The definitive guide to living and working in the Cayman Islands
Jan 29, 2015
Cayman's Real Estate & Residential Areas
Last updated: 5th January 2015
OVERVIEW OF THE CAYMAN PROPERTY MARKETFinding a slice of paradise to call home need not be such a challenge. In fact, if you are lucky enough to live in the Cayman Islands, finding a home should be one of the more exciting tasks on your to-do-list. There is such a diverse selection of properties available in Cayman - from high-end luxury offerings to those on the more affordable end. Value-wise Cayman compares very favourably to other Caribbean Islands, especially taking into consideration our high standard of construction which is not always offered regionally. Real estate companies are numerous, so there is an ample roster of local professionals to assist you with your search for a rental or something to buy.
With its stable economy, high standard of living and beautiful environment, Cayman is also an ideal place for you to own property. With no annual property, income or corporation tax, nor capital gains payable in Cayman, buying a property here is certainly worth considering. Moreover, with our strong rental market it can also make for a smart investment. Also, the variety of properties for sale - homes, villas, studio apartments and condos - are suited to any purse. Further along in this chapter you will be given a comprehensive break-down of popular neighbourhoods and their associated price ranges as well as an overview of all the districts in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
When devising a plan of action for your property search, a general understanding of the local market is a good starting point. Cayman was not spared from the direct effects of the global financial recession of 2008. In fact, it has contributed significantly to the current state of the market. While there have been some improvements in recent years, the market is still relatively weak and there was a small contraction in property sales last year, thus maintaining Cayman’s current status as a buyer’s market, which is good news for those looking to secure property. Many real estate professionals are predicting that Cayman’s market will have more activity this year, and certainly in 2015, as more businesses open in Cayman Enterprise City (CEC)— a special economic zone. Currently, there are over 100 companies operating, with over 800 employees. As CEC expands further, supply undoubtedly will be impacted, with prices of properties possibly increasing.
Although certain properties retain their value irrespective of market performance, good deals can always be found if one shops carefully. The Cayman Property Review, an independent property survey conducted by Charterland, a chartered survey company based in the Cayman Islands, reports that the total number of open market transfers registered with the Cayman Islands Land Registry for 2013 was 1,074, which is down by 6% compared to 2012. This number however, is still slightly higher than the market low in 2010 of 1,015. Interestingly, the decrease in the number of transfers, when compared to 2012, is not reflected in the total value of sales in 2013. Sales transactions in 2013 increased by approximately 7% to CI$392.83 million compared with total sales of CI$367.75 million being registered in 2012. It is evident to see that the total value of transfers per year has been increasing steadily since 2010. The increase in total sales in 2013 has had a positive impact on the average value of transfers. The average sale has increased from CI$321,700 in 2012 to CI$365,800 in 2013. Although the market value for all the properties in the Cayman Islands have not increased by this figure, the increase in total value however, is a positive market indicator despite the low number of transfers.
LandThe Seven Mile Beach area has been experiencing significant growth with the expansion of Camana Bay and significant developed in the Yacht Club and Crystal Harbour areas. The number of sales of land in Crystal Harbour increased dramatically in 2013 with eighteen canal front lots being sold and the average sale price increasing by 16% to CI$23.68 per sq ft. Sales in Grand Harbour also remained high with 11 pieces of land being sold in 2013. There were few house lot sales in Savannah in 2013, however, the average sale price of land remained stable at CI$5.48 per sq ft. Sales in Frank Sound contracted, with seven house lots being sold compared to 11 in 2012. Land sales in Cayman Brac and particularly on the Bluff, experienced a boom in 2013. Ten house lots were sold on the Bluff, all with an average sale price of CI$2.11 per sq ft. This price was almost the same as 2011, so even though sales are showing a strong upward shift the same cannot be said of the price.
HomesThere were four sales registered in Snug Harbour in 2013, which was the most movement in this segment of the market since 2007. Activity in West Bay was quiet, with two sales registered for 2013. Three homes were sold in Savannah, and three in Newlands. Yet the average sales price for the sales in Newlands was about 17% higher than the average sales prices for 2012.
Condominiums & ApartmentsThe sale of condominiums on Seven Mile Beach saw a 30% increase in 2013 to a total of 81 beachfront units being sold compared to 62 sales in 2012. However, the total value, according to Charterland’s property review, suggests that much of the activity was at the lower end of the market for beachfront condos, with 69% of the sales being under CI$1 million each. A total of CI$66.1 million was sold in 2013 compared to CI$58.5 million in 2012.
The sales of inland apartments in the George Town and South Sound areas has again been proving that there is an over-supply in the two-bedroom townhouse market, and that this has been having a negative impact on the market values of these properties. The sales in 2013 reaffirm this fact. The total number of sales in Coco, Garden, Mystic and Sunset Retreat were very similar to those in 2012 and suggest that the value of these properties have bottomed out to an average sale price of CI$181,189 per 2-bed property. In South Sound, there were two sales in Southern Skies and both show an 18% decrease in the 2012 price.
The trend has shifted from buying older properties to brand new properties, and indeed these, namely WaterColours on Seven Mile Beach, Oceana in George Town and the San Sebastian in South Sound, have raised the bar in terms of standards of design and construction in their respective neighbourhoods. Consequently, the price of new condos has shifted up while older condos have shifted down.
Legal OverviewThe real estate market in Cayman is simple and straightforward. Apart from a one-time stamp duty, there are no annual property taxes or restrictions on foreign ownership by individuals and title is granted and guaranteed by the Cayman Islands Government. Title to land is recorded in a modern, reliable and centralised land registry, where every plot of land is mapped and given a descriptive title number based on location. Any encumbrances such as mortgages, rights-of-way and cautions pending contract are recorded on the title register of that parcel of land. Vacant land can be owned and held for future investment potential. To date, Cayman real estate has proved to be an attractive and profitable investment. Owning land in the name of a corporation is possible, but strict rules apply and a lawyer’s advice is essential.
Buildings are subject to a series of planning permissions and building permit approvals. These are monitored by the Cayman Islands Central Planning Authority and Building Control Unit, which carries out plan reviews and onsite inspections that relate to site, building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical works. There are also requirements for structural engineers to take into consideration seismic design principles depending on the building heights and purpose of the building. Construction materials have to be imported and are subject to duties that range from 15%-22% on the landed value (which includes duty on the shipping costs). Consequently, the cost of building is considerably higher than in places where materials are more readily available.
The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) Buying and selling properties in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s and 1980s was quite different from today, as real estate companies were not organised as effectively and efficiently nor were they so plentiful. That changed dramatically in 1987 when a group of realtors agreed to form the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA). CIREBA is a not-for-profit association based on the North American style of relationship between realtors and clients but adapted to work within the UK-based legal system of the Cayman Islands. One of the Association’s founding objectives is to “improve and elevate the general knowledge of persons engaged in the real estate business.” Today, CIREBA is proud to boast that it has 31 member companies and 161 sales agents in the group (as of Q2 2014). This makes up the majority of all realtors in Cayman.
To be a member of CIREBA, agents and brokers must complete a professional training programme which, amongst many subjects, encompasses business ethics, due diligence requirements and some contract law. A high degree of competence is expected from all CIREBA members and they must adhere to a strict code of ethics established by the Association.
CIREBA members input listing data into the Multiple Listing System (MLS), providing a central data source of information for its members to provide to prospective purchasers. The basic premise of the MLS is that all CIREBA member firms have agreed to share their property listings and work together on any real estate transaction. This means you can view and buy any property through any CIREBA agent, not just the listing broker or agent.
CIREBA'S Statistics - July 2014The CIREBA Multiple Listing System, as of 7th July 2014 shows that there are 2,049 properties listed in the CIREBA MLS having an aggregate value of CI$1.81 billion. The number of listings is up from 1,888 when compared to the same time last year; however, the value of listings has not materially changed. It is encouraging that the volume of sales for the first half of 2014 shows 317 transactions with a value of CI$190 million, with a further CI$165 million in pending transactions. This is an increase from 218 sales recorded in the first half of 2013 with a value of CI$160 million. CIREBA’s strength in the industry is highlighted by the fact that its member companies handle 85% of the sales volume in the Cayman Islands. Government statistics show that the total value of free hold transfers in the first half of 2014 was CI$224 million.
RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN GRAND CAYMAN
Seven Mile Beach (SMB)This area is really divided into two areas: the beach and the road across from the beach. Both are ideal locations within walking distance to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and the cinema. There are many apartment complexes on Seven Mile Beach itself, but most are rented out for short-term, daily rentals. However, some offer long-term rentals like George Town Villas, The Grandview, Sunset Cove, Laguna del Mar, Seagull Condominiums, Lacovia, The Sovereign and The Pinnacle. Monthly rental prices in this area range from high to super expensive (CI$1,500-CI$9,000+).
Areas such as Snug Harbour, Parkway, Governors Harbour, Canal Point, Crystal Harbour and the Yacht Club area are all nice places to live and really popular with families, though the prices of properties can vary significantly between them. There are many four-bedroom houses in these areas but you can also find upscale two and three-bedroom apartments in a few of them. Properties are usually well maintained and professionals tend to rent or buy them. Two new developments to look out for include: Luxe, located in Governor’s Harbour which boasts infinity pools, dock space for boats, underground parking and other luxury amenities, and Grand Palazzo, a condo and townhouse development situated just minutes from North Sound Golf Club. Phase one is estimated to be completed in the winter of 2016 and promises to offer first class design, construction and amenities. These neighbourhoods around SMB are generally quiet areas, near to restaurants and the beach. There is also a very good school in Camana Bay called the Cayman International School, which follows the International Baccalaureate education system and accepts children from two through 18 years of age. The commute to town in the mornings is pretty quick as you have the option of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway or West Bay Road.
Apartments at Britannia are popular but expensive. You can usually find good deals and the benefits of being on the property include: access to the Britannia Golf Course, multiple swimming pools, a tennis court, a gym, private beach access at Grand Cayman Beach Suites’ beach and a quiet, relatively car-free environment that’s great for walking. Apartments have either canal, pool or golf course views and the property is walking distance to Camana Bay and all its great facilities. This is a good option for professional couples and if you have teenage kids but beware the high strata fees.
Snug Harbour lies to the East of the West Bay Road and is reached from the Esterly Tibbetts Highway. This is a sought after residential area and is very popular with families. As well as being family and dog friendly, Snug Harbour has the advantage of being close to Seven Mile Beach and Camana Bay with easy access to George Town and West Bay.
The area has two roads, Jennifer Drive and Andrew Drive, which run parallel West-East and finish at the North Sound. There are a number of intersecting roads in-between. Much of the residential housing consists of detached family homes with gardens, ranging from modest two-bedroom homes to more upscale, five/six bedroom residences. However, there are several apartment buildings and townhouses here too, particularly towards the North Sound.
Residents of Snug Harbour enjoy the added benefits of use of the Snug Harbour Park. This consists of a tennis court, a basketball court, a children’s playground and a large grassy park. This is a popular meeting spot for families. Residents can book to use the tennis and basketball courts online.
Palm Heights Drive lies to the South of Snug Harbour and is accessed through the main Snug Harbour entrance. This is another popular residential location. One side of this road lies on the picturesque Britannia Canal, where you can find a number of attractive residential canal front houses and apartments. The other side of Palm Heights consists mostly of detached family homes with gardens.
Palm Heights Drive is often mistakenly considered to be part of Snug Harbour, but this is not the case. Whilst residents here use the Snug Harbour park and playground, they are not able to book the tennis and basketball courts.
Camana BayCamana Bay and its Town Centre are situated on 500 acres that stretch from the sea on SMB to the North Sound on the other side. The design of Camana Bay is based on New Urbanism; a planning model that promotes “walkability” through a mix of housing, shops, restaurants, public spaces, schools and parks. Streets and walkways are interconnecting, offering a safe and scenic stroll or bike ride, while shady courtyards nurture social gatherings and a sense of community. Traffic is also minimal. Designed by a team of award-winning architects and planners, Camana Bay has a contemporary style inspired by traditional Caribbean architecture and is landscaped with beautiful mature trees and native plants to give it a distinctly Caymanian character.
With a cinema, notable restaurants, supermarket, bookstore, clothing stores, doctors’ offices, pharmacy, a 24-hour gym, school (Cayman International School), residential housing and prestigious office space for businesses, Camana Bay has become a very popular place to live simply because it welcomes the return to a traditional style of community – a friendly neighbourhood. Residential rental options include The Terraces, which are a collection of 63 one and two-bedroom apartments (some of the two-beds have a den which could be used as a third bedroom) with over 20 different floor plans. Beautifully decorated with spacious private balconies, fully-equipped contemporary kitchens, state-of-the-art electronics and flat screen televisions, The Terraces also boast around the clock security and property management, underground parking and video entry lock systems. They are available for long-term rental and are located in the heart of Camana Bay’s Town Centre. Monthly rental prices start at approximately US$2,500 for a one-bedroom unit and the rental agreement comes with a host of value-added benefits. These benefits include access to Camana Bay’s private beach park on Seven Mile Beach which has hammocks, beach chairs, kayaks, Yolo boards, fresh water showers and wonderful old seagrape trees for shade which children will love to climb. There is a shaded, tree-lined walkway from the Town Centre to the beach, Camana Way, which is beautiful and encourages the car-free lifestyle which is so much a part of Camana Bay. Each of the two Terraces towers has its own pool and leisure area with a long lap pool, fresh water showers, bathrooms and seating areas which include a large dining table and an outside kitchen with a high-end gas barbeque. The area can be reserved for parties. Also included in the rental agreement is membership to Anytime Fitness, a fully-equipped, state-of the-art 24-hour gym.
The Terraces are equally popular with families and young professionals. Renting at Camana Bay is all about the lifestyle it offers more than anything else. Being able to walk everywhere and having everything taken care of for you, as well as access to world-class dining and shopping and children’s activities right on your doorstep, is incredibly appealing. When you are on the balconies you hear the buzz of life below, though it is completely quiet in the apartments. This might be worth considering if you would rather have a more serene environment.
There are plans to have courtyard homes, cottages and town homes, canal-front homes and condos for sale in the future which will suit a variety of different buyers and price points. Visit the Discovery Centre at Camana Bay to view streetscapes, house plans and interior renderings for this unique community. For more information on residential offerings contact the sales team on (345) 640 4000.
South SoundThis is a lovely, upscale area, close to schools and George Town. The traffic is less of a problem and the sea is never more than a stone’s throw away. Available properties include executive homes and two and three-bedroom apartments. Two-bedroom apartments across the road from the sea can be rented from about CI$1,500 per month. Apartments on the sea can be found for CI$2,000 and up to CI$8,000 (The Seaview). Apart from Seven Mile Beach, South Sound is one of the most convenient and therefore, expensive areas in which to buy on the Island.
South Sound boasts the home of the late naive artist, Miss Lassie, now a heritage site, as well as the Rugby Club, Tennis Club and Squash Club. There is a public dock for launching a boat and the bay is fringed by a reef, so it is great for swimming and snorkelling. Residents also love to jog and walk along the breezy road which follows the seashore and the beach is fun to explore. On windy days you will see a kaleidoscope of kitesurfer sails open up along the horizon. The South Sound coast, between the public dock and Pirates Lair, is a hub for avid windsurfers too.
You will find large family homes, most with pools, on Vienna Circle, Mary Read Crescent, The Avenue and Anne Bonny Crescent off South Sound Road. In the middle of South Sound, on a lovely stretch of white sandy beach, is Caribbean Paradise which has a pool, tennis court, numerous three-bedroom apartments and about ten very sought-after four-bedroom houses on the beach. Another very popular apartment complex in South Sound, particularly with young families, is the By The Sea apartment complex. It is very sociable and child friendly. At the far end of South Sound Road (away from George Town) is Old Crewe Road, where you will find Sunrise Apartments, Pine Crest Apartments and Elizabeth Villas. Rents in these complexes should be CI$1,400 and up per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
There are also a few upscale and fairly new developments like the San Sebastian town homes, The Boulevard, The Lakes and The Venetia, where you buy the land and the developer will build for you.
One thing worth taking into consideration is that there is no bus service to or from South Sound, so you will need some form of transportation if you choose to live in this area. Also, if you hire a helper to clean or look after your children, be aware that they will often have to walk most of the way to your house if they do not own a car.
Canal-front Living There are a number of waterways which cut inland from the North Sound creating canal subdivisions that are a very nice and a more affordable alternative to buying or renting a property directly on the oceanfront. If you are planning to buy a boat, you cannot beat the convenience of having a dock right in front of your home or apartment. There are 20 canal subdivisions in Grand Cayman, half of which can be found along the Seven Mile Beach corridor and West Bay and the other half run east from Prospect to North Sound Estates and the Cays in Rum Point. Canal subdivisions take time to mature and to be built-out and this will have a significant effect on the values that land and homes in these areas can command. Over time this will change as various subdivisions develop and it is something to think about when buying. The following is a pretty straightforward and honest overview of the various canal subdivisions which can be classed into 5 levels, 1 being the most expensive and 5 being the most affordable. Some subdivisions straddle two levels and this invariably depends on specific roads within the area and the quality of the homes and landscaping on those roads.
Level 1: Top of the line estate homes. Meticulously maintained with strong covenants and manned security gate. Vista Del Mar is the class of the field in this level because of its formal security and attention to maintenance. The most expensive non-beachfront homes are found here. Salt Creek is much smaller and is not as well developed as yet and so straddles the line. Camana Bay will probably fall within this level or straddle 1 and 2 when they begin to sell their canal homes. Land value ranges: US$550,000 – US$1,000,000.
Level 2: Excellent maintenance and services. Luxury homes with unmanned security gate and strong covenants. Crystal Harbour is the class of this field and has been one of the most actively developed canal subdivisions on Grand Cayman in recent years. New to Crystal Harbour is the upscale Crystal Cove and Cypress Pointe North developments. Britannia is fading a bit due to the loss of the Hyatt flag, but is still very well-regarded and a convenient living location. The Cayman Islands Yacht Club has benefitted the most from direct access via the Esterly Tibbetts Highway. One important consideration, if you are planning on buying land to build upon is that in both the Yacht Club and Crystal Harbour concrete pilings are required in the house foundations. This raises the cost of construction considerably. Land values range from US$550,00 – US$800,000.
Level 3: Good services with upper-middle class luxury homes. Well-maintained with good covenants. Canal Point is the class of this field followed by the Shores and Mangrove Point - all with unmanned security. Governor’s Harbour has lost its sheen due to there being no landscaping buffer from the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, and haphazard road maintenance, but could come back. Grand Harbour is the most conveniently located of the Eastern subdivisions and many of the homes here are high level properties. There are three distinct areas to Grand Harbour: the older and more developed side called South Reach, which is now a gated community, The Isles and The Estates, both of which have a lot of building going on right now. Its commercial area has been up and down and potential land use on remaining developer owned property is unknown. Patrick’s Island has some older and beautiful homes with mature landscaping and wide open basins. It also backs onto a huge sway of undeveloped land with numerous dyke roads cut into it which lead to the North Sound, via numerous in-land lakes, and are lovely for walking dogs and getting away from it all. Sunrise Landing rounds out this level. Both of these last subdivisions are popular with successful local entrepreneurs. No houses are built in the Cays yet. Land value ranges: US$300,000 – US$500,000.
Level 4: Decent services with mixed mid-level homes. Older subdivisions like Red Bay, Omega and Prospect all have their “good” and “not as good” sections with the nod going to Omega. As one of the newest projects, Newlands Sound has the potential to move higher but has no homes yet though land is for sale. Palm Heights in Snug Harbour has the benefit of looking across at Britannia, but this area contains mainly duplex properties. Land value ranges: US$150,000 – US$250,000. Canal subdivisions in this level: Palm Heights, Omega and Newlands Sound. Sunrise Landing and the Cays at Rum Point all straddle level 3 and 4. Prospect, Red Bay and North Sound Estates all straddle level 4 and 5.
Level 5: Minimal maintenance and either no covenants or not enforced. Mid- level to lower-value homes but most still to a very reasonable standard. All these subdivisions are similar. All are mixed quality developments. All the developers are now deceased, so there is no consistent ongoing maintenance responsibility. North Sound Estates is farther out but has been quite active due to pricing. Some homes are very nice but there is too much debris around keeping prices down. Best value in lower-priced canal subdivisions. Land value ranges: US$125,000 – US$200,000. Canal subdivisions in this level: Red Bay, Prospect and North Sound Estates, all of which straddle level 4 and 5, often depending on which street you are looking at.
Prospect & Red BayThis has been one of the fastest growing areas of the Cayman Islands as it has an extremely central location and is close to George Town, the schools and the Grand Harbour Shoppes. It is also a good straddling point between George Town and new Health City in East End.
Benefits to the area include having easy access to the Grand Harbour complex which has a large supermarket (Hurley’s Marketplace), various shops and restaurants and the Caribbean’s largest skate park, The Black Pearl. There is also a fun children’s play area with swings, a climbing frame and slides. Also in the Red Bay area are the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, King’s Sports Centre and Powerhouse Gym.
The commute to town (outside of rush hour) from this area is relatively quick (10 minutes), but traffic does get backed up during rush hour. Expect the regular commute at the height of rush hour to take 35 minutes, but you can shave 15 minutes off that time if you live at Grand Harbour. There are lots of residential homes in this area with a mix of inland, canal-front and ocean-front properties. Rents for inland 2-bed properties range from CI$1,200 to CI$1,600 per month, with canal and ocean front properties averaging CI$2,000 to $3,500 per month.
There are a couple of really nice areas to look out for in Red Bay and Prospect: the first is Old Prospect Point Road, a quiet beachfront community found on a winding road – that can be compared to Boggy Sands Road in West Bay – where long-time Cayman residents have built very exclusive million-dollar homes. The second area, called Patrick’s Island, is an upscale residential area with canal frontage, where land is still available and many desirable four and five-bedroom homes have been built. The third is Grand Harbour which is located immediately behind Hurley’s Shopping complex. It is a newer development that has all canal front homes: the south side of it, called South Reach, is now almost completely built-out and is a gated community, the Isles and the Estates, all have deep 1/3 acre plots and the area is about 1/2 developed with US$1.5M homes. There are a half dozen spec homes being built in this area and it is safe to say that this is a very active area in terms of new home construction. The last area with interesting developments is within walking distance of the Sailing Club.
With increasing demand for new properties in the Prospect and Red Bay areas, developers have come to realise that the things that are paramount to buyers include a property that has been built with good use of space, quality construction and finishings, great landscaping with shade trees and is good value for money.
West BayThis is a residential area at the top, western end of the Island. It is less expensive than George Town or Seven Mile Beach and there are some lovely homes and condominiums on or near the sea. The upscale, canal-front residential area called The Shores commands premium prices on rental and sales, as do properties on Boggy Sand Road, the last residential neighbourhood remaining on Seven Mile Beach. Popular West Bay condos which offer long-term rentals include Coconut Bay, Ocean Side Plantation and Villas Pappagallo. All of these properties are on the water. Jay Easterbrook, the developer of the Lighthouse Point which won the 2011 Governor’s Award is building a range of sustainable solar and environmentally friendly in-land and ocean-front homes in the area which will be offered for sale with a price range of CI$390,000 to CI$840,000 depending on the size and location. For more info call (345) 916 6326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Bay also has some wonderful restaurants including Calypso Grill, Cracked Conch, Macabuca, Osetra Bay and Ristorante Pappagallo. Tourist attractions like the Motor Museum, the Cayman Turtle Farm and both dolphin parks are also in West Bay. Diving from the Cracked Conch restaurant and from Lighthouse Point nearby is also very popular. Divetech, the on-site dive shop at Lighthouse Point is very friendly and will explain where nearby dive sites are and they can also take you to the Kittiwake wreck.
You can also go horseback riding and bicycling along a rugged and little travelled beach called Barkers National Park, which spans part of the northern tip of West Bay. Barkers Beach is a nice area to get away from it all and is popular with dog walkers and kite surfers. Please note the area is always closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic from sunset to sunrise.
The Esterly Tibbetts Highway now runs into the heart of West Bay and has made a significant difference to the commute time to downtown George Town. It currently takes about 20 minutes to drive from West Bay to George Town.
George Town (GT)George Town is the capital of the Cayman Islands. It is located on the southwest corner of Grand Cayman and is a busy port, with an influx of several cruise ships almost daily and cargo ships unloading most evenings. The main roads in George Town are North and South Church Street, which run through town parallel to the sea. Walkers Road has most of the schools on it and also many residential properties. Smith Road, Shedden Road and Eastern Avenue cut through town and run down to the waterfront roads off North and South Church Street.
Most of the properties in George Town are mid-range in price. It is a good area to live if you have school-aged kids as the main school areas are on Smith Road and Walkers Road and are literally five minutes from the town centre. Also, with increasing traffic levels, it means you will avoid the main rush-hour traffic jams (the routes in from West Bay/Seven Mile Beach and the Eastern Districts are slow-moving at peak times). Private prep and high schools in this area include St. Ignatius Catholic School, Cayman Prep and High School, Triple C, Cayman Academy and Truth for Youth.
One very nice area off Walkers Road where houses occasionally come up for sale (and are quickly snapped up) is the upscale Webster’s Estates. All the homes sit on larger than usual plots, have mature shade trees, large gardens and are architect designed. No apartment complexes have been allowed to be built in Webster’s Estates, so there is a nice community and family-feel to the area.
On the apartment front, there are many condominiums for rent (or sale) off Walkers Road starting at CI$650 for a studio, CI$950 for a one-bedroom apartment and CI$1,400–CI$2,000 for a two-bedroom unit. Some of these apartments look and feel dated, so it is worth looking around and not getting discouraged, as there are some gems as well. This area has a variety of offerings, some are really nice and some are older and cheaper.
A few of the nicer options in this area include the townhomes at The Retreats - Sunset, Garden, Coco and Mystic Retreats and also the L’Ambience complex off Fairbanks Road. The latter has a multitude of mature shade trees, lush landscaping, two pools and huge communal grassy areas. These are family orientated complexes and pets are allowed.
In 2014 two very high-end developments were completed, Casa Luna and Oceana. Both are on the waterfront and offer luxury living for about $1.8m upwards.
Savannah, Lower Valley, Newlands, & Pedro St. James This is another area with both inland and canal-front properties. Sunrise Landings and North Sound Estates (both canal-front areas) fall within Savannah and Lower Valley. Both areas are very popular with young families as land is still affordable. The usual properties for rent and sale in this area are family homes on larger plots with good-sized gardens. Prices are usually in the mid-range. The commute times have improved since the East-West Arterial Road opened, but it still slows down significantly near Prospect and then crawls all the way to George Town and the schools.
There are many mature trees and open areas in Savannah. From late May to early August the poinciana trees (of which the area has an overwhelming abundance) flower and the sight as you drive through Savannah is breathtaking. Also located in Savannah is Pedro St. James Castle, a national historical site, and oldest existing structure in Cayman. It is known as the “Birthplace of Democracy in the Cayman Islands”. Today it is lovely to walk around the Great House’s grounds while slipping back in time to Cayman’s early days.
Countryside Shopping Village, located at the roundabout where the road intersects between Savannah, Pedro and the entrance to Newlands, has improved shopping in the area significantly. This village of shops has a supermarket, CNB bank, large pharmacy, medical clinic, a liquor store, hardware store, gym, several restaurants and a few other useful stores, which mean residents in the area no longer have to drive to Grand Harbour or to town for everyday essentials.
Beach BayBeach Bay is on the right just before you get to Bodden Town. It has one of the highest elevations on the Island and was not flooded during hurricane Ivan. If you drive all the way down Beach Bay Road you get to Sea Spray Drive. Along this coastal road are some fabulous houses and apartments. One end of the road has a very private, although a bit rocky beach, and the sunsets over the bluff at the other end of the coast road are amazing. The rents here range from high to exclusive.
Bodden TownThose who venture out to Bodden Town love it. It is on the beach, away from the centre of it all and the rents are in the low to mid-range. The community still has the feel of a small Caribbean town, with a mixture of locals and expats living alongside one another. The beaches are rustic, usually littered with driftwood and dried turtle grass and are lovely places for walking dogs. Although the impression of a long commute may keep the faint of heart away from Bodden Town, it takes just 20–25 minutes to reach George Town if you leave early or late enough (leave before 7am or after 8.30am and come home before 4.30pm or after 7pm).
Frank Sound & CottageFrank Sound is an area which crosses the Island as you drive towards Rum Point. It has affordable homes with large properties, the land is very fertile and there are many mature shade and fruit trees. It is quite beautiful, especially after the rainy season. Another huge bonus of this area is the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and the Mastic Trail, both of which are wonderful to explore, and are located just off Frank Sound Road. It is also the location of the new Clifton Hunter High School which has amazing facilities.
North Side & East EndThis is a beautiful and historical part of the Island. On the way to these eastern districts you will pass Pedro St. James’ Castle in Pedro, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park in Frank Sound and the Wreck of the Ten Sails in Gun Bay. The residents in North Side and East End are said to be the friendliest in Cayman. The coast is dotted with sandy beaches littered with bleached coral and dried turtle grass washed ashore by previous storms. After a strong nor’wester it is really nice to walk along the beach to see what treasures have been washed ashore. The commute time from either East End or North Side to George Town will take at least 40 minutes (without traffic).
Nice restaurants in the area include Over the Edge, in the village of Old Man Bay, which serves great local seafood cooked with a French influence. Catch of the day is always good as is their shrimp cooked in a Chablis sauce. Their wine list is very limited, so it is worthwhile taking your own wine for a CI$13 corkage charge. Other restaurants include Kurt’s Corner, run by PPM politician Kurt Tibbetts. This restaurant shines at the weekends with excellent local specials such as grilled fish, stew beef and oxtail. There is also an Italian restaurant located by Foster’s supermarket in East End called The Italian Kitchen, which provides good basic Italian cooking, but is not open for lunch and doesn’t take reservations for the evening. In the heart of East End there is Tukka, which is an Australian/Caymanian fusion seafood restaurant, and the new addition is Eagle Rays, which is run by the same guy that owns Tukka and is located at Ocean Frontiers. Finally Vivine’s Kitchen, which is located on the water, is a rustic little restaurant with tables set up in Miss Vivine’s garden where she serves up very good local food. It is packed on Sundays. Fun things to do in the area include: diving with Ocean Frontiers, walking the Mastic Trail (bring bug spray and walking shoes), snorkelling off the north coast (remember it is a marine park so don’t break anything off or take anything home with you), beach combing deserted beaches, kiteboarding, sailing or having a ride on White Sand Sports’ new exhilarating Jetovator - twenty minutes of flying time costs US$99 and you can find them at The Reef Resort.
North Side LivingLife on the North Coast involves a long list of trade-offs. The distance from town, which has helped keep the old time Cayman lifestyle, is also a pain for trips to Seven Mile Beach, the airport etc. The prevalent onshore trade winds, which bring cool temperatures most of the year, also bring salt to coat windows and attack electronics. On the flipside, the lack of neighbours means that the night sky provides brilliant star viewing due to the lack of ambient light.
Living in North Side mainly feels like being perpetually on vacation. Almost every house, drive or walk involves a sea view and holiday atmosphere. This feeling is accentuated due to the fact that many houses are owned by long-term visitors, who have been visiting Cayman on vacation regularly for twenty or thirty years. Others are short term vacationers staying at The Retreat, Island Houses or Kaibo Yacht Club Villas. Residents of other districts, particularly boat owners, often go for staycations in Rum Point/Kaibo houses, especially over long weekends. Many full-time residents are also retired so very few North-siders actually commute into town to work. The journey takes about fifty minutes, but obviously depends on rush hour traffic. Other residents work locally, primarily in the tourist/hospitality industry. All those snowbirds need somebody to manage their rentals and look after their cars and boats while they are off-island.
Being relatively far from town means that some forward planning is needed for routine activities. Without a list one is doomed to “pop back” at least as far as Countryside Shopping Village to pick up forgotten items. Organise your errands to make sure to get all your banking, shopping and other business done on one day.
Socially, there is a large cross-section of society making up the district of North Side. With relatively few bars to frequent, the rich (if not famous) rub shoulders with the rest of the world. Nobody cares who you are, only if you have something interesting to say! A great advantage of living in a small community like North Side is the village atmosphere; go to any bar or restaurant in the neighbourhood and you will know the staff, they will know you and you will also know many of the other clientele. The other side of village life is that your business is public property and virtually nothing that happens is a secret. If you don’t mind a cameo appearance in a slow moving Caribbean reality TV soap opera, then living in North Side is definitely for you!
Rum PointRum Point has a beautiful stretch of beach and faces the North Sound. It has shade, clear waters, exclusive million dollar homes and some more affordable condos. The Rum Point Club can be reached by car or private boat and is a great place to hang out in hammocks, eat lunch at a picnic table and swim or snorkel in the safe and shallow water right in front of the sun lounger area. On Sundays the place is jammed and sometimes up to 50 boats are moored off the beach competing for the loudest music system! The Rum Point Restaurant is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday and it is possible to catch Red Sail Sports’ 65’ catamaran to dinner. Other nice things to do in the area include paddleboarding, waterskiing, kayaking, sailing and taking a boat to the Sandbar to see the stingrays. White Sand Watersports offers a daily sunrise trip to Stingray City Sandbar. The boat leaves from the dock at Kaibo at 7am. It spends an hour at the Sandbar (the total time a commercial boat can anchor at the Sandbar) and you will be greeted by a deserted Sandbar save for a fever of hungry stingrays. Make sure to book well in advance as it is incredibly popular. You can also fly fish the mini sandbar on the Eastern side of the lagoon entrance and take a bioluminescence kayak tour with Cayman Kayaks on a moonless night.
The commute to George Town will take just under an hour, although a couple of residents commute by boat across the North Sound but this means you have to leave a car at either end. The nearest supermarket is Foster’s Food Fair opposite The Reef Resort in East End, but it is quite small and you might still feel you need to make the journey to the Foster’s grocery store in the Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah or George Town once a week.
Cayman KaiCayman Kai is just beyond Rum Point. There is a holiday home feel about the area and life is centred around the beach. There are many luxurious houses and a few upscale apartments on the water. Prices in this area are high for large private homes but there are two-bed condos at the Kaibo Yacht Club which rent for CI$2,000 per month. Some residents treat themselves by renting a house or condo here for the weekend. Call Cayman Villas (Tel: (345) 945 4144) to see what vacation rentals they have available. Great restaurants include the chilled out Kaibo Bar & Grill and the smarter Upstairs Restaurant which has a superb rum collection and a tasting menu with wine pairing. Kaibo also sells ice, some basic groceries and fuel for cars and boats. The commute into George Town at rush hour will take at least an hour.
RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN CAYMAN BRAC
The most easterly of the Cayman Islands, the Brac, is about 12 miles in length and just over a mile in width. Early Scottish fishermen who settled here gave the Island its name. Brac is Gaelic for bluff,; named after the limestone ridge that runs down the centre of the Island reaching an elevation of 140ft at the eastern end - the highest point on all three islands.
The friendly Brackers share their island with over 200 bird species and numerous iguanas. The dramatic scenery and rugged terrain boasts a plethora of hidden caves and winding trails to explore, the atmosphere is tranquil, crime is almost non-existent and the people are friendly and welcoming. It is also famous for its superb diving. While most of the hotels and resorts are found on the south side of the Island, the majority of long-term residents live on the north shore, of the West End.
In Cayman Brac’s West End you will find the airport, two grocery stores, a gas station and couple of condo complexes in this area. As mentioned above, the north shore of the West End has the highest population of residents on the Island. The famous Russian wreck dive, M.V. Capt. Keith Tibbetts, lies just offshore. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism Information Centre is located here, as well as the Islands only airport: Charles Kirkconnell International Airport.
On the north side, Stake Bay roughly refers to the middle section of the island. Stake Bay is the capital of the Island, where the main Government building, the hospital and the museum are located, and as such constitutes the official town. There is also a grocery store here.
The Island’s gentle ascent eventually leads to the limestone cliffs which are its namesake. A lighthouse crowns the 150ft tall seaside edge of the bluff, providing beautiful ocean views. The birds circling overhead may eventually lead you back inland to the ancient woodlands of the Brac Parrot Reserve. It is home to many endemic flora and fauna species of the Cayman Islands.
There has been a significant increase in housing developments on the Bluff.
Continue east to Watering Place, Creek and Spot Bay and you’ll find a true Cayman Brac welcome. “Mom and Pop” stores and small local restaurants showcase authentic souvenirs and traditional Caymanian fare. The Cayman Brac Heritage House is located between Creek and Spot Bay and compliments the Cayman Brac Museum, offering re-enactments of our country’s past, with displays showing how islanders of the past used natural resources to create houses and tools.
RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN LITTLE CAYMAN
Little Cayman is truly little. Ten miles in length and one in width, it harbours a permanent population of fewer than 200. Even though it is a mere blip on the radar, the Island is a formidable destination for diving and offers some relaxing pursuits such as beach-combing, bird watching, bone-fishing and chilling in a hammock.
The Island does not have a town as such, but the Island’s only grocery store, gas station, bank and clinic are all located near the Edward Bodden Airfield on the west.
The Island’s most famous diving destinations, the Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson Wall, are both on the north side of this end and are easily accessible to divers staying at any of the resorts or villas in the area. Paradise Villas is the closest, but there are other good options including the Southern Cross Club, Pirates Point Resort, Little Cayman Beach Resort and The Conch Club. Most of the accommodations are within walking distance of Edward Bodden Airfield. The South Hole is also the only Ramsar site in the Cayman Islands (an internationally recognised important wetland) and home to the red-footed booby bird. The indigenous Sister Islands’ Rock Iguana also roams freely on the island.
Heading up the road away from South Hole, the Island becomes more and more of a deserted paradise. South Hole Sound is at the border of the two areas, and the beautiful South Shore provides stunning views on the way to Point of Sand at the eastern end of the Island, where you can gaze across the water towards Cayman Brac. Heading back on the northern side you will pass by Crawl Bay and Jackson Point. Point of Sand is located at the very tip of Little Cayman and is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. The sea is crystal clear and incredibly inviting. Just don’t swim there after dusk - sharks also love this spot!
Copyright 2015 The Resident Magazine 2015. All rights reserved.
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