Why Buy in Caribbean?
The Caribbean offers a laid back way of life; sunshine, amazing music and people, Caribbean rum, exotic food, and a generally blissful existence. Tropical thunderstorms and hurricanes are to be expected, however this can be something of a magical experience due to the sheer ferocity of it. The Caribbean climate is highly tropical and warm rain frequently falls in the rainy season.
The Caribbean is classed as one of the worlds biodiversity hotspots and supports exceptionally diverse terrestrial and marine ecosystems; from cloud forests in the mountains, to cactus scrublands. The estimated population is around 40million for all the islands in the Caribbean so it is not the place to be if you want space and time to be alone. The people here are warm and friendly and the food is exquisite.
The Caribbean cuisine is an eclectic mix of influences from Africa, America, India, Britain, Indian and Chinese to name but a few. A traditional dish is likely to involve chicken and rice, but you may also find more adventurous dishes to try, such as goat stew!
Getting Started - is it possible for you to buy in Caribbean?
The term 'The Caribbean' encompasses a vast number of islands including Dominican Republic, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Margarita Island, Cuba, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. It therefore stands to reason that there will be a number of variations in terms of the property market regulations.
Over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean region permit foreigners to buy property; however some place restrictions on the type of property they can buy and there are a variety of stringent laws that need to be observed and licenses which need to be obtained. For instance in Tobago, foreign nationals are required to apply for a licence to purchase residential property. However, certain areas have been named as Designated Development Areas and here licences will be freely granted to foreigners to purchase land or property once they have supplied the relevant information. In other areas applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. You will need to check all this out upfront, or get an expert property lawyer to do so for you.
To find out more on how to get started on your Caribbean property buying journey, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Caribbean Property Buying Guide.
Finance - how much does it cost to buy a property in Caribbean?
It is impossible to give a generalised overview of costs in this region as they vary considerably. What you do need to do is to decide on the place that you want to buy and then to research your costs very thoroughly. For instance, do estate agents charge their commission to the vendor or to you, the buyer? And do they charge for showing you around their properties?
You'll want to know what fees are associated with the transfer taxes, the stamp duty, legal fees and notary fees if any. Some islands such as the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla require that non-residents apply for a Non-Belongers License before they can own property - what is the cost involved here?
As an example, when buying property in the Dominican Republic there are two property taxes. There is the transfer tax which is calculated at 3% of the sales price or the price that the Inland Revenue valued the property at - whichever is the higher. Then there is the annual property tax which is 1% of the value of the property.
Then of course there are the other usual charges such as lawyer and surveyor plus perhaps 1% of the value of the property in addition to these fees to cover stamps and other costs such as translations if those prove necessary. It is always advisable to have a survey done too...
Here are the relevant fees that would apply to a property purchase in the Dominican Republic. They are a percentage of the value of the property from the surveyor's valuation report or the agreed purchase price, whichever value is higher.
- Government fees: These are 7.5% and are made up of 1% Assurance Fee, 4% Stamp Duty and 2.5% Judicial Fee.
- Legal fees: 3% (plus 15% VAT).
- Survey fees: as required.
- Alien Tax: All non-nationals must pay an additional 10% Alien Tax irrespective of the size of property purchased.
Finding a Caribbean property - where should you start?
Search for property in the Caribbean with Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk - the best place to search for property in the Caribbean and part of Rightmove.co.uk, the UK's number one property website. From the pristine beaches and clear sparkling waters to the vibrant colours and fantastic cuisine, the Caribbean has much to offer. Whether you're looking for a beach side villa in Barbados or an apartment St. Lucia, there is a great range of property in the Caribbean and Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk is the best place to find the very latest property in the Caribbean.
To find out more on how to finance and find a property in Caribbean, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Caribbean Property Buying Guide.
Legalities - how to estate agents operate in the Caribbean?
If you will be using the services of an estate agent (or a realtor in American!) you need to make sure that they are with a registered Estate Agency (or Real Estate Agency). They should also be a member of a regulatory association such as the Association of Real Estate Agents (AREA) in Trinidad and Tobago. Always ask the basic questions: how long they have been in business? Can they provide satisfied customers for you to chat to? Are they part of any estate agency industry regulation? Remember, you are NOT making a new best friend - leave that British reserve at the door and ensure that you satisfy yourself as to the integrity and the track record of the agents you choose.
Settling into Caribbean - how can you make friends?
The Caribbean people are friendly by nature and very polite. The youth respect their elders and will happily give way to older generations on the footpath and so forth.
As for things to do to help you settle in, how about exploring many of the islands in the Caribbean? Each island offers something different, like swimming with sting rays or high flying zip wires! There are special sports camps to keep the children occupied during holidays which will give you time to learn to scuba dive, swim with sharks and even swim under a waterfall! For the less adventurous, why not soak up the sun on the glorious beaches, take a stroll through the beautiful forests, or sip on a cool martini, shaken or stirred?
To find out more on legalities, moving and settling into your new home in Caribbean, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Caribbean Property Buying Guide.