1. The Cost and Availability of everything
This is why tax-free salary isn’t on my best list.
While we do not pay income tax, there is definitely sales tax applied to everything. If I wanted a new pair of trainers, I would be choosing from a limited selection and paying at least an extra $30 than I would at home.
As for the costs in the supermarkets, there is nothing worse than seeing an item from Tesco marked $1 on the box and then the actual price in Cayman Dollars being more than double. When I was home at Christmas, I marveled at the Super Six fruit and vegetable offers in Lidl when a head of broccoli here costs $5 at least. You know its been payday when you are buying mushrooms and peppers.
If you want to have anything shipped such as clothing or furniture, there is a 20% tax along with whatever it costs to ship. It’s a tax-free salary but your salary is definitely taxed.
2. Poor Food Quality
Although there is a fantastic farmers market, the selection of fresh fruit and vegetables is extremely limited. Most of the produce and meat is imported, loaded with chemicals and not of very good quality. I was constantly getting tummy bugs here, while I had an iron stomach at home. This led to me going vegan and that decision actually had very little to do with the animals. I found it worrying that I had no idea where my food was coming from and when it was likely most of it was coming from America, well that made me more scared. The food is so expensive here is because it has to travel so far.
3. A lot of Type A Personalities
If you don’t know what a type A personality is , they are competitive, highly organized, ambitious, impatient, aggressive and have an unhealthy dependence on external rewards such as wealth, status, or power.
It takes all sorts to make up the world, but I believe there is a strong imbalance of this type of personality in Grand Cayman, especially in bars on Friday nights. Little Miss Type B would be sitting in the corner trying to have a quiet drink when Mr. Type A would come over, demand what I do, decide if I was worth talking to based on that then proceed to brag about how he had a boozy work lunch, how much money he earned and how important he is. Lawyers.
3. Drinking Culture
In the months before I moved here, I realised that my only hobby was drinking. I left Ireland because of that and arrived in Grand Cayman to the same problem. There is so-called drinking culture everywhere and whether or not you want to get involved is your decision. I should stay the extent to which you want to get involved. I love a drink with friends. However, going out Friday night until 4, drinking on a boat all day Saturday and then waking up on time for 12pm brunch again on Sunday as is routine for a lot of expats in Grand Cayman. No thanks.
5. Everything takes at least 5x longer than it would at home
Island time, get used to it. Whether its grocery shopping, opening a bank account, getting your car taxed, immigration or waiting for the post to arrive. Normal time rules do not apply in Cayman. It is the 12th of February and my Christmas box still hasn’t arrived. (It was posted at the start of December)
If you have to leave to tax your car, your boss nods sympathetically and says see you tomorrow. (even though it is only lunch time you are most likely going to spend the afternoon there. They are introducing an online system. 2017 it’s about time!)
1.Year-round Bikini Season
The risk of a hurricane is pretty slight so I have to say the weather is the best thing about living here. The downpours of rain can be frequent in winter but the clouds roll away and the sun dries up the puddles like it never even happened.
My first summer here, I found the heat unbearable but you get used to it. Now I feel chilly at 20 degrees Celcius which is a hot day at home in Ireland.
Strolling on the beach in the sunshine daily is magic. It sounds like a cliche but you forget all of your worries when you feel the sand under your toes and the water splashing your feet and ankles.
2. Endless Sporting and Water Activites
The advantage of having so many Type A personalities on the island is that they need to compete in a lot of sports to unleash their competitive side. I’m not that competitive but I really enjoyed playing sports on the Island. I even represented the Cayman Islands in the Gaelic Football Northern American Championships. That always makes me laugh because I tried to have PE banned in school so I could study for my final exams.
There are runs, triathlons, duathlons and marathons regularly as well as several boxing and MMA gyms. Crossfit and yoga are popular too- it is a fitness paradise!
The Diving and snorkeling here are incredible and you are almost guaranteed to see my a few of my little mascots- turtles! Other than that there is paddle-boarding, kayaking, wind and kite surfing.
3. Short Commute
When I hear about peers and their daily commute to cities lasting an hour or more, I can’t help but think that I could never ever do that. Sitting in a car or train for that much time for that much of your life is unimaginable after experiencing the Grand Cayman 10 minute commute. I’m that spoilt, I would sigh impatiently at the extra 10 minutes it would take to get anywhere on Friday evenings but then I remember how traffic would be in Dublin at the same time.
4. The People
Although Ireland is definitely highly represented in Grand Cayman, there are 120 nationalities represented in a 61,000 odd population. There almost an exact 50/50 expat/local split. The main nationality most represented after Caymanian is Jamaican. After that its English, Australian, South African, Canadian, American, almost every country in Europe. Basically, I met people from all countries and backgrounds and the diversity was one of the best things about living here.
You learn that there are some expressions that are uniquely Irish and also that you need to speak a bit clearer. The family thinks that the accent is posh but I’m just used to slowing down and making myself understood.
5. High Standard of living and great place to save
If you avoid boozing, brunches and boat parties, Grand Cayman is a great place to save money. If you are willing to pack your own lunches and spend a lot of time being a beach bum (which is FREE), then there is no reason you can’t save money for a massive trip, wedding, mortgage or whatever it may be.
As I said before, the short commutes, abundance of sports and international community make it a fantastic place to spend a few years. The healthcare is great but expensive if you don’t have insurance. It is a fantastic place to raise a family but only if you have a high paying jobs. School fees aren’t cheap and non-Caymanian children can’t go the government schools.