Every winter, we dream about going on holiday to a tropical island full of sunny days and sandy beaches. Some people have taken their relaxing escape further and made the decision to go on permanent vacation. If you have ever pondered the prospect of living close to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean coast, here are some popular islands for expatriates.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye is the biggest island in Belize and is lovingly known as Isla Bonita thanks to Madonna’s 80s hit song. The beautiful island is a mere 25 miles long and approximately a mile wide. Located only half a mile from the Belize Barrier Reef, the island is a popular destination for tourists who come for the scuba diving and snorkeling and stay for the incredible island vibe.
San Pedro is the only town on Ambergris Caye. Although it is the second-largest town in Belize, it only has a modest population of fewer than 20,000 people, many of whom belong to a close-knit community of expats. While the island has developed significantly and the sandy paths are now paved roads, it still retains its laidback charm with golf carts, bicycles, and walking being the preferred mode of transport.
With the increased development also comes reliable utility services, amenities, and a thriving dining and bar scene. Almost all of the locals speak English, and immigration policies are extremely foreigner-friendly. For those who need to be close to the big smoke, the island is a short skip to the bustling metropolitan Belize City and only a two-hour flight to Florida, USA.
St Maarten, Dutch Caribbean
Sint Maarten (St Maarten) is an island country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean. The island of Saint Martin is divided into two separate countries. The northern side is French, encompasses 60 percent of the island, and is called Saint Martin; The southern side is Dutch, covers 40 percent of the island, and is called Sint Maarten.
St Maarten attracts hordes of visitors every year who indulge in all varieties of water sports such as sailing, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and kitesurfing. Its secluded coves and 37 white-sand beaches are another big draw. Maho Beach, in particular, has become the trademark spot to capture exhilarating photographs of low-flying aircraft preparing to land at the nearby international airport.
Because of the interesting history of Saint Martin island, St Maarten has become a diverse and unique blend of cultures. Expats from all over the world call the island home and they revel in the modern supermarkets and reliable utility infrastructure. The dining scene is exceptionally vibrant, and St Maarten is often known as the gastronomic hub of the Caribbean.
For those who are interested in renting or buying their piece of paradise, there is a wide range of homes available from studio St Maarten condos with stunning views to six-room villas with swimming pools that sit right on the water. Best of all, property titles operate under the European system and there is no annual property tax for property owners or capital gains tax for residents.
Roatán is a long and thin island located about 35 miles off the northern coast of the Honduras mainland. This 50 square mile island boasts stretches of lush hills, untouched jungle, and the world’s second-largest barrier reef. Formerly a secret escape of scuba divers, this Caribbean island has now become a favorite of expats who seek a low-key lifestyle.
As Roatán was once a British colony, most of the residents on the island speak good English along with the national language of Spanish. There are approximately 80,000 residents spread out over little villages and communities that dot the island. Each district has its distinctively different feel and lifestyle with the larger towns and amenities such as hospitals and government offices located in the middle of the island.
Roatán’s expat community is very welcoming, especially to retirees. With tourist traffic and development mostly concentrated on the north-western side of the island, the majority of expats choose to live and socialize in villages there. However, others prefer to stay in the remote bays of the east side and use boats as their primary mode of transport into town.
These islands in the Caribbean sit at the sweet spot between rustic authenticity and developed comfort. There is just enough international influence to ensure that expats can maintain their standard of living and have their desired groceries from home, without taking away from the small island charm and slow-paced lifestyle.
Life is paradise is a possibility. Whether you want to purchase St Maarten real estate or a little shack on the beach, a reliable and knowledgeable real estate agent will help you to find your perfect new home. Lush, green jungles, azure blue waters bursting with life, pristine and secluded beaches, and the best dining options that global cultures can offer. This is the life that awaits you in the Caribbean.