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12 Reasons to Buy in the BVI

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Photography by Renata Macrelli

Each year, over 650,000 people visit the BVI and no doubt many of them will at some point during their stay, quietly contemplate the possibility of moving to these beautiful islands.

The glorious sunshine, wonderful beaches, and welcoming communities are very hard to resist. If you are thinking of relocating, want to purchase a holiday home, or are simply keen to invest in property, there are many compelling reasons to consider buying in the BVI.

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  • Sailing Waters: The BVI has some of the most appealing sailing waters anywhere in the world. Unlike many other Caribbean destinations crowded with hotels, BVI visitors are mainly yacht based enjoying the unspoilt waters that surround the Territory’s 60 islands and cays. For land based visitors, there are holiday villas and a few small and discreet boutique resorts positioned on or near some of our finest beaches.

 

  • Economy: The BVI is a prosperous country. Remarkably, according to the CIA World Factbook, the BVI ranks among the top 20 wealthiest countries in the world measured by GDP per capita and third wealthiest in the Caribbean after the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Happily, there is near full employment in the BVI which adds to the general wellbeing of the community. Although not immune from the challenges of the global economic downturn, there is a thriving offshore financial services sector in the BVI, which includes one of the world’s largest offshore company registries.
  • Stability: The BVI is politically stable. It operates a Westminster parliamentary system of government with its own 13 seat House of Assembly which administers locally enacted legislation. The BVI is one of the five remaining British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean Region. The Queen is represented by the Governor who is appointed by the United Kingdom. Through its association with the UK, the islands are recognised as an affiliated state of the European Union.
  • Currency: As a British Territory, the BVI is unusual in having the US dollar as its legal tender where all other countries in the Eastern Caribbean use their own currency. For investors from the United States, this eliminates exchange rate risk. There are no exchange controls in the BVI.

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  • Law of the Land: English common law, modified by locally enacted legislation, applies in the BVI. The country has a modern judicial system and the highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court in London.  In recent years, the Commercial Court for the Eastern Caribbean has been established in the BVI to serve the offshore financial service sector.
  • Accessibility: Although the BVI is slightly off the beaten path, for those who live here, the bright lights of Miami and New York can both be reached in less than 5 hours. Nearer to home, Puerto Rico, just a 40 minute flight away, enables you to immerse yourself in a different culture and to spend the day shopping or a weekend exploring the sites.
  • Taxes: The BVI is a favourable tax jurisdiction with no capital or inheritance taxes. When it comes to real estate, annual taxes are low but buyers should be aware that—as elsewhere in the Eastern Caribbean—they will pay stamp duty, which is currently 12% of the property value.
  • Infrastructure Investment: There is an ongoing commitment from government to invest in the country’s infrastructure.  This includes upgrading water and sewerage systems, construction of a new cruise ship pier and arrival village, and the opening of a sophisticated new hospital. Plans are in progress to increase the size of the main airport to facilitate direct commercial flights to and from the United States.

 

  • Health & Education: With so much of day to day activity being based on outdoor living, the population at large are in good health. There are many yoga, fitness, tennis, running, cycling, boxing, and paddleboard clubs as wells as gyms and sports clubs available. A National Health Insurance will be launched before the end of this year enabling everyone to have access to medications and medical treatment as needed. Graduates from the local schools can attend the excellent Community College which provides world class learning and students from overseas have access to an international school.
  • Quality of Life: The archipelago lends itself to sailing and water sports. For sailing enthusiasts, key events in the calendar include the BVI Spring Regatta and the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta on Virgin Gorda as well as the annual Poker Run. There is world class fishing, diving, and snorkelling and a multitude of un-spoilt inlets and coves to discover. Cultural events should not be forgotten as there are a multitude of concerts and theatre productions throughout the year. On a more relaxed note, there are many excellent restaurants and bars and don’t forget the full moon parties – you will find yourself dancing if you like it or not.

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  • Property Market: There is a vast array of properties available for sale in the BVI which range from one bedroom beach front condominium units priced at less than $400,000 to large and luxurious residential estates costing over $10.0M. For overseas investors, purchase of a property in the BVI is subject to securing a licence from government. Your real estate agent will guide you through the process.
  • Property Management: If you are not in residence throughout the year and provided you have the requisite licences, the BVI has a robust vacation villa and long term rental market. Demand in the long term rental market is underpinned by young professionals saving for their own property as well as those in the BVI on a fixed term contract. There are professional property management companies that can take care of all aspects of your property in your absence.

With all this considered, the question is not ‘why buy in the BVI?’, but ‘why not?’

Lucienne Smith

Lucienne Smith

Lucienne grew up in the BVI and worked for a number of years as a director for a FTSE 250 company in London. She now heads up the Residential Property Management and Long Term Rental divisions of Smiths Gore.

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