Country Guides March 12, 2020

Things to Expect When Moving to the Bahamas – a Complete Guide

Jane Davis

Apart from being a freelance writer and moving expert, Jane is also an art and museum lover.

When you decide on moving to the Bahamas, know that there are over 700 breathtaking islands that are part of the country and 30 of those you can call your home. Still, almost two-thirds of the population live on only one of them – New Providence, home to the city of Nassau.

This land of sandy beaches, tropical climate, and lively culture just 300 miles off the Florida coast can be a perfect place to settle down. As a US citizen, all you have to do is obtain the necessary documents, and you are ready to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

You’ll Need to Obtain Certain Documents When Moving to the Bahamas

International relocation can be a long process if you don’t plan it and organize it well. Before you pack your things and head to the airport, make a list of all the documents needed to travel abroad.

Americans don’t need special permission to enter the country, but if you want to move there permanently and receive an annual or permanent residency permit, you’ll have to meet certain requirements. Upon arrival, the country’s authorities will require that you have:

  • Immigration Arrival Card
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Proof of submitted criminal background check

If you wish to apply for a work visa, you should have special skills that the average Bahamian lacks. The cost of this type of visa ranges between $250 and $7500.

You Will Need an Import Permit to Bring Your Pets With You

If you are considering international relocation, will you be bringing your furry friend with you? If so, you should contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, and Industry and apply for appropriate pet import permits. Before you do so, remember that your pet has to be at least six months old, have valid health papers and vaccinations, as well as a microchip.

Before you relocate to this tropical paradise, make sure you have all the right documents.

Housing Situation – You Have to Provide at Least One Month’s Rent in Advance

From city center apartments and luxury flats to single-family homes and villas, the Bahamas have a variety of real estate options to offer to its residents. If you wish to become a homeowner, it would be smart to hire a realtor and a local attorney to protect you from scams and other issues related to property purchasing.

Some Bahamian people rent their homes, which usually come furnished or semi-furnished. To do so, you should provide at least one month’s rent in advance as a deposit. Some Bahamian landlords even ask for two or three months in advance and offer two kinds of leases – gross and net. If you want to save up on rent, do your research and pick the most affordable island to live on.

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When Moving to the Bahamas, Pick One of the Popular Places to Call Home

Long sandy beaches and urban city centers, the Commonwealth has it all. Now all you have to do is pick the right island to be your new home and settle down. No matter where you choose to buy or rent a home, don’t leave your swimming suit and scuba diving equipment in storage; the beach will probably be within walking distance.

The capital Nassau, located on the island of New Providence is one of the favorite places for many expats, because it is a cultural hub, and it can provide you with plenty of job opportunities. Nevertheless, if you wish to have a more laid back lifestyle, choose a smaller, suburban area to call home.

hotels in the Bahamas
Nassau, located on the island of New Providence, is a popular destination for many expats.

Guide to the Cost of Living in the Commonwealth

Even before you settle down, go over the essential cost of living. Knowing how much money you will need for utilities, food, and entertainment will show you what kind of paycheck you’ll need to live comfortably.

According to data from Expatistanaverage monthly utilities for a 960-square-foot apartment are around $420, while for a steady internet connection, you will have to pay $60. If you are relocating for love, and you want to treat your loved one to a tasty meal, you will pay around $50.

The government has very few taxes. You will save up because there are no income tax, corporate tax, estate, nor capital gain tax.

The islands are not that big, but if you prefer to drive, you can always ship your car. However, consider the fact that the government charges import duties of 25% and 65% of the value of your car. This might be an additional burden to your relocation budget. Also, while you are calculating the budget, write down healthcare insurance as a necessary cost.

You Can Work as an Expat When You Relocate

The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas in terms of gross domestic product per capita. Its economy is strongly based on tourism and offshore banking.

Since English is the official language of the country, you won’t have to break the language barrier in order to get a job. All you have to do is network and focus on the field you want to work in. Besides tourism and finances, agriculture and fishery are industries that account for 5% of the total GDP of the country. Poke around online, read through ads, and you will easily land good employment.

You Will Have to Pay Upfront at Hospitals

Are you relocating with your family or alone? No matter what the answer is, you should think about healthcare. The US Embassy confirmed that many medical facilities accept US health insurance, but you will still need to leave a deposit upfront for non-emergencies. The money you pay for medical service will be reimbursed by the insurance company later.

aerial view of a city in the Bahamas
Nassau has up-to-date medical institutions.

Prepare for a Bit of a Culture Shock

Whenever you relocate to another nation, no matter how far (or close) it is from the US, be prepared for a culture shock. Moving to an island country with a relaxed lifestyle is something entirely different.

Life in general and lore are a mix of African, British, and American culture, which give it a unique vibe. Here you will get to experience different traditions and learn about customs. Even though English is the official language, you might want to check out some slang and dialects; they will help you fit in faster with Bahamian people.

There Are Plenty of Different Dialects

Many people here speak English-based creole language called Bahamianese. With English at its base, it will be easy to master it. Also, spending time with locals will speed up the process.

cultural monument
Just like every nation, the Bahamas have their own unique culture.

You Won’t Actually Live on a Caribbean Sea Island

Once you’ve figured out how to move abroad, you should determine exactly where you are going. When moving to the Bahamas, you should know that you won’t be living next to the Caribbean Sea. Often, this Commonwealth is grouped with Caribbean islands for immigration purposes, but it is actually distinctively located in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Don’t worry about the location – every island has a tropical savanna climate, so make sure that you put all of your summer clothes in suitcases when packing. You will be living in quite a warm environment.

boats docked next to an island
It might not be the Caribbean Sea, but it is beautiful, nevertheless.

Bask in the Sun and Have Some Fun

Put on a shirt and flip flops, take a walk by the beach, and sit under a palm tree. It sounds like fiction, right? When you settle down in the Bahamas, this can be your everyday reality. Once the hard part of international relocation is over – you get to enjoy the benefits of living in this tropical paradise. Make some friends, bask in the sun, and have fun. This place will help you create memories that will last a lifetime.

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