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Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Old Jun 30th 2016, 9:21 pm
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Default Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Hello everyone,
Would be most grateful if somebody can give me a realistic assessment of my prospects of saving some money in the Cayman Islands.

Just for the purpose of giving some context: I am transferring to Cayman Islands with one of the large accountancy firms in January 2017 in a newly qualified role; I have calculated that the net monthly salary after the obligatory pension contributions & medical contributions would be about $5.5k USD. After the usual fixed costs (rent,utilities etc.) I think I'd have about $3.5k disposable for the month.

How much of this can I realistically aim to save ? I mean, I know that food & general stuff etc. is expensive... But it would be good to hear from people there the typical expenditure on food and general everyday subsistence costs. I have quite a large appetite and when I hear that a box of fish fingers costs about $6-8, the prospects of saving some money seem bleak. Am I being too optimistic with the hope of saving about $1.5k p/month?

Thanks in advance
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Old Jul 1st 2016, 7:12 am
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

LOL.... Sorryits just The idea of visiting the caribbean and buying fish fingers. I have a relative who visited and when confronted with 30ish varieties of beautiful fresh fish bought frozen salmon... Im sure mr barlow or other caymanites will be along soon with more practical local advice.
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Old Jul 1st 2016, 2:07 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Egg. Apart from the fact that you're a big eater who likes fish fingers, you've been pretty reticent about your life-style. So all I can say is that living in Cayman might cost you roughly what it costs you to live in wherever you live now. I take it for granted that you have read the online magazine "Cayman New Resident", and blogs (not mine) of people who live or have lived here. But if you're getting US$80K or so salary you shouldn't be in too much financial discomfort... That's a good wage anywhere in the world, especially for someone who's newly qualified.

Grenada. The fish-fingers topic would have originated with a show the BBC did a couple of months ago about Cayman - Britain's Trillion Dollar Paradise, or some such title - in which a new English expat housewife expressed horror at the price of one of Captain Birdseye's delicacies. Our supermarkets bring in a container of UK products once every six months or so. God knows how long they've been in cold storage before they're shipped!
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Old Jul 1st 2016, 4:10 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Many thanks for your responses guys. (Personally, I think fish fingers are great!)

Gordon, Yes, I have indeed read many of the articles/guides/blogs online as I was weighing my decision; its not a decision I took too lightly and have seen some of the typical costs associated with the standard things like initial vehicle outlay, rent for a one bed in George Town/SMB etc. which is why I projected a net disposable income of $3.5k.

But I just haven't seen any costs associated with lifestyle choices/local foods etc. Sorry if I am being a bit of a dummy here, so you're suggesting it would be cheaper to eat fresh & local produce? In terms of lifestyle, I think gym, playing in a football league, scuba diving and perhaps a bi-monthly drink would probably sum up the lifestyle I will embark upon...I know I won't be in any financial discomfort, but my aim is to save as much as possible whilst still enjoying the delights the Island has to offer.
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Old Jul 1st 2016, 4:38 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Originally Posted by EGG_101 View Post
I know I won't be in any financial discomfort, but my aim is to save as much as possible whilst still enjoying the delights the Island has to offer.
The thing is: how much one manages to save here depends entirely on how much one spends, which in turn depends on how wildly one wants to live. You would have to be thriftless indeed, not to save $20K a year on your fat salary. I really wouldn't worry about it. It's always worth taking a job in a tax-haven even if you didn't save a penny. Eating and drinking "out" are expensive, and maintaining a high-priced car, and going on holidays.
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Old Jul 2nd 2016, 4:34 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Thank you for the input and ballpark figure Gordon, it is most greatly received.
I guess it's not just about saving, but also being able to enjoy the new life experiences that will come with this fantastic opportunity.
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Old Jul 2nd 2016, 5:29 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Originally Posted by EGG_101 View Post
I guess it's not just about saving, but also being able to enjoy the new life experiences that will come with this fantastic opportunity.
Fifty years ago - aged 27 and newly married - my wife and I moved from Canada to Nassau, Bahamas. While our friends splurged on eating and drinking out, we entertained at home and spent every long weekend visiting other islands in the neighbourhood. We lived on her teachers' salary and saved most of my accountants' salary. After three years we announced our retirement. Of course it didn't last long... but the idea was good, and I mention it as an illustration of just how much can be saved when there's no income-tax deducted from wages! You will be very pleasantly surprised, I believe.
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 1:54 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow View Post
Fifty years ago - aged 27 and newly married - my wife and I moved from Canada to Nassau, Bahamas. While our friends splurged on eating and drinking out, we entertained at home and spent every long weekend visiting other islands in the neighbourhood. We lived on her teachers' salary and saved most of my accountants' salary. After three years we announced our retirement. Of course it didn't last long... but the idea was good, and I mention it as an illustration of just how much can be saved when there's no income-tax deducted from wages! You will be very pleasantly surprised, I believe.
Thanks for the insights Gordon. Forgive me for my nosiness, but what was so distinct about Cayman that made you want to stay and carve out a life there, when by the sounds of it you have been to other Caribbean Islands, which are presumably very similar.
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 2:55 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Originally Posted by EGG_101 View Post
... what was so distinct about Cayman that made you want to stay and carve out a life there, when by the sounds of it you have been to other Caribbean Islands, which are presumably very similar.
Well, first, Grand Cayman (the main island, where all the action is) is not like any of the other Caribbean islands I've been to. It's almost dead flat (the highest point is the town dump, at 80 feet), and not very pretty, and small (80 square miles). Most (though not all) of the other islands have mountains and rivers and are quite large. Also, two thirds of Cayman's residents are expats, who come from something like 100 different countries. Our government doesn't like too many from the same place; "Too many Jamaicans!" is a common complaint. Also, from time to time, "Too many Filipinos!" "Too many Brits!" "Too many Latinos!" "Too many foreign lawyers!"

We came here (from England, where we lived for a year) to replenish our finances after yet another failed attempt at permanent retirement (!), and it was such a wonderful place to bring up our two-year-old son that we prolonged the stay. I quit my job when the three years were up, and was a house-father for the next six years while my wife continued to work. We have had our problems here mainly because some of the local politicians tried long and hard to deport me for what they called subversive activities***, but apart from that it's been a peaceful place for us.
*** During my two-year stint as Manager of the local Chamber of Commerce, we fought off an attempt by the pols to introduce an income-tax, and they never forgave me for my part in the battle.
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 3:07 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Just to expand on gordons description of islands, caribbean islands come in several dimensions. You have to ask yourself -

Which country runs or till recently ran the place? This impacts education, language, architecture, whether the economy supports itself or [french] is subsidised by another place] even the cars driven, and sometimes the outlook of the locals.

How high is it? Mountainous caribbean islands are usually wetter, more fertile, prettier, and generate micro climates where its sunny on a beach and raining on the mountainous rainforest interior.

How big is it? Small island life has fewer choices of shops, but amazingly you can often get antything you need, just not 5 varieties.

Does it have a tourist economy? This skews prices of some things and changes some things in high season. If not, like tobago, it might be a weekend holiday place for the relatively well off trini [oil rich island] people

How easy is it to imigrate to the place? If its impossible, property is likely cheaper, if easy, lots of ex pats from places allowed to or from the old 'mother country.'

Last edited by uk_grenada; Jul 4th 2016 at 3:12 pm.
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 3:10 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

An american wrote 2 books about 20 years ago - how to live in the caribbean, and how to retire in the caribbean, both quite instructional. Eg, look at the education system, the smarter the general population, generally, the more stable and prosperous the place is.

Lots about how to choose a house or land for a house.
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 3:21 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Thank you for your respective inputs! I hadn't considered there was such a large disparity between the Caribbean Islands in terms of both natural & cultural factors considering they are situated so closely to one another...

I guess its a good thing because it does make visits to other places more interesting and less "Same-y" than the island you are currently living.

Grenada, yes I do intend to do a whole lot of reading up on the moving considerations prior & During the transfer: if you fail to plan, plan to fail and all that...
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 4:05 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Originally Posted by EGG_101 View Post
I hadn't considered there was such a large disparity between the Caribbean Islands in terms of both natural & cultural factors considering they are situated so closely to one another...
Yes, it's quite amazing how different the islands are from one another in culture. We all have our favourites, mainly based on personal experience. I have fond memories of visits to Grenada (really, really cute), Jamaica, Puerto Rico (although a friend of mine warned me against living there), and Martinique, and Haiti. I didn't see enough of Trinidad or Cuba or DR to be able to form an opinion. Never been to BVI or Belize or the Bay Islands of Honduras, or even Barbados, although I've met expats from all those places here in Cayman - and played cricket with some of them, back in the day.

Outside the Caribbean, the Bahamas archipelago has a fabulous variety, and we loved our time there those many years ago. Never been to TCI; it used to have a reputation as being anti-white, but I haven't heard much about that lately.

Anyway... you're coming to Cayman, and with the salary you'll be getting you ought to be able to afford visits to the islands with the cheapest air connections - Bahamas, Jamaica and the Bay Islands - if it's islands that turn you on.

Local taxes can be steep-ish, and there aren't too many that don't have income tax, if that's a factor. Anguilla, Cayman and TCI don't have any, and Bahamas only taxes salaries, I think.

EGG - did you send me a private message? If so, I wasn't able to open it. You could go to my Profile and find my email, if you want.
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 4:35 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Very interesting indeed. My intention, like you have already achieved, is to visit a number of different islands/territories. However, as mentioned I intend to exercise an element of prudency so I can actually save some money also. Indeed, one of the primary motivations for me choosing Cayman is that it is positioned so beautifully for someone with the intention of travelling around that part of the world. (but its a shame to here that the politics can be a little aggressive considering they were pursuing you on the basis of advocating your beliefs!)

Gordon I did not send a private message; it may have been me trying to the link to your blog so that I am not asking questions you have already answered on the web (or someone else trying to extract from the goldmine of info you are!).
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Old Jul 4th 2016, 6:16 pm
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Default Re: Realistic prospect of saving on island?

Originally Posted by EGG_101 View Post
Indeed, one of the primary motivations for me choosing Cayman is that it is positioned so beautifully for someone with the intention of travelling around that part of the world. (but its a shame to here that the politics can be a little aggressive considering they were pursuing you on the basis of advocating your beliefs!)

Gordon I did not send a private message...
Sorry to confuse the issue re the private message. It was somebody else.

Sorry to tell you, but Cayman is not actually convenient for visits in the region. Except for Kingston, La Ceiba (Honduras), Havana and Nassau, the only way to get anywhere is via Miami or some other US gateway. Our family visits to Norway are via Nassau and LHR every time. I would guess that you will be coming that way; we call it "the direct flight". Via Miami is OK, but the TSA/Immigration business there is a pain in the neck.

My wife and I intend to spend a few weeks in Mexico later in the year, and because I don't fly through the USA we will have to go via Havana. Each time she's been, she's gone via Miami. We could go via La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa, but that could take us two days to reach our destination. Charters to Panama, Costa Rica and Belize are rare and unreliable!
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