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Starting to Search for life abroad with my family

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This is my first post.

I'm a 38 year old Canadian woman who would like to move my family somewhere in the Caribbean. I have a 14 year old, a 9 year old with Autism, and a 6 year old, actually they all have ASD just my boy is more affected. My husband is 41 years old and had a stroke and has a heart condition that prevents him from working, he is getting his Canadian Pension now. We are in the process of selling our house, selling our business and after that happens I will have a better understanding of what I will be able to afford.

I am also a type 1 diabetic so healthcare is very important for our family. As Canadians and living on a small Island of less than 200,000, we are used to paying high prices, we cut off our satellite bill because it was almost $200/mth, our heat bill is about $500 in summer $800 or more in winter, our groceries are about $800/mth or more and really we buy more than we need. So I'm used to paying for a living.

The main reasons we want to move are, we are both depressed. Our lives are very stressful and the Canadian winters are so hard on us and now with my husband's condition he cannot do shoveling or snow removal so it's all on me. I would be willing to give this up, do homeschooling if I need to, we might be able to run some sort of business life a bed and breakfast or something of that nature.

Any idea of where we can go, places I can research, please let me know.

  • Report Abuse

    Have you spent any time on any of the islands?

    Being a Canadian citizen, are you entitled to live and/or work in any of the British Virgin Islands without visa, etc?

    From what I read, it is harder than people think to move to the Caribbean and nearly impossible to work or start a business there. Healthcare is minimal in some places and you need a good health insurance policy. My DD lives on St Kitts (she has a specialty job that allowed her to work for a company there) and some of her friends fly to Miami for anything major. She did have surgery on the island and it went fine, but most things you would not want to do that.

    There is another thread here, Favorite Caribbean Island - where would you retire? Have a look at it.

    Is there someplace else in Canada that would be better for you than where you are?

    There is an expert, RoamsAround, who knows just about everything about the Caribbean. Look for his posts.

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    First, you CANNOT just show up one day on an island and expect to take up residency as having Canadian citizenship DOES NOT give you the right to legally reside or work on any Caribbean island. You must immigrate there "legally".

    Every island (or group of islands such as the USVI's, BVI's, etc.) have their own requirements that must be met if you want to reside on that island. To find out what the various laws are for any given island go to the "official" government website for that island.

    While the immigration laws vary from island nation to island nation in most instances getting residency requires a substantial investment (think in terms of $350,000 or more depending on the island nation) in real estate or, in some cases, a business that that provides jobs for locals. You also have to prove you have no criminal background, are in good health and you have the financial means to support yourself WITHOUT WORKING. If you meet these requirements you can be granted "Residency".

    Having residency DOES NOT give you the ability to work. For that you will need a Work Permit which is often very difficult to obtain. You must have a "unique skill" (think brain surgeon, Lawyer, or other profession) and find an employer willing to sponsor you. That employer must prove to the local labor officials that there are no "locals" qualified to fill the position. Even if you meet those qualifications there is no guarantee the Work Permit will be approved. If it is approved, you must pay the required fee (usually several $1,000's) and the Permit is good only for that job and must be renewed annually. There are never any guarantees the Permit will be renewed.

    Living on an island is VERY, VERY different then visiting on vacation. It is a bit like living in a small town without the ability to easily leave that town. The biggest "Catch-22" about living in the Caribbean is living expenses are high (probably about 25% to 35% than they are in Canada and wages (for comparable positions where you now live) are anywhere from 25% to 45% less.

    You mentioned that you are considering running a Bed & Breakfast - sounds wonderful but do you have any experience in the hospitality industry? Running any kind of business in the Caribbean is a bit of a challenge. You need to do an awful lot of research and be prepared to pay a premium if you want a good property. There is an old adage that goes something like this - How do you leave the Caribbean with $1 million? Start out with $3 million.

    I don't mean to scare you but your post has a number of "red flags":

    1) Health care on most Caribbean islands is not what you are use to getting in Canada. In fact, most Ex-pats living in the Caribbean go back to the US, Canada or Europe for their all their medical care except for moron colds and flu. Most have medical evacuation insurance to help defray costs if the have to be air lifted off the island in case of a medical emergency.

    2) you say you are "depressed" and "stressed" - you need to seek medical treatment for this BEFORE you move. Living in the Caribbean has it's own set of challenges and moving here won't automatically cure your depression or eliminate your stress. This may sound harsh - but you are who you are and whatever "problems you have" will follow you no matter where you go.

    3) You talk about high utility costs - well utilities are even higher on most Caribbean islands. Electricity is VERY EXPENSIVE. If you need air conditioning you can expect to pay 30% to 40% more electricity than you do now.

    4) Your children are young and, quite frankly, public schools in the Caribbean leave a lot to be desired. May Ex-pats send their children to private schools "on island" or to boarding schools back in their home country - that's an added expense.

    Lastly, you SHOULD NOT move to any Caribbean island sight unseen. Do your research and chose a couple of islands you think might fit your needs. Spend some time (perhaps a month or two on each island) getting the lay of the land and figuring out if island life is something you can cope with. Every island is different - for what it is worth, we visited over 20 different islands before we found the one that suited us. Once you identify "your island" DO NOT buy a home right away. Instead rent for a year or two. That way, if you change your mid it will be much easier to leave.

    Good luck following your dream.

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    Have you ever been to the Caribbean?

    Except for the good weather, I don't think the island offer an improvement over your current situation (as far as health care, schools, utility and housing costs, etc.)

    Do you mean to try to run a Bed & Breakfast in Canada? Or try to do that in the Caribbean?

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    I don't mean to be intrusive have you considered starting with evaluations by well-trained ASD and mental health professionals about a needs assessment and then work backward from there. ASD is a highly specialized area of intervention. I strongly encourage you to research places that offer specialized services. If you are depressed, places that offer competent mental health services would also be very important to consider. Moving and the initial adjustment can be an isolating and daunting experience, without any difficulties, until you develop a network of friends and supports, as well as connect with professional/medical services. My 2 cents is build a move that will be successful by making yourself, your husband and your children as healthy and strong as possible before you uporoot your lives, not the other way around....

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    Why the Caribbean? Is there another part of Canada that would work for you? Or there are places in Central and South America that would be cheaper and still have good weather. I don't know about schooling though, as the sources I read are for retirees.

    I agree that you need to address the depression before planning a move. Travel can be stressful, moving will be much more so.

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