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 to expats wishing to spend their life in the Bahamas: from luxurious amenities to a back-to-the-roots type of life. But an expat’s life is not just fun and play, which is why you should learn more about the Bahamas before packing your bags and boarding a plane.
While this Caribbean country consists of 700 islands, there are only about 321,000 people living in the Bahamas. The official language is English, making it easy for expats and travelers alike to feel at home there. However, French and Creole are also spoken among the black majority of the population and among Haitian immigrants. 84% of all people living in the Bahamas have settled in the big cities like Nassau or Freeport.
The country is a Commonwealth realm with a constitutional parliamentary democracy. It is divided into 31 different districts for administrative purposes. Ever since its independence from the UK in 1973, life in the Bahamas follows a common law system based on the English model. Still today, Queen Elizabeth II is 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 consists of the senate with 16 seats and the House of Assembly with 41 seats. Only the members of the latter are elected in 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.
What you should keep in mind before renting or buying a house or apartment in the Bahamas is that hurricanes and tropical storms are often the cause for major damage. You should thus make sure to move into a home which is sturdily built and figure out how much of the potential damage the landlord will be responsible for.
In addition, overcrowding is a huge problem of life in the Bahamas. Thus, housing may be hard to find and the rents are usually quite high. Since 2001, the government has taken 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.
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