One of the world’s top vacation spots, it’s no surprise that the Bahamas has become a top destination for expats, retirees, and global citizens. Those looking to work or retire abroad can find enough sun, sand, and sea to last a lifetime.
Tips for Moving to the Bahamas
However, becoming an expat can bring a lot of headaches, too. With these helpful tips, your move to the Bahamas will be smooth sailing, and you can start your low-stress lifestyle even before you arrive in this Caribbean country.
Prepare for a High Cost of Living
It’s important to keep in mind that the Bahamas is one of the most expensive countries in the world when it comes to the cost of living. Rent is similar to that of some major cities, with condos costing upwards of $2,000 per month, and at least $5,000 per month for houses or gated communities. In addition, the island location means that most items need to be imported. You’ll see higher prices for everything from groceries to electricity. These high costs are somewhat offset by the Bahamas’ lower tax rate, but it is still important to prepare your budget accordingly.
Go Job-Hunting Prior to Your Move
If you plan to work in the Bahamas as an expat or global nomad, be sure to secure a job before your move. In order to receive a work visa, your employer will have to vouch for you. Specialist jobs, such as those in the financial or medical fields, are easiest for expats to find. If you are unable to find work from abroad, many countries enjoy visa-free privileges in the Bahamas for 90 days or more. This can give you ample time for a job search, while also allowing you to explore the islands.
The Bahamas are a bit notorious for their traffic, especially in the big hubs like Nassau and Freeport. While you’re searching for your home or apartment, consider what your commute would be like. The congestion often begets aggressive driving, which means you’ll have to deal with dangerous road conditions, in addition to a longer travel time. If you need to drive frequently to work or anywhere else, location is absolutely key.
Find a Hurricane-Proof House
While devastating storms like Hurricane Dorian are rare, the Bahamas are still no stranger to severe weather. Hurricanes skirt the islands’ shores every year, so it is extremely important to be prepared. Many hurricane-proof houses are being built in the wake of Dorian’s destruction, and other locals and expats can give you tips on how to hurricane-proof your home. Most likely, you’ll be able to stay high and dry, but you can still be prepared in the event of severe weather.
Scope Out the Right Schools
If you’re moving to the Bahamas with your family, you’ll want to consider nearby schools. Schools in the Bahamas fall into three categories: public, private, and international (homeschooling is also an option). The quality of these schools varies depending on where you live. Public schools are better in the Out Islands than in more populated areas because of funding availability. Private schools have a better reputation and are usually run by churches or other religious organizations. Lastly, the nation’s three international schools have the best record, although the high quality is reflected in the tuition.
Safety First in the Bahamas
The Bahamas is generally considered a safe country, especially outside the major urban center. Note as well that crime levels in Nassau, where 70% of locals reside, can be high and expatriates living there should take precautions.
While expats and visitors are rarely involved in serious crime, it is important to be aware of the area when choosing a place to live. The majority of major crime is found in the more populated islands, like New Providence and Grand Bahama. If you’re moving to these areas, work closely with your realtor to find the right location and housing for you. Looking for expat communities is a great way to find both great neighborhoods and new friends. There are also many gated communities in the Bahamas, which are great for security and peace of mind.
Get International Health Insurance for the Bahamas
Luckily, medical care in the Bahamas is of similar quality to that of North America and Europe, although some special equipment and facilities are lacking. Some procedures or treatments may require travel to Florida. Because of that, as well as the high cost of medical care in the Bahamas, it is very important to obtain international health insurance. This allows you to be covered both in and out of the Bahamas for whatever medical needs may arise. It’s easy to get a quote and obtain insurance from companies like Expat Financial.