C, Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao)?
We are contemplating moving with a 5 & 6-year-old. Would love your input on Cayman, Turks & Caicos & Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao.
Looking for warm, calm beaches. Bonus if there's a museum :)
Planning on checking it out in the next couple months so travel trips for now are appreciated, too.

eastenderusvi Mar 23rd, 2018 02:34 PM

What is your citizenship? Are you planning on clipping coupons or do you need to work? Many island nations have requirements for foreigners who want to live on their warm, calm beaches. ;)

RoamsAround Mar 23rd, 2018 03:26 PM

I currently live in the Caribbean so here are some things to consider:

Your FIRST order of business is to thoroughly checkout and understand the Immigration Laws for each of the islands you are considering as you CANNOT just show up one day and expect to take up residence. Start your research by going to the official government websites for the islands you are considering - you'll find details of the immigration requirements there. The Turks & Caicos and the Caymans are British Overseas Territories and the ABC islands are part of the Netherlands so you'll have to determine the requirements necessary to immigrate to those countries. For most Caribbean Islands obtaining residency usually requires that you invest a substantial sum (think in terms of $400K+) in Real Estate or in a business that provides jobs for locals. You will also have to provide evidence that you are in good physical health, do not have a criminal record and have the financial wherewithal to support yourself without working. Get references for a good Immigration attorney as you will find their services very helpful if and when you decide to make the move.

SECOND, you should know that getting residency DOES NOT give you the right to work. If you or your spouse has to work in order to support your family you will have to obtain a Work Permit. These are often very difficult to get. You'll have to have a "unique skill" (think doctor, nurse, specialty lawyer - FYI clerical workers, servers, bartenders, secretaries and similar jobs are not considered "unique") and find an employer willing to sponsor you and prove to the local Minister of Labor that there are no locals qualified to fill that position. The application process can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months. Even if those conditions are met there is no guarantee the Work Permit will be issued. The Work Permit, if granted, is usually good for one year and you must pay the required fees. The Permit is good only for that particular job and only for that particular person. Renewals may or may not be granted. Get references for an attorney to help you with the permitting process.

THIRD, you will generally find that living expenses in the Caribbean are anywhere from 25% to 35% higher than where you now live and wages (if you have to work) are significantly lower than for comparable jobs "back home". That's the Catch-22 of living in the Caribbean.

FOURTH, you should thoroughly check out the quality of schools on the islands you are considering as public schools on some islands leave a lot to be desired. Many Ex-pats living in the Caribbean send their children to private schools rather than the local public schools or send them to boarding school back in their home country. You'll need to budget for this added expense if the quality of your children's education is important to you.

FIFTH, do make Pre-Move Visits to the islands you are considering. Go for as long a period as you can - several weeks to several months on each island - so you get a feel for what island life is really like. Living on a Caribbean Island is far different then being there on a brief vacation. DO NOT stay at a resort or hotel and don't stay on the beach unless your housing budget will allow tis. Instead, stay in a condo or small rental house (in the same price rage as your regular housing budget). Do everyday chores like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, paying utility bills, local banking, cutting the law, etc. - in other words the same type of things you now do. After all that's what you'll be doing most of the time when you live on the island. You won't be spending your entire day sitting on a beach under a palm tree drinking pina coladas. Check out car prices (both new and use) so you get an idea of what your "transportation dollar can get you. Check out commuting times (if you will be working - and yes, there is such a thing as rush hour traffic in the Caribbean), availability of parking,. Research housing costs, utility costs (especially electricity which on most islands is very expensive. Learn if you can live without A/C for all or part of the day to save money. Find out about the reliability of telephone & internet service - it may not be what you are use to.

Now if you are a US citizen you'll find it infinitely easier to relocate to Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra or one of the US Virgin Islands as you will already have citizenship/residency and work status.

Last hint - Google such topics as "Living on NAME OF ISLAND", "Residency Requirements for NAME OF ISLAND". "Working in the Caribbean", "obtaining Work Permits", etc. The more first hand research you do the easier your transition will be. Go to the Virgin Island Relocation website (VIMovingCenter - The Ultimate Resource for Relocating and Living in the Virgin Islands. It's a website geared to living/working in the US Virgin Island but much of what you find there is applicable to most Caribbean island. Read EVERYTHING there. Start at the top left of the home page and work your way across the age clicking on the various dropdown menus. There's so much info it will take you a month to read it all. You'll find answers to all your questions and scores more you haven't even thought of yet. Then click on the forum link where you'll find thousands of threads covering every conceivable topic concerning living/working in the Caribbean.

Good luck following your dream. Do your research so it doesn't become a nightmare.

lindsaywilsontravels Mar 23rd, 2018 03:44 PM

Thanks! We are from US. I have my own company.

Delishbajansauce Mar 23rd, 2018 05:09 PM

Just wanted to support RoamsAround's answer , it 1000% hits all of the buttons. Especially living on the island of your choice several months at a time and maybe even several months on more than one occasion if possible before moving.

Best wishes.

eastenderusvi Mar 24th, 2018 10:12 AM

Are you thinking of bringing a company to the Caribbean, or is this an internet-based business? Either way, you need to research carefully. Do you need lightning fast and dependable internet? Do you need quick shipping or transportation? Lots of variables to investigate.

RoamsAround Mar 24th, 2018 11:49 AM

You’ll have to also investigate the requirements for establishing/operating a business on the islands you are considering. Many islands require that you have a local “partner” and you might still have to obtain a Work Permit. Laws and regulations can be pretty complex when it comes to foreigners trying to set up businesses.

As a rule, island nations are pretty protective of their natural born citizens and skew the
laws in their favor. It is not always easy for “non-belongers” to break through those barriers.

blamona Mar 24th, 2018 11:51 AM

Also consider health care. Most fly out when something is serious, usually Miami or Ft. Lauderdale

Consider appliances and cars rot in salt air. Replacements are expensive and may take weeks to come in

Consider schooling. I would say by 8th grade most kids get sent out

Having you're own business makes no difference--you'll still need work permits renewed annually and slowly at a hefty cost. Against law to work even for free without one. Be prepared to waste tons of time going back and forth as they're in no hurry, and you can't work before then (even at home) You might have to have an islander as a partner too, be very careful about this one!

Costs are high, no one will rent to you without 6 months worth of savings before you start working. We're talking maybe roughly $20,000 average just for rent, utilities. not including extras such as pool and landscape (which might be your responsability)

All islands have expats. Spend time getting to know them so you know which one fits you!

Go live for a month when you narrow down, live away from the beach like a local. This will be your true realistic life

If your business requires internet, expect power outages, internet down, not strong like what you're paying for

Keep in mind any paperwork you need to do (utilities, government, etc) can waste days of your life. A recent bank visit to make a deposit took me 90 minutes. Paying a bill can take days. Paying monthly taxes, ditto

Unless you get residency, you may have to leave overnight every 2-3 months. At 2 months you probably have to renew the extra 30 days (at a 1-2 waste) and at 90 days start over

Keep in mind both spouses have to have the same tastes/wants. If one is just settling, it will end badly. It's hard for a non-island dreamer to go through all the frustrations of island life. I've seen endless couples break up. Be prepared to have your kid leave too--island life/schools, etc are not like the States

Many do it successfully, but you're going to find little time for the beach

lindsaywilsontravels Mar 24th, 2018 01:20 PM


eastenderusvi Mar 25th, 2018 07:10 AM

This is why so many US citizens opt for the USVI when moving to the Caribbean.;) You can pick up your company with no questions asked. You may even find the tax laws more generous. I will say that the electricity and internet are probably not up to par with stateside standards, but oh,well!. Good luck!!

blaire25 Mar 29th, 2018 01:35 PM

Originally Posted by eastenderusvi (Post 16700317)
Are you thinking of bringing a company to the Caribbean, or is this an internet-based business? Either way, you need to research carefully. Do you need lightning fast and dependable internet? Do you need quick shipping or transportation? Lots of variables to investigate.

I second some more research first.

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