Where When How — March/April 2017
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Island Living

WHETHER YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS ONLINE, while fantasising about moving to the tropics, or while sitting on Grace Bay Beach wondering why you’d only booked two weeks holiday, few would argue the climate, location and simplicity of island life, which hold some very real appeal.

If you do find yourself wondering what it would be like to wake up every day to sun, sand and crystal clear turquoise water you may also be curious about what is involved in owning or building a home in paradise. The natural beauty of the Turks and Caicos Islands, year round perfect weather, a relatively high standard of living, the US dollar as local currency, and the political stability of the country all help to make the TCI a great place to live.


In order to reside in the TCI you must have one of the following documents, which on approval, are granted by the Department of immigration: a Temporary Residence Certificate, a Work Permit, or a Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC).

Temporary Residence Certificates are renewed annually for $1000. A spouse may be endorsed on your document for an additional $150 and $50 per child. It is required that you do not work in the Islands; you must be in good health and of good character, and must prove that you can support your family.

In order to work in the TCI, you must have a Work Permit, which your employer will obtain for you. Fees vary and most work permits are renewable annually. In order to start a business, you must first have a Business License and then a Work Permit. A business manager work permit costs $9200 per year.

Persons wishing to retire or live here long term might consider obtaining a Permanent Residence Certificate. A PRC grants the holder permission to reside here for their lifetime. Making an investment in real estate or a business in which you are not working, may qualify for a PRC. The minimum investment required is $500,000 on Providenciales and $125,000 on our other islands.


Weather, water supply, landscape concerns, as well as oceanic and geological conditions all have a major impact on day to day life in the islands. Because of the unique challenges involved in building here, using professionals with in depth local knowledge is critical to the success of your project.

The development laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands are based on those of Great Britain (The Physical Planning Ordinance). Being situated in the hurricane prone tropics, however, results in building codes which have much more in common with South Florida and neighbouring Caribbean nations, than those of the British Isles.

It’s not just building codes, which are unique to the islands. Construction practices will also vary, as will the method. For example, wood frame construction, though once common in the Islands, has now given way to steel-reinforced concrete and block construction, which can offer solutions to the issues faced when designing a ‘hurricane proof’ structure.


It is wise to make contact with a few architects and going local is advised. Select someone you feel comfortable with. Your architect should be able to provide you with the names of local contractors they would recommend, you can then request bid proposals and meet with each contractor individually. It’s important to be comfortable working with both the architect and the contractor, and they in turn have a good relationship with one another.

The Turks and Caicos Architects, Surveyors and Engineers Society (TCASE) is a professional organisation made up of locally licensed practices. You can contact the President, Simon Hutchins, at 232-6249 and he will be happy to provide you with any information you require.

A few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Aim to position your house facing a breeze, use pressure treated wood to prevent damage by termites. A few financial pointers to keep in mind are that pricey houses come with pricey insurance costs, and utility bills on the island can be expensive. Integrating metres that you can monitor is advised.


You will find everything you need on the island to build and accessorise your home. Anything from windows, doors, lumber, cement, rebar, electrical and hardware supplies, roof materials, floor and wall tiles, hand and power tools, even kitchen cabinets, are available.


Carlisle Supplies offer everything from appliances and lighting, to plumbing and air conditioning, to help houses and offices thrive with the demands of an island lifestyle. Heat, humidity, corrosive salt and power surges are typical struggles, which can be easily overcome with quality service. Other services include project pricing, island specific delivery, sewage maintenance and inspection, appliance repair and product selection.


Decorating your home is a highly personal matter, but if you've never lived in a tropical environment, why not consult those who have? We have interior design and decorating professionals who provide as little or as much service as you require. They will review architectural plans, design furniture layouts and help you choose furnishings to suit your new island lifestyle. When you consider the expenses involved to shop off island and then ship purchases to the TCI, you may decide that purchasing household furnishings on island makes sense. We have several stores on Providenciales, which stock everything you need to transform your house or condo into a Caribbean home, from furnishings to window treatments and appliances to outdoor furnishings.


Utilities are an important and expensive necessity of island living. Our costs for utilities are relatively high because our population in the TCI is very small, as compared to other Caribbean countries.


Power is provided by Fortis Inc. On Providenciales, we pay 26 cents per kilowatt hour for residential use, as well as a fuel surcharge, that changes from month to month currently the surcharge adds about 10¢ per kilowatt hour to your invoice.


The one thing that is in abundance here is sun, to harness it is wise. Efficient use of solar energy results in reducing both energy costs and your carbon footprint.


There are now two internet providers on the island. In order to have internet service with FLOW you must have a land line installed.


We now have a 4G network in the TCI, the roaming option most likely to be successful for your North American or UK cellular service. If you are relocating, you can choose to set up a land line with one company here or cellular service with any of three.


Digital TV and HD TV is provided by three firms here on Providenciales.There are different packages to choose from and there are several specialty channels available.


Many homes have both city water and cisterns designed so that if your cistern is dry you can switch on city water to fill it. If you only have a cistern, remember to monitor the level and be prepared to order water.

There are a few providers on island who will send truckloads of water to fill your cistern.


As a returning resident, you are allowed to bring in goods worth $400 duty free. Beyond the $400 most items carry a duty charge of 10 to 33% with some exceptions.

When moving to the TCI for the first time, a person may import personal effects free of duties. These goods must be intended solely for your personal use, your spouse or any other person wholly or mainly in your custody, charge or care. You must also have obtained a Residence Certificate or a Work Permit.


If you live on Providenciales, a reliable vehicle is a must. The settlements, stores and offices are widespread, with no scheduled public transportation system.

If you import a motor vehicle (new or used), you will pay a duty rate of 25 to 45% based on the engine size. For personal use cars, you will also pay that duty on the shipping cost. If you purchase here, (new or used) those costs are in the price tag. It can amount to less to purchase a new car here than to buy and import a used car from home.

Used cars, trucks and utility vehicles are often available for sale by private owners, or through several car dealers / importers and from car rental companies who are updating their fleet of autos.


There are several private primary schools on Providenciales offering day care and classes for pre-school through grade six students. The curriculum varies from British National to Caribbean.

Private secondary schools offer classes from year six on up and include the British West Indies Collegiate (www.bwic.tc), Maranatha Academy and Wesley Methodist School.


Even in Paradise there are times when security is a concern. There are several experienced local firms which provide the whole gamut of security services, from escort of valuables and cash to security patrols of neighbour hoods after dark, to electronic surveillance of resorts and businesses.


When you move to these islands, you may bring your pets with you. However, it is critical to have ALL your pet’s paperwork in order in advance. Getting the required tests performed and forms filled out may take three to six months, so planning ahead is the key. Any dog or cat imported to the TCI must be spayed or neutered. If, upon arrival, you do not have your pet’s documentation in order, your pet could be immediately deported, quarantined or euthanized.

For information and forms, contact the Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Services animalhealthservicestci@gmail.com or call 649-946-5801.

As with most Caribbean islands, we have many homeless cats and dogs referred to as ‘potcakes’. They come in a startling variety of sizes, colours and shapes. If you would like to help in any way or adopt one, please call the TCSPCA - 941-8846 / 231-3052 or Potcake Place 231-1010.


As on any tropical island, we have some undesirable 'critters', which impose on homes and offices uninvited. By comparison to other more humid tropic islands, our insect population is sparse. Roaches, termites and ants are the main culprits, and although not dangerous to our health, they are annoying. Small, non-lethal scorpions and centipedes are spotted occasionally. You may chance upon mice and small rats. Fortunately we have good pest control services, which deal with all the above. Mosquitoes are not a major problem and can be kept outside by closing doors and windows before 4pm and keeping screens in good repair.


The PCH is a residential long-term care facility for all children in need of a safe living environment. The PCH Build Group was formed after Hurricanes Ike and Hanna destroyed the existing orphanage in 2008.

The group decided to build a 20 bed facility with two emergency placement rooms and caregiver suites to handle chil-neighbourdren in need, while trying to keep the facility as a home instead of an institution. The community supported these volunteers, and the new home was completed in record time.

PCH opened its doors to the children on Christmas Day 2009. The building contains a large and inviting, open-plan kitchen/ dining/ living area. The central area includes a play room, library, study, computer lab, laundry and lots of storage space, along with two overnight rooms for emergency situations, and a meeting room. Separate girls and boys dormitory wings flank either side, with kids doubling up in each bedroom and two spacious bathroom/shower areas for each gender. Far from institutional, rooms are bright and cheery.

The PCH is entirely dependant upon the generous donations of their in-country and overseas supporters. For their wish list and ways you can help please go to www.pch.tc 649-946-4201 or 242-7197.