The Bahamas’ reputation as an idyllic refuge for those seeking luxury homes, private islands or a relaxing holiday is well known throughout the world, but the island chain, located just off the coast of Florida, also offers unparalleled opportunities to mix business and pleasure.
In addition to the advantages of great weather, The Bahamas provides an excellent international business environment for advisors and their clients as well as many attractive features for those who may wish to relocate permanently or have a second home. So while the technical aspects of the structure of a bank or other professionally driven considerations may point one in the direction of The Bahamas, it is often the personal and housekeeping aspects that may actually convince an advisor or a client of the wisdom of this selection.
##Housing and Second Home Development##
Second home ownership is one of the fastest growing sectors in the real estate industry. Development companies are strengthening their position in the tourism market by developing communities for the second-home market in key tourist destinations – where higher standards of service and a people-friendly culture combined with comfortable climates already exist.
The magic of high -end waterfront communities packed with lifestyle amenities from golf and tennis to marinas is attracting more and more second and third-home buyers from North and South America, Europe and the Far East. From Nassau and Paradise Island, in Grand Bahama to private islands, from grand estates to hideaways on once-slumbering Family islands, the choices are plentiful and prices range from under $100,000 to multi-millions, with one island recently changing hands at more than $45 million.
There are many conveyancing attorneys in The Bahamas who are skilled in property transactions of all kinds. It is not difficult to purchase in The Bahamas although clients will have to comply with the regulations of the Bahamas Government to “know the customer”, and investor prior approval is required in some cases.
The Bahamas is a service economy accustomed to providing concierge residential management services for homeowners who are not in residence.
Permanent Residence allows the holder to pass freely through Immigration hassle free. There is no physical requirement that you need to be in the Bahamas a minimum or maximum number of days and the norm is that spouses and children are endorsed on the permit which attracts a one time government fee of $10,000.00. Persons with permanent residence are for all intents and purposes treated like a Bahamian except for right to vote.
Acceleration of the permanent residence application is also available for persons who spend a minimum of $500,000 on a residence.
Individuals who hold a work permit for five or seven years also have a “right to work” in their own business. This may be of particular interest to those who may be interested in following their money or even having a second home.
There is also a category known as “annual residence” which as the name suggests is renewed annually. There is also the ability to apply for a “homeowners resident card”, a final category that, while not conferring any of the privileges of permanent resident, does assist the holder to move freely through Immigration at any port of entry.
Individuals can also bring in their own personal assistants or household staff subject to the clearance of the Director of Immigration and the issuance of a work permit.
Educational facilities are always a big concern to families that are looking at a new location. The Bahamas has a number of excellent private schools in New Providence and Freeport some of which have been internationally accredited by ECIS and NAIS the two bodies that accredit the leading European and North American schools. Bahamian students have consistently ranked with some of the best results and routinely matriculate on to the best universities in the US, Canada and Europe. This environment is founded on the commitment by The Bahamas to the development of its human resources. A sizeable portion of the National Budget is allocated to education.
There are two major hospitals in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama with US, European and UWI trained doctors capable of performing the most delicate brain and coronary procedures. Air ambulance service is also available to access U.S. medical facilities just 45 minutes away in Florida.
From Europe, commercial airlines offer direct daily flights from London – and shortly direct from Paris; while from North America there are daily and frequent flights to Miami (several times a day), Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston and many other US cities and Toronto.
There is also an excellent private FBO in New Providence catering to those who travel by private jet with all of the usual supporting amenities. In total The Bahamas has 14 international airports located in New Providence, Grand Bahama Island and a number of Family Islands.
The Bahamas also has a large number of marinas able to accommodate large yachts and numerous ports of entry.
There is no distinction between Bahamians and non-Bahamians, creating an environment in which international persons receive the same benefits that Bahamians do. This includes:
* The Bahamas commitment to a tax neutral platform in which there are no income, capital gains and inheritance taxes;
* No stamp duty on security transactions;
* A 10 per cent Government stamp tax at the purchase of a new home;
* Real property taxes of 1.5 per cent of the property value; and,
* A modest national insurance monthly for employees of less than $200.
Full banking services are available with global currency capability, structured products and personalized service. The country’s wide range of company and advisory services have established The Bahamas as an ideal domicile for the management of personal wealth for both individuals and families. There is also a comprehensive array of opportunities to plan, protect and transfer wealth through trusts, including purpose trusts, foundations, investment funds, particularly the SMART© fund, companies and partnerships.
##An Established, Progressive and Welcoming home for Investors##
**To develop its service-based economy, individuals are welcome to work in The Bahamas.** As a developing country, The Bahamas seeks to provide increased employment opportunities for Bahamians and to employ school and university graduates in increasingly diverse economic sectors. Moreover the Government welcomes non-Bahamians with specialised skills and expertise which are not otherwise locally available. Normally, such persons will be involved in business enterprises which create employment opportunities for Bahamians, such as banking, hotels or agribusiness.
The cost of a work permit varies from $350.00 for a farm worker to $12,500.00 for a senior professional person. Work Permits are usually granted for one year in the first instance except for senior personnel in which case it is normally for a three year period.
In the global marketplace, The Bahamas is also well positioned with its location at the crossroads of the Americas and its traditional ties to Europe to facilitate investment into major centres. The Bahamas has English as its official language, currency that is on a par with US dollars, a stable government and an independent judiciary..
Most importantly, investors will find a warm welcome when they come to The Bahamas as the country is committed to creating an environment that is attractive to business and the enjoyment of life.