Living in the Bahamas?
Living in the Bahamas
Ever since Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492, the 700 islands and more than 2,000 cays have been the destination of choice for smugglers, pirates, and adventurers. The archipelago has a lot to offer expats: from luxurious amenities to a back-to-the-roots kind of life. But an expat’s life is not just fun and games, which is why you should learn more about your destination before packing your bags and boarding a plane.
Taking a Look into the Bahamian Society
Although this Caribbean country consists of 700 islands, there are only about 393,000 people living in the Bahamas, and 83% of those have settled in urban areas and big cities like Nassau or Freeport. The official language is English, making it easy for expats and travelers alike to feel at home straight away. There is no lack of linguistic diversity, however, as French and Creole are also spoken among the black majority of the population and among Haitian immigrants.
The country is a Commonwealth realm with a constitutional parliamentary democracy. It is divided into 32 different districts for administrative purposes. Even though the Bahamas has been independent from the UK since 1973, the legal system is still based on the English common law model. Queen Elizabeth II remains the chief of state, as represented by a governor general. This position is hereditary and the governor general is appointed by the monarch. The bicameral Parliament is made up of the senate with 16 seats and the House of Assembly with 38 seats. Only the members of the latter are elected in the Bahamas.
The Real Estate Market of the Bahamas
There are no restrictions for expats living in the Bahamas who wish to buy property. In fact, many new developments in the main tourist destinations like Nassau or Paradise Island are bought by foreigners, either as a vacation get-away or to receive preferential visa treatment. With a Home Owners Resident Card, the home-owner and his immediate family have the option to legally reside in the Bahamas for the duration of validity of this card. As an alternative, you may also apply for an annual residence permit for living in the Bahamas.
You might find the most exciting real estate options in Nassau. Lyford Cay, Ocean Club Estates on Paradise Island, Old Fort near Lyford Cay, and Port New Providence are the most popular living areas. Of course, it is also possible to rent an apartment or a house while living in the Bahamas. There are expensive holiday units which can be rented for a short term only, and then there is of course usual residential housing.
Advice for the Housing Search
Before renting a house or apartment, bear in mind that hurricanes and tropical storms frequently cause major damage on the islands. Make sure you move into a home which is sturdily built and work out how much of the potential damage the landlord will be responsible for.
Overcrowding is another problem in the Bahamas. Housing may therefore be hard to find and the rents are usually quite high. Since 2001, the government has begun to take measures to create more housing space for locals and expats alike. However, you should still plan to spend a bigger part of your budget on your housing. Try the Bahamas Real Estate Association for a list of reliable agencies and realtors — two that are popular among expats are Coldwell Banker and Bahamas Realty.
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