British Expat’s Tax-Free Life in the Cayman Islands Comes at a Price

The Cayman Islands, renowned for their sunny beaches and no tax policy, seemed like the perfect escape for Claire, a young British woman, especially during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown in London. But while the island’s sands shimmer, so does its high cost of living. Inews reports on her experience.

Claire, a 30-year-old from Suffolk, and her partner swapped their life in west London for George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands, in November 2020. For them, the pull was not just the beaches but the absence of restrictions, apart from a two-week quarantine upon arrival.

However, Claire, a former British Airways flight attendant turned marketing and communications pro, soon realised the tax-free salaries didn’t automatically mean a luxurious, tax-free life.

Tax-Free Salaries, Sky-High Prices

Although Claire’s move to this tax haven meant no tax on income or corporations, the daily essentials told a different story. “Just because there’s no tax on our salaries, doesn’t mean everything else is cheap,” she notes.

A quick grocery run brings this into sharp perspective. Claire highlights that a packet of bacon is a staggering CI$16 (£15.80) and three peppers can set you back by CI$9.99 (£10). Renting a home? Be ready to shell out CI$2,400 (£2,408) for a two-bedroom property, comparable to London’s city centre prices. Without the rent, a single person would still have monthly expenses averaging £1,440 in the Cayman Islands, almost double that of the UK’s £754.

Despite property prices being through the roof, Claire isn’t complaining too much. With her salary being approximately 11% more than what she’d earn in London – without any tax deductions – and her partner flourishing in the finance sector, they’ve found ways to make it work. She cheekily mentions, “Some professionals here, especially in finance and law, are raking it in!”

Island Life: Beyond the Costs

But it’s not all about money. The real charm of the Cayman Islands, as Claire paints it, lies in the unmatched island lifestyle. “The breathtaking surroundings, no rush-hour commutes, evening swims during sunsets, and relaxed Saturdays on the water, are experiences you can’t put a price on,” she exclaims. Plus, there’s no need to traverse more than 5km, and the London Underground? “I’m not eager to hop back onto that anytime soon.”

Claire reminisces about the lovely weekends by the beach, which don’t just offer relaxation but also some relief to the wallet. She’s also been swept up in the islands’ tight-knit community vibe. With fewer activities compared to bustling cities, sports have become the go-to social activity. Claire herself took up Gaelic Football at 28 and loves it! Her boyfriend? He’s back on the rugby field after a 10-year hiatus, mostly for the camaraderie.

Looking Ahead

Claire confesses, while they initially planned an 18-month stay, they’re now three years in with no immediate plans of returning. However, she’s also pragmatic. Given the high costs, they might reconsider their stay in the next five years, especially if they think about starting a family.

Reflecting on her journey so far, she concludes, “Life here is exceptional, but it’s a reminder that every paradise has its price. But for now, the sun, sea, and community spirit make it all worth it.”