This page is about using the Cayman Islands as a location for a Basestead or Seastead Outpost. The basic idea is to assemble a moderate number of would-be Seasteaders into one location on land. After assembling, we then work simultaneously on engineering work (designing and building seastead structures) as well as socio-economic structures (laws, businesses, etc). For more discussion of these ideas, see the following links:
- BaseStead strategy wiki article.
- Seastead Outpost: Belize by Pastor_Jason.
- outpost location forum thread.
- Seastead Outpost Belize forum thread.
- Cayman Island Outpost forum thread.
In the Basestead strategy page, a distinction is made between "realist" and "idealist" forms of basesteading communities. I think a realist-style basestead could prosper in the Caymans. I am not sure about an idealist-style basestead, simply because it seems to require large amounts of land.
Another emphasis made in the Basestead article is risk mitigation. I was thinking about moving to Cayman before I had ever heard of Seasteading. I think that the Caymans have many advantages relative to other locations for libertarian-minded individuals.
The Wikipedia page on the Caymans is quite informative. I will try not to replicate too much of the information presented there.
Here is my analysis of how the Caymans score on some location selection criteria:
- Local per-capita income --- EXCELLENT, CI is one of the richest places in the Caribbean.
- Economic Freedom --- EXCELLENT, CI has no income taxes and no corporate taxes.
- Personal Freedom --- GOOD, CI is like America but somewhat more socially conservative.
- Immigration Restrictions --- GOOD, CI has lots of expatriate workers. See more below.
- Cost of living --- FAIR, everything is taxed coming into the country.
- Real estate prices --- POOR, real estate prices are very high.
- Job availability / type --- GOOD, many jobs in financial services, accounting, IT, and related fields.
- Ocean access --- EXCELLENT
The Cayman Islands are located a bit south of Cuba, and to the east of Belize and Yucatan (map). The main island is Grand Cayman, however two smaller islands (Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) are also included in the country. The Cayman Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, which is responsible for the defense of the country, and for the conduct of foreign relations. However, on domestic issues such as taxation and immigration CI primarily manages its own affairs.
The 2006 population estimate of CI is 52,000, up from 41,000 in 1999. This rapid population growth can be attributed to the strong economy of the island. The per capita GDP is $42,000, making it the richest territory in the Caribbean. There are no income taxes on either people or companies. All government revenue is derived from indirect taxation of imports, mostly at a level of 20%. The national debt of CI is about $70 million, or about $1,400 per capita (compared to $40,000 and rapidly increasing per capita debt in the US).
Two points about the economic situation seem relevant for seasteading. First, financial services is one of the economic staples. This means that there will probably be many software jobs. Indeed, this site claims that CI needs foreign workers and that 49% of the work force are expatriates who have received work permits. The other major component of the economy is tourism. As tourism is also expected to be a major component of the seastead economy, there could be synergy here (a seastead could be an interesting tourist attraction for CI).
Immigration and Red Tape
A significant concern for any seastead outpost location is the immigration laws imposed by the host country. If it is very difficult for foreigners to enter and work in a country legally, it will be very difficult to set up the outpost.
The Caymans seems to have a loose immigration policy with a catch. The easy part is getting a permit. The islands are highly dependent on foreign workers, so the government makes it fairly easy to obtain a work permit. Unfortunately, while the country is highly dependent on foreign workers, so many people wish to immigrate that the locals fear that Caymanian identity is becoming diluted. Thus there is a 7 year "rollover" rule which means that after you spend 7 years on the islands, you must leave for two years.
There are four ways to qualify for permanent residency in the Caymans: be legally resident for at least eight years, be married to a Caymanian, be a wealthy retiree, or be an entrepreneur/investor. Combined with the rollover policy, the 8 year requirement is a bit of a Catch-22. However, the other ways of achieving permanent residency may mean that this does not matter much. More information here.
As expected for a tropical resort island, real estate in Cayman is expensive. However, there seems to be substantial legal advantages to owning property in Cayman. For example, there is no yearly property tax (though there is a property sales tax). More information is available here.
It is impossible to obtain hundred-acre plots of land on these small islands. For a waterfront property, a typical asking price would be about $200,000 for an acre of undeveloped land. Prices are lower on the smaller, outer islands Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Here are some example vacant land properties:
Here is a search page for Cayman real estate.