ACCOMODATION

Moving to Cayman Islands, there are many accommodation options to consider.

Depending on your needs, whether you want to buy a property or rent ,you can choose from luxurious serviced apartment, to well positioned state of the art apartments on Seven Mile Beach, to spacious villas in well maintained developments.

Accommodation in Cayman is generally of a very high standard often coming with private or nearby well maintained landscaped gardens, private or communal swimming pools, communal tennis courts, gyms and kids play areas.

Cost, whether renting or buying in Cayman, varies from location to location. Rent inflation in Dubai has recently been capped by Dubai Government for rent renewals however there is limited legislation to cover new agreements. Rent is payable in advance for the year, in one or two cheques and this in most cases is not negotiable however in view of present economic downturn the rent committee has suggested that landlords be more lenient in this matter and accept monthly rental cheques.

BUYING PROPERTY

Investing in Cayman

The Cayman Islands have for many years enjoyed a thriving economy. Growth in population and tourism fuels the success of investments making investing in the Cayman Islands a profitable venture. One significant factor in deciding to invest and/or reside in the Cayman Islands is that there is no direct taxation whatsoever. Reputable legal and accounting professionals are readily available to advise you on your offshore investments. With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center.

One key advantage of doing international business in Cayman is that the intellectual resources in all ventures relating to global finance are readily available from experienced practitioners. In fact, few other international financial centers come close to matching Cayman's professional resources. British Dependency status assures investors of the Islands stability and, Cayman is signatory to international treaties and conventions and attracts the world's most respected firms and investors. The Cayman Islands real estate market is uniquely attractive to those looking for an overseas holiday get-away, or a retirement residence. For foreign investors, it can offer a solid capital return on their investment, as well as the chance to own a secluded piece of "paradise".

There are a wide variety of investment opportunities in the Cayman Islands from residential to commercial properties ranging from a small, secluded Caymanian cottage in the sparsely populated east end to a lavish Oceanfront Condominium on the world famous 7-mile beach.

Time Shares or Interval Ownership Developments are another popular form of Cayman Islands real estate investment. Approximately US,000.00 will buy you and your family a week's vacation accommodations in the Cayman Islands for the rest of your life. There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate, and a modern land registration system is run by the Government's Department of Lands and Survey. A stamp duty is payable on transfers of land and mortgage deeds, and is a one-time fee.

There is a thoroughly modern infrastructure and a stringent building code. The innovation is apparent in legislation, technological and telecommunications, and in the development of new instruments for investors. To review, the benefits of Investing in Cayman Island Real Estate are,

  • No direct taxes imposed by the Cayman government: no property tax, no capital gains tax, no inheritance taxes, no income tax, no non-resident tax and no sales tax.
  • No restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate in the Cayman Islands. Ownership can be held in one or more names of individuals or in a corporation, which does not reveal actual ownership. Stability and Security - the Cayman Islands has a stable government, sophisticated infrastructure and a strong economy based on international banking and tourism. Privacy - no reporting of income or ownership to any government agency.
  • Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world.

The Buying Process : Mortgages

Financing can often make the difference in getting the home of your dreams, or not. That's why it's important to talk to a mortgage loan professional before you start house hunting. If you do not have a mortgage broker you can call upon, CENTURY 21 ® Cayman real estate professionals to provide you with the names of some highly respected local brokers. They will take the time to explain the options available to you and recommend a loan program designed to meet both your short term and long-term objectives. Interest rates for real estate in the Cayman Islands are based on prime plus one or two points as quoted by Citibank. Standard mortgage terms require a 10-35% down payment plus closing costs, at a rate of 1 or 2 percentages above the prevailing prime rate.

Mortgages are normally amortized over 10 to 15 years; some lenders offer 20-year terms. Most financial institutions do not charge pre-payment penalties. The property you are purchasing will be your collateral, but your personal balance sheet must indicate that you can afford to make the repayments. Non-residents may open bank accounts and obtain a mortgage. And, bank accounts may be in the name of the client or in a Corporation. It is illegal under Cayman Law for any institution or individual to divulge any financial information unless it can be proven that the funds were obtained through illegal means such as drugs, fraud or theft. Interest on money borrowed in Cayman is tax deductible in most countries. A stamp duty of 1% of the sum less than CI0,000 (above CI0,000 is 1.5%) secured by the mortgage must be paid to the Cayman Islands Government. In nearly all cases the duty is paid by the borrower, particularly, in cases involving a lending institution.

Foreign Ownership

There are no legal restrictions of any kind on foreign ownership of real estate in the Cayman Islands and, ownership can be held in one or more names of individuals or in a corporation, which does not reveal actual ownership. There are no imposed requirements to develop land (excluding subdivisions which do have Covenants) within a stipulated time period; consequently, parcels can be held indefinitely, with little or no expense, for future use or speculation. The title to property in Cayman is "absolute" (fee simple). Based on the Torrens System, each site has a property register which can be obtained at the Lands and Survey Department showing its legal description, history of ownership, and record of liens.

Government guarantees title through this document making title searches unnecessary. A one-time Stamp Duty is paid to the government to register transfer of title. There is no direct taxation - no taxes on income, profits, capital or capital gains, property or inheritance.

Stamp Duty

There is no direct form of taxation levied within the Cayman Islands. There is only a one-time "stamp duty" on all transactions involving land at time of purchase.
The stamp duty concession granted by the government to stimulate the real estate and construction industries has been extended. The standard Stamp Duty along the Seven Mile Beach corridor is 7.5% (due to high infrastructure) while the rest of the island is generally 6%. In essence, it is a government assessment on actual real estate at the time ownership transfers.
When calculating the Stamp Duty, furnishings are deducted from the sale price.

There is 1% stamp duty payable on mortgages up to CI0,000 and 1.5% on mortgages above this. Transfers in consideration of "natural love and affection" that is, transfers between for example husband to wife, or father to child, may be approved by the Financial Secretary for payment of minimal stamp duty. Additionally, when an individual desires to transfer title to a company of which he is the sole beneficial owner, the Financial Secretary may approve a deduction of the full amount of all stamp duty on such transfer.

RENTING PROPERTY

When you are considering moving to the Cayman Islands there are always a number of questions that are asked regarding long-term accommodation. If you have decided that you are in the market to rent a property rather than to purchase then the information below should be a good starting point for you.

WHEN TO ARRIVE

This may seem like a strange thing to consider, but when you keep in mind that most leases and availability begins on the first of the month, planning ahead makes sense. We usually recommend that new arrivals have temporary accommodation arranged for a week to 10 days when they first arrive. This is sufficient time to get a feel for the island, view properties with your agent and secure a place with all the necessary documentation needed to get in into your new home. Many companies actually pay for this temporary accommodation so ask ahead.

APARTMENT OR HOUSE?

The first thing that you need to decide is whether you want to rent a house or an apartment. Generally speaking, a home is going to be more expensive than an apartment but there are some good deals around at the moment.

However, a house is normally more suitable for a family than an apartment, often with more privacy and more room for children to play. This does some times incur extra expenses such as yard and pool maintenance so make sure to check. Living in an apartment is an easy way to meet people, they are more likely to have extra amenities such as a pool or tennis courts, and are generally more readily available.

START UP COSTS

There are a number of general rules of thumb to follow when renting a property. Rent is always paid in advance. All Landlords require a security deposit, which is at least equal to one months rent regardless of the rental value of the property. This money is held by the owner for the term of the lease and is refundable subject to any deductions for damage not withstanding normal wear and tear. Any interest accrued will be in favour of the owner.

The utility, cable and phone company will all require deposits as well:
Electric - CI0 per bedroom or 0 along 7 Mile Beach for a unit in access of 1100 square feet.
Water - Water Authority - at owners discretion, but usually CI0.
Cayman Water - no deposit.
Cable - CI hook up fee which is non refundable.
Telephone - CI0 deposit for an overseas line.

FURNISHED/FULLY FURNISHED?

There are very few properties that are listed that are unfurnished. Of those that are, appliances are nearly always provided. Always double check about blinds/ window treatments.

Generally speaking properties are either furnished: -appliances, hard furnishings, window treatments, beds, mattresses, etc. or fully furnished: - all of the above plus bed linens, bathroom linens, and kitchen crockery and equipment. Televisions, stereos and VCR's are a separate issue so always inquire, though televisions and microwaves are becoming the standard. Remember if the property is only furnished, the purchasing of those extra items will add to your start up costs. Some people do choose to travel with these items as there is a large allowance for personal belongs before duty is paid. This only applies if you have a work permit / residency in place, if the belongings are more than 6 months old, and if they are brought in within the first 6 months. Do keep in mind that if you bring them with you, and the property you pick is fully furnished, you may have to store them yourselves.

LOCATION

Ocean/beach front properties are going to cost you the most amount of money. If you are willing to live close to the beach but not on it, you can get very nice properties at more reasonable rates. Canal front properties are also a good alternative.

Snug Harbour, South Sound, Parkway, and Governors Harbour are all areas that have apartments and homes, in nice residential areas close to town, the beach and all amenities.

Prospect is an area 10 minutes from town that more that more people are moving to. Many new homes and apartments are springing up there, and a new shopping centre and supermarket is now complete. There are also plans for a 6- screen movie theatre and eventually, a water park. The districts of West Bay, and Bodden Town are both within about 20 minutes of George Town, and have less expensive, more traditional style homes. Wherever you live in Cayman, you will never be too far from the sea, shops, a bus route and will always feel safe.

UTILITY EXPENSES

Electricity is not cheap on the island, because of the usage of air conditioning. Most of the newer properties actually have split zones, which make them more economical. An apartment that has the air running permanently is going to run bills up to about 0-0 a month. However, by only using it in an evening, or during the summer months the bills will average between 0 and 0.

Water is not too bad here in Cayman. It is drinkable but most people prefer to drink bottled water. Average bills for families of 4, with lots of laundry can be around 0, but most couples will only pay around a month. Along Seven Mile Beach properties also incur a sewage charge. Check with your agent who is responsible at your property for the bill. Cable runs to .95 per month not including pay per view options. There are 4 movie channels, 2 sports channels, all the networks and so forth. An additional 4 channel package at an extra charge can now be added. Some apartment complexes have a package deal with the cable company offering a discounted rate. Check with your agent. Some units now offer satellite TV with the tenants choosing their own packages. This usually gives you about 60 channels starting at around per month.

HIDDEN EXTRAS

It is worth checking out prior to signing a lease agreement just who is responsible for those little extra things we often forget about. For example, sewage, garbage collection, regular yard and pool maintenance, the servicing of air conditioning systems and quarterly pest control. As a general rule an owner will normal include these services as part of the lease agreement for peace of mind but you should always clarify prior to signing.

PETS AND CHILDREN

Unfortunately, many owners are overly cautious when renting their properties and put restrictions on their tenants. It is generally difficult to find apartments that allow cats and dogs as many have management (strata) by-laws preventing them. It is getting easier as times go by and smaller complexes and private homes are more reasonable. Even if owners of these properties place restrictions on pets and occasionally small children, these restrictions can sometimes be over-come by offering a larger damage/security deposit, usually around an additional 0.00.

AVAILABILITY

The winter or "dry" season, which traditionally runs from December 15th through April 15th, has always been the busiest time of year, with tourists, new residents and employees all descending in a short period of time. Many new employees, especially seasonal workers begin arriving in September. Accounting staff and bankers tend to come in October, and once into December, it can get very difficult to find good accommodation at a reasonable rent. Many seasonal staff and teachers begin to leave in May through June, with the next batch arriving in July and August. Many current residents use this time to look around for new accommodation or just to catch up with the market changes.

With the recent opening of St. Matthews Medical College the island has seen a huge influx of new tenants with a turn over every semester keeping tenants, landlords and agents all on their toes.