In a letter dated 1910, Mark Twain expounded on the virtues of the Bermuda life.
"There are no newspapers, no telegrams, no mobiles, no trolleys, no trams, no tramps, no railways, no theaters, no noise, no lectures, no riots, no murders, no fires, no burglaries, no politics, no offences of any kind, no follies but church, and I don't go there."
Bermuda has changed a lot since the early twentieth century, yet its natural beauty, enticing climate, proximity to the Eastern United States and position as an international business centre ensure an ongoing demand for property.
Strict rules govern the acquisition of property by non-Bermudians. The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956, as amended, empowers the government to enact policies to limit the number of properties available for sale to non-Bermudians. The basic tool used to regulate land ownership is the Annual Rental Value (ARV), a notional value assigned to every property in Bermuda and re-assessed every five years.
Today, only private homes with an ARV in excess of $126,000 are available for purchase by international buyers. These properties are always expensive and typically start at about $2.3 million.
An international purchaser may also acquire a condominium with an ARV of $25,800 or more where the condominium is located in a "designated development". Prices typically start at approximately $350,000.
Policy and price are not the only obstacles to the purchase of a home in Bermuda. An international purchaser can only acquire a Bermuda property if granted a license to do so by the Minister of National Security. Applicants must complete the prescribed form and the application must be supported by a bank reference and two character references, preferably Bermudian.
Licenses are only granted in respect of a specific property and the application process may take up to six months. The license requires that the property is owned in the name of an individual - not a trust or company - and each license also contains restrictions on the property use:
The fee for the grant of a license issued by the Minister of National Security to an international person to acquire property in Bermuda is currently:
This fee, which is paid by the purchaser, must be received by the Minister before the license is issued and the license is required prior to the closing of the transaction.