Three hundred forty days of sunshine, the beautiful landscape, white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters – who wouldn’t want to live in the islands? Moving to the Bahamas sounds almost like a dream, and if you had the chance, we’re sure you would take it. But if you’re serious about moving to the Caribbean islands, you better read up on what it takes to live there. Here is a complete guide for relocating to the Bahamian Islands for expats to help you get started.
Cost of Living in The Bahamas
The idea of living in a place called “Paradise Island” would have you believe that everything there comes easy; that couldn’t be further from the truth. To have a decent life on the islands is more expensive than in the US. Say, for example, you’re staying in Nassau on New Providence Island; it’s 10% more expensive than living in Chicago. So you’ll have plenty of moving stress to deal with, at least where finances are concerned. On the plus side, staying there is nearly tax-free.
Renting in The Bahamas
There are many different areas to rent on the island, and most of them are quite lovely, depending on where you are. Renting can also be complicated if you aren’t sure how to get an apartment out of state. Assuming you want to stay somewhere new and safe with easy access to necessities or nearby beaches, renting in the Bahamas can cost you anywhere from $2,500 to over $4,000. It depends on your circumstances, too. For example, traveling with more than one person or having kids or pets can change the expenses.
Another thing to consider is that most landlords require a full deposit and first month’s rent, and in some cases, last month’s rent. On top of that, you’ll have to get utilities, internet, and cable. The internet is relatively the same cost as in the States, but services can add up to almost as much as rent if you aren’t careful.
Getting Groceries and Essentials
Remember that, for the most part, the Bahamas gets much of its money from tourism each year, so many establishments are for tourists. With that, many services and places to buy food and essential products are more expensive. For comparison, getting groceries for one person in Los Angeles costs anywhere from $150 to $250 a month. In Nassau, it’s 17% higher to get groceries.
Visa Requirements if You Want to Live in The Caribbean Islands
The Bahamas is an independent country so, if you plan on moving there, you need to have a firm understanding of the immigration rules.
Know The Immigration Rules Before Moving
Before entering the island nation, it’s essential to understand the visa requirements, especially if you’re looking for temporary or permanent residency. If you’re visiting, you can enter the city for up to 120 days. If you’re seeking residency, there are some steps you have to take and documents needed to travel abroad beforehand. First, you have to know what different types of permits there are and understand the moving terms:
- Permanent Resident Visa – Permanent residency allows you to stay in the Bahamas freely for life. It’s the most expensive visa and has several options with specific requirements before you pay application fees and registration fees. You’ll also be required to provide a source of income for some options.
- Annual Resident Visa – This visa applies if you plan on visiting the island every year for an extended period. During this time, you can choose to get your permanent residency if you so wish. The requirements are to fill out an immigration form, reasons for wanting to reside in the country, several personal information documents, passport photos, and other related costs.
- Home Owner’s Card – You can get this card if you plan on owning new property in the country, for which you are required to fill out an immigration form, have information documents, proof of property investment, or property ownership, including deeds, contracts, or conveyances, and you will need to pay a property tax.
Requirements for Work in The Bahamas
If you choose to relocate to the Bahamian islands, you’re going to need to have a source of income. As most expats do, you’ll probably make a portion, if not most, of your earnings online. However, should you consider moving for a job in the Bahamas, you’ll have to acquire a working permit. To get it, you first have to fill out an application and have it notarized. Then you submit it to the department of labor with several supporting documents. They include a letter of request from the employer, a copy of the bio-data page from your passport, a police certificate of character, medical information, and inform yourself of important relocation questions to ask the employer.
What to Bring When Moving to The Bahamas
Even though you won’t be moving across the world, relocation presents its challenges and form of culture shock. All the more reason to come prepared for all of the changes you’re likely to experience. Make sure you pack correctly for a smooth transition:
- Warm clothes – Tropical islands are always warm or scorching hot, so you should pack plenty of summertime clothes such as t-shirts, sandals, flip flops, shorts, etc.
- Rain jacket – The rain there can get pretty heavy during the year and especially during hurricane season. Make sure you have a reliable raincoat.
- Travel bag – Chances are you’re going to want to explore or walk throughout the towns and areas, so be sure that you have a travel bag to keep your essentials.
- Essential travel documents – We cannot stress this enough – always make sure you have copies of your travel documents on hand in case you need them.
- Minor essentials – Hand sanitizer, masks, toiletries, latex gloves, first aid kit, etc.
A Guide to The Best Places for Expats to Live
Having gotten all the information about living in Paradise Island, you’re probably wondering where the best places are to live. There are many popular places where expats can go; it’s only a matter of looking for what best fits your needs. Another plus is that you can contact international moving experts with many different moving services to help you have a comfortable relocating experience.
Popular Places for Expats to Call Home
So you have a useful reference for the different towns and cities, here is a quick list of the most popular places for expats to live their islander lifestyle:
- Nassau – The capital city and home to 230,000 people, located on New Providence Island. It has the largest population in the entire region and has many attractions like resorts, a business district, and much more.
- Lucaya – Home to 46,525 residents, Lucaya is a suburb of Freeport and has a majority of resorts and hotels for tourists.
- Freeport – A city district and known as a free trade zone, more known for its national parks. Located on Grand Bahama Island, it’s home to 26,910 residents.
Get to Know The Island
Prepare for The Hurricane Months
A significant aspect of living in the Caribbean is hurricane preparedness. Hurricane season is between June 1st to November 30th. During August, September, and early October are the months with the highest risk. During this time, there are precautions that people take, such as keeping updated on weather reports and predictions, having an evacuation plan, and paying attention to government regulations regarding warnings.
Extra Tips on Caribbean Living
If you’re convinced that moving to the Bahamian islands is the right choice, follow this guide to help you get all of your things. To help make your international relocation a little easier, here are a few extra tips you can use:
- If you can help it, you’ll want to rent somewhere within walking distance of the local town center. There aren’t many forms of public transportation and taxi services, and cars are expensive.
- Be sure to stock up on new clothing before you go. Aside from vendors, you won’t find many places to shop.
- Try not to eat out so much. There isn’t a large variety of places to eat, and you’ll most likely be eating at the same places.
- Unless you plan on shipping a car overseas, be prepared for taking a lot of buses when you get there.
It may seem like a pipe dream at first, but it’s doable if you want to live the islander lifestyle.