If the rat race has just got too much and you’re dying to break away from it all, then living on an island is the ideal solution. Moving to an island often seems likes an impossible dream for most people and the general assumption is that it is just too expensive. That’s not necessarily the case with the Caribbean. If you look beyond the glossy tourist brochures, you’ll find a variety of sun-soaked islands that are perfect for expats looking for powder-white beaches, turquoise-blue waters and affordable living costs.
Top 5 Caribbean islands for expats
Ambergris Caye, Belize
This is the largest island in Belize and the big bonus is that it is English speaking. It attracts divers from all over the world due to the Belize Barrier Reef that is around a kilometre offshore. This abundant coral reel is one of the main reasons Ambergris has seen such growth in the past few years. Sand Pedro has more than 15 000 people and is only surpassed in size by the former capital, Belize City. Another bonus for expats it that the cell phone coverage and Internet are very reliable – allowing expats to run their startups from their beachfront homes!
Regular water taxis and flights make shopping in Belize city or Chetumal, Mexico an easy option – although you can find most of your daily necessities on the island. If you own your own home or apartment on the island it is possible to live comfortably on less than USD$ 2000 a month.
Situated in the western Caribbean, Roatán is a lush island off Honduras’s northern coast and is fringed by reefs filled with coral and seal life. The pristine white beaches are generally quiet and you’ll find no big resorts or high-rise developments. You can purchase a two-bedroom home for as little as USD$175 000, which makes it a sunny, low-cost and comfortable retirement option for expats looking for some island pampering. The infrastructure is also improving with a new power plant and a specialist hospital with a 24-hour emergency section.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
This laidback island is situated close to Cancún, but unlike its touristy neighbour it offers a quieter life and some of the best beaches and water sports in the world. Local experts report that the cost of living is a lot lower than a similar lifestyle would cost you in the USA and you can rent a one-bedroom place for between USD$700 to USD$1000 a month. Many expats live on the island full-time and others come for the winter months as the island enjoys a warm tropical climate most of the year round.
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
This island was reportedly called “the fairest land under heaven” by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and offers great weather and wonderful beaches. The north coast of the island is renowned for having some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean and the east coast is famous for its designer golf courses. The town of Las Terrenas offers excellent value with affordable property and is home to an expat community of many French and Italian nationals. With this European influence, you can enjoy a wide variety of food from wood-fired pizzas all the way to gourmet French and Italian food. Despite all the cosmopolitan aspects of the town, the real estate prices are still low and you can buy a loft apartment for as little as USD$99 500.
Corn Islands, Nicaragua
The Corn Islands are situated off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Big Corn has around 6000 inhabitants, however these islands are not as established as many of the other Caribbean islands, making them ideal for pioneering expats. Here you will find a tropical reef for scuba diving, beautiful blue waters and friendly locals who speak English – and very few tourists.
Cash-in your SA Retirement Annuity and escape to the Caribbean
If you are a South African expats living abroad, you are able to access your South African retirement annuity – even before you turn the age of 55 – due to a change in tax legislation that came into effect in 2008. In most cases, the only proviso is that you have financially emigrated from South Africa. Financial emigration does not change your status as a South African. You and your partner will still have South African citizenship and your South African passports.
At FinGlobal we have simplified the financial emigration process for thousands of South Africans living abroad and have helped them cash in their retirement annuities so they can make their expat dreams a reality. To find out more about how we can assist you with this process, contact us today.