Are you planning a move to the Bahamas? If yes, there are several essential pieces of information you must know before you pack your bags. You might have visited the island once or twice on vacation. Or you might have heard positive reviews from tourists who have been there. Regardless, a mere vacation is much different from actually living in the Bahamas.
There are several reasons why you may be moving. Whether you are a retiree or an expatriate, you still need to make sure that you fully understand what living in the Bahamas entails.This will make your move easier and more successful.
The Bahamas is one of the most famous Islands in the Caribbean. Although it primarily serves as a tourist highlight, it’s still an excellent place to live. Many foreigners live here and are regarded as part of the community.
Choosing a place to live in a foreign city can be tricky. You have to consider several options, and it may even become overwhelming. Here’s our breakdown of the best places to live in the Bahamas. We have also shared several things to note before you make your final decision to move.
Get to Know the Islands of the Bahamas
The Bahamas is one of the most expensive places in the Caribbean. It contains over 88% of the Lucayan Archipelago. It is also home to diverse islands, cays, reefs, and fascinating water. Many assume that the Bahamas is just a large island with various tourist attraction sites. However, it is much more unique than that.
You may not know this, but the Bahamas has about 700 Islands and 2,400 cays. Only 30 islands are inhabited. This means that the other Islands are isolated and have no settlements. Some of these isolated islands are open to short visits and sightseeing.
Since there are so many settlements, you have more options to choose from. The resident islands are distinct and have different features. They vary in terms of real estate, population, hospitality, and many other factors. It would help if you had more insight than a mere tourist representation before choosing to live in any of these islands.
In this archipelago state, you are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. You will always come in contact with water. Many people who live there describe it as having the ocean in their backyard. You are coming to a place with more than one destination within a destination.
This independent state can be classified into a separate island group. They include:
New Providence Island
This is the largest populated island in the Bahamas. It contains over 70% of the country’s population. It is also the location of the capital city, called Nassau. Smaller settlements such as Lyford Cay, Adelaide, and Fox Hill are in New Providence. New Providence is right between Andros Island and Eleuthera Island.
It serves as the central commercial hub of the Bahamas. It is also where most of the economic activities take place. In addition, the island encourages a lot of agriculture and fishing. And it produces rum that is exported to international markets.
New Providence is the seat of all the legislative, judiciary, and executive arms of government. It also attracts the most tourist and international attention because of its upscale activities. You can consider New Providence Island if you want to live in a place where there are bustling activities.
Grand Bahama Island
This is another great Island in the Bahamas. Although it is not as populated as New Providence, it is pretty large. Freeport, which is the second-largest city in the Bahamas is here. It is another bustling island just like New Providence. However, not many commercial activities take place here.
It is less known than New Providence or Nassau. It also has a more cosmopolitan orientation and encourages a lot of sporting activities. Many tourists prefer to stay here because of the resorts and the exotic beaches.
The island has based its economy on tourism, and it is pretty successful. Most of the occupations here fall under hospitality management. Freeport, the largest city here, is mainly a shipping and trade center. Residents, therefore, enjoy easy and duty-free shipping. This island is also really close to Miami, Florida. This encourages more trade interactions between these two places.
It is also referred to as Family Islands by the natives. Out Islands describe other islands that are not part of New Providence or Grand Bahama. It mainly includes Abaco Island, Exuma, and Eleuthera Island. It also comprises about 80% landmass of the Bahamas country.
According to the natives, the out islands are where you experience the true culture of Bahamians. The people often describe it as unspoiled. This is because there are far fewer tourist sites here compared to other islands. There are fewer activities here, and it is mainly used for settlement purposes.
If you desire a more secluded island experience, the out islands are best. The population of these islands consists mainly of local Bahamians. These islands also vary in size and mass. It is the best place to live in the Bahamas, especially for families.
Paradise Island is on the eastern side of New Providence. It is best known as the site of the Atlantis resort. Two bridges connect Paradise Island to Nassau.
Since it is mainly dominated by the Atlantis, sites on this island are only open to guests. It is mostly for tourists and has guards protecting it. Although beaches are legally public property, most spaces on this island belong to private owners. Many places are off-limits to outsiders and non-tourists.
The buildings on Paradise Island all look the same and have casino-style structures. It encourages more visitors than actual residents with just one shopping street. Things on this island are quite pricey and cost much less in Nassau. Even simple activities like parking are expensive and you are fined if you extend your time. It is also hard to navigate this island without a guide.
Best Places to Live in the Bahamas
While it may be easy to visit the Bahamas on vacation, living in this country is not that easy. There are several factors you have to consider before you decide to move. You need to pay attention to factors like cost of living, security, and real estate value. This will help you form a well-informed decision on the best place to live in the Bahamas.
With so many options, it can be harder for you to decide. However, with the guide below, you can choose whichever town is most suited for you with ease.
This is the most populated city in the Bahamas. Also formally known as Charles Town, it is the capital of the country. Nassau is a progressive, well-developed urban city with many attractive features. It is a really busy city and there are always festivals or events going on.
Since Nassau is the central point of commercial activities in the Bahamas, there are a lot of expatriates and business workers here. Expect to find modernized infrastructure, advanced healthcare, and standard schools. The demographic government is also relatively stable.
Other factors to consider include
- Cost of living – The overall cost of living in Nassau is high. Goods are usually shipped in, resulting in high import duties. As a result, prices tend to be on the high side. However, if you have a steady job that pays well, you will enjoy living here.
- Accommodation – Nassau has a huge population but it is relatively small in size. Accommodation options are limited, especially if you compare it with other islands. When you live in Nassau, you are never far from the beach. Real estate is expensive in some areas like the private beach houses downtown. It is much cheaper to rent apartments or small condos if you’re living alone. The apartment buildings are massive and a little bit pricey but they’re still worth it.
- Security – Nassau is a safe place to live and the crime rate here is low. Regardless, there are still some places to avoid especially at night. You will need to take safety precautions and mind the places you visit alone.
Nassau is one of the best places to live in the Bahamas. The people here are accommodating and friendly. It is a great choice if you want to enjoy a bustling city life with some island features.
Eleuthera is a much different place to live than Nassau. It is beautiful, non-hostile and the people here are very calm. This island is much more peaceful and it is unlike the city. There are also fewer social interactions and activities here.
This is where you will experience true island culture without any distractions. It is where you will properly experience the true nature of the Bahamian customs because it is less occupied by tourists. The islanders regard it as a family island because it is more peaceful and less busy than cities like Nassau or Freeport. You may also consider other factors such as:
- Cost of Living – The cost of living is less expensive than in Nassau. However, it is hard to move from one beach to another without transport. Eleuthera has more landmass than Nassau or Freeport. So there’s some distance between places. Transportation in the Bahamas is expensive but if you don’t have your vehicle you can rent from a shop.
- Accommodation – You will find various living quarters on this Island. Instead of apartment buildings and condos, there are more beach houses and private cottages. It encourages large families with children. However, these homes cost quite a lot of money. You can decide to rent from private homeowners if you can’t afford to buy a house.
- Security – Eleuthera is one of the safest islands in the Bahamas. There isn’t a lot of trouble here because most of the inhabitants are peaceful. People who live here also watch out for their neighbors. It is much like a very small town where everyone knows one another.
Eleuthera is a great place if you have a family and you like a quieter ambiance. It is suitable for retirees and elderly people who want a more settled life. You also can visit other islands easily through boats.
The great island of Abaco is also one of the family islands. It is a beautiful island surrounded by a huge amount of water. The environment and atmosphere are also very peaceful, similar to Eleuthera.
There are also tons of activities to do in Abaco, especially fishing sports. It attracts a lot of boating enthusiasts and people who prefer a low-key lifestyle. The natives are welcoming and relate very well with foreigners.
- Cost of living – There is a high standard of living in Abaco. Still, the cost of living isn’t more expensive than on other islands. There is more supply of fresh foods here and grocery stores offer more food options. The water is shallow and encourages fishing activities.
- Accommodation – There are many gated communities and homes in Abaco. This is a huge benefit for people who want a private life. The island has a safe harbor and many homes have their private dock.
- Security – Abaco is a safe and comfortable place to live. The beaches are protected and family-friendly. Children can also play around easily without any worry. However, it’s still good to observe simple safety measures in places you’re not familiar with.
This is another large city in the Bahamas. It is much like Nassau, only with less population. It appeals to a lot of tourists who want to experience the Grand Bahama island. It is also a good place to live for expatriates.
Freeport contains the island’s international airport and can also host many aircraft. The island has proximity to Florida, US. Most of the foreigners here are even Americans. This is due to the regular trade relations between America and the Bahamas.
You can also consider:
- Cost of Living – Living in Freeport is less expensive than in Nassau. Residents pay less for shipping since it is the island’s primary shipping hub. It is also easy to travel to and from Miami, Florida if you live in Freeport.
- Expenses on utilities, leisure, and entertainment are on a high scale here. Most residents spend more money on groceries and food items, prioritizing a lesser social life. This is a relief for people with restrictive spending budgets.
- Accommodation – Real estate in Freeport ranges in terms of price. There are private island homes and many urban apartments you can choose from. It is not a very large city and there are public buses that residents use to move around. You can also enjoy island living with up-to-date infrastructure. There is one government hospital and well-established schools. Here, you get both the feel of peaceful island life and a social life.
- Security – Much like any large city, there are a few crime disturbances. The crimes are mostly petty robberies. The murder cases are usually gang-related. The people are familiar with tourists and foreign expatriates, so they understand how to keep themselves safe from strange parties.
Great Exuma is another island that belongs in the out islands. Although it is not as well established as Eleuthera or Abaco, you can definitely settle here. It is mostly suited for older couples looking for a getaway place. Natives connect well with people but there isn’t much to do here.
There is only one major settlement here called George Town. If you’re a young person, you may not enjoy Exuma because it caters to a minimal lifestyle. There aren’t big shopping areas and it’s hard to buy even minor things.
- Cost of Living – The cost of living here is really low, especially since expenses are minimal. You can store the resources you need until you need to restock. People who live here have moderate spending habits and do everything by themselves. You can also use the ferry boat if you need to visit other islands.
- Accommodation – You can easily buy small private islands and cays since it is quite affordable. This is because of the low tax system for foreigners. There are also rental options where you can lease small rental estates for a minimum of one year.
- Security – Exuma is popular for its serenity and beauty. Much of the land is undisturbed and pretty secure. However, if you don’t know your way around you can easily get lost.
Related: How to Buy Property in the Bahamas
Pros and Cons of Living in the Bahamas
The Bahamas is one of the most attractive tourist centers in the Caribbean. It has gained popularity as one of the most beautiful places to live. Regardless, there are things you need to know before you complete your move to the island.
- Taxation – The country offers duty-free shipping and import services to foreigners. As a foreigner, you are not legally required to pay tax. Therefore, you can enjoy full benefits without having to pay tax.
- People – The people are friendly and connect with foreigners. You will meet people who share your interest that you can mix with.
- Language – The official language of the country is English. This removes language barriers and you can communicate well with natives.
- Work Permit – If you are under the age of 30, you can not get a work permit and work in the Bahamas. Even if you’re older than 30, it is very hard to get one after you move. Without a work permit, you cannot legally make a living.
- Transportation – Vehicles are expensive to purchase due to the high shipping cost. You will have to pay a huge amount of money to get any kind of vehicle on the island.
If you’re considering living in the Bahamas, then you are in for a treat. You can enjoy the upscale urban life with a serene island environment. There are also many new experiences you can try. However, the tourist experience is much different from actually living in the Bahamas. You need to make some considerations before making a final decision.
The best place to live in the Bahamas cannot be defined since there are so many options. Nevertheless, you can check out our ideas on dwelling options in the Bahamas and choose the one best suited for you. If you think there’s anything we missed, let us know in the comment section below.
Want to move to the Bahamas and can’t decide where to live? Check our 5 different suggestions on the best place to live in the Bahamas.
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