Guidance to Look for Caribbean Property

Old Jan 7th, 2015, 10:21 AM
  #1  
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Guidance to Look for Caribbean Property

I'm looking out my Akron, Ohio window at 4" of snow...OMG. Recently retired and considering looking into Caribbean Property. I know there are SO MANY questions to answer and could use a good website or personal guidance on this venture. If anyone has a good list they used in the past or references they would recommend I would be greatly appreciative. God bless and thank you!

JB
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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Are you talking about purchasing? Lots of people from the US look into the USVI because, well, it's America. ;-)
www.vimovingcenter.com has a forum for living in the USVI.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 11:27 AM
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If you can do a search for howardC he's the best!

I haven't seen him on here for a while, but you can search for him on tripadvisor and send him a message.

Roamsaround hear will probably see it and chime in

Not to burst your bubble, while the weather is fantastic, it takes a lot of looking into (and tons of savings)
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 12:38 PM
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The website recommended by eastenderusvi has tons of information - use the various dropdown menus to find answer to all your questions and hundreds more you haven't thought of yet. Although geared to living in the USVI's much of what is written applies to all Caribbean islands.

Also, get a copy of "The settler's Handbook (you can get it on Amazon or the VI website). It's a must read for anyone contemplating a move to the Caribbean.

As a US citizen you'll find it infinitely easier to relocate/buy property in the USVI's Puerto Rico, Culebra or Vieques as you'll already have residency and work status.

If you decide on looking on an island other than those make sure you fully understand the local laws regarding residency/immigration and potential restrictions on property ownership by "non-belongers". Must (non-US territories) will require that you obtain an Alien Landholder's License, prove financial independence and good health and non-criminal background before you can purchase property or gain residency. You'll need an independent source of income as in most cases you WILL NOT be allowed to work on those islands.

Lastly, it is costly to live in the Caribbean. Cost of living is anywhere from 35% to 50% higher than it is on the mainland US so factor that into your planning. It is not easy to live frugally in the Caribbean.

Do a lot of first hand research. DO NOT move to an island or buy property sight unseen or without making a pre-move visit (several weeks to several months - the longer the better). Get the lay of the land and really understand the lifestyle - it's not for everyone and it's definitely far different than what you might have experienced while on vacation.

Good luck following your dream.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 06:47 AM
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Since you say you are retired I am assuming you do not plan on working in the islands. That does open up options. We are not yet retired but have done some early research on where we would like to spend time in the winters when we do retire. We are more or less set on the bahama out islands. Several to pick from but we like Eleuthera, Long Island. However these are quiet islands. Not much going on. No crime (one of our main criteria in addition to gorgeous beaches). But also limited medical facilities. No shopping/casinos. We have met quite a few Expats. Homes especially not right on the beach are reasonably priced (in my opinion). You can look at real estate online but certainly get in touch with a realtor and make sure you spend a decent amount of time on the island of your choice before making a decision. As cautioned by others, cost of living is not cheap (electicity, car, groceries) and services (such as getting a washer/dryer fixed) require patience. Its the islands!! Good luck.
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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When researching island properties on-line be aware that many people are selling the dream so there's often a lot of "puffery" in what you see advertised. Example, during our early searches we found listings for a 1 acre parcel of "prime beachfront land" on one of the Bahamas Out-islands for around $40,000. Sounds great doesn't it? Well, when we got there we discovered the land was a narrow strip some 1,600 feet long and less than 25 feet wide at the "beach" which was just a rocky cove. It was about 10 miles from the nearest village down a 3 mile long two-track dirt road, with no utilities and the "beach" was all rocks - totally unsuitable for anything. It was only afterward that the realtor offered to show us a different property that cost more than 10X's that amount that had access to electricity if we'd be willing to pay for the cost to bring the poles and wires some 1/4 from the nearest source. My point being things are not always what they seem so be sure to do your research.

Here's a few more things about the "Pre-Move Visit" I suggested in my earlier response - I cannot stress how important this is. When you make your PMV (you'll need to do one for each island you are considering) don't stay in a resort or hotel. Instead stay in an efficiency unit, small rental cottage or simple rental apartment/condo so you get a real feel for what island life is really like. Do everyday chores like grocery shopping, banking, laundry, yard work, etc. as you'll be doing all those things and more once you make the move. See what's available on the island and what's not - there's no Home Depot, Walmart, or shopping malls on most islands and the stores that they do have only carry the basics (often poor quality "Made in Taiwan" items that are costly because everything has to be imported and are assessed with high Customs Duty. If you want good quality you have to source and ship them yourself (and pay the duty).

One last point and it may sound harsh - if you can not afford to make the necessary PMV's there's a good chance you can't afford to live in the Caribbean.

Take your time, do your research - while you can learn a lot on the internet nothing beats "first hand experience". For what it is worth, we spent well over 5 years visiting 20+ islands before we found the one that was perfect for us.

Enjoy your search.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 12:12 PM
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Thank you everyone for your counsel. I will read all in depth and listen to your thoughts. It is a dream, and one must never quit dreaming.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 03:48 PM
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I would start by going down to an island (any island) and renting a place for 3 months.
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