The cost of living

The Good Life

Anybody who works in the tourism industry will tell you that visitors to Cayman are often flabbergasted, and pleased of course, to hear that Cayman has no taxation. ‘No sales tax, no income tax, no estate tax, are you kidding me? How do I get to live here?’

Now the no-tax aspect is certainly one part of the good life for many of us, but to live in Cayman for any considerable amount of time is to notice that there are others aspects of life here that we should truly be looking at as money in the bank.

The weather, for example, in my opinion is worth about US$15,000 a year. How did I arrive at that? Simple. I guarantee that if you were offer people in Fargo, North Dakota, or Winnipeg, Manitoba, to deliver Cayman weather to them for $15,000 a year you would do major business. Well, we get it here for free, so put that in the ledger as $15,000.

Imagine this: As you fall into bed after a brutal day you suddenly remember you left the car windows open. In North America, in the winter, that would mean putting on boots, coat, maybe even gloves, and heading out into the sub-zero shivering all the way. In Cayman you simply stroll out in your shorts, barefoot to boot, and whistling a Marley tune, to do the job. You see where I get my $15,000?

Actually a friend of mine from northern Saskatchewan puts the figure at closer to $20,000, but I’m being conservative here so I’ll stick to the $15,000. Mind you, have you ever been to northern Saskatchewan? Take it from me; $20,000 is a fair price.

The smallness of Cayman is another bonus. It doesn’t take you four hours to get any place in Cayman; in fact, even two hours is a stretch. Think of the money you’re saving on gas, oil and tyre wear, not to mention time lost from such valuable pursuits like dominoes or watching TV. I figure you’re benefiting to the tune of another $8,000 or so a year. So we’re up to $23,000.

Then there’s the lack of petty crime. Notice I said ‘lack’ not ‘absence’, but it really is an unusual situation to find businesses leaving stock generally untended outdoors (like Serv-u-Well) and the next day it’s still there; you wouldn’t dare try that in Trinidad or Jamaica or Guyana; they would clean you out overnight. That’s worth another US$10,000, heck, $12,000 a year. Total $35,000.

Another one is the Cayman disposition to stop and help you when your car breaks down – something that almost always happens within minutes of the mishap; another five grand. People on Cayman Brac who give complete strangers a big wave making you feel like somebody knows you, another five grand. That’s $45,000 and counting.

Here’s one that’s really big with me. Once you’ve lived on the island for a few years, and people know you a bit, you can actually find yourself in town needing something, with not one dollar in your pocket, and go home with the item.

If you’re recently on the island, honest, I’m not kidding. Many stores will allow you to buy something and pay them tomorrow or next week without having to leave your watch or your children as security. What is this worth? Are you kidding me? You go in a store in Miami or Kingston or Toronto and tell the guy you’ll pay him tomorrow and see what happens. After he gets off the floor laughing, he’ll probably suggest you head straight to the hospital for a brain scan. That’s worth five or six thousand a year. Where are we now…over $50,000 a year?

So here’s the thing: The next time you look at your bank balance and it appears slim, remember to add in the $50,000 plus that takes in the aspects of life here.

Mind you, the accountants reading this would probably consider me a basket case, but, to paraphrase C.L.R. James, ‘What do they know of numbers, who only numbers know?’

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