Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bermuda

Bermuda was a nice respite for me. I got to relax in between two of my trips, check out the island and catch up with a friend. I did however make the mistake of assuming that the process of getting to Bermuda would include a flight similar to a domestic one rather than international. With a flight time from New York of only 1:48, I am sure you can see why I went under that assumption. I broke all of my international travel rules thinking they wouldn’t apply. I even ended up being one of the last people through immigration and then got detained for 20 minutes for not knowing my friends address. Lesson learned.

The island of Bermuda is quite unique in its location, international influences and tax code. Some people believe that Bermuda is “somewhere down there in the Caribbean" however, Bermuda sits at approximately the same latitude of Charleston, South Carolina. Winters can get chilly, but the temperature doesn’t go below the mid forties. Geographically, Bermudas location leaves it well suited to pick up influence from both sides of the Atlantic. I found it amusing that the currency, the Bermuda Dollar, is pegged at one to one with the US Dollar, yet there are pictures of Queen Elizabeth II on the banknotes. Also, gas is sold in liters, but temperature is given in Fahrenheit.

The tax situation of Bermuda is unique in that there are no taxes on profits or capital gains. Revenue is collected mainly through customs duties, but also on land taxes and employment tax. While a large portion of the price increase over what you might pay on the mainland is due to transport, part is the duty paid to the government. For example, a gallon of milk is about $8 and standard magazine that would be three or four bucks in the US, runs about ten. I had seen gas for $1.97 a liter. That’s just about $7.50 a gallon. Suddenly $3.50 a gallon doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?

While most things in Bermuda aren’t necessarily good value, the island offers so much in natural beauty, friendly people, favorable temperatures and a stable business environment. People always ask me where I am going to settle down once I get back in to the swing of things. Bermuda just made the short list.

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