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Island Living for One Month - Island recommendations...

Island Living for One Month - Island recommendations...

Jul 10th, 2013, 08:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 3
Island Living for One Month - Island recommendations...

We are a family of 4 with 2 small children that want to move to a Carribean island!
We have decided to do a 6 week trial run on an island to see if we actually can handle it.
Not having visited most of the islands, can anyone recommend an island for us to chekck out. We do not want anything too touristy but with small children we still want good health care and the basics.
This is what we are specifically are looking for:
- 2 bdrm apartment with pool for under $800 a month
- safe (family) neighborhoods - low crime rate on island!!
- walking distance to beaches and markets
- good bus system (or reasonable car rental rate)
- nice snorkel and swim beaches
- clean water
- english preferred but not necessary
We are open to suggestions of islands and specific areas on these islands!
Any thoughts on this or direction to other forum threads is MUCHLY appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
Hannahide is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,281
I have no helpful suggestions, but if you find a 2 bedroom aparmtnet with a pool for $800 a month anywhere on a Caribbean island, I'd love to know about it!!!!
suze is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 166
I have to agree with Suze - LOL.

People think living in the Caribbean is cheap. It's not! It is very expensive especially if you're looking for the same things mentioned by the poster.

There are many islands you could look into. I would suggest somewhere like:


If you want the island life, you can try Hawaii too, although I'm sure it's even more expensive than the Caribbean.
welovemexico is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 10:16 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,589
I'm an EX-Pat American living in the Caribbean so I can offer some advise.

First - In order to make meaningful suggestions we need a little more information from you.

What is your nationality (i.e. where do you have citizenship) and will you, your spouse or both of you have to work on that island in order to make your dream a reality? The answer to these two questions will greatly affect where you end up.

You see, unless you have citizenship or residential status on a particular island you will not be allowed to live on most islands for more than 6 months in any calendar year. To get residency, most islands require that you invest a large sum of money (think in terms of the equivalent of $300,000US to $500,000US) in property or in a business that provides jobs for locals.

NOW COMES THE DIFFiCULT PART - having residency DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE ABILITY TO WORK. For that you'll need to apply for a Work Permit and these are often very difficult to get. You'll have to first identify an employer willing to sponsor you, you'll have to possess a "unique skills" and your potential employer must first averts the position locally and prove to the country's Labor Department that there are no locals qualified to fill the position and even then there's never any guarantee the Work Permit will be issued. Assuming it is approved the permit is good only for the applicant (each spouse must obtain their own Permit if both need to work), only for that position and only for a period of one year. There are never any guarantees the Permit will be renewed in subsequent years.

For purposes of this response I'll assume you are US Citizens and, because you have young children, I'll also assume one or both of the parents will have to work. If this is your case, you'll find it infinitely easier to relocate to Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra or any of the U.S. Virgin Islands as you will already have citizenship/work status. Relocating to any of those islands is no more difficult than relocating to a different city/state on the mainland US. ALL OTHER ISLANDS IN THE CARIBBEAN are foreign countries and have different Immigration rules. The best way to research the Immigration requirements for any given island is to visit the official government website for that particular island.

Another factor you should be aware of is that, in general, unless you are living in places like Park Avenue, New York, Beverly Hills, California, etc., living expenses (housing, food, utilities, etc) in the Caribbean will most likely be anywhere for 25% to 40% than you are use to seeing where you live now while wages for comparable jobs will be significantly lower than they are on the mainland US. That's the CATCH-22 of living/working in the Caribbean.

One more caveat - you say you have two small children. If they are of school age or soon will be school age soon you'll want to give some major thought to their education. Most likely you should plan to send them to private school or even considering sending the to back to the US (or Europe if that's where you are from) for boarding school as public schools on most islands leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this will come at a financial cost so factor that into your decision. I can tell you this, on my island (not one of the USVI's) almost every EX-Pat with school age children send them to boarding school. FYI - in the USVI's there are a number of very good private schools but tuition runs around $15,000US per year.

I'll make a few other comments to answer some of the specific points in your post

1) $800US/month rental for a 2 BR apartment w/poll and within walking distance to beaches and markets is way low. You are probably talking double that amount.

2) Most islands do not have good public transportation systems (San Juan, Puerto Rico is an exception but I'm not sure living in the city will give you the "island feel" you are seeking and the smaller towns in outlying areas on that island won't have the public transportation you are seeking.

3) No island is going to be crime free but most are fairly safe places if you use common sense. One of the safest islands in the Caribbean is St. Barth's but unless you are a citizen of France or a European Union country you'll have to apply for residency and work status. It's also one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean.

Again, assuming you are US Citizens your easiest options would be to look at one of the US Virgin Island - St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. They offer opportunities for housing (although perhaps somewhat above your budget), work if you need it, nice beaches, good to very good snorkeling, clean water and they are English speaking.

Lastly, if you are serious about relocating to the Caribbean go to www.vimovingcenter.com. It's a website geared to living/working in the US Virgin Islands but much of the information you find there applies to living on any Caribbean Island. Start at the top left of the home page and, moving right) use the various drop down menus to bring up tons of material that will answer many of the questions you may have and hundreds more you haven't even thought of yet. There's also a very active forum where you can search and read through thousands of threads on every conceivable topic imaginable. It will take you a month to read all the material you'll find there. Also, while on the sight use the appropriate link to purchase a boo titled "The Settler's Handbook" - it's a must read for anyone contemplating a move to the Caribbean.

Hope this has been helpful.

Good luck following your dream.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 10:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,658
Not only is Bermuda not in the Caribbean, I can't imagine getting an apartment there for $800 nor can I imagine you can live there for 6 weeks without a visa or permit. Even if you have millions you can't just buy somewhere in Bermuda. I paid much more than that for 1 week plus groceries are really expensive eg $5 for a loaf of bread.
The French islands have good standard of living as they are part of France & there is inexpensive accommodation, but it might be hard for any length of time without French.
Barbados might work but don't know what the max stay is (not sure about French islands either),
I'd probably go for islands that are US territories.
Odin is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,281
Hawaii is not more expensive than the Caribbean, in my experience. Most Caribbean islands have to import most goods because they are so small. Hawaiian islands are large enough they produce some of what they need.
suze is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,589
Let me address one more point - Health Care.

The smaller, less touristy the island, the less "health care" you'll find. For what it is worth, almost every EX-pat living on my island goes off-island (back to the US, Canada or England) once or twice a year for the annual/semi-annual check-ups and we all purchase Medical Evacuation Insurance in the event we have a medical emergency and need to treatment for anything major.

If medicare care is one of your major concerns make sure you (personally) thoroughly investigate what's available on the island you choose - DO NOT rely solely on a comment from contributors on a travel forum.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,712
I have a rental home in Turks and Caicos, and have seen through the years many try your dream.

Roam always gives good advice on this subject.

Please forgive me, but you're are so not realistic about what you want to do.

2 bedroom place any island will be $2000 or more plus utilities. Utilities are high! Think $200 pool cleaning, $800 electric, $200 water monthly. Another $100 each for phone, Internet and cable. These will not be walking distance to the beach, or town. You will need to buy a car.

You'll have to home school, or pay about $8000 each kid for school. (youre not from there, can't send to public schools)

You'll have to have airfare every 2 months to leave and come back, as that's how long you can stay at any given place. Include a hotel for a night or 2. Air usually around $500 per person to $1200 depending on season.

Food is high! Everything is imported in.

Forget about work. Work permits have to be renewed annually (and sometimes they don't renew on time and your stuck and can't work) usually costs $3000-$9000 every year for the right to work depending on the trade.

If you get a job, you have to get one an islander can't or doesn't want. They are in no hurry to issue work permits either. I've seen 4-18 months to get it.

Living conditions are HARDER than on a mainland. Something breaks (fridge?) could be fixed rit away, could take weeks to get the right part. Appliances break all the time with salt in the air.

If you're realistic, you can't move until you have at least 6 months of living expensives (without school I'd say about $25000. (not including school or work permit)

If American, US territories you won't find living quarters for $800.

You can live the dream. It's extremely rewarding. But I don't think you've looked into it enough to make it work.
blamona is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,589
I can't seem to stay away from offering advice on this topic. Anyway, it's free so it's worth what you are paying for it.

If you are a US citizen and are still inclined to look at Caribbean islands other than Puerto Rico and the USVI's then may I suggest YOU NOT GO SOMEWHERE for a month but rather use that time (and money) to briefly visit many different islands. I say this because in your initial post you implied that you've only been to a few.

You see, every island is different and you may find some you like and others you don't. Living on one island won't really give you a feel for what it is like on a different island.

This way you'll get a chance to compare multiple islands which will help you narrow down your choices and, hopefully, identify the one that is right FOR YOU. Think about it, say you decide to go to St. Vincent but after staying there for the month you decide that for whatever reason(s) you don't like it there. You've used up all your "time" and the only thing you've learned is you don't like St. Vincent.

For what it is worth, my spouse and I visited more than 20 different islands over a period of 5 years BEFORE we found our place in paradise. In most of those years we took two or three short trips and one year we spent a couple of weeks sailing through the Grenadines (stopping on every island). Our search enabled us to come to understand island life while at the same time figure out which ones fit our particular life style and desires. Some islands we liked but couldn't find the right piece of property others had wonderful homes/properties but we didn't like the islands.

The interesting thing was, that when we first arrived on "our island" we knew almost immediately we could stop looking.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,281
The exploratory trip is an excellent idea, and because even looking at vacation rentals you will understand how much you have underestimated what rents will be for what you describe.
suze is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 06:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 3
HUGE thanks for the comments.

And perhaps i am unrealistic in my expectations but then that is why I am asking for advice!

We actually are Canadian and will not have to work.
The $800 a month came from a house rental we had in Costa Rica. I was hoping that south/central american prices were similar to that in the Carribean. perhaps not.

Thank you again and i will keep checking things out online!
Hannahide is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,589
The fact that youvwon't have to work will make it easier to relocate. Just be prepared to prove to the local governmental authorities that you have the financial means to live in the country without working.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jul 13th, 2013, 06:14 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1,702
unfortunately you have this need to not give adequate info to advise you. There are great retirement locations in Belize (commonwealth and english speaking) if retirement is what you are doing. Mexico has areas full of N Aerican retired expats but the country speaks Spanish.
Katzgar is offline  
Jul 15th, 2013, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4
I would say that on Saint John or Saint Thomas you could find a 2 bedroom apartment with a SHARED pool for around $1500. Maybe less depending on what you will settle for. You really don't need much of a pool here.....The beaches are so calm and accessible that you will spend a lot more time there than you think
skibum2beachbum is offline  
Jul 17th, 2013, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 23
HannaHide..Another option you may consider is Puerto Rico, mainland, or the off shore PR islands of Vieques or Culebra. I've been to both as a visitor..On both islands depending on your work skills ect, the chances of finding a job is slim. There is not much industry at all on these islands, most blue collar or restaurants/bars. Both are prone to petty thefts but for the most part are pretty safe.I'm not all that familiar with the mainland PR...but there are some nice coastal towns all over the country, the south shore I believe to be the nicest..Good swimming,snorkeling..Ponce for instance....ect,ect. It seemed to me that there is some type of carnavil going on every day..They celebrate everything..LOL...I've lived in St John,St Thomas,St Kitts and Grand Cayman. I'm a professional chef so finding work was kind of simple for me, but before I moved to the islands, I already had a job set up..Best of luck to you and your family..
PhillyBob1 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2015, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 1
My husband and I also would like to move to an island or live several weeks every couple months.
We are U.S. Residents. I'm thinking St. John's. Im not unrealistic I know it's not cheap. However I want to wake up to the Caribean waters.. For more than a week....maybe several weeks at a time. Any suggestions.
lynnlovssephs is offline  
Jun 12th, 2015, 05:54 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,589
lynnlovssephs - Did you read all the earlier posts in this thread? - They give you plenty of suggestions.

Are you thinking of relocating to St. John's, the capital city on Antigua or St. John (no "s"), one of the US Virgin Islands? It will make a big difference.

I'll assume because you are a US Citizen you mean St. John, in the Virgin Islands. If so, the first thing you should do is read EVERYTHING on the Virgin Island Relocation website (www.vimovingcenter.com) I mentioned in my earlier reply - also browse through the VI Relocation Forum (there's a link on the website) you'll find tens of thousands of threads discussing every topic about living in the Caribbean imaginable. You'll find answer to all your questions and hundreds more you haven't even thought of yet.

If you only want to go for several weeks at a time you might be better off getting a "short term vacation rental" (either a condo or villa) on the island of your choice. Simply google such topics as "Vacation rentals NAME OF ISLAND", "Vacation Condos on NAME OF ISLAND" and you'll find plenty of links. Over time time will be the least expensive way to obtain comfortable housing/accommodations that you'll only be using a few week of the year.

Or, you could purchase a condo or villa and try to rent it out when you are not using it to help offset some of your upkeep and overhead expenses. If you go this route keep in mind that the majority of rentals will come in High Season (mid-December through Easter) which may be the same period when you want to use the dwelling yourself. Vacation rentals in the off-season are few and far between. You'll also need to hire a property manger to look after your property when you are not in residence and to handle all the rental details for you. Expect to pay the management company anywhere between 25% and 40% of your rental income for this service. If you do rent out your property expect to have more wear and tear on your furnishings and utilities (sorry, but most renters tend to abuse property that isn't theirs) than if it was just you and your spouse. Look at the finances very carefully BEFORE deciding if owning a "rental property" is right for you.

Good luck following your dream.
RoamsAround is offline  
Jun 13th, 2015, 04:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,712
Lynn, you can try 2 ways, buy a property and visit every couple of months, or just rent a place every couple of months

Buying a property requires a tremendous amount of work to upkeep, and a tremendous amount of money to maintain. (things rot like crazy in tropics). If you don't pay someone for maintenance, you spend the 2 weeks doing a lot of work. If you pay someone, you spend a lot of money

If you rent out the place to cover costs, chances are it pays for maintenance, not mortgage and bills. It's a ton of work too

It is rewarding (many of us do it successfully) and for example will be our retirement home. But don't be filled into thinking you just buy and forget

In the tropics, weeds grow like crazy, that brings bugs. Ants love inside. Toilets back up because of salt in water (even city water). Utilities are outrageous (monthly electric bills run $800 to $2000 a month. If not leaving a/c on or circulation, appliances and electronics rot

Fixing something on island can take months for parts to come in, and even then might not be the right part

Water bills can average $300. Although some islands rains every day, cisterns can dry out quickly

Most places on the water are mega mansions, or cost like one, so you need transportation unless you cN afford an exclusive place. Most islands don't have transportation (some do) and cars rot if not used, so again, another expense.

It works for many, just want to get you started on things that affect it so you can start looking into wanting to wake up in Caribbean all the time.

So you might want to decide, maybe just rent every 2 weeks, vs buying something.

When buying, expect your bills to be at least twice what you budget. For example, don't forget landscapers (or you spend your 2 weeks just landscping when visiting) pool cleaners (or you spend 3 days balancing the pools, definitely go the salt pool route) etc

So start a new thread (this one is 3 years old) and be as specific as possible for us to get you started-- budgets, tastes in islands, how many persons, are you solo or have a spouse who shares your dream (this one is huge, if both don't agree, then it will be a hard marriage) how often you can realistically go, do you need to work while there (this can create a huge costly problem, as working on a computer from home still requires expensive annual work permits). Safety and many other factors.
blamona is offline  
Jun 14th, 2015, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,281

Moving permanently is one thing. What you describe isn't any different than a regular vacation.
suze is offline  
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