The turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture of The Bahamas have long been a dream destination for travelers seeking an idyllic paradise. But what if you could do more than just visit? What if you could call this tropical haven your home? This island paradise offers an amazing opportunity for those who aspire to live in The Bahamas, to turn that dream into a reality.
If you are looking at the possibilities of moving to Bahamas, there are diverse forms of residency, be they short-term visas or permanent permits. Each option comes with specific qualifications and advantages that cater to various preferences and needs. To start your Bahamian journey, you’ll need to grasp the basics of the application process. You would need to submit necessary documents and pay associated fees.
Can I live permanently in the Bahamas?
Living in The Bahamas unlocks a host of benefits. The Bahamas’ wonderful weather and lovely beaches make it an appealing destination for expats, retirees, and investors, but it is the favorable tax environment that truly sets it apart.
Obtaining a Bahamian residency can enrich your life, offering an unrivaled island experience and a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle. However, there are other factors that you will need to consider before deciding whether relocation to this island country suits you.
Can foreigners live in the Bahamas?
Foreigners can initially stay in The Bahamas as tourists for up to two months while applying for a residence permit from the Department of Immigration. Assuming that you are qualified to apply for residence, meaning you can support yourself financially, are in good health, have good character, and are not seeking to be employed, you can navigate these three ways to earn a Bahamian residency:
Annual Residence Permit
Non-residents can acquire an annual residence permit even if they just rent a piece of paradise in The Bahamas. To initiate the process, individuals can complete an application form and submit police certificates from their country of origin along with two testimonials to prove their good character. The application fee is a mere B$25, and the annual fee is B$1,000, with an additional B$25 for every named dependent. This flexibility makes it easier for those seeking a temporary but enchanting Bahamian experience to secure their place in this island paradise.
Home Owners Resident Card
The Home Owner’s Resident Card allows foreigners who own property in The Bahamas to enter the country. This yearly card allows you, your spouse, and minor children to enter the country multiple times, allowing for longer stays. A non-refundable BS$100.00 processing fee is charged per applicant, with an additional BS$500.00 charged for card issuance upon acceptance.
Permanent Residence Permit
Property ownership allows you to obtain permanent residency in The Bahamas. This lifetime status allows expats to reside and work in the country but does not allow them to vote. To qualify, your purchased property must be worth more than B$250,000, and you must demonstrate financial independence while seeking to settle in The Bahamas. This option allows you to invest in luxury living in a Bahamas property while ensuring your place in this charming island.
Life in the Bahamas
With its 700 islands, The Bahamas may appear large, but it is home to less than 400,000 people, and the majority of the population prefers the conveniences of city living in booming cities like Nassau and Freeport. English is the official language which creates a welcoming environment for tourists and expats. However French and Creole are also widely spoken among the black majority and Haitian immigrants.
The Bahamas is separated into three administrative areas: the main harbor, the City of Freeport, and the West End as the capital. Although the Bahamas gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1973, its legal system is based on English common law.
Paradise in the Caribbean
Foreigners are drawn to The Bahamas for its enchantment, whether as tourists or expats. Gorgeous resorts dot the island, offering visitors the opportunity to indulge in luxury living amidst crystal-clear waters. Tourists love this Caribbean paradise for its idyllic escapes with its natural beauty, beautiful beaches, and warm climate. Expats are drawn in by the promise of a high standard of life, low tax rates, and the chance to live in a dynamic, English-speaking environment.
The Bahamas has a thriving expat population, and meeting other expats is easier than you would imagine. Expats seeking assistance and connections might benefit from online platforms such as Expat Exchange, Expat Focus, and InterNations. These platforms address a wide range of topics, including work and day-to-day living, real estate, as well as the unique island lifestyle.
Cost of Living
Living in The Bahamas provides a good standard of living but at a higher expense than in the United States or Canada. Imported items contribute to growing living costs. Real estate is normally pricey, however depending on your interests, you can find affordable possibilities. Despite the high costs, the absence of income, capital gains, and estate taxes in the country can help offset some of them. Utilities, transit, taxis, dining out, health insurance, and groceries are often more expensive than in the United States, making budgeting a critical component of expat living in this tropical paradise.
Taxes in the Bahamas
Living in The Bahamas offers attractive tax benefits. There is no personal income tax, capital gains tax, corporate tax, or inheritance tax. The value-added tax (VAT) is low, with essential items exempted. Employment requires national insurance contributions, and a 10% VAT has been in effect since 2015.
Real estate and mortgage transactions are subject to stamp duty, and import levies can be high. However, the Bahamas’ lack of income and capital gains taxes makes it enticing to individuals looking for tax breaks abroad. Corporate taxes typically consist of business license fees, stamp duty, property taxes, and import duty, with exemptions frequently granted to offshore or non-resident incorporated businesses.
Despite its overwhelming attractiveness, traffic on Paradise Island is an important element to consider. With only one bridge connecting the island to the mainland, regular jobs and errands may take up more of your time than usual. Expect some traffic congestion as this lovely area draws a large number of visitors and residents alike. Accept the calm island pace and take in the breathtaking scenery, but keep in mind that moving about may require a little extra patience.
Health Care and Elder Care Services
Non-Bahamians have access to medical care and facilities in both public and private hospitals. The community is served by public hospitals like the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial Hospital, as well as clinics on the Out Islands. Emergency treatment and specialized services are also available at private healthcare facilities.
The Bahamas government does not have a health insurance programme for expats; acquiring private health insurance is critical to covering your healthcare needs throughout your stay.
Elder care services and specialized care for illnesses such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s may be limited, necessitating carers from overseas who must obtain work permits.
Real Estate and House Rental
Finding housing in the capital city can be tricky, given that more than 80% of its population converge in the urban cities. The demand for accommodation has driven up rental prices particularly in the gated communities like Port New Providence, Old Ford, Lyford Cay, and Nassau. However, there are no restrictions for expats wishing to purchase a property in The Bahamas especially across tourist hotspots in Nassau and Paradise Island.
Renting an apartment or a house is also an option. Most rental properties are already furnished. However, considering that The Bahamas experience frequent hurricanes and tropical storms, it is important that you choose a well-built property with clear landlord’s responsibility for potential damage caused by natural disasters.
Schools and Education
Public education is free and compulsory for children ages 5 to 16. Elementary education begins at the age of five, followed by six years of secondary education. Students can continue their tertiary education at universities and learning institutions like the University of The Bahamas.
Private and foreign schools, primarily in Nassau, such as Lucaya foreign School, Lyford Cay International School, and St. Andrew’s International School provide alternative education opportunities. It is essential that parents perform extensive research on schools before enrolling their children.
Safety and Security
Living as an expat in The Bahamas has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, with safety and security being essential aspects to consider. While the country has beautiful weather, picturesque scenery, and cheap tax rates, some safety concerns must be addressed. Crime has increased in the Bahamas in recent years, particularly on large islands such as New Providence and Grand Bahama. Visitors should exercise caution, as sexual assault and armed robbery have grown more common in some regions.
Furthermore, the Bahamas hurricane season peaks between August and October. Although landfalls are uncommon, when hurricanes do come, they can have devastating impacts.
Jobs for foreigners
If you intend to find a job in The Bahamas when you relocate, it is necessary to secure a valid work permit from the Department of Immigration. However, it is important to know that you cannot apply for a work permit on your own; your prospective employer must do it. Although those looking for work for less than 90 days can apply for a short-term work permit, there are uncertainties about working on a tourist visa. It is practical and necessary that you must secure a job offer ahead of time before your actual relocation.
Also note that The Bahamas employment restrictions state that a work permit can only be given if there is evidence that no Bahamian is qualified for the job.
Considering the Bahamas as home
Those considering a life in The Bahamas will find paradise. The question is no longer, when is the best time to visit the Bahamas; it’s, when is the best time to relocate? With turquoise oceans, stunning beaches, and intriguing culture, it is truly a dream holiday turned possible home. It is a good thing that The Bahamas offers a range of residency choices, from short-term visas to permanent permits, each with its own set of restrictions and perks. While nice weather, beautiful beaches, and low tax rates are all appealing, other considerations come into play, such as greater living costs and rising crime rates in some locations. With a legal work visa, it is feasible to find work in The Bahamas, but it is critical to secure employment before relocating, because work permits are only provided if no Bahamian can perform the job. Regardless of these factors, the appeal of island life in The Bahamas is undeniable.