Are you dreaming of a tropical paradise and life by the beach? Are you tired of Canadian winters? For many individuals who feel this way, life in the Caribbean islands is the perfect solution.
With hundreds of white sandy beaches to explore, gorgeous ocean views, and a laid-back lifestyle, it's no wonder why so many people decide to move to a Caribbean island in the colder months.
One of the most popular countries in the Caribbean for ex-pats and snowbirds is the Turks and Caicos Islands.
With direct flights from Toronto and Miami to Providenciales and North Caicos, getting to the Caribbean islands from Ontario isn't a difficult task. Even if you want to live on the outer islands, you can make use of the local modes of transportation to get to beaches and resorts all around the island.
Here is your guide to living in Turks and Caicos if you're thinking about purchasing real estate down there.
Where is Turks and Caicos Islands?
Turks and Caicos is a collection of islands in the Caribbean. It is made up of the larger Caicos islands and the smaller islands of Turks. The two island groups are in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean and are about 160 kilometers north of Hispaniola and about 1,000 kilometers from Miami, Florida. Some main cities in T&C include Grace Bay beach, Providenciales, Big Ambergris Cay, and Long Bay beach.
The Caicos Islands are separated by the Caicos Passage from the closest Bahamian islands. The nearest foreign landmass from the Turks and Caicos Islands is the Bahamian island of Little Inagua, which is about 48 km from West Caicos.
Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas territory and has a population of over 45,000 as of 2020.
What is a British Overseas Territory?
As mentioned above, Turks and Caicos is a British overseas territory, which is a group of 14 territories that have a historical link to the United Kingdom.
While all of the territories are internally self-governing, they all have the British monarch as the head of state.
The connection with the United Kingdom often means increased security and stability, making these territories an attractive destination for other North Americans.
What is Life Like on Turks and Caicos Islands?
Like many other countries in the Caribbean islands, Turks and Caicos is known for its stunning beaches, turquoise waters, beautiful landmarks, and laidback lifestyle. If the relaxation and slower pace aren't the draw to Turks and Caicos, maybe the opportunity for adventurous activities like kayaking, scuba diving, jet skiing, paddle boarding, and hiking will appeal to you.
As with other islands in the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos is also known as an offshore financial center where many people conduct business due to the tax benefits.
Whether you're a retiree looking for a new island home, a snowbird hoping to escape the winter blues, or an adventure seeker hoping for a new adrenaline rush, Turks and Caicos Islands has something for everyone.
Moving to Turks and Caicos from Canada
While the island country is home to only over 40,000 residents, the Turks and Caicos islands welcome over 200,000 long and short-term tourists or visitors annually. If you're a Canadian looking for a new home in the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos might be the perfect opportunity for you.
Here are some options you may want to pursue if you're hoping to make the move to this tropical island paradise in the near future.
Government Regulations and Immigration Requirements
Without a visa or citizenship, a Canadian can only stay in Turks and Caicos for about 3 months or 90 days.
If you're hoping for a longer stay than 3 months, you will need to earn some sort of residency status.
How Do I Get Permanent Residency: Types of Status
Getting citizenship or a Permanent Residency in the Caribbean isn't an extremely difficult task for Canadians looking for a retirement destination. Here are a few different ways you may be able to live in Turks and Caicos longer than 90 days.
Resident Foreigners with Annual Resident Permit and Work Permits:
This type of status is similar to work permits in other countries and it is restricted to a specific job and employer. This status represents the majority of foreign workers who are residing in Turks and Caicos.
In most cases, these residency permits are provided and funded by the employer. As well, work permit holders hoping for permanent status will need at least 10 years of uninterrupted residency before applying.
Resident Foreigners with Permanent Residence Status (PRC), with or without right to work:
If you're hoping to retire in Turks and Caicos, you won't necessarily want to work and, therefore, won't qualify for a work permit. When this is the case, retirees or people who have invested in the country are granted PRC status, usually without the right to work in Turks and Caicos islands.
Citizens (holders of British Overseas Territories Citizenship by virtue of a connection with the Turks and Caicos Islands):
For those with a British passport or citizenship, gaining citizenship in Turks and Caicos can be quite easy. This status entitles individuals to a passport that says Turks and Caicos Islands on the cover and gives them residence and work rights.
Additionally, British citizens born in a British Overseas Territory or that are descendants from someone born there can gain a citizenship in Turks and Caicos.
Turks and Caicos Islander Status:
With islander status, you can vote, hold government offices, and have a business license. While it does not entitle you to an actual TCI passport, it will give you all other rights normally associated with citizenship.
CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT
One of the most popular ways to gain temporary residency permits is through an investment or donation to the country. Often, there is a minimum investment amount needed to gain residency status that would allow you to live in T&C. Making a significant investment will allow you to reside on the islands when you retire.
What is the Cost of Living Like on Turks and Caicos Islands?
When you consider moving out of Canada for a new chapter or for your retirement, a big consideration is the cost of living in that country. While Canada's cost of living currently isn't the cheapest, the Caribbean is known for its cheaper lifestyle and you'll find that your dollar can go a long way.
Regardless of whether you'll be living off your retirement funds or another source of outside income, budgeting according to your new home's cost of living will set you up for success and allow you to live comfortably by the beach.
REAL ESTATE AND RENT
One of the biggest expenses you will have if you're hoping to live in the Caribbean is real estate. Whether you're staying at resorts, renting a small apartment, or hoping to buy a property located right on the beach, you will have to factor these expenses into your income budgeting.
For a property located in bigger cities like Grand Turk, Grace Bay Beach, or Providenciales, monthly rent is around $1800 per month. For an apartment in a smaller city, rent is around $1400 per month.
If you're hoping to buy on the islands, a single family property will cost you around $1.4 million. While other islands may have lower rent and home prices, living in T&C can still be a great way to spend your retirement.
If you're hoping to live by Grace Bay Beach and enjoy the lovely life that the Caribbean can offer, you will need some groceries. Here is a breakdown of some common grocery items and their price in T&C.
1 L of Milk = $5.42
Loaf of Fresh Bread = $7.05
1 KG of Local Cheese = $38.85
1 KG of Chicken Fillets = $20.64
1 KG of Apples = $4.55
The prices of these items are a bit more expensive than they are in North America as they need to be imported.
Another common expense to consider is your utility bill. This includes heat, water, electricity, and air conditioning.
On average, your utility bill will cost over $500 per month. However, depending on the weather and what your preferred temperature is, you may be able to cut back on heating and cooling costs.
Here are some of the other expenses that you may incur during your time on the island that you will want to keep in mind.
Litre of Gas for Cars = $2.47
Gym Membership = $126.16
Meal at Inexpensive Restaurant = $30.97
Monthly Childcare Service = $825.77
What Are The Pros and Cons of Moving to Turks and Caicos Islands?
If you're considering a move to the islands in the Caribbean, you're probably wondering about the pros and cons of such a move. Here are several advantages and disadvantages of getting temporary residency or a work permit in Turks and Caicos Islands.
Lifestyle: The islands boast a laid-back and relaxing lifestyle which is perfect for people looking for a slower pace after wrapping up their business and work.
Tax Benefits: There is no capital gains tax, property tax, inheritance tax, and income tax in Turks and Caicos
Stunning Scenery: You'll be blown away by the breathtaking landscapes and ocean views that you'll experience on the islands
Stability: The connection to The United Kingdom means a more stable government, currency, and public sector
No Public Transportation: You will need your own car or will have to rely on other means if you want to get around the islands
Higher Cost of Living: Compared to other islands in the Caribbean, T&C has a higher cost of living
Limited Access to Goods and Services: As many goods have to be imported and the islands are quite small, you may not have easy access to some goods and services.
In conclusion, Turks and Caicos islands offers retirees and individuals the opportunity to enjoy a laid back lifestyle in a tropical paradise.
There are different routes that allow you to reside in T&C and still work or conduct business. If you're considering a move, be sure to weigh the pros and cons before making the decision.