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If you want to relocate to The Bahamas, keep reading. Whether it’s in a luxurious condominium in Grand Bahama or a private, splendid residence on the stunning cliffs of Eleuthera, The Bahamas presents warm opportunities for residency and a laid-back lifestyle.
Think about your dream place to call home. You might imagine sunny weather, friendly neighbors, and beaches with stunning views of the ocean. Not to mention minimal taxes to pay each year.
What if you could live somewhere that had all of that? If this sounds appealing, it’s time to explore relocation to The Bahamas. There’s a reason (okay, a few reasons) why 5.5 million Americans visit these gorgeous islands every year.
Here at Better Homes and Gardens MCR Bahamas, we not only help hundreds of Americans each year invest in Bahamas property on this island paradise, but we also help them make the jump to complete relocation.
Today we’ll tell you everything you need to know before relocating to The Bahamas, from costs and taxes to culture and lifestyle.
Table of Contents
Why do people relocate to The Bahamas?
A better question is, why wouldn’t someone relocate to The Bahamas? Beyond the traditionally coveted dream-beach lifestyle, the country’s islands represent splendor and luxury living.
Whether you’re arriving by boat, plane, or custom private jet, here are just a few reasons why someone might relocate to The Bahamas:
The Bahamas is attractive to many international families and business owners for its lenient tax rules. If you secure citizenship or a permanent residency permit for The Bahamas, you don’t have to pay any income tax or capital gains tax.
Keep in mind that living costs on The Bahamas islands can be higher than in the U.S., but you make up for it in tax savings.
Who wouldn’t prefer 340 days of sun and temperate beach weather to the cold winters or desert heat within the continental U.S.? The Bahamas is sunny all year long, with beautiful beaches and clear water to enjoy life to its fullest.
The Bahamas has a significant immigrant population who like you wanted to relocate to The Bahamas for a better life. On top of meeting like-minded people, you’ll meet locals that are known for their friendliness, hospitality, and warmth.
The Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) in the Office of the Prime Minister is tasked with the operational management of the Government’s investment regulations, ensuring that Bahamian and foreign investments complement each other and that the various sectors of the economy, such as the tourism industry and financial services industry, are linked.
There are a number of sectors of the economy that are specifically targeted for foreign investment. These include–but aren’t limited to–tourist resorts, upscale condominiums, marinas and timeshares, high-tech services, manufacturing, agricultural industries, and financial services.
However, investments of less than $250,000 will not be considered by the BIA, and international investors are also encouraged to partner with Bahamian partners. Reach out to the team at Better Home and Gardens MCR Bahamas today to find your first (or next) Bahamian investment property!
High-Quality International Education
The Bahamas is home to prestigious schools offering world-class education to both Bahamians and foreign residents. How do you know the schools are quality? For starters, the country boasts a near-perfect literacy rate (98%), surpassing the U.S. by 10%.
And, schools like Lyford Cay International School and Lucaya International school boast impressive IB programs and robust educational standards.
How much does it cost to move to The Bahamas?
While tax benefits sound appealing, there will of course be costs to relocating to The Bahamas.
But like anything, you can overcome it by being prepared. Here’s a breakdown of some expenses included when you move to The Bahamas.
Overseas Vehicle Shipping: Whether you live in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or Harbour Island, Eleuthera, you’ll likely need a car to enjoy The Bahamas to its fullest. If you plan to ship your vehicle from the U.S. or anywhere else, you’ll have to pay not only to ship the car but also a duty percentage (25-65%) depending on your car or trailer type and value.
Set aside at least $5,000 for this expense, but recognize that it could be higher.
Lifestyle: Meals and nights can be more expensive in The Bahamas depending on where you are coming from in the U.S. You’ll of course need to budget lifestyle expenses depending on your spending and social behaviors–but that’s everywhere you live!
Immigration Attorneys: You might enlist the support of a legal professional to help you navigate the residency or citizenship processes.
Fees vary but can reach $10,000 depending on your circumstances.
Residency and Investment (Property): Bahamian real estate continues to rise in popularity, leading to higher average prices than on other Caribbean islands. Mortgage rates and expected down payments are also slightly higher than U.S. norms.
One popular route to residency is by purchasing a $750,000 property in The Bahamas, which gives you permission to apply to residency status.
Utilities: An electricity bill in Nassau, Freeport, or anywhere else on the islands will be much higher than in the U.S. The utilities for an 85-square-meter apartment will cost an average of $254.38 (compared to the U.S. average of $169.74).
Rent: Leasing a property in The Bahamas varies in cost, depending on your location and size of the property. Overall, though, Bahamas rent averages are lower than that of the U.S., with a 3-bedroom city apartment averaging at $2,200 per month.
Bottom line? If you aim to relocate to The Bahamas, it won’t be inexpensive, but the costs are comparable to relocating to other locations along the Atlantic Ocean. And not all of those locations are a beachside paradise with the favorable economic and tax policies The Bahamas has.
A Guide to Moving to The Bahamas
Laws & Permits
Unlike most destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamian government does not require licenses and permits to purchase a property. However, there are exceptions, such as the purchase of larger properties, or if a property is purchased specifically to rent it out or develop it commercially, which may be the case if you’re looking for an investment property.
International Persons Landholding Act
The Bahamas enjoys an active second home market facilitated by official policy that welcomes foreign nationals who wish to buy property of five acres or less for personal residential use–in which case Government approval is not required. However, the acquisition must be registered in accordance with the International Persons Landholding Act.
The International Persons Landholding Act outlines how non-Citizens can purchase and own property in The Bahamas. The act requires all foreigners who plan to lease their properties out to register with The Bahamas Investment Authority.
The fees include:
- Application fee: $25.00
- Application for permit: $25.00
- Permit: $500
- Certificate of Registration:
- For $50K or less: $50.00
- Between $50K & $101K: $75.00
- More than $101K: $100.00
Foreign-Owned Homes in The Bahamas
If you have a foreign-owned rental home, then you’ll need to apply for an additional license to operate as a rental property. Your annual taxes to run a property in this manner include:
- A property with a market value less than $250K: exempt
- Between $250K and $500K: 0.75%
- Over $500K: 1%
- A 10% hotel guest tax will need to be collected for each room available for rent.
What does it take to obtain residency in The Bahamas?
Second-home owners are eligible for a Home Owners Residence Card, renewable annually. This card facilitates entry into The Bahamas and entitles the owner, their spouse and minor children to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the validity of the card.
Accelerated consideration of applications for annual or permanent residence will be given to major international investors and fit and proper owners of residences valued at $750,000 or more.
If you’re purchasing a home to rent out in The Bahamas, you’ll want to understand the tenancy laws. Rentals in The Bahamas fall into two categories: short term rentals and common rentals.
Short term rentals provide holiday makers and tourists with accommodation over a short period of time. Generally, a reservation fee of 20-50% is levied against tenants on top of the per night price.
Common rentals are more permanent accommodations that generally require a security deposit as well as the up-front payment of the first and last months’ rent.
Rental amounts, for either type of rental, can be freely negotiated between landlords and tenants, since there are no government restrictions placing limits on rental values.
The country also requires various permits and licenses to conduct business. A short-term or over-90-day work permit is available to those who apply through the proper channels.
To apply for an annual work permit, you’ll need:
- $200 for the processing fee
- Letter of Request written to the Director of Immigration
- Completed First Schedule Form 1 application
- Medical certificate
- Police certificate
- 2 current passport photos
- Employer/Sponsor’s current passport
- Labor Certificate with Notification of Vacancy from The Bahamas’ Department of Labor
- Two written references from previous employers
- Certificate of Incorporation of Employer/Sponsor, business license, certificate of incumbency
- Certificate of employer/sponsor’s National Insurance Card
Taxes & Investments
Arguably the most attractive feature of The Bahamas is its low taxes. Because of the lack of taxes, the government earns revenue through customs duties that are imposed on goods imported into The Bahamas. The average rate of duty is approximately 35 percent.
Stamp duty is a tax on the conveyance of property. It is a graduated tax and the total amount of tax that is imposed is as follows:
- When the value of the consideration is less than $100,000 the rate is 2.5%.
- When the value of the consideration is $100,000 or more the rate is 10%.
In The Bahamas, it is also customary for the buyer and seller to share the tax equally, unless otherwise decided. And anyone who is buying a property for the first time may be exempt from the Stamp Duty tax on a residential property, or vacant land, bought for residential purposes up to $500,000 in value.
Value Added Tax
As of January 1, 2022 The Bahamas Government Value Added Tax (VAT), is 10% on all products and services in The Bahamas. It was first implemented by the Bahamian government in 2015, and it is a consumption tax that is payable on all property conveyances, commissions and legal fees.
Real Property Tax
The payment of Real Property Tax is required by law in The Bahamas. The bill must be paid in accordance with the Real Property Tax Act so you can avoid interest. Assessments are carried out by the Department of Inland Revenue to determine the value of a property and its related property taxes.
Purchasing & Renting
Purchasing a Bahamian home is relatively straightforward for foreigners, with no restrictions on international investment. At Better Homes & Gardens MCR Bahamas, we help countless international clients purchase dream homes and investment properties in The Bahamas.
Residency & Citizenship
The Bahamas offers a variety of avenues to achieve residency, with citizenship requiring more time and effort. Here are some ways you can become a permanent resident in The Bahamas:
- Marriage: If you marry a Bahamian, you can apply for permanent residence after five consecutive years
- Birth: If you’re the child of a married Bahamian woman (Bahamian citizenship) even if her husband is born outside The Bahamas.
- Investors: If you purchase a residence of $750,000, you’ll have a smoother time achieving permanent residency in The Bahamas.
- Occupation: Police and prison officers working for 10 consecutive years, teachers for 10 years, nurses for 10 years, priests for 20 years, and doctors and medical professionals for 20 years can apply for permanent residency.
- Permit: People who have held a valid Bahamas work permit status for 20 consecutive years, or those who held a work permit from scales 5 to 8 and resided in the country for 10 years.
Culture & Living
Bahamian culture is heavily influenced by African and Caribbean culture, as well as some British and American influence. People are known to be warm and hospitable, with kindness and enthusiasm for the country’s cultural music and traditions.
It’s not uncommon to see festive costumes narrated by whistles, horns, and drums during the holidays. The predominant religion is Christianity, with the government institution considering Christian values in its laws and rules.
Overall, you’ll have a laid-back lifestyle in The Bahamas. You’ll enjoy most amenities that you’d have in the U.S., like bustling town centers, groceries, electronics, etc., all while enjoying crystal-clear waters and sunny weather.
Schools & Healthcare
The Bahamas is known for its near-perfect literacy rate, speaking to the high quality of its schools. The islands have both public and private schools, including international schools with English as the predominant language.
The best international schools in The Bahamas are in New Providence and Grand Bahama, so consider living on these islands for the best educational opportunities. If you live on the Out Islands, you have fewer options for private schools, but the public schools there are of high caliber.
Additionally, healthcare in The Bahamas is one of the best in the Caribbean. Legal residents have access to full health care benefits without limitations influenced by their socio-economic or health status.
Relocating to The Bahamas: FAQs
Can U.S. citizens buy property in The Bahamas?
Certainly! U.S. citizens have access to the same property for sale in The Bahamas as locals. In fact, thousands of expats become permanent residents of The Bahamas every year.
The International Persons Landholding Act, 1993, which allowed foreigners to purchase land or property without a permit from the government. The act makes mortgages in The Bahamas accessible to expats to encourage economic growth and investment in the islands.
What is the best way to travel throughout The Bahamas?
The best way to get around in The Bahamas is by driving. Their infrastructure supports paved roads ideal for moving around by car, so keep that in mind when planning your move.
You might also take boats, ferries, and water taxis to different islands. Buses also run, but they have limited hours in the evening.
What jobs are there in The Bahamas?
Tourism is a big industry in The Bahamas, with countless job openings for hospitality and sports roles. With so many luxury resorts on the islands, there’s also a market for transportation and construction services.
Other in-demand industries include financial services, engineering, agriculture, real estate, and fisheries.
Plus, with asynchronous and remote work on the rise, you can relocate to The Bahamas while holding a job in the United States or another country.
Where is the best place to move to in The Bahamas?
Our opinion? You can’t go wrong if you relocate to The Bahamas. Whether it’s on a gorgeous waterfront property in Eleuthera or Grand Bahama, or a trendy condominium in Freeport, Better Homes & Gardens MCR Bahamas is your trusted source for rentals and investment in The Bahamas’ vibrant real estate market.
Ready to find your dream Bahamian home with jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic Ocean? Contact our team today to get your new life started in The Bahamas!