Buyers guide to real estate in the Cayman Islands

By Tristan Ralston on 10th February, 2020

Consisting of three islands in the Caribbean Sea west of Jamaica, and including some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches – Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman being the most famous of the group – as well as some of the world’s best scuba diving, the Cayman Islands is the perfect spot in which to build your dream home. The kind of unique place that creates both an ambience of luxury and indulgence combined with superb liveability.

We spoke to some of Cayman’s real estate experts about why Grand Cayman is the hottest location in the Caribbean to buy a property, what makes Seven Mile Beach so desirable and their top tips on buying an island home.

Grand Hyatt, Seven Mile Beach
Grand Hyatt, Seven Mile Beach

Kim Lund, Owner and Broker at RE/MAX | The Lund Team

What advice would you give before buying on Seven Mile Beach?

Most importantly, work with an experienced, knowledgeable Broker or Agent who knows this market very well.  I have 35 years of experience in real estate on Seven Mile Beach and this experience can be helpful to locate the very best and most suitable properties for my customers.  Additionally, I am the exclusive Broker for all the new developments and can provide more thorough background information on all these types of properties because of my familiarity of this market.

The Watermark, Seven Mile Beach
The Watermark, Seven Mile Beach

Where are the best places to buy on Seven Mile Beach?

This really depends on a number of factors from the price point, amenities and facilities, rental property versus residential, new versus older, closer or further away from commercial areas, among others.  The bottom line is that there are certain areas of Seven Mile Beach that cater more to specific requirements, so depending on what is important to the Purchaser and their parameters, certain areas will be more suitable.

The Watermark, Seven Mile Beach
The Watermark, Seven Mile Beach

What makes Seven Mile Beach one of the most desirable places in the world to live?

Aside from all the benefits that the Cayman Islands have to offer, Seven Mile Beach is the epitome of a tranquil idyllic Caribbean beach lifestyle.  The beach is perfect soft coral sand that doesn’t get hot from the sun.  The Caribbean Sea is like a lake, calm and quiet, providing easy access into the water for young children up to senior citizens.  Its water is crystal clear and there is no predatorial sea life to be concerned about.  The beach traffic is very low density, crime-free, and no one is hassling you or trying to sell you something.  From your residence, you see stunning sunsets all year long.  It’s hard not to love everything about it!

CURIO Collection by Hilton, Grand Cayman, George Town
CURIO Collection by Hilton, George Town

How do you see Seven Mile Beach’s real estate market moving in the next year or so?

From my experience on Seven Mile Beach, I see that we have now reached a tipping point in terms of demand.  There is nowhere for real estate demand and prices to go, but upwards.  Supply is extremely limited and will continue to be so, due to the lack of development land available for new construction.  Tourism has been breaking records almost every month for the last few years and many of these visitors want a residence on Seven Mile Beach.  The next year to ten years appears to be extremely positive for anyone investing in real estate along Seven Mile Beach.  It gets better, every year!

Heidi Kiss, Broker with ENGEL & VÖLKERS

Why is Cayman such a great place to invest?

Many people choose to invest and retire in the Cayman Islands because the islands have no restrictions on foreign ownership and no annual property taxes. The Cayman Islands Government operates under British Common Law and is enthusiastic about attracting foreign direct investment. Apart from a one-time stamp duty, there are no annual property taxes either. Title is granted and guaranteed by the government.

What are the key things investors need to know about buying real estate in Cayman?

As well as enjoying a very low crime rate, the Cayman Islands Government is tax neutral, no tax except for a one-time stamp duty on property acquisitions. There are no property taxes, capital gains taxes, income tax, non-resident taxes, sales taxes or inheritance taxes.

What are the benefits of working with an experienced realtor?

An experienced CIREBA (Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association) real estate advisor is there with you for the whole process of obtaining your investment in paradise. An experienced advisor has their finger on the pulse of the market and its trends. They will make the process as stress-free for you as possible, and handle any hiccups along the way, be it with paperwork, legal queries and anything else that you may not be equipped to handle. They also can guide you with maintenance, decorating, property management, and many other things as well. Using a trusted advisor for your real- estate transaction gives you the peace of mind, after all, it is a big investment, and you want the best guide along the way.

How has Cayman’s real estate developed over the years and why is now the time to buy?
Despite its size, the Cayman Islands offers much more than beaches and sun. As the world’s fifth-largest financial centre with a stable government, modern infrastructure, robust economy and world-class healthcare and education systems, the Cayman Islands has fast become the most vibrant, secure and prosperous Caribbean nation. Beyond question, the Cayman Islands is the exemplary location for investing in Caribbean real estate. The lack of red tape and no property tax in owning property makes the Cayman Islands a sound long term investment.

Is there a best time to buy a property on Grand Cayman/the Cayman Islands?

Anytime!  We do not have a high and low season..  we are bit more busy in from late December to early Spring since there are more tourists on island but usually if they are interested in buying the next time they are here they come spring to fall and spend more time investigating buying property.  Its not like Canada or Northern USA, where it hard to showcase a home in the snow, it always looks so pretty in the spring and fall but in Cayman our island looks beautiful always. 

Where are the best places to buy in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman?  

Cayman Brac, anything on the water, beachfront peoprty is very reasonably priced, we bought a half an acres on the North coast of Cayman Brac because it is calmer and we can do shore dives, in places and we get to see the lights on Little Cayman. The South Side enjoys more roller waves but is also very popular with tourists. 

Where are the best places to buy an investment property on Grand Cayman? 

Best buy is in West Bay, right now Grand Cayman has rush hour traffic in morning and evening where it can take up to 1.5 to 2 hours to get from Breakers to Downtown George Town, the government and Roads Authority is looking at solutions. However, your commute from West Bay to George Town is 15 mins max in rush hour, thanks to the double lane highway.  

What is the rental market like, if you want to rent out the property? 

Rental market is very strong, a landlords dream really. We have a steady influx of people on work permits, and many of them are only here 2 or 3 years and it does not make sense for them to buy or their company pays their rent, (and not their mortgage) to form part of their salary.  Also we do not have enough housing so the rents are holding strong.  For example a very large one bedroom in West Bay, newly renovated and modern rents for US$2700 a month.  Seven Mile Beach condos are renting for US$9500 a month on a long term basis. Another reason why the rents have increased and holding steady is many landlords are putting their properties on Airbnb or VRBO and earning more money, It is a lot more work as you need to get it inspected yearly by the DOT and then collect, report and pay the 13% tourist tax monthly.

Maxine Love, Grand Caymanian Resort

What are the benefits of owning a Vacation Home in Grand Cayman?

The Cayman Islands has the highest trading value in the world for timeshares. Grand Cayman is very easy to get to, with multiple direct flights from several North American cities. What’s more, the Cayman Islands has the highest Average Daily Rate for hotel stays in the entire Caribbean and it is also increasing at the highest rate each year in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean, so owning a timeshare here makes this very exclusive island far more attainable than it otherwise would be.

What does Grand Cayman offer that you can’t get anywhere else in the Caribbean?

It’s so much more than a tax haven for wealthy expats; Cayman is a melting pot, made up of more than 100 nationalities, who together with the locals seem to echo a unique ‘Cayman Kind’ culture inherent on these islands. A deep sense of kindness, warmth, community and mutual respect emanates from the people living here, no matter who you are or where you come from.

It’s a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers–enough to keep you busy from dawn to dusk, from botanical gardens, hiking trails and crystal caves, to white sandy beaches and turquoise, calm waters–perfect for swimming, snorkelling and above all, scuba diving.

Stingray City and the sandbar, one of the few places in the world, let alone the Caribbean, where you can be up close and personal with stingrays, while also standing in the middle of the ocean.

You can wander off the beaten path or stroll a quiet beach, relax and enjoy a slower pace of life that island living was meant for, without the stress of yours and your family’s safety. Its relative wealth, stable economy, and strong gun laws make Cayman one of the safest destinations in the entire Caribbean.

Renowned for being the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean”, international flavors are blended with native savours, while also focused on premium ingredients and true Cayman Kind service.

So, whether you’re on a culinary quest, after exceptional adventure, world-class shopping or a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of city life, Cayman’s is where it’s at.

Read more: 10 reasons to move to the Cayman Islands