Moving to Cayman: What to Pack vs. Leave Behind

West Bay, Grand Cayman

So you’re really doing it. You’re really moving to Cayman. It may seem insane to you right now, or maybe you’re someone who does stuff like this all the time… Whatever the case, rest assured, many expats have come before you and many will follow in your steps. The question remains: how in God’s name are you going to pack your entire life into a couple of suitcases? Well, as someone who has been in your very shoes, I can deliver a few pointers. But inevitably, you’re going to pack incorrectly anyway. Let that be a relief. It’s just part of the experience.

When I moved to Cayman, I packed one large suitcase, a carry-on bag, and a backpack. I know other people who shipped boxes of stuff before or after moving, but don’t ask me how to do that. Honestly, I think it’s cheating. Moving to an island means adopting a bit of minimalism. Also, as much as people complain about Cayman stores and prices, there are still plenty of places to shop. However, it can take a bit of time to understand the lay of the land — where to buy what. That being said, I’ve crafted a list below of island essentials that will make your first few months more convenient and comfortable.

Checklist for Moving to Cayman

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries / Cosmetics
  • Electronics
  • Medicines
  • Important Documents / Money

Clothes

  • Swimsuits (more than one) – You will be spending a lot of time in a swimsuit. I would bring at least three different options to start because swimsuits are pretty expensive on island
  • Flip-flops / Sandals – Leave your heels at home. Okay, bring one pair. Cayman is a gloriously easy-going place where sandals are widely accepted pretty much anywhere you go
  • Running/walking shoes
  • Casual clothes in general – before moving, try to get a sense of your employer’s dress code. In my experience, workplace attire is much more lax in Cayman. There are certain occasions in which you could dress up. For example, brunch or work events. But, for the most part, dress is casual island-wide. Plan for comfort because it’s hot and you will sweat. Loose fitting, light clothing is key.
  • Sundresses for brunch!
  • T-shirts and tank tops
  • Lightweight long sleeves – come in handy while out in the sun and on the beach
  • Shorts and breathable pants – my denim came along for the ride! Because dress is casual, I often wear jeans to work
  • Light rain jacket – Cayman has unpredictable pockets of downpour and you will get wet!
  • Workout clothes – at most workout classes, girls are wearing sports bras and yoga pants/and or bike shorts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Hats – the wider the brim, the better!
  • Sunglasses
  • Spare glasses
  • Fanny pack 🙂 – arguably not an essential when moving to Cayman, however, it proves incredibly convenient on beach walks!

Recommended Read: What to Wear in the Cayman Islands

Toiletries / Cosmetics

  • Favorite sunscreen (Cayman has the basics but not a ton of variety) The dermatologist-grade face sunscreen is available but can be expensive. I use Heliocore – a bottle that costed me $35 in Spain was $75 in Cayman.
  • Travel-size toiletries – so you won’t be forced to go to the supermarket straight away (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, floss)
  • Face wash / face creams – one or two of your go-to skincare products
  • Contacts and contact solution
  • Nail kit
  • Lip balm
  • Makeup – Cayman has some decent makeup options whether it be drugstore essentials at the pharmacy or CEL Beauty or higher end products at MAC and the perfume stores in Georgetown. The prices aren’t too different from what I buy in the US. It is still a good idea though, to stock up on your go-to makeup items before the trip in case you can’t find them right away
  • Menstrual cup

Electronics

  • Phone + Charger (if your phone is unlocked, you can get a Cayman SIM card from Digicel or Flow)
  • Extra charger if you have one! – just in case you — I don’t know — foster a dog and it chews through your charger…
  • Laptop + Charger
  • GoPro + Accessories – if you plan to do a lot of snorkeling / diving, you might like to record your adventures!
  • Headphones / Ear buds
  • Sport watch
  • Roku – small and can be plugged into your TV for easy access to streaming apps

Medicines

Once you arrive on island, you can make your rounds to the supermarket and pharmacy, but it’s not a bad idea to have a few essentials on hand for your travels

  • Prescriptions – at least 4 weeks worth until you can get set up with a doctor on island
  • Ibuprofen
  • Dramamine
  • Probiotics
  • Magnesium (to help with sleep)

Important Documents

When moving to Cayman, or anywhere abroad, it is important to have on hand the official copies of key documents either to prove your identity or recover lost forms of ID like a driver’s license or passport. Passports and birth certificates are the only true validity of your identity. Keep them safe overseas! Also, if you have already been sent your work permit, you should have it on your mobile device or print it out prior to traveling along with your COVID vaccine card

  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Work permit
  • COVID vaccine/booster card (physical copy and QR code if you have it)
  • Visa information (if applicable)
  • Doctor certified prescriptions
  • Marriage certificate
  • Driver’s license

Money

Once on island, your employer will issue you an employment letter so you can open a personal bank account. In the meantime, ensure you can use your credit and debit cards internationally. Contact your home bank ahead of time and let them know where you will be. US currency is also accepted everywhere if you happen to be bringing US dollars. ATMs are available at most bank branches and some supermarkets.

What NOT to Pack

  • Overly formal clothes – maybe just one or two outfits in case you attend a work event or gala
  • Warm clothes – one sweatshirt and one pair of sweatpants for home will be just fine! Only bring warm clothes if you plan to immediately travel to places like New York or Colorado while living in Cayman
  • Don’t take all of your clothes or shoes! – Key word: minimalism
  • Don’t pack a year supply of tampons and pads – you can find these at any pharmacy or supermarket, plus menstrual cups really are the way to go
  • Limit large-size toiletries – stick to travel size except for those items that may be hard to find/expensive like my Heliocare sunscreen, for example
  • Towels – wherever your employer is lodging you, towels will be available. In between your relocation digs and your permanent residence, you will be able to buy towels at Kirk Home, AL Thompson, or Cost U Less. Also, the expats are rather infamous for stealing the towels from Sunshine Suites so that’s always an option (lol)
  • Beach bag – this is another item that could take up a lot space…my entire first year on island I used a reusable grocery bag from Kirk as my beach bag and it served me well
  • Adult toys – I’m serious…The importation, possession and distribution of sex toys are considered offences under Cayman’s penal code. NOT a great way to start your new island life!!

Have more questions about moving to Cayman? Consult Cayman Resident for a detailed guide for living and working in the Cayman Islands. Best of luck on your new adventure!

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