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Tortola ?

Old 04-08-2008, 05:56 AM
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Default Tortola ?

Hello,
I'm new here and was told to post this question here. Does anyone have experience with living in Tortola? Things as cost of living, crime, housing, etc. Also, how far would a salary of $65k go? Thanks in advance.

Ken
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:25 PM
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Default Re: Tortola ?

I know a lady (expat from denver) who has been living there for years she runs the accounting for the big marina there. I think 65k would be fine if you live with in your means. I don't think there is any income tax there.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:39 PM
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Default RE: Tortola ?

A number of years ago, I managed some projects in the BVIs, mainly the Turks & Caicos. Tortola is a British Virgin Island, like T&C, so I suspect things are similar. Tortola may be a tax haven like T&C; I would check on that.

1. To work on the island, you will need a work permit. Usually, the employer handles this, but I would check to be sure. Otherwise, you will be an illegal alien. Unlike the US, they tend to take this very seriously.

2. If Tortola is a tax haven and wages are untaxed, you must meet US IRS tax guidelines to avoid a tax liability in the US. These are very specific, and I would be darn sure to know them if you are looking to avoid taxes. It used to be you had to be out of the country so many days and could only return so many days. Follow and obey the rules and yes you can get out of income taxes, at least on your wages. Like death, there are always taxes.

3. BVI islands generally raise their tax revenue with duties. It seemed to me that just about everything we brought in was hit with duties, sometimes up to 40% of the value. They did not generally impose them on personal items ( ie personal clothing, etc for your use). However, items like computers and work tools are often subject to duties.

4. Find out what your insurance status will be both while working and off duty. Workers comp. is a US concept, some US insurance will not cover you while out of the country working. Air ambulance insurance is not expensive. You might want it, as health care can be thin in the islands.

5. If you have some kind of medical need, like regular insulin, make sure you have that covered and give it plenty of lead time before you run out. Things can get bogged down in customs easily.

It always seemed to me like consumables like cereal, soft drinks, canned goods, toothpaste, etc were double what I was paying in a Miami Publix. Refrigerated items like meat cost perhaps a little bit more than double. Also, food supplies in the stores can be spotty due to shipping delays.

I ate a lot of fish and conch as it was local and cheaper. Just watch out for Ciguaterra. When I was there, one restaurant stopped serving grouper due to cases of it. I have not had it, but have heard horror stories about it. There is a drug out now, called something like Manotin (spelling?), that can minimize its symptoms. You just have to get it in your system fairly quickly. For more info, see US CDC website for info on fish toxins and treatment.

Housing is the bummer because most development goes into premium housing to capture the tourist dollar, and there are few if any cheap apartments. You may have to hunt with google, but you should be able to track down some re agents on tortolla. I would email them looking for extended term housing or even leads to other sources for it. Employers sometimes provide it for expats; I know some of the places even in the FL Keys are providing housing for employees. I would expect utilities and phone to be double Fl maybe more.

Island life ain't cheap, but I guess that why they pay a premium. Good luck!



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Old 04-08-2008, 01:39 PM
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Default Re: Tortola ?

I've only been to Tortola for Bombas' Full Moon Party. I can tell you this, it has a couple roads and is surrounded by water.
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Old 04-08-2008, 02:02 PM
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Just to correct a misstatement in previous post. Turks & Caicos is NOT a BVI. What I was trying to say is they are both under the British umbrella and are tax havens where business pretty much operates in a similar manner.
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Old 04-08-2008, 02:45 PM
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Default Re: Tortola ?

How do places like this look at people who work from home for a company that is based in the US? Like a computer programmer that location does not matter, only a computer and internet.
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:37 PM
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bsmit24 - 4/8/2008 2:45 PM

How do places like this look at people who work from home for a company that is based in the US? Like a computer programmer that location does not matter, only a computer and internet.
There may be some folks who can answer this better. We used to have a guy from T&C on here a lot but I think he moved to another forum. I will give my take, based on my limited knowledge, which is probably outdated and not legally correct.

Well, when I was there, you could not just go there as a tourist and stay however long you wanted. Usually, they would stamp tourists in for two weeks. I do not think there was some kind of immigration policy, either.

I believe most of the people that I knew who were expats and just living there full time were doing so under a deal at the time whereby if you invested a half million in the island you could get some type of residency. Now, I do not know if that sum includes a residence or not or is some type of an island business. I had no intentions of staying there for a long period, so I was not to worried about it. This has probably changed so I would pursue better info.

Do a Google search on Two Gringos in the Carribean and/or TCI Blog Spot. They are in Turks and Caicos, and I believe they may be US. He could probably give you a lot better info.

Also, there are several large law firms on the WWW that often provide free info on moving to a tax haven.

If I were trying to do what I think you want to, I would try to get residency, which would mean you in all probability will need a local law firm there. Then, I would get the local attorney's opinion on working from home via wire. They may not even have laws dealing with it and it could well not even be an issue.

One thing to check is whether you can get enough bandwidth. When it comes to ground communications, they are not the states.

Anyway, that's my limited take on it. Hope that helps.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:16 AM
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Default Re: Tortola ?

texrford, thanks for the info though I have no intentions of becoming an expat anytime soon. During my limited travels in Mexico and the Carribean, I was shocked by the number of expats that I met and many of them had some type of business that they were running. Some had difficulties setting up the business and some did not.
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