Island Shopping: 3 Things To Know Before You Buy A Home In The Caymans

If you're planning on purchasing a home on one of the three islands that make up the Caymans, you probably already know a few things about this Caribbean nation. Like the fact that it's a British Overseas Territory, so everyone drives on the left side of the road. Or the fact that it's notorious for being a tax shelter for the uber rich. But there are three things you may not know.

1) You'll have to act quickly to find real estate deals.

You may not find any deals at all in the Caymans soon, as property sales are skyrocketing in both the commercial and prime tourism real estate sections. Real estate transactions increased by 50% in 2014, meaning it will soon be a sellers' market. Local residential sales have not caught up with the frenzy yet, but are expected to begin increasing as well. If you want to purchase a house in the Cayman Islands, now would be the time to start searching the home listings. This surge in interest has to do with the Cayman Islands' lack of property and income taxes, and their modern infrastructure and idyllic location.

2) When it comes to residency requirements, you pay to stay.

Property owners are only allowed to stay up to 180 days consecutively on the island. With enough cash investment, however, you can become a permanent resident. For example, you can be granted a long-term visa if your annual income is around $150,000 and you make a $600,000 investment. This gives you full-time residency status for 25 years. Retirees who wish to remain on the island longer than 6 months often choose this option.

For a $2 million dollar investment, you get permanent residency status and you're granted the right to work on the island. Just remember: Before you commit to purchasing a place in this beautiful tropical paradise, do some research on residency requirements.

3) The currency of the Caymans is the Caymanian dollar.

The Caymanian dollar, known by the currency code KYD, is denoted by the $ symbol as the US dollar is. The coins and paper money are in similar denominations. The Caymanian dollar trends slightly higher than the US dollar, with one KYD equal to around US$1.20. This can make a difference to buyers, who may often pay for goods and services in the Caymans with American dollars.

Stay up to speed on the exchange rates as you browse properties on the islands. Talk to your real estate agent or broker to find out if there are any advantages or disadvantages in paying for property with either form of currency.