The Cayman Islands share much of the eye-popping beauty of any Caribbean island with sandy beaches, crystalline blue seas and world-class diving. However, Grand Cayman is one of the safest, wealthiest, most tax-friendly places in the world, and it is these “extras” that make it of particular interest to many.
For a UK overseas territory — one of 14 along with Gibraltar and Bermuda — the Cayman Islands, made up of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, don’t seem very British. Yes, you see a picture of the Queen in the arrivals hall at Grand Cayman airport after the 10-hour direct flight from London, but Miami is only an hour away and 80 per cent of visitors are from the US.
READ MORE: Grand Cayman’s most striking contemporary home
Grand Cayman is by far the most developed of the three Cayman islands, but at about 22 miles long by an average four miles wide, it is hardly a giant. It is a colossus, however, in the financial world. Cayman is the sixth largest international banking centre with a top-grade AAA credit rating, on a par with London and Switzerland.
“Cayman is little-known globally, but we want to get our brand out there so the world knows we are a world-class financial destination,” says the Hon Moses Kirkconnell, deputy premier and tourism minister of the islands. “Tourism and finance are our two drivers. Tourism is set to grow 12 per cent this year, substantially above the regional average of five per cent.”
Infrastructure is key to this plan and the Caymans have excellent roads, several international schools and modern hospitals. A larger airport is being built and Camana Bay, a new town with 600 acres of thoughtfully designed boutique shops, apartments, offices and open-air restaurants, has transformed life for residents.
“For lifestyle, Cayman is hard to beat,” says James Burdess of estate agent Savills. “It has an established business community with 130 different nationalities, which brings a diverse social life and well-established facilities.”
Property for sale in Grand Cayman through Savills includes comfortable, new one- to four-bedroom flats, townhouses and villas on the water at Cypress Pointe North priced from £250,500. This 38-unit development is five minutes from prime Seven Mile Beach in family-friendly Crystal Harbour.
Savills is also selling off-plan property at Ironwood, a golf and sports resort being developed at the quieter eastern end of Grand Cayman, priced from £162,660 for one- to three-bedroom flats. This ambitious, long-term project offers supermarkets and smaller shops, and an Arnold Palmer-designed championship golf course is planned.
The first homes will be ready in 2017. Buyers looking for large, detached waterfront properties can opt for the canal, where a boat mooring is part of the deal, or the beach.
British-born engineer Mike Burcombe and his American wife Joyce, an architect, are selling the fully furnished substantial house they built at Canal Point for £3,058,000, but have no plans to leave the island.
“Why wouldn’t you live here?” says Joyce, whose children are at boarding school in the UK. “Number one is the safety and security combined with a friendly and varied expat community. Then there is great healthcare, restaurants, flight access and grocery stores.
“Mike and I have worked all over the Caribbean and nowhere compares to Cayman.”
HEAVEN IS... NOTHING TO PAY
The Cayman Islands have no restrictions on foreign ownership of land. Anyone with an EU passport who owns property there can come and go at will as long as they are able to prove they can support themselves.
A straightforward way to become resident in the Caymans is to apply for Residency for Persons of Individual Means. Anyone investing a minimum of £393,000 in property and with an annual income of £94,000 without needing to work can get a 25-year renewable residency certificate for a fee of £15,700.
Residents in the Caymans pay no income, capital gains, inheritance, property or sales taxes, or on their investment portfolio. Stamp duty is 7.5 per cent.