The five most affordable Caribbean Islands to retire to — and two to avoid
INTERNATIONAL LIVING Mention the word “Caribbean” and most people think of places like Aruba, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and other tourist-rich dollops of sand. The region conjures well-deserved images of crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches.
Social & Lifestyle
Mention the word “Caribbean” and most people think of places like Aruba, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and other tourist-rich dollops of sand. The region conjures well-deserved images of crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches.
And there’s no question: If you like sun and sand, these islands are great for a vacation. But move there? Most folks assume it’s just too expensive and don’t give it another thought.
But that’s too bad. Because the Caribbean is bigger than many people realize. And when you look beyond the mass-market shores the tourist brochures describe, you’ll find a variety of sun-splashed islands well worth your attention. They’re not only beautiful… but a lot more affordable than most people realize.
Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico all offer islands off their Caribbean coasts—islands that share the same turquoise-blue waters and powder-white beaches you expect when you hear “Caribbean”—only you won’t pay a fortune to live on any of them.
Read on to find out more about five Caribbean islands that won’t break the bank…and two that just might…
1. Ambergris Caye, Belize
English-speaking Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize at 25 miles long and a little over a mile wide, and San Pedro is its only town. About 30 years ago, Ambergris became a hot spot for divers and fishermen thanks to the Belize Barrier Reef, just a half-mile offshore. This natural wonderland of living coral supports a dizzying array of marine life, and it’s the main reason Ambergris has seen its recent (and significant) growth.
Until just a few years ago, San Pedro was a little fishing village that catered to adventure tourists coming for the scuba-diving and deep-sea fishing. The main motorized transportation on Ambergris Caye at that time was golf carts (which remain popular, though there are many more cars on the island today). San Pedro is now the second-largest town in Belize District with more than 15,000 people, surpassed in size only by the former capital, Belize City.
Expats give up little living on Ambergris Caye. Power, water, cellphone coverage, and internet are reliable…and you can buy most necessities for daily living on the island. Regular water taxis and flights make it easy to take a quick shopping trip in Belize City, or Chetumal, Mexico. The selection of quality restaurants and bars is constantly expanding.
For between $2,950 to $3,150 a month, a couple can enjoy a comfortable retirement in Ambergris Caye—a budget that includes the cost of a house or apartment rental. If you own your own home on the island outright, then expats report it’s possible for a couple to live quite comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.
“Belize has taught me to relax, go with the flow, enjoy the small moments,” says Donna Ehart at her Caribbean home. “Before moving here, I was a workaholic and constantly stressed.”