When planning a move to the Cayman Islands you will need to know what to expect in terms of both the cost and the standard of living, as they may be very different from what you’re used to.
Since the process of moving can be very costly, find out what your employer will do to absorb or mitigate these costs. Bear in mind that the cost of living is high in Cayman (see the Cost of Living page for tables). Unless you are moving from an expensive city such as London or New York, you may discover that everything from groceries and electricity bills, to running a car and schooling your children will cost significantly more. In fact, in July 2019 the Cayman Islands was ranked as the most expensive place in the world to live by Expatistan.
The process of moving can be very costly. Before signing, find out what your employer will do to absorb or mitigate certain costs. Here are some questions that you may want to ask your new employer before you accept a job offer:
- Cost of Shipping
Will the company contribute towards transporting your personal items to Cayman?
- Accommodation & Renting a Car
Will the company provide you with a place to live and rental car for your first month on the Island? See the Renting a Property in Cayman page for a list of temporary accommodation options.
- Cost of Setting Up Your Life in Cayman
It is worth being completely aware of the costs of setting up a home in Cayman. For example you will have to buy a car and pay for a year’s worth of car insurance; pay deposits on a house or apartment including deposits on getting your electricity, water, telephone and telephone set up. You will have to take a driving test and pay for a driving license. For a couple without children we estimate this to be just under CI$10,000, but for a couple with children we estimate it to be closer to CI$23,000, even more if you don’t want the most basic of cars.
- The Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Cayman Islands will invariably depend on your standard of living, but you are advised to work out a possible budget before taking the leap to Cayman. Things to take into consideration are your salary minus 5% pension and less your portion of health insurance. Then factor in accommodation, utility bills (water, electric, phone, TV, internet), running a car (gas, licence and insurance), and other day to day costs such as groceries, school fees, entertainment, activities, clothes, flights off the Island, savings etc.
- The Currency of Your Salary
What currency will your salary be paid in? If you will be paid in US dollars, is it at the going rate? For example you might think US$60,000 is a fair salary for a qualified accountant, but it’s actually only CI$49,200 (when using the bank exchange rate of .82) and the cost of living is greater here than in the US. Be aware that you will pay for almost everything in CI dollars, so if you are paid in US dollars you are better off taking the money you need out of the bank in CI dollars than paying for something at a store with US cash at a conversion rate of .80. On a salary of US$60,000 per year you will save around CI$1,200.
- Health Insurance
This is compulsory and it is essential that you ask whether your company will be covering more than 50% of the basic plan required by law. Premium health insurance coverage for an individual will cost at least CI$650-CI$1100 per month, double that for a couple and triple that for a family. Though the Law states you only need the basic plan, the premium plan should be considered for better coverage. A good employer will pay at least 50% of a premium plan, including half of the insurance cost of your family. However, this will still leave you with a hefty monthly deduction. There are numerous health insurance providers in the Cayman Islands, and several different plans available to it’s worth looking into the different options available.
- Vacation Time
How many weeks of annual holiday does your contract provide for? There is a disparity in Cayman between companies which offer only the US system of 10 working days per year and others which offer 3-4 weeks. Be sure to ask!
- Can Your Children Join You?
If you would like your children to join you in the Cayman Islands you must earn a minimum of CI$3,500 per month in order for them to be named as a dependant on your work permit. This rule is to ensure the worker has sufficient income available to adequately support any children they bring into the Cayman Islands.
If you get divorced during the tenure of your stay, the non-working spouse will have to leave the Island or obtain a work permit, regardless of whether you have children. Your children however, can stay as long as they are listed as dependants on your work permit.