How rollover has affected Cayman

Real estate market mentioned most in survey

Hundreds of people who responded to a Cayman Islands government survey on the impacts of the seven-year term limit on foreign workers have provided a unique insight as to how that policy – often referred to as the rollover – has 
affected them.  

The responses contained in the Term Limit Review Committee’s 105-page report are sometimes illuminating, sometimes sad and a few are a bit off the beaten track.  

“Lost my girlfriend,” one commenter stated [all comments were recorded anonymously]. “Immigration said to me, marry my ex-wife or she has to go. So, I married her, 13-years later, she takes a ton from me. Why do I have to marry a girl in order to keep her here with me?”  

“My gardener got rolled over and the yard went to hell,” another survey respondent said.  

“The generic regression model to test the impact of immigration on local labour market outcomes is [Borjas] (1999a, p 1735) Y js (t,t’) = m js (t, t’) + X js ‘a + U js (t, t’),” a third respondent indicated.  

According to review committee chairperson Sherri Bodden-Cowan, submissions for the team’s survey come from 761 individuals and 97 businesses across the Cayman Islands and represent a broad cross-section of residents. Fifty-three per cent of the individual surveys were filled out by Caymanians, their spouses or dependants. Thirty-six per cent of the individual survey takers identified themselves as originally being from the 
Cayman Islands.  

What is perhaps more unusual is significant participation from those generally considered politically voiceless in the community. Work permit holders made up 20 per cent of the respondents in the survey, while non-Caymanian government contract holders put in 16 per cent of the responses. Another 11 per cent of unidentified “other” non-Caymanians rounded out the survey taking.  

The survey responses did not identify whether the commenters in each instance were Caymanian or non-Caymanian. However, one issue that appeared to be of major concern for everyone was the state of the territory’s real estate market.  

“Lost tenants,” said one respondent simply, responding to the economic effects of the term limit policy.  

A number of other comments took issue with various aspects of the real estate market, both rentals and property.  

“We’re hesitant to invest in real estate because of the impact of a possible rollover.”  

“I have had to assume the task of helping a good friend leaving the Island. I have to take care of her condo and other household items until it will sell. Unfortunately, thanks to the rollover debacle, nothing is selling.” 

“Rollover means no incentive to invest on-Island, much better off renting until tenure is secured, rent is going to an American citizen living in the US.”  

“Due to inability to provide some prospects of any long-term stability, I have made little or no investments locally.”  

“I have lost BIG TIME on rental properties!! One place, with a $915/month mortgage is renting for $600!!! I have four rental units any the rents are now almost half what they were two years ago.”  

“Loss of rental income possibly impacted by less expatriates within the housing market.”  


Societal issues 

A number of commenters also noted the social impacts the rollover policy has created within the Cayman Islands.  

“Work permits and key employee/permanent residence and ultimately status are given too freely to persons with no regard to the long-term future of the Islands and their people,” one commenter said.  

“The rollover will destroy my life as I have given 14 years to this Island,” another person wrote. “I work as a special constable for the last five years; have made this my home and now you want to kick me out.”  

“I’ll be losing my job, my home and my pets, plus the entire Caymanian family I have become a part of since moving here – they are all amazed and disappointed to find that as a UK citizen, I still get rollover over,” one person said.  

“This situation has led to the following: a general feeling of insecurity, a feeling of non-belonging anymore in the land of my birth and heritage … fear that our tiny infrastructure will not be able to cope with the burden of the numbers placed upon it.” 


  1. None of this is any surprise to my wife and I. The first thing that became clear to us was that we would never be allowed to permanently stay. That alone was enough to get us started on planning to go home.

    We put our 2 rental units and our own condo on the market and over a period of about a year we received offers that were a little low, but we took them and walked away.

    It still surprises me that we aren’t seeing foreclosed rental property auctions on the steps of the courthouse. The banks are probably carrying a lot of real estate on their books, and are afraid to go down that road.

  2. Maybe if the banks were less prejudicial towards Caymanians owning a piece of their country they wouldn’t have to stock pile property because of foreclosures. Furthermore, when you take up residency in a new country it is your individual responsibility to know the laws with respect to your residency etc. Don’t arrive here and expect a silver platter and when you don’t get it complain your aes off. Stop and look around you and see who is suffering the most in this country, it is the Caymanian people, not the new resident!! NO one is forced to come here and invest here, no one is, that is your own individual decision and don’t blame us or our policies because it does not suit you. Furthermore, our Govt. has no plans in place to deal with the over development, which we all got over zealous about including the realtors whom teamed up with the valuators and inflated the prices, so they can all hush the complaining, they all participated in it and they all benefited from it and now that the bucket has gone to the well and the bottom has dropped out, they want to lay blame on others for their own greed and self righteous actions!! Please play that song to the idiots who will listen, not to those of us who know the real underlying agenda’s that created this monster in the room!!

  3. MrsKnowitAll is being rather short-sighted.

    She said NO one is forced to come here and invest here…and while that is true, consider how much more the Caymanian people would have suffered if no one HAD come and invested here. (Can you spell smoke pans???)

    You can’t expect more opportunity and wealth by kicking out the people generating jobs and income. Ask any entrepreneur (especially a Caymanian one) where the biggest sales come from.

    You have to have fresh money entering an economy for it to grow. Shifting the same dollars from one hand to another only creates an illusion of security.

  4. I am not short-sighted as you have suggested DataDoc, but I am a realist and I say it how I see it. Look around you and see whom we have allowed in to develop and what have they in turn done to us. The list goes on and more get added each day. We didn’t do our due diligence on these persons and they have robbed us blind. So, if allowing investors in that we didn’t investigate thoroughly and now we are left with persons they employed, now unemployed and they the ‘investor’ left owing us millions, why should we have any sympathy towards them? Furthermore, those smoke pans are part of our heritage, or are you one of those that want to come and squash that too!! I’d take the smoke pans any day over the deceitful investors we allowed in that raped and pillaged us half to death! Furthermore, we wouldn’t have these many social issues today if the UDP Govt. hadn’t given away our birthright to every tom-dick–laurel!! They over populated the country and the off springs of that over populated move is now lined up at the DCFS looking monthly hand outs because they have a right now to do so. Please you do your dance, and I’ll do mine.

  5. MrsKnowitAll, can you explain why you think Banks are prejudicial towards Caymanian owning property. From what I’ve seen when approaching banks Caymanians have to put down 10 percent for a home loan while foreigners need 30 Percent.

    Also, since you think Cayman would be better off without foreigners can you describe what you think Cayman would be today if there were never any foreign investors or expats..?

    You blame your government for selling Cayman out to foreigners when in fact it’s Caymanians that actually sold their land for the almighty dollar, what do think of those folks? There was a time when all the Land on Seven Mile beach was owned by Caymanians was it stolen from them and given to foreigners or did they sell it themselves.

    The investor you are speaking of that left owing millions sounds to me like one individual, why do you place this character on everyone that invests in Cayman? And even though he no longer owns the development I still see it running and employing Caymanians that want the jobs. And the reason I say that want the jobs is because I constantly hear the Caymanians do not want the lower level jobs that a lot of expats hold unless they are paid as much as a lawyer to clean rooms or do landscaping.

  6. There you have it: the old , old argument; smoke pots forever, or development and the opportunities and disadvantages which accompany it: and the generation by generation choices made by Caymanians which bring us to where we are now.

  7. What people who have to go back home has failed to say is its only for a year. If you were in other countries that you had to get a permission for , it would be the same thing. My Caymanian sons who live in toronto still don’t have canadian citizenship . One is married to a canadian and has a baby . He went to go to college there he got married and found a job with a company he worked here with. His company was also in Bermuda where there offer mutual fund transactions. Because of the recession they went to Canada. This same company is now getting rid of people who have been working with them a long time even managing directors. Guess what ? They getting rid of them because they are getting cheaper workers from Ireland!! Not because they are not qualified. Isn’t that funny the same lies that is being told in Cayman. Plus the company is not helping them to find another job or are they concerned about their mortgages or kids ,school or anything else the people who are being rollover carry on about losing here. So this is just one example of INVESTORS. There are more but i would need more paper then whats in this newspaper.
    The good thing about the rollover is rent has gone down and so have the Banks interest rates. If the Banks were losing money then they should drop the interest rates further and get people to buy cars houses and apts at a cheaper rate. Rates like what they are offering in the States and Canada. Jobs should hire Caymanians now they have no excuse unless they just don’t want to pay people the right amount of money.It is plain greed that they don’t pay properly.

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