When you are considering moving to the Cayman Islands there are always a number of questions that are asked regarding long-term accommodation. If you have decided that you are in the market to rent a property rather than to purchase then the information below should be a good starting point for you.
WHEN TO ARRIVE
This may seem like a strange thing to consider, but when you bare in mind that most leases and availability begins on the first of the month, then planning ahead makes sense. We usually recommend that new arrivals have temporary accommodation arranged for a week to 10 days when they first arrive. This is sufficient time to get a feel for the island, view properties with your agent and secure a place with all the necessary documentation needed to get in into your new home. Many companies actually pay for this temporary accommodation so ask ahead.
APARTMENT OR HOUSE?
The first thing that you need to decide is whether you want to rent a house or an apartment. Generally speaking, a home is going to be more expensive than an apartment but there are some good deals around at the moment.
However, a house is normally more suitable for a family than an apartment, often with more privacy and more room for children to play. This does some times incur extra expenses such as yard and pool maintenance so make sure to check.
Living in an apartment is an easy way to meet people, they are more likely to have extra amenities such as a pool or tennis courts, and are generally more readily available.
START UP COSTS
There are a number of general rules of thumb to follow when renting a property.
Rent is always paid in advance.
All Landlords require a security deposit, which is at least equal to one months rent regardless of the rental value of the property. This money is held by the owner for the term of the lease and is refundable subject to any deductions for damage not withstanding normal wear and tear. Any interest accrued will be in favour of the owner.
The utility, cable and phone company will all require deposits as well:
Electric - CI0 per bedroom or 0 along 7 Mile Beach for a unit in access of 1100 square feet.
Water - Water Authority - at owners discretion, but usually CI0.
Cayman Water - no deposit.
Cable - CI hook up fee which is non refundable.
Telephone - CI0 deposit for an overseas line.
There are very few properties that are listed that are unfurnished. Of those that are, appliances are nearly always provided. Always double check about blinds/ window treatments.
Generally speaking properties are either furnished: -appliances, hard furnishings, window treatments, beds, mattresses, etc. or fully furnished: - all of the above plus bed linens, bathroom linens, and kitchen crockery and equipment.
Televisions, stereos and VCR's are a separate issue so always inquire, though televisions and microwaves are becoming the standard.
Remember if the property is only furnished, the purchasing of those extra items will add to your start up costs. Some people do choose to travel with these items as there is a large allowance for personal belongs before duty is paid. This only applies if you have a work permit / residency in place, if the belongings are more than 6 months old, and if they are brought in within the first 6 months. Do bare in mind that if you bring them with you, and the property you pick is fully furnished, you may have to store them yourselves.
Ocean/beach front properties are going to cost you the most amount of money. If you are willing to live close to the beach but not on it, you can get very nice properties at more reasonable rates. Canal front properties are also a good alternative.
Snug Harbour, South Sound, Parkway, and Governors Harbour are all areas that have apartments and homes, in nice residential areas close to town, the beach and all amenities.
Prospect is an area 10 minutes from town that more and more people are moving to. Many new homes and apartments are springing up there, and a new shopping centre and supermarket is now complete. There are also plans for a 6- screen movie theatre and eventually, a water park.
The districts of West Bay, and Bodden Town are both within about 20 minutes of George Town, and have cheaper, more traditional style homes. Wherever you live in Cayman, you will never be too far from the sea, shops, a bus route and will always feel safe.
Electricity is not cheap on the island, because of the usage of air conditioning. Most of the newer properties actually have split zones, which make them more economical. An apartment that has the air running permanently is going to run bills up to about 0-0 a month. However, by only using it in an evening, or during the summer months the bills will average between 0 and 0.
Water is not too bad here in Cayman. It is drinkable but most people prefer to drink bottled water. Average bills for families of 4, with lots of laundry can be around 0, but most couples will only pay around a month. Along Seven Mile Beach properties also incur a sewage charge. Check with your agent who is responsible at your property for the bill.
Cable runs to .95 per month not including pay per view options. There are 4 movie channels, 2 sports channels, all the networks and so forth. An additional 4 channel package at an extra charge can now be added. Some apartment complexes have a package deal with the cable company offering a discounted rate. Check with your agent.
Some units now offer satellite TV with the tenants choosing their own packages. This usually gives you about 60 channels starting at around per month.
It is worth checking out prior to signing a lease agreement just who is responsible for those little extra things we often forget about. For example, sewage, garbage collection, regular yard and pool maintenance, the servicing of air conditioning systems and quarterly pest control. As a general rule an owner will normal include these services as part of the lease agreement for peace of mind but you should always clarify prior to signing.
PETS And CHILDREN
Unfortunately, many owners are overly cautious when renting their properties and put restrictions on their tenants. It is generally difficult to find apartments that allow cats and dogs as many have management (strata) by-laws preventing them. It is getting easier as times go by and smaller complexes and private homes are more reasonable. Even if owners of these properties place restrictions on pets and occasionally small children, these restrictions can sometimes be over-come by offering a larger damage/security deposit, usually around an additional 0.00.
The winter or "dry" season, which traditionally runs from December 15th through April 15th, has always been the busiest time of year, with tourists, new residents and employees all descending in a short period of time. Many new employees especially seasonal workers begin arriving in September. Accounting staff and bankers tend to come in October, and once into December, it can get very difficult to find good accommodation at a reasonable rent. Many seasonal staff and teachers begin to leave in May through June, with the next batch arriving in July and August. Many current residents use this time to look around for new accommodation or just to catch up with the market changes.
With the recent opening of St. Matthews Medical College the island has seen a huge influx of new tenants with a turn over every semester keeping tenants, landlords and agents all on their toes.
Public transport has recently been regulated in the Cayman Islands. There is now a bus service that runs to each of the main areas of the island making getting around that much easier. They are abundant during rush hours. They are usually only a couple of dollars regardless of where you want to go. There are a few official bus stops around but it is easier just to flag one down when you see it approaching, (single deck mini buses) and they will normally drop you at a spot that is mutually convenient.
There are a large number of taxis operating on the island, and like the buses, these are regulated, with a central committee fixing the more than reasonable fares. These can again be flagged down or the numbers for them can be found in the local phone books. Cars are readily available on the island, new and second hand due to the transient population. Bringing your own vehicle from overseas can be an option but duty charges vary between 25-40% depending on the value of the vehicle, regardless of age and when it is brought down.