Why high net worths choose residency and retirement in the Cayman Islands – an advisor’s perspective

April 21, 2020Blog

As much of the world shelters in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are considering and/or re-evaluating future plans for their place of residency and retirement. We spoke to advisors about why so many high-net-worth individuals choose the Cayman Islands as their home base.

Since our shareholder Ken Dart relocated his global headquarters and family office to the Cayman Islands over 25 years ago, other wealthy international families have chosen the Cayman Islands for residency and retirement.

Many of the reasons why Ken Dart selected the British Overseas Territory then hold true today, except to say that the Cayman Islands has now become an even more attractive proposition. Two leading international private client lawyers, Hal Webb and Matthew Sperry, explain why Cayman is the first choice for relocation, retirement or residency by investment for many of their clients.

Hal Webb is a partner and head of international private client services with Bilzin Sumberg, based in Miami, Florida. Most of Hal’s clients are from Latin America, and he also has many clients from Europe, Asia, Canada and other parts of the world. Hal is a member of Legal Week’s Private Client Global Elite, ranked in the leading international legal directories and a member of the Florida Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America for tax law, trusts, and estates.

Matthew Sperry is a partner in the international private client team with Katten, based out of New York and Chicago. He is a member of the Legal Week Private Client Global Elite, ranked in the leading international leading directories and part of the Global Leaders Forum for wealth management.

Both work with international clients and families looking to relocate from their home jurisdiction for a variety of reasons including estate planning, tax planning, security issues, socio-political issues, lifestyle reasons or retirement.

Hal Webb explains: “For full-time movers, a relocation is sometimes tax-driven or for retirement. Cayman is a great place if you want a peaceful lifestyle, beautiful beaches and modern amenities. That really appeals to people – as they want to have all the high-level amenities they are used to, yet live on a Caribbean island, and still be relatively close to their former home.”

RBC in Camana Bay

Matthew Sperry comments specifically on what US retirees are looking for: “For US retirees there can be some tax advantages with a permanent relocation to Cayman. US persons can escape high state taxes, including property and sales taxes. In addition, some of the individual states impose death taxes, and if you take up residence in Cayman you are not going to be subjected to that either.”

Cayman’s stable government, economy, and strong rule of law also feature in the jurisdiction’s appeal. Sperry explains: “Most clients are looking for stability and they want to know there is strong rule of law. We see a lot of Latin American families, Middle Eastern families and Asian families who are very concerned about that aspect.

“Cayman is underpinned by English common law, and it has an excellent judiciary with specialist judges who are accustomed to dealing with cross-border, international matters. That gives people a level of confidence that you don’t get from some other jurisdictions.”

Webb agrees: “Many people settle on Cayman, over the other Caribbean islands, because it is a sizable financial centre and a safe place to live. I think very highly of the professional community in Cayman, and believe there is a great deal of brain power there. That is probably one of the reasons why many family offices have recently moved their operations to Cayman.”

Sperry also highlights Cayman’s reputation as a world-leading financial centre and investment hub: “Cayman is a great base for investment, which is appealing to many wealthy international families. It’s a very sophisticated, international finance hub, and gives wealthy families access to all the international markets whilst giving the benefit of being positioned offshore.”

Scotiabank in Camana Bay

Cayman’s recent success as a hub for relocating wealthy international families was highlighted by Webb, who stated: “There has been a lot of immigration into the Cayman Islands over the last couple of years. I was there in January, and all the professionals I spoke with were talking about the number of Canadians and Americans moving to Cayman or buying property there. There appears to be a strong commitment to continuing to build out world-class amenities and infrastructure that organisations like Dart are making – and that only makes it even more appealing.”

Webb adds: “I have even seen some people who are not planning to reside in Cayman now, but buy property there, because they are preparing in advance to eventually retire in Cayman.”

Sperry added: “The quality of the real estate inventory in Cayman is very high and built to the highest standards of construction. Cayman does a great job, and their building codes are equivalent to places like Florida. The investment that Dart has put into the islands over the last 10 years has really upped the ante and made Cayman even more attractive.”

In terms of Cayman’s residency by investment options for mobile, wealthy international families, Sperry believes Cayman is ahead of the game: “Cayman’s residency by investment programmes, whether you are investing in a business or a private residence, are very straightforward. If you compare Cayman’s commercial investment programme with, for example, the USA’s EB-5 scheme, Cayman looks very favourable. The investment you make in a US business through EB-5 can be a long and convoluted process and ultimately the investment has to be commercially successful, whereas in Cayman you make the investment in a business and you are in. It’s even simpler if you make an investment in residential property.”

If all this sounds appealing, the path to obtaining permanent residency in the Cayman Islands is a straightforward process and the team at Provenance Properties, the official Christie’s Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands, can help find the perfect property.

For example, purchasing this three-bedroom luxury beach home at The Residences at Seafire, which offers optional turnkey furniture packages from Restoration Hardware, qualifies buyers to apply for Cayman Islands residency if all other requirements are met. The Provenance Properties team has a wide range of other luxury listings from stunning stand-alone family homes to convenient beachfront condos.

To gain comprehensive information about relocation to the Cayman Islands, we recommend you contact a Cayman Islands-based law firm, and there are several who have specialist teams focusing on this area of expertise. These law firms can also assist in guiding you through the process should you wish to proceed on the path to Cayman Islands residency.

For more information please contact [email protected].

back to news