The Cayman Islands is the second most desirable place to live out of 23 tax friendly places worldwide ranked by real estate firm Knight Frank in its Global Lifestyle Review.
The real estate firm’s report compared lifestyle factors across favorable tax locations and found Cayman in a tie for second place with Mallorca and Geneva behind the top ranked Dubai.
The report, intended as a guide for wealthy buyers interested in the lifestyle aspects of a property location, considered factors such as education, climate, leisure activities or the availability of top quality restaurants.
While most traditional locations scored high in certain categories, they did not fare as well in others, which meant that consistency was more important, the report said.
“On this basis, Dubai came out on top as it boasted a top three position in three of the four categories, while the Cayman Islands and Mallorca were consistently strong.”
Sophie Miles, associate broker with IRG Cayman Islands, realtors affiliated with the Knight Frank network, said she is delighted at the findings. “It sends out a very strong message that Cayman can and does compete with major jurisdictions even though we are a small Caribbean island nation.”
Cayman’s high scores
Cayman scored high in days of sunshine per year, the availability of international schools and access to international airports. It also placed in the top half of locations surveyed for cost of living and lack of political risk.
One of the categories based on consulting firm Mercer’s quality of living index put Cayman only in 12th position, most likely due to the lack of breadth of amenities that large cities have to offer.
Cayman placed 11th out of 23 in the political risk category, which rated the risk of loss when investing in a country caused by changes in a country’s political structure or policies, such as tax laws, the expropriation of assets or restrictions on capital flows.
The results show that “we have by far the highest standard of living in the region, with world-class amenities and infrastructure, plus a balance between international standards of business practice and a relaxed Caribbean nature puts us in the world rankings for an excellent quality of life,” Ms Miles said.
Knight Frank compiled the data by consulting its international property professionals to get a feel for the overall quality of lifestyle rather than an exact measurement in percentiles and averages per capita, she added. The review is not a scientific study, but more intuitive, and shows that there is an important emotional role in investing offshore for a second, third or even fourth home that cannot be easily measured, she added.
“The review captured many of the key elements of what our own experiences are of high net worth individuals’ priorities and preferences are in purchasing a property offshore.”
As such Cayman is apparently a bargain considering a bottle of premium champagne in a five-star hotel costs US$100, compared to US$700 in Moscow.
As far as top-class restaurants are concerned, Cayman ranks in the midfield of surveyed countries with only one restaurant, compared to London with 40 or Hong Kong with 69.
Cayman had the worst ranking, 20th out of 23, for the average cost of gas, which reflected recent increases in fuel duty and significant share of tax in the fuel cost.
While the proximity to the international airport was rated as a plus, the need to expand the airport and develop new routes was reflected in the report, as no direct flights to Europe exist. The British Airways route to London Heathrow via the Bahamas was not considered a direct connection.
“What we are lacking in the number of direct flights to key international airports such as Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Singapore, we make up for in other areas,” Ms Miles said. She noted, “the report focuses on the positives rather than the negatives, such as horrendous commute times, Baltic weather conditions and air pollution, where other locations would certainly rank much higher.”