Imagine walking on a seven mile long beach, sand rubbing against your bare feet with a loved one close next to you, or visiting designer stores that sell goods that you take home duty free, or even taking a bite into a luscious piece of chocolate rum cake. These are only some of the things you can do in the Cayman Islands. With so many of us looking for a new place to go on vacation and relax, I definitely recommend the Cayman Islands.  

First of all, the Cayman Islands is rich with beaches that feature crystal clear water and grainy brown sand that gives your feet a free and natural massage. While at the beach there are many activities for people of all ages. Some like to sunbathe while reading a novel, take a dip to cool them off in the cold waters, or even engage in water sports. These water sports include, fishing, scuba diving, and jet skiing, and even surfing. 

The Cayman Islands are famous for two of its main assets. The first is duty free shopping. In the Cayman Islands there are many brand name stores to cater to your shopping needs, including Cartier, Omega, Rolex, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, and many more. The best part of all this shopping is that it is all tax and duty free. Another great asset of the Cayman Islands is its famous rum cake, and other rum products. These rum cakes are made fresh daily and are available in a variety of sizes and different flavors. 

If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, a getaway with a loved one, or a culturally enriching experience then the Cayman Islands is the place for you. From sunrise with a beach view to sunset with a cold pina colada, you will not regret your visit there. 

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Much has been written about the Cayman Islands being tax-free and whilst this is not exactly true there are definitely benefits to be had for people moving to Cayman in the areas of investments, property and duty-free shopping. The reality from an individual's perspective is that, apart from your payment contributions to compulsory medical insurance and your pension, there will be no deductions from your salary and no Cayman taxes on profits and gains from investments. Moreover there are no sales, goods and services taxes or VAT and many luxury goods in Cayman are either virtually or completely duty-free. (See the information on Duty-Free Advantages later in this chapter). Also if you decide to live out the rest of your days in Cayman, there are no inheritance taxes or death duties. 

The Cayman government raises the money needed to run and improve the infrastructure of the Islands from customs duties, fees for local work-permits and licences, tourist accommodation tax and fees raised from the financial services industry and tourism. Typically import duty is 20% on any item imported into the Cayman Islands, although some goods like vehicles, wines, spirits and some food items are charged at varying rates. 

If new residents import their used household and personal belongings (which they have owned for more than six months) within six months of their arrival, then they will not be charged import duty. After this time normal tariffs will apply. (See the Preparing to Move chapter for more information.) 

In addition, each individual resident has a Customs allowance of CI$350 for personal goods each time they enter Cayman. 

Record-breaking fuel costs have pushed the Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) to consider the possibility of harvesting wind power in the Cayman Islands. 

CUC is seeking experienced and qualified wind-generation companies worldwide to look at investing in windmill infrastructure capable of producing up to 10 megawatts or about 13 percent of Cayman's current generation capacity.

Wind turbines have become an increasingly familiar addition to the landscapes of North America and Europe but in the Caribbean wind power is still very much stuck on the drawing board. 

Corporate Secretary for CUC, Douglas Murray, said that when the company took a look at wind power back in 2003 it wasn't economically feasible to implement large windmills but a shaky oil market has changed all that. 

"Certainly the recent spike in the cost of fuel has caused us to push this back onto the radar. We knew that at some point if the price of fuel went up or the cost of wind generation went down or the efficiency of wind generation improved, then the economic factors would improve in that regard," he said. 

While CUC is not offering to assist with the initial construction and implementation of the wind turbines, the company will buy back the electricity generated in accordance with their new licensing and distribution agreement signed earlier this year with Government. CUC says this is part of a commitment to bring cheap and renewable energy to the island. 

"We don't want to bring a party here to the island that starts a project that can't be completed. The parties that are going to do this, we're looking for them to make the investment. We are not at this point looking to make the investment ourselves," Mr Murray said. 

The process could require between two and three years before residents will notice the somewhat hypnotic blades twisting in Cayman's trade winds, he added. Currently 15 diesel generators and two gas-powered units supply all of CUC's power, with another three generators on their way in the next couple of years, bearing a price tag of $24 million apiece. 

The windmills will also most likely be erected in either North Side or East End in line with the direction of the prevailing winds. 

Already a step ahead of Grand Cayman, next year Cayman Brac plans on installing as many as 10 windmills on The Bluff. The 199-foot towers will be capable of supplying 30 percent to 40 percent of the island's 3.3-megawatt power needs. 

Wind power is generally seen as a clean and renewable energy but it is not without controversy. Wind turbines have been blamed for chopping up birds, ruining once-unobstructed views and adding to noise pollution. 

Mr Murray said CUC is prepared for public discussion on any issues of concern. 

"We would be happy to hear from the public on this and by all means, if people have an interest in this, we always want to hear from them and have them let us know what they think," he said. 

Wind turbines are not the only environmentally friendly source of power that CUC is considering. The company is encouraging homeowners and small businesses to embrace the use of solar power and even look at technology that uses the temperature of the ocean to generate electricity. 

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is a process that uses the differences between the temperature of shallow water and deep water to run a heat engine. Because of Cayman's proximity to the Cayman Trench, OTEC could be a viable option for the country but the technology has not yet developed an affordable economic model. 

Other Caribbean countries looking into the usage of wind power include Grenada, the Bahamas and Barbados, with Jamaica leading the way. 

Jamaica has one wind farm boasting 23 turbines capable of producing enough electricity to power more than 6,000 households at peak capacity. 

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This section provides detailed information on how to find a home in the Cayman Islands. We give an overview of the residential areas of Grand Cayman. We talk about renting or buying a property in the Cayman Islands and we even give you insider wisdom on what pitalls to avoid. Finally we list temporary accommodation to tide you over for your first few weeks in Cayman. 

Overview of The Cayman Property Market 

The real estate market in Cayman is simple and straightforward. Apart from a one-time stamp duty, there are no annual property taxes or restrictions on foreign ownership by individuals and title is granted and guaranteed by the Cayman Islands Government. Title to land is recorded in a modern, reliable and centralised land registry, where every plot of land is mapped and given a descriptive title number based on its location. Any encumbrances such as mortgages, rights-of-way and cautions pending contract are recorded on the title register of that parcel of land. Vacant land can be owned and held for future investment potential. To date, Cayman real estate has proved to be an attractive and profitable investment. Most law firms in Cayman have attorneys who are experts in property law and it is recommended to consult one before signing a contract. Fees are negotiable, but usually less than 1% of value. Owning land in the name of a corporation is possible, but there are strict rules to be followed and a lawyer's advice will be essential. 

Buildings are subject to planning controls and are required to be constructed to high standards: These are monitored by the Cayman Islands' Building Control Department, which carries out inspections on such things as building sites, plumbing and electrical work. Construction companies now have to follow the guidelines of the newly gazetted Builder's Law. Construction materials have to be imported and are subject to duty on the landed value, usually at 20%. Consequently, the cost of building is considerably higher than in places where materials are more readily available. Houses, apartments, condos and townhouses are available for purchase, as are time-shares. Prices vary depending upon location, size, design and other features. Water and beachfront properties, particularly those on Seven Mile Beach, command high prices. 

The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association 

Buying and selling properties in the Cayman Islands in the 1970's and 1980's used to be a bit of an ordeal: All real estate companies kept new listings to themselves; some realtors were better trained than others; some charged higher commissions than others, and not everyone followed the highest standards of business practices. In 1987 a number of realtors agreed to form The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) which is based on the North American style of relationship between realtors. 

Today the association has 187 sales associates from 30 member companies- 80% of all realtors in the Cayman Islands. All CIREBA listings are kept in a central database, known as the Multiple Listing System, or MLS, that can then be accessed by any member agent. The MLS encourages close working relationships between customers and individual realtors, indeed, most realtors say that it is important that customers pick a good realtor that they can work with and then stick with them exclusively, as all members have access to the MLS database. 

One of the associations founding aims was to "improve and elevate the general knowledge of persons engaged in the real estate business". They have a customized training course that all realtors must pass before they can start working with customers and clients and gain membership of the association. The programme takes into account legislative matters, business ethics and due diligence requirements (which are among the toughest in the world). 

Current Overview of the Property Market (Stats from CIREBA) 

Currently in the Multiple Listing System there are 2,030 active listings totalling US$1.62 billion. The average amount of time a property is on the market is 259 days. There are 111 three bedroom homes on the market at an average price of US$666,250. There are 458 two bedroom condominiums listed Island-wide with an average price of US$525,000. There are 567 residential/agricultural parcels of land for sale island-wide at an average of US$388,000. To date so far this year (June 2007) 259 listings have been sold, amounting to US$175.2 million. There are 373 properties that are under contract and scheduled for closing amounting to US$184.6 million. This is mainly from sales that were done last year and pre-construction properties that have not yet completed. Over the last year the association has seen the average movement in price from listing price to sales price to be at 6% for the 317 sold condominiums with average days on market of 417 days. Residential homes have seen an average movement in price from listing price to sales price of 12% for the 86 homes sold, with an average days on market of 301 days. Residential/agricultural parcels of land have seen a 12% movement for the 194 parcels sold and they have been on the market for an average of 439 days.

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Officials at Pedro St James are applauding Cayman National for coming onboard as the first of 10 'Heritage Defenders'. The bank donated $5,000 to Pedro St James in the district of Bodden Town recently. 

The assistance received from the Heritage Defenders will fund the expansion of the national heritage site's cultural mission and improved access for visitors with limited mobility. 

The Tourist Attraction Board, which oversees Pedro St James and other Cayman attractions, said Cayman National is spearheading the establishment of a permanent catboat exhibit and the paving of the main gravel walkway leading from the site's courtyard entry to the Great House, locally known as 'Pedro Castle'. 

"On behalf of the Tourism Attraction Board, I am pleased to welcome Cayman National as the first of the 'Heritage Defenders' who are making it possible for us to enhance our mission of cultural preservation and communication," said Gilbert Connolly, CEO of the Tourism Attraction Board. 
"Cayman National has taken the lead in being a defender of the culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands." 

Cayman National's President, Ormond Williams, said: "Cayman National is a critical part of the socio-economic fabric of the Cayman Islands and as such we are keen to play our role in promoting and protecting the indigenous culture of our country through this project."

Mr Williams added: 

"This project is important not only to give visitors another tourist attraction, but also to provide a historical frame of reference for Caymanians and residents which can be used to influence our society today and in the future." 

With the advice and assistance of renowned architects Burns Conolly and John Doak, in concert with the Cayman Catboat Club, the Heritage Defender project includes the refurbishment of a traditional Cayman catboat and building a boatshed to house it. 

Within the shed, there will be information detailing the importance of these vessels in this country's fishing and seafaring history. A mounted plaque will provide a permanent roster recognizing the 10 'Heritage Defender' companies, the Tourism Attraction Board (TAB) said. 

The second prong of the project involves paving the gravel walk to the Great House. Mr Doak, the TAB said, initially raised concerns regarding the historic accuracy of the first design suggestions. 

Mr Doak has a long working relationship with Pedro St James and the Catboat Club. 

"I fully support the Cayman Islands Tourism Attraction Board with their innovative plans to realise the boatshed and walkway," Mr Doak said. 

The formal announcement of the new additions will highlight an Old-Time Cayman Garden Party at Pedro St James on Sunday, 27 July. Admission is free to the public on this special day, with a live auction, demonstrations of rope-making, gig spinning, kite flying, and thatch work adding to the cultural highlights. 

Live background music will be played by the North Side Kitchen Band. The Garden Party is part of the ongoing celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the restoration of Pedro St James by the people of Cayman. 

Additional sponsorship for the Garden Party is being provided by Cayman National, CUC, Foster's Food Fair-IGA, AI Rentals, and Countryside Shopping Village by Heritage Holdings Ltd, with promotional assistance from the Caymanian Compass. 

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