Living in Bermuda

 
Dreaming to live in Bermuda? Hopefully you must have secured a job in the island by now or well on your course to get one. But getting a job is step-1. Your employer will then need to get a work permit for you from Bermuda Immigration Department, and then you are all set to move into the island.  
 
So if all that's already done, you must be now preparing to relocate and have started wondering what it means to be moving to Bermuda.... how will the life be? What should you plan in advance so that you have a smooth transition to your new life? 
 
Well I'll answer all those questions. But first, how long can you plan to live in the island with your current job and work permit? Actually it is first determined by the period of validity of your work permit. So if your work permit is issued for 3 years, then you can initially plan to live in the island for 3 years. However with the new regulations coming in, a work permit can now be extended by the employer if the job role continues to remain important for them. 
 
But work permit or its extension requires hefty fees to be paid to the government of Bermuda. So the extension fee has to make business sense for the employer and can sometimes get adjusted from your salary. 
 
Another important factor for extension is your performance. If the employer is not happy with your performance, they may not renew your work permit and rather look for an alternative human resource. In fact, they can even go for pre-mature termination with the contract if they are not happy for some reason. But that will be in accordance with the terms & conditions of the contract, if at all. 
 
 
 
Well I don't want to dwell on the negative side of the story, but the fact is although there is technically no limit to how long you may be able to stay in the island, practically it does come to an end at some point in time - whether it's due to your own decision or of your employer. Secondly, no matter how long you live in the island on a job, it doesn't get you eligibility for citizenship. I shall discuss this point later.  
 
Now coming to the great positive side of living in Bermuda... wondering what kind of lifestyle Bermuda offers? Just to get a snapshot of what this pretty island offers that are so special, check out Why Visit Bermuda. Now let's take a look at all aspects of life in Bermuda once you have relocated. 
 
Housing and Accommodation in Bermuda 
Housing in Bermuda has always been very expensive. While a good employer may cover you initially for the first few weeks, you will eventually need to find your own accommodation. So how to find the right house rental in Bermuda? And how much should you budget for the rentals? Check out Bermuda Housing for details. 
 
Bermuda Cost and Tax Factors 
While Bermuda offers one of the most fabulous lifestyles and jobs with high pays, the cost of living in Bermuda can be substantial. While there is hardly any direct taxes to employees like income tax or capital gain or wealth tax, there are lot many hidden Indirect taxes that hit your wallet. As a result, Living Cost in Bermuda is considered one of the highest in the world. It is near four times of US and three times of UK or Canada. 
 
When you are moving to Bermuda, you will need to pay Customs Duty virtually on all household goods and other stuffs that you bring in except for some used items like books, used clothes etc which are exempted. Check out Bermuda Customs Duty and read the section titled 'Bermuda Customs Duty for Immigrants & Returning Residents' for details. 
 
Secondly, although Bermuda does not impose direct income tax on your earnings, you will most likely end up paying tax anyway to your home country, particularly if you are from US, UK, Canada or so. There are tax treaties and agreements signed between Bermuda and these countries that require expats working in Bermuda to file tax returns and pay tax in the home country. However there are some relaxation. For example in case of US citizens working in Bermuda, they need to pay tax for the amount which is in excess of annual earning of $80,000. This discount is due to the high living expenses in Bermuda. 
 
 
 
Living in Bermuda with Family 
You can live in Bermuda as long as your work permit is valid which is issued usually for 1 to 3 years, sometimes for longer. Once it expires, your employer can apply for a renewal after exploring that no other suitable Bermudian is available for the job. Understandably in this small island, Bermudians are always given preference. Once renewed, you can continue to stay. Work Permits no longer have term limits and can be extended depending on employer's requirement. 
 
If you have your spouse accompanying you, he or she will not be able to work in Bermuda on your work permit. Your spouse should go through the same process of job application and getting a separate work permit the way you did from your home country. Generally, if your spouse does not come with a separate work permit, it would be difficult if not impossible to get a separate job while in Bermuda. Also remember that expats are not allowed to take up more than one day jobs. 
 
In Bermuda while your spouse and kids can stay with you, the same is not allowed if you plan to bring in your partner or significant other. A partner is treated as a tourist and needs to leave the island as per prevailing tourist visa regulation. Also given Bermuda's conservative culture, many landlords may not allow one to stay with a partner. However, this is not a problem in hotels. 
 
Children's Education in Bermuda 
While there are some state run schools in Bermuda, the expatriates generally prefer one of the private schools. See Bermuda Schools and Education for detailed reviews. The state schools have a multi racial environment. The standard of the private schools are generally better than the state schools. While no expats generally face any problems with the schooling of their children, remember that the over all quality of teaching and standard of education in Bermuda may not be at par with the best that you get in UK or US. 
 
I have seen many local Bermudians sending out their own children to countries like US and UK for better education. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with the schools and they have very friendly and responsive staff. Call up the schools directly. Better even try to visit them before you relocate. Here is what an expat had to say: "I have three children and all are at Warwick Academy. The standard here is comparable to a good state primary in the UK. My 11 year old daughter just got a place in a top UK secondary private school. We did get her some extra tuition though".  
 
 
 
Bermuda Health and Medical Insurance 
Health insurance in Bermuda is very expensive these days and have even overtaken US. You don't get any automatic medical coverage in Bermuda. On the other hand the health care expense in Bermuda is now second highest in the world. Unlike in many other countries, there is no national health or medical services that are available to anyone. Neither any reciprocal health insurance works in Bermuda, which means your health insurance in your home country will not work here. So what should you do? Check out Bermuda Health Insurance for the steps that you need to take. 
 
Making Friends in Bermuda 
This is probably the easiest thing to do in Bermuda. If you read Bermuda's People & Culture, you will know the background of Bermudians and how warm and charming they are. 
 
You will find many locals as well as fellow expats in several pubs and restaurants in the island like Robin Hood, Hog Penny and the Pickled Onion. The pub Henry VIII is also quite popular on Sunday nights and are frequented by those working in the hotels industry. 
 
There are also a number of Expat organizations in Bermuda who meet at different locations from time to time. These organizations, associations and clubs in Bermuda provide required support, information and friend circle to new residents. 
 
Update April 2012: A recently released survey report from HSBC Bank International shows that Bermuda has been rated as the second most friendly country in the world (after Canada). 57% of the expatriates living in Bermuda mentioned that they found Bermuda to be very friendly. Several factors including economy, ability to befriend locals and get integrated to the community, fitting into the culture and overall experience were the main factors determining such rankings. 
 
Food and Dining in Bermuda 
You will find all types of Restaurants in Bermuda. However, when it comes to Bermudian cuisine itself, there are some special favorites that we never miss, like the Pan-fried fish with sweet potatoes, codfish and potatoes covered in egg sauce, fish chowder (a thick soup made of fish head) with black rum and sherry peppers, broiled spiny lobster with lemon and melted butter, Hoppin' John peas and rice, and such. Check out Bermuda Local Food & Drinks to know all about Bermudian cuisine and where to get them. 
 
Bermudians almost habitually take Afternoon Tea at around 4pm. Almost everything in the island comes to a halt for a cup of tea during this time. Some of the famous original cocktails in the island include Dark and Stormy (black rum and ginger beer) or Bermuda Rum Swizzle
 
Other Employment and Living Conditions in Bermuda 
Bermuda Cost of living: Know about all the recurring or fixed costs in Bermuda that will hit your wallet as soon as you land there. 
 
Vacation and Working Hours 
Usually vacation is given for 2-3 weeks a year for the initial few years and then it may increase to 3-4 weeks per year. In case of executives, it may start with 3-4 weeks a year. Working hours is usually 40 hours a week. 
 
Driving in Bermuda 
Your home country driving license will not work in Bermuda. You will need to go through written and driving tests to get the local 4-wheeler or 2-wheeler license in Bermuda which takes a few weeks. The only exception is in case of a Rental Scooter or a moped where you don't need a license. If you stay at the Eastern End (St George) or Western End (Sandys), during the morning and afternoon office hours, a driving time of almost 1 hour will be required to reach Hamilton City. If you don't have a vehicle, check out Bermuda Public Transportation to know about all the options to commute in the island. 
 
Update May 2012: In a recent used car and motor bike fair/show held in the island (at Elliot Street Car Park), price of the used / second hand cars ranged between $9,500 to $32,000 and that of the used bikes from $1,000 to $3,500. So if you plan to buy a used car or a bike while living in Bermuda, you can use this cost range for your planning. 
 
Taxes & Duties: Find out what kind of taxes and duties you are likely to pay while living in Bermuda including Customs Duty at the time of relocation. 
 
Bermuda Dress Code: Bermuda's culture is quite conservative having deep influence from British heritage. Check out the link to understand how to dress in various places and occasions. 
 
Taking Pets to Bermuda: If you are planning to import or move your pets from your home country to Bermuda, here are the steps you need to take. 
 
Bermuda Citizenship 
As an expat, you can not become a Bermudian citizen even if you happen to live in the island for decades. So you will never have a voting right. The only exception is if you get married to a Bermudian and live together for at least 10 years, then you can only apply for a citizenship. 
 
Children born in Bermuda 
If your child is born in Bermuda, unlike in many other countries, the child does not become a Bermudian. So your child wont be eligible for any government scholarship or other benefits available to a Bermudian child. The only exception is if one of the parents is a Bermudian. 
 
Credit Cards in Bermuda 
I would advise you to retain your home country credit card(s) and bring them to Bermuda. Their coverage and services are much better than those issued from Bermuda. An example is, if you are an US citizen and have an Amex card, while travelling abroad from Bermuda, you can avail the American Express Premium Baggage Protection Plan to insure your baggage. You can't do so with a Bermuda issued card, nor can you use it to get a car rental while in a foreign country. But the 1-800-307-7309 number of Master card works from Bermuda to get a customer support service. 
 
Electricity 
Electricity is provided by a government approved company named BELCO. It uses gas fuel to generate the power and charges a heavy fuel surcharge as part of the electricity rates in Bermuda. Electricity charge in Bermuda is quite high and would be 3 times the cost compared to US or UK. The voltage in Bermuda is 120 volts and frequency 60 hz. 
 
Bermuda Bank Accounts & Transferring Money 
You can open an account with one of the four Banks in Bermuda. In most cases, the salary is transferred to the savings account of a bank. You can convert the money to your home currency and send a draft or wire it to your home country account. However a transaction fee and Foreign Currency Tax (presently 1%) is charged on the amount you transfer. 
 
Internet Services in Bermuda: There are quite a few Internet Cafes & Access areas in Bermuda including in Hamilton, Dockyard and St. George. There are a number of home and office internet service providers that offer broadband high speed internet connections. 
 
Update January 2014: The Global Rich List survey shows that an average Bermudian who works and earns is within the top 0.37% of the richest people in the world. So what does this mean? It means what an average  Bermudian or an expat in Bermuda can earn in a year can be earned in about 46 years by a person in Zimbabwe. But note that the expense levels in Bermuda is also much higher than most countries. So just the earnings does not give the full picture. 
 
When the time comes to say good bye to Bermuda 
If you are an expatriate, eventually you will have to leave the island and say good bye to Bermuda, unless of course you get married here to a Bermudian ;-) You may get extensions, but finally the day will come for you to pack up. I would strongly recommend that you prepare yourself and your family, particularly your children well in advance for such exit. You should do that much before your work permit expires. Children are particularly very sensitive to such matters and their change in schooling is one area which needs to be planned out very carefully.  
 
If you apply for extension or another job, remember that there is never any assurance on that. In fact with struggling economy in the island, there are good chances that such options may not work out. You will need to come to the island with a thought that you are carving out a piece of good time for yourself as long as you live in this island, and eventually all good things in life come to an end. When the term expires, the reality strikes hard and quick. the Immigration authority barely gives you enough time to settle all your matters before leaving the island. So it's all the more important that you prepare well in advance. 
 
I know about a case of an expat family where the working husband lost his job when his workplace was burned down by fire. He worked as a spray painter in a car dealer's workshop. As a reputed skilled person, he was granted several extensions to his term earlier. But this time he could not find an alternative job and was asked by the Immigration Department to leave the island in just 22 days. You don't want to be in that situation. 
 
Complete Bermuda Vacation Guide on eBooks!! 
Want to design a perfect vacation in Bermuda? 
 
Related Articles 
 
1) Check out Bermuda Jobs to know all about job scene in Bermuda. 
 
2) Check out Bermuda Economy to know about overall economic conditions of Bermuda. 
 
Visitors' Reviews & Comments 
 
Alex 
I have to say, this is the most informative website on Bermuda that I have seen thus far. The candid way in which the information is offered is very relatable and the details are spot on. Thank you very much. I will be using the site as a primary guide for moving to Bermuda, as well as staying & enjoying my time there. 
 
Jed (November 2013) 
Hi Raj! I came across your blog as i was trying to find some information on Bermuda because i received a job offer there. I am a healthcare professional with 2+years of experience. I've read in one of your articles that a professional with a university degree should get not less than 80k. Will I be on losing end if they give me 78k? I mean can I live the life and still save some money. And as an expat what was your issues when you 1st came in there? 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) November 2013 
Hi, You can surely live in Bermuda with that money and unless you indulge often, you can save a bit as well. But you will need to plan on a budget apartment and also cooking some of your own meals. Take a look at this article to get some ideas about cost of living in Bermuda 
 
Rashid (August 2013) 
Raj, I am contemplating moving to Bermuda for work and is currently awaiting Immigration clearance. I wish to know if the variety of Indian spices are readily available on the market or is it worth my while bringing some with me. Can you please advise accordingly and provide me with any links if available. 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) August 2013 
Hi, You won't easily find Indian spices in Bermuda. So bring some with you. Once you reach the island, get in touch with Ashok Uppal. He is the owner of House of India restaurant located in Hamilton area. He once used to run an Indian grocery store here which he later converted into an Indian restaurant. He will be able to help you with the sources to get Indian spices. 
 
Update: Indian spices are available at the store Just Rite located in Pembroke and near Transport Control Department. 7, Marsh Folly Road, Pembroke, Bermuda. Phone: (441) 295-6407, 238-5719. 
 
Alkioni Skondrianou (June 2013) 
Hello, My husband has been offered a job for 130,000usd. We are very seriously thinking to relocate. We live in Greece. We also have a daughter 12 years old that understands English but do not speak so good. My concern is. 
 
Will we be able to have a good living level there (not crazy things as eating out a lot) but been able to rent a decent house. Will we be able to save any money? Will my daughter be accepted to high school or not because of her poor English? Any info will be great since we only have 2 weeks to make our final decision. Thanks a lot! 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 2013 
Hi, 130,000 USD is an average annual salary in Bermuda and you should be able to live a moderate life, but don't expect to save a lot from that. Visit the following link to get some ideas of cost of living in Bermuda: Bermuda Cost of Living 
 
Your child should quickly learn English. However I don't see much problems in her school admission as long as she understands English. She may require special English coaching which some private schools offer. 
 
April Saflor (April 2013) 
Hi, This is April Saflor a Philippine national- I have my fiancé living in Bermuda, I would like to know if I need still to get US visa before going to Bermuda (as far as I know Philippine national requires entry visa in Bermuda) right? I want to ask as well, is there a fiancée visa on Bermuda? Or possible I will get a tourist visa and marry my fiancée in Bermuda? Is that allowed? Thanks 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) April 2013 
Hi, There is no fiancée visa for Bermuda. After marriage, one can live in Bermuda with one's spouse. You will be however required to show proper documentation of your marriage when you apply for such visa that allows you to live in Bermuda with your husband as long as he lives there (assuming he may be on a work permit or a Bermudian himself). You can get a tourist visa for Bermuda and get married to your fiancé in Bermuda. If you are coming through US, then you will also require a multiple entry US transit or tourist visa. But note that you can not continue to live in Bermuda with a tourist visa. You will need to return within 90 days and get a proper visa to live in Bermuda with your husband. 
 
Dan (December 2012) 
Hello, I visited your amazing and splendid island this summer. I am considering moving to Bermuda, at least I would like to. My question is, can I move to the island if I am retired but also have my own business where I work from home? if I was living in Bermuda, the people of Bermuda would become my main clientele. 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) December 2012 
Hi Dan, There are usually two ways one can plan to move to Bermuda. One is by getting a work permit for a job in the island. This is usually possible when the skill required for the job is not available in the island and therefore needs to be hired from a foreign country. 
 
The other is by setting up a business with a local Bermudian. The Bermudian partner retains majority share of the business. In this case the main criteria the government looks into is whether the new business can generate job opportunities for locals. 
 
Your proposal doesn't seem to fit into either of the two. So in my personal opinion, the chances of getting a resident visa in Bermuda in your case is very slim. However, you can always give it a try and write to Bermuda's Department of Immigration. If I were you, I would develop a case highlighting how Bermuda may benefit from the business proposal. 
 
Good luck! 
 
Jason Snowdon (November 2012) 
An easy question if you live in Bermuda. Can you ice skate? Are there any rinks? If not where is the closest rink? We are considering relocating to the island but our daughter is an accomplished ice skater and would like to continue. Thanks for any feedback. 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) 
Hi, I haven't heard of any Ice Skating Rink in Bermuda, most likely there is none. Regards. 
 
Tony Makowski (April 2012) 
Hello Raj, I will be living in Bermuda for 3 years on a work permit. Can you tell me what I could expect to pay for a new or used scooter or bicycle as I expect that this will become my primary mode of transportation. Thanks 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) 
Hi Tony, An old scooter in Bermuda can cost from $500 and up and the new ones are $3000 and up. Bicycles are anywhere from $300 and up. Hope this helps! 
 
April Saflor (March 2012) 
Good day, Hi I'm April from Philippines. I just want to ask if approximately how many months will I take to get there in Bermuda after marriage? My fiancé is a Bermudian national and we will get marry next month in my country. And I am planning to apply for a job in AIG Bermuda, do I need to get a work permit first or not?    
I appreciate your response. Thanks 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) 
Hi, once you get married to a Bermudian, you can always go and live with your spouse in Bermuda and there is no restriction. As a spouse of a Bermudian, you can also apply for jobs in Bermuda while living in the island. You need not go there with a job permit. For a job opportunity in Bermuda, you will be given priority immediately after a Bermudian. 
 
Chris James (March 2012) 
Hello how are you? I was just wondering what living in Hamilton is like all the year round because I am thinking of doing this and are there sports stores where I can buy a soccer T-shirt please? Also what is the pace of life like in Bermuda, are the people easy going and laid back? What is the cost of living and the quality of life in Bermuda? The reason that I ask this is that I get my disability living allowance in Bermuda because it is a British overseas Territory. Also what is the cost of renting an apartment in Hamilton please? 
 
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) 
Hi Chris, Hamilton is the capital of Bermuda and the busiest place. It is mostly a commercial center although there are several high-end residential complexes there. So apartment rentals in Hamilton is going to be more expensive than the other parishes of Bermuda. If you love beaches, islands and turquoise blue ocean, then Bermuda is a paradise to be living in. People of Bermuda are very friendly, courteous and mostly 'happy go lucky' type. I would suggest that you visit the following two links:  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
_________________________________________________ 
By Raj Bhattacharya 
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