Published On: Fri, May 2nd, 2014

Foreign investment in Curacao

curacao-willemstadThere is no doubt, if you are a real foreign investor and not just part of this big international company, which  push their money on the zero tax path even via the smallest island around the world,  then you have to think practical and the first thing you need is a house. Not to worry, there are plenty of real estate agents on the island. So you spend a few nights and go through their websites and you realize there are plenty of houses up for sale. You make your choice and prearrange some appointments via email. As an especially careful person you double check with all of them before finally flying in. We had appointments with seven real estate agents, but not a single one could remember it and of course none of them had time to show us a house. Somewhere else one would ask you how much you want to spend. Not so. Over here they just ask how long you intend to stay. As they heard one week they all said the same, they could arrange a viewing for the day after our departure. Well, at least it solved the mystery why there are so many houses featured unsold on their web sites! Finally, we found a young lady sitting in one of the one woman real estate offices which was willing to drive with us around, of course in our car. She mainly showed us houses which were sold during the last year. One had a nicely treed garden and my husband meant this would have been something for us too for how much did it sell? The young lady had a strange look and said: “For a house like this we don't need one of you, we sell them locally!”

Anyway, we realized if we really want to purchase a house we need to put our nose on the ground just as a dog does to find a buried bone. And how it helped! Within that one week we found a house very centrally located for a good price, which any real estate agent would have kept aside for a member of his or her big extended family. One needs to understand it is a very small island where big families run most of the businesses and one doesn't see any need for any newcomers. One is religious and is highlighting the needs of the very own family first. Then one thinks of the rest, which are used to depend on their businesses anyway. In no time I found out that I don't have to shop around for food items as almost any supermarket on the island offers the same item for the same price. At least it helps saving gasoline but still I believe that there must be some kind of headquarter functioning as some kind of price mill. As there is a bizarre phenomenon when a new supermarket opens which occasionally does, prices go up. Local people are used to that and don't bother with it, that's why I strive to become a local too as quick as possible!

Of course, also the notary was a local person. And he gave us quite a hard time. He simply couldn't believe that we would reside where we are from. Still I think that he intended to extend his fees with all this brainstorming he did. Whenever we asked when he can transfer the deed, his female assistant told us that they would have thousands of houses to transfer and they would tell us when they could give as a date. Finally, we had to read the “Landsverordening” ourselves and advise the notary that he must be able to execute the deed on the basis of our valid passport. If not we would have to look for another notary. As he would have just waited for that little push he finally did his well paid job!

Just two days before another Christmas we became the owners of the house. To our big surprise, although we had paid our deposit and gotten our new account at Aqualectra our water was cut off. Nobody knew anything. The computer showed no interruption at all. And as I went to Aqualectra every day to find out why the water meter is locked the ladies at Service Center put up their nose upon seeing me. The previous owner went to school with someone working higher up by Aqualectra and seemingly had done something smart for his friend. That's quite a recipe to make you feel like a Palestinian in a refugee camp somewhere. But anyway, after one week we had water again.

Opening a bank account is also quite an adventure, although if your investment capital comes with all the certifications needed for not being laundered or stolen. A foreigner not registered at Kranshi (Civil Registrar's Office) isn't allowed to open an Antillean Guilder account we were explained. Why is that? The reason is that the bank needs to make money by exchanging the US Dollars they said!

There is of course much more to say and many more adventures to report. But that's for another occasion. For now it's just important to state: come and join me here not just because foreign investment is urgently needed, but I really do love it here as there is every day something new for me!

By Marry Simpson

 

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