Living in The Bahamas: Here’s What You Should Know Before Buying a Home


Crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and a warm tropical climate have made The Bahamas an attractive destination for travellers and vacationers from around the world. 

But this paradise is more than a temporary escape for an increasing number of people considering putting down roots in this stunning archipelago. 

For the last decade, the immigrant influx in The Bahamas has been steadily increasing. According to The Bahamas 2022 Census, net migration almost doubled between 2010 and 2022, accounting for half of the population growth in 2022. 

Living in The Bahamas, even short-term, is a dream many share. With its booming real estate market and a surge in newcomers, it's essential to understand the intricacies of calling these islands home. 

In this blog, we will guide you to the Bahamian way of life, the legal aspects of owning property in The Bahamas, popular neighbourhoods, and much more. Whether you're thinking about moving to The Bahamas temporarily or living here long-term, we've got you covered. So, let’s discover what it truly means to be part of the vibrant and welcoming Bahamian community.

What It’s Like To Live in The Bahamas

The Bahamas is a unique blend of tropical paradise and vibrant culture. From pristine beaches to a welcoming community, the Bahamian way of life has its own charm. Of course, living in the Bahamas has pros and cons, and we'll share the various aspects of this captivating experience with you. 

Whether you're drawn to the relaxed island pace, the stunning natural beauty, or the rich cultural heritage, we've got the inside scoop on what life is really like in this captivating island nation.

Cost of living in The Bahamas

The cost of living in The Bahamas is generally higher— whether it's the price of goods or housing, living in this tropical paradise can be considered a premium experience.

However, it's important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on your chosen island and the neighbourhood.

While Nassau, the capital city, has the most amenities and the highest expenses, other islands, such as Eleuthera, Exuma or Abaco, may provide a more affordable way of life. 

On average, the cost of living in Nassau is around $1500, excluding accommodation. Since Nassau accommodates a spectrum of lifestyles and budgets, it offers both affordable options and luxurious enclaves for those seeking an elevated cost of living.

In contrast, Eleuthera and Exuma offer more affordable options for those who wish to enjoy the Bahamian lifestyle without the bustling city expenses. Still, it’s your lifestyle that will dictate your expenses. For example, some items in Eleuthera may be priced up to 40% higher than in Nassau. 

Unique Bahamian Culture

The Bahamian way of life reflects a vibrant tapestry woven with African, Caribbean, and British colonial influences. The rhythms of Goombay and Rake and Scrape music add a melodic thread to this rich cultural mosaic.

The heart of Bahamian vitality beats strongly during the Junkanoo Festival, a captivating celebration of music, dance, and art. It's an iconic symbol of the lively Bahamian spirit.

Hospitality is deeply rooted in the Bahamian ethos. The warm and welcoming nature of the Bahamian people is evident in their interactions, making newcomers feel like part of the community. The Family Islands, in particular, emphasise close-knit relationships where everyone is considered a neighbour.

The lifestyle is generally laid-back, and everything runs on the unhurried rhythm of Island Time. Many expats find it challenging at first but grow to cherish the peace and calm unique to life in The Bahamas.

Expat Community in The Bahamas

New Providence boasts a thriving expat community, making it effortlessly simple to connect with like-minded individuals. Expatriates can often discover many opportunities to forge friendships and shared interests. 

You can form social bonds through school connections, women's clubs, and specialised groups like cooking or running clubs. With activities ranging from rugby and hockey leagues to sailing groups and volunteer opportunities, there's a diverse array of options for every taste.

The inclusive atmosphere extends to the various community club memberships on the island, where memberships offer a chance to meet fellow expats and enjoy the facilities, amenities and functions. 

Working in The Bahamas

For those seeking employment in The Bahamas, opportunities abound in teaching, banking, and accounting. However, it's important to note that you’ll need a work permit whether you work as an employee or entrepreneur. 

The paradigm shift towards remote work during the pandemic has transformed The Bahamas into an ideal destination for digital nomads and executives. With the ability to work remotely from this sunny paradise, professionals can seamlessly balance productivity and leisure. 

Quality of Education 

The Bahamas has a robust private education system with options to suit all budgets and academic preferences, providing locals and expats with world-class education opportunities for their children.

Each one of the private schools in The Bahamas is unique in setting, culture, and curriculum. However, many expatriates prefer International Baccalaureate programs, offered by three schools in Nassau and one in Lyford Cay. 

You can also find specialised academies which cover subjects like Equestrian, Golf, Marine Biology, Music, STEM, and Tennis and provide unique learning experiences. 

Many expatriate students in The Bahamas pursue higher education abroad or attend the University of The Bahamas (UB). UB stands as the nation's premier tertiary institution, symbolising the country's aspirations. Since its inception in 1974, the university's commitment to excellence has made it an esteemed choice for those seeking higher education opportunities within the islands.

Condition of Healthcare

Healthcare in the Bahamas has seen substantial improvements, notably in Nassau and Grand Bahama, with new facilities and highly qualified medical professionals enhancing overall health. 

The government’s Healthy Lifestyle Initiatives promote public well-being and make medical care accessible through public hospitals, community clinics, and private healthcare centres. 

You can avail primary health care benefits with National Health Insurance Bahamas or seek private insurance options, which are also readily available. With major US cities a short flight away and easily accessible from Bahamian islands, routine healthcare is not a significant issue while living in The Bahamas.

Legal Considerations When Buying a Home in The Bahamas

When considering a move to the Bahamas, individuals often face the decision to rent or buy. You will find abundant options for both. However, many people prefer to buy property in The Bahamas since it appreciates well over the years, and you can earn handsome rental income when you’re not living there. 

Buying property in The Bahamas is easy, and your real estate agent will make sure you fulfil all the legal obligations properly. Let's look at some legal aspects of buying a home in this tropical paradise.

Process of Buying Property as an Expat in The Bahamas

Buying real estate in The Bahamas is a straightforward process, but we recommend you engage a real estate agency to understand your options and find the best deal. Here are the exact steps to buy a house in The Bahamas.

  1. Select an Agent:  Engage a local real estate agent to navigate the diverse real estate options across the islands.

  2. Understand Costs:  Determine your budget and consider additional costs like VAT, Real Property Tax, and legal fees.

  3. Legal Considerations:  Non-Bahamians may need permits for certain property types and register their purchase with the Foreign Investment Board.

  4. Choose Property Type:  Decide on a property type based on lifestyle and budget, such as condos for convenience or beachfront houses for luxury living.

  5. Tour Selected Properties:  Utilise in-person or virtual tours to assess shortlisted properties.

  6. Negotiate the Price and Close the Sale:  Leverage local market expertise to secure the best deal and navigate closing processes.

Learn more about buying a property in The Bahamas

Capital Gains Tax

Capital gains tax is not applicable in the Bahamas, offering a favourable tax-free environment for property investors. This helps preserve their wealth and potentially boost their overall returns, making real estate investments in The Bahamas quite lucrative and profitable.

Real Property Tax

The annual property tax is calculated based on the property’s market value, usage, and ownership. The tax rate varies, and exemptions may apply. It's a key consideration for homeowners, impacting their financial responsibilities and influencing the overall cost of property ownership.

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

Non-Bahamian buyers pay 10% VAT on purchases over $100,000 and 2.5% on purchases below $100,000. Buyers are obligated to pay half of the VAT.

Regulations for Permanent Residency

Non-Bahamians owning property are eligible for permanent residency. With an investment of $750,000 or more, you can get speedy consideration, making it an attractive option for those looking to settle down quickly. 

Permits for Foreigners Buying Property in The Bahamas

Foreign buyers need permits when buying properties over 2 acres, rental properties, or properties for commercial purposes. They also enjoy the same rights and tax exemptions as Bahamian citizens. 

Some Popular Areas To Consider When Buying a Home in The Bahamas

Whether you prefer beachfront homes with private docks, colourful historic villages, or modern condos with all the perks, you'll find them all in this diverse island country. The most populated island in The Bahamas, Nassau, has a lively energy that attracts people from around the world. 

On the other hand, the Family Islands are known for their peaceful charm and true island lifestyle. Let’s look at these islands and their notable communities briefly so you can find the neighbourhood that is most suitable for you. 

Best Neighbourhoods in Nassau

Nassau/New Providence is The Bahamas' most densely populated island, known for its spectacular developments, profitable investment, and lavish amenities. Here are some neighbourhoods in Nassau that are popular among expatriate residents.

Lyford Cay: Located in the west of New Providence, Lyford Cay is a luxury gated community with a fantastic beach, golf course, club, marina and school. Wealthy locals, expats, and investors who want a grand, luxury home should look into Lyford Cay.

Sandyport: Sandyport is a canal-based community with mid-size homes and townhouses. It’s extremely popular with locals and expats alike for its family-friendly neighbourhood and proximity to many amenities. 

Port New Providence: It’s a canal-based community with its own private beach, becoming increasingly popular among expats. In this gated community, you can find large homes on large lots and condos at Seapointe.

Delaporte: It’s an oceanfront gated community near Cable Beach Strip. This community attracts investors and homebuyers for its central location and smaller, affordable townhomes.

Goldwynn: Goldwynn Phase 2, The Penthouses at Goldwynn, offer the ultimate beachfront living in Nassau. These luxury penthouse suites are the epitome of modern luxury, with sweeping panoramic ocean views and exclusive amenities!

Ocean Club Estates: Ocean Club Estates is an exclusive luxury beachfront community on Paradise Island, known for its golf course and harbourfront homes and condos.

Palm Cay: It’s one of the few communities allowing vacation rentals, making it hugely popular with investors. Beachfront, marina-based Palm Cay has a full suite of amenities and features single-family homes and condos in multiple sizes and price points.

Windsor Lakes: It’s one of the newest communities in New Providence, located next door to Albany. Windsor Lakes offers affordable single and multifamily lots and home packages. This gated western community is perfect for locals and investors alike, whether they wish to buy real estate in The Bahamas to live or rent out for income.

Popular Islands To Live on in The Bahamas

The lifestyle and cost of living in the Bahamas vary significantly across its islands. The location of the island, available amenities, and how accessible it is are all important factors you should consider when deciding where to live in the Bahamas. Let’s discuss a few popular Family Islands and what it's like to live there.

Cat Island: Cat Island is known for its natural beauty, but housing options here are limited. It’s best for those seeking a simpler, more remote lifestyle. Some notable communities are Pigeon Cay, Hawks Nest, Greenwood, and Fernandez Bay, offering a peaceful island experience without gated communities or high-end amenities.

Exuma Cays: The cost of living is high in Exuma, and short-term rentals are more common in communities like Tar Bay, Tropic of Cancer Beach, Emerald Bay, Rolleville, Rolletown, George Town, and more. Furthermore, there are more than 360 jaw-dropping private islands for those seeking the pinnacle of luxury and privacy in paradise. The world-famous Halls Pond Cay and Musha Cay are also in Exuma Cays. 

Treasure Cay: Treasure Cay is a picturesque beachfront paradise located just 30 minutes by air from South Florida. Real estate offerings range from charming beach bungalows and resort-style condominiums to opulent luxury estates. Treasure Cay is an attractive destination for a serene, cost-effective beachfront living experience.

Picture yourself in the Bahamas— sunny beaches, lively culture, and friendly folks. Living here means embracing island vibes and making it your own. Learn about neighbourhoods, cultural flavours, and buying property with ERA Dupuch Real Estate as your guide. Ready to call the Bahamas home? Reach out to us today and start your island journey!

Posted by Helen Dupuch on
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