Best Islands to Live On: Grand Cayman

Why Grand Cayman? Whether you're looking to spend your island life in board shorts or a business suit, Grand Cayman could be the place for you. The island's West Side is modern and developed, home to a booming financial-services sector, which has attracted more than a few expat lawyers and bankers. Over on the East Side, things slow down. Chill on the beach, strap on the scuba gear or hop on your kiteboard -- it's all good, dude. Whichever way you turn, you'll find a safe, stable island that reminds you a bit of home but that's different in all the right ways.Life of an "Expat" "I can't find my shoes," says Mike Minichiello, fumbling around on the phone at home on Grand Cayman as the wind whistles. "But that's one of the beauties of living on an island -- you can still go to the supermarket without them." Mike, 33, has lived on the quieter -- and breezier -- East Side for almost a year. View Larger Map
Lured from his previous home in Miami in search of the perfect place to ply his trade: kiteboarding instructor. "There were a few students in the Cayman Islands who wanted to learn, but they didn't want to come to Miami," he says. "Instead, they flew me down to Grand Cayman. When I got here, I realized how perfect this island is for what I do." Mike's students include the usual tourists, as well as a fair number of the expats who populate the West Side and work in its financial-services sector. "The West Side seems like a city compared to the East Side," Mike says. "The East Side has the natural beauty, diving and water sports, whereas the West Side has the infrastructure, banks and law firms." But the economy in the Caymans is a boon to everyone, Mike says. "There are a lot of beautiful places in the Caribbean, but the safety and infrastructure are not there. Here, you have probably the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. Like they say, 'You don't need to steal if you already have.'" Mike lives in a house on the beach with a handful of fellow water-sports instructors. "It's pretty easy to find nice little spots to live if you don't mind sharing with other people," he says. "Where I live now, I look out my window and see pretty much the most beautiful water you can imagine. We have a nice big deck that looks out on that, and you can eat your breakfast out there. I've ridden my bike to work, not passing more than one or two cars. I can stop and grab a coconut and drink coconut water for breakfast. That's a lot different than the Miami lifestyle." ** Your New Home** * $ Three-bedroom home has a pool with a slide, gazebo and fish pond. $350,000 * $$ Five-bedroom home with a pool is blocks from central George Town. $960,000 * $$$ 6,500 sq. ft. home on Rum Point with infinity pool, three-car garage and grand staircases. $4.2 million * Find more real-estate listings at caymanluxuryproperty.com.Facts of Life * Climate: Tropical * Population of island: 55,000 * Percentage expats: 40% * Population of main town: George Town, 38,000 * House starting price: $300s * Travel from U.S.: Nonstop flights on Cayman Airways * Closest hospital: George Town * Price of local beer: $4.25 for Caybrew * Language spoken: English * Ease of immigration: Easy * Ease of buying a home: Easy * Website: caymanislands.kyExplore More * Find more islands to live or retire on at islands.com/live.