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It’s easy to see why living in the Bahamas is desirable for expat and United States citizens.
The Bahamas is a beautiful country with one of the most hospitable climates in the world. With no income tax and a small population, you can relax and enjoy the sun, warmth, and incredible culture.
This is why The Bahamas makes for a popular destination to relocate for expat, retirees, or just want to enjoy that laidback island lifestyle. The Bahamas offers some of the best international schools, best beaches, and even exciting business opportunities.
With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why living in the Bahamas is desirable for expat and United States citizens.
Can a U.S. Citizen Live in The Bahamas?
Yes, you can live here as a U.S. citizen, and the Bahamian government does not require licenses or permits to purchase property. However, there may be exceptions, such as the purchase of larger properties that may be used specifically for renting or commercial development, in that case then you’re looking for an investment property.
For more about the legal aspects of establishing citizenship, the Bahamian representatives at the embassy in the United States are available. While the Embassy in Washington DC is the chief diplomatic and consular office of The Bahamas in the United States of America, there are four other Consulates General (Miami, Atlanta, New York City and Washington DC).
You may consider enlisting the help of a legal professional to help you navigate the citizenship process. Fees for this process will vary but can reach up to $10,000 depending on circumstances.
U.S. Citizen Living in the Bahamas: Pros and Cons
Bahamas is an ideal place for expat looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Its pristine beaches, tropical climate, and low cost of living can be a welcome change from what you may be used to in your country of origin.
- Wonderful weather all year round
- Friendly people
- High-quality international schools
- Investment opportunities
- Tax benefits and tax neutrality
- Breathtaking natural environment
- Small country
- Higher cost of living depending on where you’re living
- Traveling between or off islands can take more planning because it has to be by boat or plane
Best Places to Live in The Bahamas for Expats
- Home to iconic Atlantis Resort
- Outstanding restaurants and nightlife
- Lush golf courses and day-time activities
- Close proximity to New Providence
- Great shopping
Best for: Those who love golf, enjoy eco-tours, and a great social scene with other international travelers.
- Mild climate, warm winters and sparkling crystal blue water
- Bustling economy due to tourism, agriculture, and fishing
- Close proximity to major hospitals and colleges
- Accessible to Lynden Pindling International Airport
Best for: Those who prefer a bigger city yet enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.
- Home to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, six national parks, and the famous diving site known as The Catacombs
- Seventeen marinas throughout the area, making it the boat enthusiast’s dream come true
- A boating fuel credit
- A number of wonderful outdoor activities
Best for: People looking for a safe and populated island without the heavy tourism seen on other islands.
- Quiet, away from tourists and crowds
- Wonderful areas to explore
Best for: Those who prefer privacy without seclusion
Check out our full review of the best places to live in The Bahamas here.
Purchasing vs. Renting in The Bahamas for Expats & U.S. Citizens
Purchasing Real Estate in The Bahamas
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.
MCR Bahamas agents have full access to all of the properties listed for sale, as well as many properties that are not publicly listed. If prospective home purchasers are not residents of The Bahamas, review of properties can be conducted via email and virtual tours are available of most listings in neighborhoods throughout The Bahamas.
Once the buyer selects a desired residence whether single family home, condominium or condo hotel, MCR Bahamas works on the client’s behalf to obtain the most favorable terms and remains as client representative throughout the transaction.
By working with MCR Bahamas, potential buyers will have a greater likelihood of finding their dream home where they can enjoy the incomparable beauty and charm of The Bahamas.
Renting in The Bahamas
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.
MCR Bahamas helps renters find their temporary dream vacation home throughout the island.
Bahamas Cost of Living
As mentioned above, renting a 3-bedroom city apartment averages at $2,200 per month in The Bahamas. Also mentioned above, while there are a plethora of housing options to choose from, one popular route to residency is by purchasing a $750,000 property in The Bahamas.
Below is a quick breakdown of cost of living statistics:
- Family of four estimated monthly costs are $4,242.00 without rent.
- A single person’s estimated monthly costs are $1,199.16 without rent.
- Cost of living in The Bahamas is, on average, 25.90% higher than in the United States.
- Rent in The Bahamas is, on average, 17.70% lower than in the United States.
Costs of Living in The Bahamas
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!
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).
Healthcare: Legal residents have access to full health care benefits without limitations influenced by their socio-economic or health status.
Cellular Phone Information: The telephone dialing system to call a number in The Bahamas is to dial “1” for the North American long-distance prefix, then “242” for the area code assigned to the Bahamas, then a local phone number will be 7 digits.
Forbes simply recommends the following: “If you are traveling long term or moving abroad, it is always cheaper to buy a local SIM and buy credit for your phone rather than paying the hefty fees for roaming.”
Costs of Moving to The Bahamas
Whether you live in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or Harbour Island, Eleuthera, you’ll likely need a car to enjoy The Bahamas to its fullest. Due to this, overseas vehicle shipping will be something you will need to consider.
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. There is an additional environmental levy for shipping taxes as well.
Set aside at least $5,000 for this expense, but recognize that it could be higher. There are multiple transport options from which you might want to choose.
In this option, the car is shipped in its own private shipping container. A private container is often the best option when dealing with expensive vehicles. To make sure that it isn’t damaged, the car is choked in place.
Another affordable way of transporting your car is by using a RORO, which is a boat designed specifically for carrying cars and trucks. However, you should be aware that you won’t be able to send any other goods with the auto.
Finally, you might choose to use air freight. In this model, the car will be loaded into an airplane and sent to your location. When you select this option, you will be able to receive your vehicle faster.
Don’t forget that there’s always the option of selling your old car and buying another one from one of the many car dealerships that The Bahamas has to offer!
Taxes in The Bahamas
The beauty of the Bahamas is that there is no income tax, capital gains taxes, or inheritance taxes.
Because of the lack of taxes, the government earns most revenue through customs duties that are imposed on goods imported into The Bahamas. The average rate of duty is approximately 35 percent. However, this impacts manufacturers and translates overall to lower taxes for you, the consumer!
Working in The Bahamas as an Expat
The tourism industry employs directly or indirectly about 50 percent of the Bahamian workforce and accounts for approximately half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
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.
Bahamas Crime and Safety
In the categories of murder, break-ins, car theft, and money laundering, The Bahamas ranks lower than other Carribean nations.
While downtown Nassau might have issues with pickpockets and ATM scammers, across the bridge on Nassau Paradise Island, this resort-filled town is home to safe hotels, like the Atlantis hotel. Tourists are most safe from crime, since it primarily is due to tensions between locals.
Other islands (such as Abacos, Andros, Eleuthera, Exumas–locally called Family Islands or Out Islands) are generally safer than Nassau or New Providence, with little violent crime occurring.
Citizenship in The Bahamas for Expats: Dual Citizenship and More
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. Read more HERE.
There’s a Great Expat Community in the Bahamas
The Bahamas has a thriving community of foreign residents. With just under a population of 400,000, it has been estimated that there are 30,000 Americans living in the Bahamas. (roughly 7.5% of the population!)
However, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is home to more than just Americans. There are roughly 5,000 British expat in the Bahamas. Since the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the United Kingdom have such close ties, British visitors benefit from lax requirements and can enter the country without a visa for up to 21 days.
So how can you connect with this thriving community of expat? There are many Bahamas expat forums online that can help with the transition of a new life in paradise!
- Expat Exchange has a healthy community of Bahamian residents who post regularly on work opportunities, real estate, island life, entertainment, and more!
- InterNations offers details on local expat events, as well as guides and forums where expats can ask questions on living in The Bahamas. Specifically, they have a robust forum for British expats. Want to know where your hometown team’s next match is shown on TV or where to get roast beef? InternNations has a large community hailing from London, Cardiff, Glasgow and all regions of the UK.
- Expat Focus provides articles on transitioning to life in The Bahamas and has a Facebook group that allows members to connect.
For families with kids, The Bahamas is home to prestigious international schools offering world-class education to both Bahamians and expats. 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.
Conclusion: Get Started on Your Bahamas Life as an Expat
Often moving to a new location can seem overwhelming, but relocating to The Bahamas offers so many fantastic benefits you can’t find anywhere else that making the move is worth it.
Looking for a luxury home in the Bahamas?
A skilled and knowledgeable expert at Better Homes and Garden MCR Bahamas can help you find exactly what you’re looking for and help make the relocation process feel like a walk in paradise.
Bahamas offers everything from luxury living to that wonderfully laid back island mentality and MCR Bahamas can assist you in finding whatever home base you’re looking for. Contact us today so we can help!