Living in Cayman
- Utilities & Phone Service
- Driver’s License and Auto Registration
- Opening a Bank Account
- Groceries and Pharmacies
- House Wares
Most newcomers to the island like to rent before buying. If you are not certain how long you might be staying in Cayman renting is a wise choice.
In the long run, buying your own property will make sense if you put down roots. There are many types of housing available both in rentals and purchases with condos being the most common. Housing typically comes furnished with fixtures, appliances and furniture for the simple reason that it is unreasonable to expect people to move an entire household overseas. Some rentals even include linens and kitchen wares. Two bedroom units are the most common. One bedroom rentals or housing with 3 or more bedrooms are also available, though it may take some searching to find them.
Other standard features are: tile floors, air conditioning, porch or balcony, 1 uncovered parking space, laundry, ceiling fans and at at least a small yard space. Other features you may want to consider are: swimming pool, television, Cable access, and internet.
Foreigners moving to Cayman for employment generally live in the neighbourhoods of Governor’s Harbour, South Sound, Prospect, Savannah or West Bay. These areas are within easy commute of George Town where most of the jobs are located. Generally, the closer you are to George Town or Seven Mile Beach, the more expensive the property will be. Rentals are also available in the farther out districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side. Here you will get more for your dollar and can more easily afford beach front property.
Sharing with roommates is common and is a great way to get a nicer property at an affordable price. Group houses can also be found.
The newspapers list rental properties and the Friday edition has the most listings. There are also real estate agents who specialize in rentals. Your employer may also have some resources.
Most landlords require you to sign a lease, generally for 12 months. A security deposit is standard. It is in your interest to have a clause in the lease that releases you from the contract if your work permit is cancelled or not renewed.
Children are accepted at the majority of rentals. But pets are a different issue. Some landlords accept any pet; others accept only small pets or cats. It is advisable to clarify this with the landlord before signing the lease.
Utilities & Phone Service
The power company, water companies, phone companies and cable TV company all have several offices in convenient locations in George Town and the Seven Mile Beach area.
A deposit is required to set up these accounts. Service for cable TV may take several weeks to connect, but the other utilities are generally connected within a few days.
Water company accounts can only be held by the owner of the property. So if you are renting, you can request a copy of the bill be sent to you by the water company, or the landlord will notify you each month of the charge.
Cable TV requires a deposit for the initial cable box. Additional boxes for other rooms in the rental are at a nominal charge. Satellite TV is also available, though the reception may not be clear during rainy or stormy weather. Some apartment complexes have cable installed in each unit, and the monthly charge is not optional, though it is usually cheaper than the standard charge because the complex was able to get a volume discount.
There are several telephone service providers offering land lines and mobile service. All offer pre-paid, pay-as-you-go and post-paid accounts. Top up machines are widely available, and most gas stations also offer top ups.
Driver’s License and Auto Registration
First off, you will need to get a driver’s license. This can be done at the George Town or West Bay offices of the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing.
You will need to show a valid driver’s license from your home country.
Cars are advertised for sale in the Caymanian Compass and are also offered at several dealerships on the island. To register your new vehicle you will need to get an inspection done. New residents who are bringing in their own car will need to get the headlights adjusted for driving on the left side of the road. You will also be required to show proof of insurance.
Opening a Bank Account
Due to strict Know Your Customer regulations, you will need a letter from your employer as well as a bank reference letter from your home bank in order to open an account here.
Each retail bank offers checking, savings, and fixed deposit accounts for personal and business entities.
Accounts can be opened in Cayman dollars or US dollars. Many employers in the financial services industry pay in US dollars. Banks also offer accounts in Canadian dollars and British pounds, though these are not widely used for everyday transactions.
Credit and debit cards are issued by all of the retail banks. Debit cards can be connected to either Cayman dollar or US dollar accounts. Credit cards are in US dollars only. Both credit and debit cards can be used internationally.
ATM machines are found at each bank branch as well as at grocery stores and other locations around the island.
Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are always busy at the banks. Large quantities of coins are not accepted on Mondays or Fridays or the first day of business after a public holiday. Operating hours at most retail banks are typically 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and until 4:30pm on Friday. A few banks are open on Saturday.
Groceries and Pharmacies
Grand Cayman has all the modern conveniences of a large city including large and well-stocked grocery stores and pharmacies.
Groceries – Cayman has three major grocery chains and numerous convenience stores. The groceries are large and well-stocked and carry a selection of international foods and a varying range of organic products. There is at least one grocery store in each district. Small and independent food marts are scattered everywhere, and gas stations with food marts also carry grocery supplies.
Grocery stores are closed on Sunday, as are most of the small shops. Thus, Saturday night is very busy. But the markets open early and stay open late through the week. Groceries are also closed or open for only limited hours on public holidays.
Similar to American groceries, the stores in Cayman carry school supplies, magazines, kitchen wares and health and beauty products. Each of the major stores also has a deli, bakery, meat ans seafood market, and hot food and salad bars open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also offer catering.
There are 2 bulk chains which carry groceries and home supplies in large quantity packaging.
Locally grown produce can be found at the Market at the Grounds in Savannah and occasionally in the grocery stores. Local fruit is available at road side stands.
Pharmacies in Cayman are also well-stocked and run by professional pharmacists with internationally recognized degrees. Each of the grocery chains operates a pharmacy in its larger stores. There are also independent pharmacies in West Bay, Seven Mile Beach, George Town, Prospect and Savannah. The two hospitals also have pharmacies.
If your rental does not come with all the basic supplies, you can finish fitting out your new abode at any of several home wares stores.
There are several large stores carrying all types of home, kitchen, garden and patio supplies. There are also several boutiques where you can find luxury home goods. The groceries carry a selection of utensils and pots and pans. Specialty stores offer blinds, curtains, lighting, and luxe linens. And there are numerous furniture stores and interior designer services carrying a wide range of furnishings and decorative elements.
Yard sales are also a great place to pick up extra items you need. Ads appear in the Friday newspaper and there are numerous yard sales each week.
Those on a budget may find what they need at a second hand store. There are several businesses reselling furniture and other home goods at more affordable prices. The Red Cross and the Humane Society also operate thrift shops.