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2020 guide: Cost of living in the Cayman Islands

By Sue Nickason

Living in a tropical paradise like the Cayman Islands is the aspiration for people looking to escape fast-paced urban lifestyles and cold climates. What often starts as a vacation quickly turns into the desire to live in the Cayman Islands full time. Determining how to fulfil that goal usually starts with research, such as learning how to buy real estate on Grand Cayman, and determining what it costs to live in the Cayman Islands.

How much does it cost to live in the Cayman Islands?

Here are some general indicators on what it costs to live in the Cayman Islands in 2020. All prices are expressed in US dollars and were compiled in March 2020. These prices will vary by service provider/vendor and market conditions, should be used as general indicators only, and are subject to change.

Cost of living graphic
  • Real estate prices

As in any market, real estate prices will vary according to location, property type, and prevailing economic conditions. Most people looking to relocate to the Cayman Islands dream of living on or near globally acclaimed Seven Mile Beach. There has been increasing demand for Grand Cayman properties for sale in the Seven Mile Beach corridor in recent years and ready supply of properties for sale has been contracting.

Prices for condos located directly on Seven Mile Beach increased an average of 25 percent from 2018 to 2019 and, as a result, most newer condos are now selling for at least $1,000/square foot. House prices in the Seven Mile Beach area, particularly popular Grand Cayman neighbourhoods such as Crystal Harbour and the Yacht Club, typically start at $1 million and up.

For those who prefer to rent instead of own property, online research portal Expatistan reports that the average rental price per month for a family of four is $7,000 and $4,000 for a single person. These prices generally reflect prime market areas; in other parts of Grand Cayman, such as East End and North Side, property prices for sale and for rent will be lower.

There are no annual property taxes in the Cayman Islands. A one-time stamp tax (land transfer fee) of seven and a half percent is charged on all property transactions (paid for by the purchaser). There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of land in the Cayman Islands and no alien land-holding licenses.

  • Transportation costs

At 22 miles long and at most two miles wide in some areas, one of the benefits of living on Grand Cayman is the short distances travelled from home to office and daily activities. Most households have at least one vehicle, although public transportation is already readily available.

  • Education and tuition fees

Education is free for all Caymanian citizens. Expatriates must enroll their children in a government-recognised private school. There are several such schools on Grand Cayman offering the choice of British or American curricula. Tuition fees at these schools range from $12,500 for preschool up to $26,000 per year for high school (source: Cayman Resident).

  • Healthcare prices

Health insurance from a government-recognised provider is mandatory for all Cayman residents. Employers are required to pay for a minimum 50 percent of employee health insurance premiums based on the lowest cost plan available to staff. Plans range in price from $200 a month for a basic plan to $1,100 a month for a comprehensive plan that includes dental and vision coverage.

  • Home utilities expenses

Utility costs vary by household usage patterns and by the quality of the property construction; newer built homes in the Cayman Islands tend to feature sustainable designs in an effort to reduce energy consumption and costs.

The two main operating costs for a household are water and electricity. Water costs $23 per 1,000 US gallons. Electricity costs are approximately 33 cents per kilowatt hour (after delivery fees are added). Other household costs to budget for include landscaping, which usually starts at approximately $150 per month, quarterly pest control of approximately $175 per service visit, and property insurance, which is estimated at $600 for every $42,000 in property value.

  • Food and entertainment costs

The proclaimed “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” Grand Cayman boasts over 250 restaurants. Dining out is popular with residents and tourists alike and there are venues for virtually every type of food and budget. From roadside jerk chicken stands and local fish frys to Michelin-starred chef Eric Ripert’s Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman restaurant, Blue, culinary enthusiasts love spending time in the Cayman Islands.

Prices vary as much as the menus do. A standard serving of handmade Italian gelato costs $3. A traditional American breakfast can be enjoyed for $8. A medium-sized pizza with three toppings will cost approximately $20. An entrée of locally caught seafood at a fine dining establishment will be priced in the range of $28 to $35.

Grocery stores in the Cayman Islands are modern and well stocked with local produce and seafood and an impressive array of international imports that impress discerning visitors from cosmopolitan centres. Here is a quick snapshot of prices for typical grocery staples:

  • One litre of milk - $2.77
  • One dozen eggs - $5.32
  • One loaf of bread - $3.50

Other prices that are often used as indicators for the cost of living are beer and movie tickets. A standard bottle of beer is priced at $2.50 and a movie ticket at $14.

The team at Provenance Properties – the official Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate for the Cayman Islands – is another great resource to consult. They can assist potential residents with learning more about island life and the costs associated with (or missing from!) living in paradise. Contact us here.

Average costs of living in the Cayman Islands in 2020 (in US$)


One litre of milk


One dozen eggs


One loaf of bread


Gasoline – 1 litre (1/4 gallon)


Public bus ticket


Car insurance for average mid-sized car per year


Taxi (from Seven Mile Beach for up to 3 passengers)


Ferry from Camana Bay to Kaibo/Rum Point (round trip per person)


Health care plans (per month)


Water (per 1,000 US gallons)


Electricity (per kWh)


Landscaping (per month)


Pest control (per quarter)


Property insurance (per $42,000 in property value)


What you don’t have to pay for in the Cayman Islands

One of the first things people are usually delighted to learn is what they will not have to pay for when living in this sun-drenched British Overseas Territory – namely no corporate, income, capital gains, inheritance, property or sales (VAT) taxes. The prospect of living a tax-free life, not to mention saying goodbye to the time-consuming process of filing annual tax returns, is an enticing one.

In addition to the benefits of living in a tax-neutral jurisdiction, there are also other daily living costs common in other parts of the world that are largely missing in the Cayman Islands. One particular favourite for former city dwellers is the absence of paying to park. With the exception of modestly priced parking fees at the international airport, parking metres are not a common occurrence on Grand Cayman.

Other daily living costs that new residents moving from cold climates to the Cayman Islands no longer incur include winter wardrobes (save perhaps one coat and a few sweaters/jumpers to wear on a trip to see family and friends), winter tires, and snow ploughing and shovelling services.

“I didn’t fully appreciate how much I was spending on those goods and services until I moved to Grand Cayman,” noted a new resident. “It’s a much simpler lifestyle here and due to fewer opportunities for impulse shopping, we find we tend to spend less on household items.”

Despite these savings, the Cayman Islands does have a reputation for being an expensive place to live, in part due to the local currency, which is permanently pegged at one Cayman dollar equal to US$1.20. Visitors and new residents can find the exchange rate makes services such as restaurant dining more expensive. Further, the cost of importing items to a small island population also contributes to the perceived high cost of living, which can earn the Cayman Islands and, indeed, most other islands in the Caribbean a reputation for being expensive.

Sue Nickason

About the author

Sue Nickason has been VP Marketing and Sales at Dart Real Estate since May 2017. Originally from Canada, Sue has worked in luxury residential-resort development in the Caribbean for over a decade. Sue and her team are committed to promoting the unique value proposition of the Cayman Islands to those seeking to establish a personal and/or corporate presence here. They serve as trusted advisors and offer exceptional service, timely market information and a warm “Caymankind” welcome. Sue earned a BA (Honours) from Mount Allison University, an MBA (Distinction) from University of Guelph and has completed studies/earned certificates in journalism, economic development, adult education, customer service, revenue management, and protocol. In 2020, Sue received her Certification in Investment Migration from the Investment Migration Council. Sue is a member of the Christie’s International Real Estate Master’s Circle and an Angel in the 100 Women in Finance network.