It almost goes without saying that The Bahamas is a tropical paradise. It’s close to the US but has an entirely more favorable tax regime. With thousands of hours of sunshine and temperatures that range from mild to hot it’s hard to imagine an unpleasant corner of the island country. And with over 700 islands to choose from, it’s easy to think that options must be unlimited.
The best places to live in The Bahamas for you will depend, at least partly, on your goals and life situation.
Is your relocation part of a dream retirement plan? Are you moving your digital nomad operation to The Bahamas? Will you be working for a company in the country’s financial center?
We’ll take all of these factors into account as we figure out where to live in The Bahamas. Read on for your guide to strategically approaching this essential question.
Compared to other Carribean countries that fit into the one-big-island category (like Cuba or Jamaica), The Bahamas is what’s known as an “archipelagic state”. In other words, the country is spread out across 100s of islands, reefs, islets and cays.
First of all, of the 700 total islands, only 30 are inhabited. That cuts the selection down significantly but there is still a noticeable difference between the inhabited islands.
When relocating to some countries it’s mostly about picking the right town or neighborhood for you. But in The Bahamas, what island you’re on is what makes most of the difference.
Roughly 70% of the 320,000 Bahamanians live on New Providence island. Nassau, the capital, largest city and financial center is located on New Providence and legally covers the whole island.
There were various settlements on New Providence but development and relocation to the island since the 1950s has caused Nassau to sprawl over basically the whole island.
New Providence includes a few wealthy and very exclusive areas. Lyford Cay is one of the most exclusive gated communities in the world and includes one of the Bahamas’ top-rated schools.
In the Bahamas, locals refer to all of the islands except for New Providence and Grand Bahama as “the Out Islands”.
Most people on Grand Bahama live in either Freeport or Lucaya. The former is more touristy (with cruise ships calling regularly) and the latter has more of a locals-only vibe.
Away from the cruise ships and bank towers these are where you’ll truly find the pure expression of island life in The Bahamas. Highlights in this part of The Bahamas include:
The Out Islands can still be an option even if you’re not ready to retire to the beach for the entire year. The government of The Bahamas understands that the secluded lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean giving up creature comforts and occasional access to the outside world.
For instance, there are four flights a day from Exuma to Nassau and much of the main Eleuthera island is served by municipal water and sewer systems.
Generally, when a country becomes a popular focus for expats there are three likely candidates to consider when looking for where they’ve already clustered. They are:
In some ways, The Bahamas offers all three. Wealthy expats tend to live in gated communities within easy reach of both the beach and the financial center. Nassau also has more affordable options in newly established areas.
Here’s a list of expat communities on New Providence:
If you’re planning to retire to The Bahamas and want to be among other retirees, look back to the discussion of thinking of The Bahamas on an island-by-island basis. Very generally speaking retirees group themselves:
The main factor that make things expensive in The Bahamas is tourist demand. Generally, this means that the further you move from the beach and Nassau, the cheaper may be.
The Bahamas’ real estate market is not at all an apples-to-apples comparison. A beachfront home on Eleuthera, one of the popular Out Islands, could go for $2,000,000 while the same in Nassau can be had for about $10,000,000.