A very good question is my response. The obvious answers lie in the accolades: “World’s Best Beach” or “World’s Best Island” of which Gracebay and Providenciales are frequent winners, be it from TripAdvisor or CNN or a multitude of other respected, travel-related brands.
From a real estate perspective and certainly a luxury real estate perspective, I find it is perhaps better answered in colors.
Let’s start with the color green. While one immediately pictures lush palm fronds, it is the Caribbean after all. I am a real estate agent, and I am thinking of the color of money. I want to sell the “Hard Sell.”
With a $1.5 million investment in real estate, one receives permanent residency status in the TCI. Why would you want permanent residency, you ask? Well, as a British Territory, the Turks and Caicos Islands compose a tax-free, offshore jurisdiction that is virtually crime-free. The economy trades in USD currency and the average temperature ranges from 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Additionally, world-class hotels, spas, and restaurants delight, as do the famous stretches of sparsely populated beaches (due to low population density) and vibrant coral reefs. It pays to be a resident as visitors are granted entry for up to 90 days, and this can be renewed one time only. Suddenly that $1.5 million is looking like a very sound investment indeed, especially given the 5 percent ROI (average return under good management) that the majority of condominium and villa owners enjoy on these shores. You would also be in good company as that $1.5 million number also happens to be the average sale price in the condo-resort market in the TCI. For a Caribbean island nation, the TCI are at the beginning of a development lifecycle; another incentive of being a permanent resident provides the chance to invest at this early, more profitable stage of buying real estate.
I forget I am dealing with the Hard Sell––the savvy business man––and I’m not going to pull the wool over his eyes. Too good to be true, he says, and asks, What are the real estate taxes like? Another excellent question. After payment of a one-time stamp duty charge payable to the Turks and Caicos government on the purchase of property, no further tax burdens relating to the property exist. Stamp duty ranges from 6.5 percent to 10 percent, and this is a one-time land transfer tax, based on price and location of the property. No capital gains, estate or inheritance, corporate, or other tax burdens hinder the buyer from the point of sale forward. Hard Sell will not back down––he has me now, he is sure of it. What are income taxes like, he asks. Ho-hum. Yawn. No income tax exists in the Turks and Caicos.
Let’s move on, I insist, and try another color. How about brown? Coconut husks, perhaps? No, let’s talk about the ground you are walking on. Let’s throw in some yellow and also blue as these are the colors that are the foundation of your investment. The Turks and Caicos Islands offers a truly amazing lifestyle for both permanent and part-time dwellers. The surrounding barrier reef—the third largest in the world, spanning nearly 400 miles––offers clear, cyan blue and shallow waters outlined by soft peach sand. Picture that. It’s worth every dollar. I pause and watch and assess the Hard Sell.
I am feeling confident now. It is time to go in for the kill. I can tell. I have done this more than a few times. Red? Orange? Purple? Heck, let’s just go with the full spectrum. The TCI offers a variety of culinary experiences with a bevy of restaurants and shopping venues. A prosperous country, the TCI cares for the local population and indigenous peoples. The local population mixes harmoniously with a large expatriate community including those from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, France, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Scandanavia, giving the islands an international influence and unique culture. The TCI archipelago consists of 40 plus islands and cays, however, only eight are inhabited. Multicultural, multicolored. No stress, easy to invest…I pause again. I look hard at Hard Sell, awaiting that light bulb moment where he realizes now is the time to buy in the Turks and Caicos. Too soon. More questions, but going through the motions, I have him.
What’s health care like?
The TCI’s modern hospital system comprises two, state-of-the-art medical centers managed by InterHealth Canada: Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk. Health services provided at the centers include emergency care, dental, dialysis, internal medicine, surgical, orthopedic, obstetric and endoscopic procedures, physiotherapy, and diagnostic imaging. Numerous private general practitioners provide health care services in Providenciales, and all of the other islands operate community clinics. The TCI have a national health insurance program available for all citizens, as well as high-quality emergency medical evacuation services, on call 24-hours per day, with services to Miami. The government also plans to soon introduce tele-medicine to improve interisland healthcare.
What’s it like for kids?
The TCI offer a wide variety of family and child-friendly activities, including great restaurants that cater to children of all ages. Also, unlike many island destinations, the ocean water is very shallow and calm––due to the protective reefs––which makes for very safe and secure swimming experiences for children, and resorts typically host designated swimming facilities for children and families. Reputable and affordable child care services are also prevalent. A sampling of family-friendly activities enjoyed include miles of pristine beaches, water parks, clear bottom boat excursions, parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, sailing, kite boarding, wind surfing, snorkeling, diving, hiking, and exploring scenic caves.
My favorite question is finally asked––the one that tells me that Hard Sell has been sold. Can I bring my car? Yes, you can bring your car. Now let’s go spend some green.