Moving to the Bahamas | Country Guides | I Love International Moving

Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Bahamas

Posted Country Guides / June 14, 2013
Hannah Michaelson

Hannah is a freelance relocation writer from NYC that has become an expert on packing and unpacking.

Moving to the Bahamas is far from a bad idea, especially if you like spending your time enjoying a scenic view of the sea and the white sand beaches (and who doesn’t?). But if you were asking yourself how to live in another country, having doubts about the cost of living, necessary vaccinations, and the quality of the school system is only natural given the complex nature of an international move.

To get a clearer picture of what you can expect after relocating to these paradise islands, stay with us as we show you a few things about this island nation, its economic situation and employment opportunities, visa requirements, the housing market, and so much more.

A Few Facts First

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is composed of about 700 islands located some 300 miles southwest of Florida, surrounded by Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. The capital city of Nassau, on the isle of New Providence, is home to the vast majority of the nation’s population. Only 30 of the islands are actually inhabited in the entire archipelago that stretches over 500 miles in the Atlantic Ocean.

What Caribbean Island Should You Choose to Live On?

Depending on your requirements, you can opt for vibrant areas, foodie hub spots, or tranquil beaches where you can enjoy a laid-back atmosphere. That said, several different locations can provide you with different experiences and amenities, such as:

  • New Providence – Home to the 70% of the total population and the capital city of Nassau – it is the nation’s commercial, financial and tourist hub.
  • Paradise Island – With many luxury condo developments and plenty of dining spots just off the shore of Nassau, it is considered a high-end resort center.
  • Freeport – As the second-largest city of the so-called “Sleeping Giant,” it features mesmerizing beaches, casinos, resorts, and modern infrastructure. It is also a popular place among filmmakers.
  • Family Islands – When you exclude the two largest islands, New Providence and Grand Bahama Island, what is left of The Bahamas are some 700 islands, also known as the Out Islands. If you’re longing for some solitude, privacy, and peace, you can find it all here.

Yet, getting a permanent residency or citizenship is not as easy as one could think. So, before you start packing your luggage for international moving by sea, you should be familiar with the requirements for a legal stay and employment here.

A Short Guide to Citizenship and Residency

If you’re coming from the US, your entry will go smoothly. But, at the moment of arriving, you are obliged to meet some of the country’s requirements:

  • Complete an Immigration Arrival Card
  • Submit your criminal track record
  • Prove your monetary stability

If you don’t have Bahamian relatives or family, you still can gain legal residency, which includes the following options:

  • Buy a house
  • Permanent residency is possible but can take years to qualify for
  • An annual residency permit for $100 per year

For Bahamian citizenship, you must fit into one of the four categories:

  • Married to a Bahamian resident
  • Born in the Big Yard
  • Have Bahamian parents
  • A legal resident of the country for at least ten years
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What Is the Cost of Living Here

In the capital, Nassau, many things may seem pricey – after all, it is the beating heart of the entire nation. Still, you can find plenty of things here that are less expensive than elsewhere, like medical or dental care. Here’s a list of average prices that should give you a rough estimate of the cost of everyday life:

  • Utilities: $250-$300 monthly for electricity, heating, cooling, and water
  • Public transport: $47 per month
  • Taxis: $60/hour
  • Eating outside: $8-$70
  • Health insurance: $50-$250

Should You Buy or Rent a Home

Depending on your needs and budget, you can rent an apartment or buy land or a home. According to Expatistan, an online cost of living calculator, monthly rent for a 900 sqft furnished accommodation in a high-end area is around $2,500, while the same kind of accommodation in a normal area can be found for $1,500.

When it comes to real estate prices, for an apartment in the center of Nassau and other major cities, you’ll have to pay around $170 per square foot. The mortgage interest rate is 6.66% annually for a 20 fixed-rate.

Healthcare and Education

One of the most critical things you should look into before relocating is the health and education system. In the capital, Nassau, medical care is excellent, while on the smaller islands, you can’t expect the same level of professionalism and health services. Also, consider health insurance, since you’ll have to pay in advance both for public and private services.

If you’re moving with kids to this tropical paradise, you’ll be happy to hear that they will get a solid schooling background. There are several options you can opt for when it comes to enrollment:

  • Public schools
  • Private (usually belief-related)
  • International (these schools are generally the first choice among expats)

However, keep in mind that the best schools are situated in Nassau and Grand Bahama, so if you’re relocating with children, start thinking about your living place on time.

Does Moving to the Bahamas Sound Exciting? Here Are Some Additional Things to Know

If your dream is to relocate to some tropical island crammed with beautiful beaches and friendly people speaking English, then you should stop dreaming and cut to the chase. There are many additional reasons for making the Bahamas your home port. People usually experience this archipelago as visitors, never discovering its countless wonders and natural beauties. Besides, it could be a perfect spot for privacy and anonymity if you become tired of the hustle and bustle of huge cities.

Relocate to the Bahamas Because of the Climate – It’s Perfect

If you’re yearning for all four seasons during the year, then this island is not for you – with average daily temperatures between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 70 to 78 degrees in the winter, it’s perfect for sun lovers. However, rainy periods are to be expected, since it’s a subtropical climate.

With white and sometimes even pink sand beaches and clear aquamarine water, this tropical paradise can provide you with plenty of activities including swimming, diving, snorkeling, kite-boarding, surfing, kayaking, and shark encounters, as well. If this sounds appealing to you, consider purchasing an island home or beachfront property and enjoy your tranquil paradise.

Close Proximity to the US

Another advantage of relocating to the Sleeping Giant as a US expat is the proximity to the motherland. Furthermore, it is served by all major carriers, which makes this island easily accessible from anywhere.

Traveling from the US and Canada is relatively straightforward since the islands boast 24 international airports. If you live in the southern US, your flight to the Sleeping Giant can take less than an average city commute.

Relocate and Invest

If you’re looking for a place with investment-friendly policies, the Sleeping Giant might be the right choice, as there is:

  • No income tax
  • No inheritance tax
  • No taxes on capital gains, corporate earnings, sales, or dividends

If you’re considering investing in the Bahamian real estate market, there are particularly great benefits for American citizens. That being said, in some instances, companies or individuals can save up to 35% on a relatively small investment.

Moving for Work – a Job Is Waiting for You If You’re a Doctor or Teacher

Investments by some US industries are desirable in this tropical country, such as manufacturing production, insurance, services, etc. But, if you’re looking for a job as an individual, don’t worry. Plenty of positions are waiting for skilled workers. Furthermore, since only your future employer can apply for your work permit, having a job is an issue of paramount importance.

So, what job opportunities should you expect when relocating here? The need for medical experts and teachers is consistent. In addition, since the economy is tourism-based, most people are employed in the tourism or international banking sector.

Here’s a short list of the sectors you should take into consideration when looking for a job:

  • Tourism
  • Financial sector
  • Construction and manufacturing related to the tourism sector

A Strong Economy and a Stable Government Make This Place a Great Home

Are you wondering about how economically reliable the Bahamas are? Well, it’s enough to say that the Bahamian dollar matches the US dollar. Also, thanks to tourism, service, and finance industries, the Bahamian economy is stable and strong. With a long tradition of democracy, this place might be a perfect environment regardless of whether you’re moving as a retiree, young professional or a new parent.

Vacation as a Lifestyle

Today, the quality of one’s life depends on many factors: job, cost of living, commute time, personal needs, etc. Trying to keep up with this fast-paced lifestyle tends to leave you with no free time for leisure.

Moving to the Bahamas could be the best way to break out of a vicious cycle. In addition to a laid-back ambiance, local specialties, mind-boggling beaches, and friendly people, this country is so close to the US and offers plenty of work opportunities. Don’t worry about prices, since this tropical piece of heaven is suitable for every budget. You can find reasonably-priced options for you and your family regarding healthcare, schooling, housing, utilities, etc. Just make sure to do thorough research when it comes to relocating and adjusting to a new country.

Being in a position to plan your day in accordance with your desires and have the possibility to relax and enjoy the best beaches on the globe is something worth trying. So, why not get down to work and fulfill your dreams.

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