Cayman New Resident
AL Thompson
The definitive guide to living and working in the Cayman Islands
Nov 23, 2014 

Moving Considerations

Last updated: 28th August 2013

Moving to Cayman may be one of the most exciting decisions of your life but there are a lot of details to consider and take care of before you arrive on the Island, move into your new home, unpack your belongings, start your job and then finally put your feet in the sand. The whole process can be overwhelming but hopefully we can help you feel more comfortable by laying out the steps you will have to take.

We give some tips on getting to Cayman, things to consider before signing an employment contract and set out the cost of living in Cayman. Then, to help you understand the moving process and getting all your belongings here, we explain the three main options you have.

Gateways to Cayman
The main gateway to Cayman is Miami, with at least four flights per day between the two gateways. You can also catch a flight from Atlanta, Bahamas, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Havana, Houston, Jamaica, La Ceiba, London, Newark, New York, Orlando, Tampa and Toronto. The national carrier is Cayman Airways and the country is very proud of the service that it provides.

Other airlines that service Cayman are Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Jet Blue, US Airways and WestJet. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are serviced by Cayman Airways Express. Please note that some airlines and destinations only operate in high season which is generally from December to April.

Grand Cayman's Owen Roberts International airport is a relatively busy airport for a Caribbean island; they receive over 5,000 commercial international flights per year, over 1,500 international private jets land per year and there are over 2,500 flights between the Sister Islands per year.

Cost of Flights
The average cost of a return ticket from Miami is US$400, from New York US$570 and from London US$1,200. Also, please note that these are average prices and will vary according to high or low season.

Flying Time to Cayman
The flying time from Miami to Grand Cayman is 1 hour and 5 minutes. The journey from London takes 10 hours (including 45 minutes on the tarmac in Nassau) on the British Airways direct flight. From Toronto the flight time is four hours.

Special Services
If you want to ensure your arrival or departure from Cayman is as stress-free as possible, here are a few reliable companies that offer special services to help you through arrivals and departures.

Grand Limousine Services
Tel: (345) 943 5466
Offers airport transportation in luxury and style. They are also available for all special events.

Island Air
Tel: (345) 949 5252
An aviation service for private and chartered aircraft, also offers a VIP meet and greet service. This service includes full assistance with customs and immigration, luggage handling and chauffeured transportation to your new accommodation in Cayman. 

Tel: (345) 949 0944
Offers full airport arrival and departure services for individuals and groups, plus bus tours.

A Note on Time Zones
While the US employs daylight savings, the Cayman Islands, being nearer to the equator, has relatively equal periods of day and night year-round. There's really only about an hour difference in daylight between 20th June and 20th December, so Cayman keeps the same time all year (-5 hours Coordinated Universal Time).

This means the Islands share Eastern Standard Time (EST=-5 UTC) with Miami and New York from November to March. However, when the US switches to daylight savings time in March, Cayman then shares Central Daylight Time (CDT=-5 UTC) with Chicago and Houston.

This doesn't cause too much confusion and is automatically factored into airline tickets. But it's important to keep in mind if you're calling anyone on the East Coast of the US from March to November.

Before Signing Your Contract
When planning a move to the Cayman Islands you will need to know what to expect in terms of both the cost and the standard of living, as they may be very different from what you're accustomed to.

Since the process of moving can be very costly, find out what your employer will do to absorb or mitigate these costs. Bear in mind that the cost of living is very high in Cayman (see the Cost of Living tables later in this section). Unless you are moving from an expensive city such as London or New York, you may discover that everything from groceries and electricity bills, to running a car and schooling your children will cost significantly more. Below are some questions that you may want to ask your  new employer before you accept a job offer
  • Cost of Shipping - Will the company contribute towards transporting your personal items to Cayman?
  • Accommodation & Renting a Car - Will the company provide you with a place to live and rental car for your first month on the Island? See the Finding a Home section for a list of temporary accommodation options.
  • Cost of Setting Up Your Life in Cayman - It is worth being completely aware of the costs of setting up a home in Cayman. For example you will have to buy a car and pay for a year's worth of car insurance; pay deposits on a house or apartment including deposits on getting your electricity, water, telephone and cable TV set up. You will have to take a driving test and pay for a driving license. For a couple without children we estimate this to be just under CI$10,000 but for a couple with children we estimate it to be closer to CI$23,000, and more if you don't want the most basic of cars.
  • The Currency of Your Salary - What currency will your salary be paid in? If in US dollars, is it at the going rate? For example you might think US$60,000 is a fair salary for a qualified accountant, but it's actually only CI$49,200 in Cayman dollars and the cost of living is greater than in the US. Be aware that you will pay for almost everything in CI dollars, so if you are paid in US dollars you are better off taking the money you need out of the bank in CI dollars (when the conversion will be at .82) than paying for something at a store with US dollars at a conversion of .80. On a salary of US$60,000 per year you will be saving CI$1,200 per year.
  • Health Insurance - This is compulsory. Ask if your company will be covering more than 50% of the basic plan required by law. Premium health insurance coverage for a family can be at least CI$1,000 per month. Also, check to see if your health insurance will be basic or premium coverage and if it covers dental, optical and maternity care. Though the law states you only need the basic plan, the premium plan is what you should seriously consider for better coverage. 
  • Vacation Time - How many weeks of annual holiday does your contract provide for? There is a disparity in Cayman between companies which offer only the US system of 10 working days per year and others which offer 3-4 weeks. Be sure to ask! 
  • Can Your Children Join You? - Unless you are guaranteed to earn a minimum of CI$3,500 per month, you will not be allowed to have your children join you in Cayman. See the Immigration section for more information.
Cayman Currency
The Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$) is tied to the US Dollar and does not fluctuate. The exchange rate is CI$1 = US$1.20. The cash exchange rate is CI$1 = US$1.25 which means that US$20 cash is worth CI$16 or US$5 is worth CI$4. US Dollars are accepted everywhere as are travellers cheques. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted and there are ATMs throughout Grand Cayman. Currency denominations are as follows: CI$1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 dollar bills.

Weights, Measures & Temperature
Cayman uses the US system of miles for distances and mph for speed, inches for length, and pounds for measuring weight. Petrol is sold by the Imperial gallon. In terms of body temperature, the medical community uses Fahrenheit (°F), and not Centigrade (°C).

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