You can retire in your own country or you can check out the Caribbean Islands for a retirement lifestyle some people only dream about. It takes a bit of courage to make this decision but in the end, it might be an excellent choice. On the other hand, it could be a huge mistake. You will never have to deal with snow or ice ever again but might have to dodge a hurricane every Fall. Here is a look at the top five Caribbean Islands seniors should avoid for retirement.
Belize is a beautiful island to visit, but might not be the best choice as a retirement destination. Like most Caribbean islands, Belize offers snow-white sand and azure blue-green water that could grace the cover of any travel magazine. At first glance, it would appear to be a perfect place to retire to.
After all, who doesn’t want to get away from hectic cities that can be difficult for seniors to navigate as they age?
Winter weather, rising costs, and high crime rates at home are just some of the more common reasons for seniors to choose an idyllic island like Belize to spend their golden years.
The citizens of Belize can never resist a good party or festival. They love to dance and sing.
Actually, they love to dance and sing into the wee hours of the morning. If you want peace and quiet, this might not be your best choice. They love their loud music and unless you find a secluded spot on the far side of the island you will have to put up with the numerous festival singalongs.
Belize has less than 400,000 residents and that means you will not find a lot of doctors or health care specialists. Of course, there are some very qualified doctors, but if you have any condition requiring special treatment, you might have to travel back to the USA or perhaps Mexico in order to get treatment.
You won’t find a lot of culture on Belize. If you like live theater or opera you are pretty much out of luck. However, if you can make peace with the many festivals, local dance, and music, you just might fit in.
If consumerism is your thing, then you might want to retire in North America somewhere. Life in Belize revolves around the sun and sea and people who are actually trying to leave the consumer lifestyle behind might do well in Belize.
Personally, I have been to St. Thomas about six times and found it to be a heavily commercialized island.
The island’s biggest source of income for St. Thomas is the cruise ships that are moored alongside the docks on almost a daily basis.
St. Thomas is a USA Territory and its citizens are Americans. So they are used to having the same things the USA mainland offers. It would almost be like retiring in Las Vegas or Cancun because of the constant invasion of tourists.
It’s a guarantee that pretty much anywhere you go, you will be inundated by tourists. This is especially true in Charlotte Amalie, which is the capital of St.Thomas.
The downtown is mainly full of jewelry stores, clothing stores, and various souvenir shops specifically for tourists. Few locals dare to tread there unless they own one of the stores.
To make matters worse, you will be paying more for rent or a home purchase than you would most likely pay back home. No saving money here! St. Thomas is most definitely a retirement destination for the very well-to-do. It can cost upwards of $2000 to rent an apartment and almost $300,000 to buy a home in a desirable neighborhood.
How to Love Your Retirement is an excellent book that might give you some insight into a happy retirement.
The main thing that struck me about Martinique is that the locals seem to be aloof. They appear to have no time for tourists, especially if you don’t speak French.
Martinique is a French territory which explains the nearly all-French speaking locals. Air France actually flies direct to Martinique. They have a population of around 400,000 and a high murder rate compared to most Caribbean Islands.
Everything is extremely expensive in Martinique and it’s a retirement destination only the very wealthy should consider. The reason for the high prices is the size of the island. It’s very small and most of their goods are imported and this, in turn, drives up the cost.
There are not a lot of taxis and most of the residential areas are a long way from restaurants, stores, and other amenities. As far as public transportation, there is none. Tourists really have no choice but to rent a car. If you decided to live there you would have to buy a car just to get around.
Because there are very few tourists the locals really have no reason to learn English. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who speaks any English. This is a major drawback for a retiree.
I would have been lost in Martinique if my Swiss girlfriend at the time didn’t speak five languages with French being her first language.
There is really nothing good that I have to say about Jamaica from my visits there. The locals seem to spend most of their time trying to part tourists from their money.
It got so bad, that many cruise ships don’t bother making it a port-of-call anymore. Most passengers just stopped getting off the ship in Jamaica.
They have world-class resorts and like most Caribbean Islands, Jamaica is beautiful, but your best bet is to go to an all-inclusive resort and never leave the resort. It’s almost like being in a gated community.
As far as retiring there, forget it. It would be a huge mistake.
Jamaica doesn’t just have the highest murder rate in the Caribbean, it has the highest murder rate in the world! Why would anyone in their right mind even consider retiring there? I’m sure some people do, but maybe they have figured out how to keep themselves safe.
There are islands in the Caribbean that have had one murder in 20 years. St. Barts has never had a murder. Ever.
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
The capital city, Basseterre has the highest murder rate of any capital city in the world. Their overall murder rate is the eighth highest in the world. Most of the violence seems to be gang or drug-related.
Why even risk retiring there? Even if the violence is gang-related it would be very easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and be caught in the crossfire. Also, the chances of robberies and break-ins are high because of the amount of drug use on the island.
Food and accommodation are very expensive, and much like Martinique, you would pretty much need a car in order to get around. Overall, the cost of living is generally very high and retiring there in order to save money would be misguided.
To make matters worse, if you plan on staying on St. Kitts for an extended period of time you would require a permanent residency permit. In order to do that you would have to invest at least $250,000 into the local economy. This could be property or a business that would provide jobs to the locals.
Even after doing that, the residency process could take up to a year or more, and during that time you can’t stay on the island permanently. Even if you have residency, you cannot work on the island without a work permit. There are a ton of rules and regulations you would have to familiarize your self with before making the move to St. Kitts.
For instance, if you import goods into St. Kitts you will have to pay an import duty of around 30% of their value. So all those new household items you purchase for your island home are going to cost you a pretty penny above and beyond their initial cost.
There are many retirees in St. Kitts because it does have a lot to offer in the way of natural beauty, but there are many other Caribbean choices that are much better and much safer.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ISLAND
I have visited pretty much all of the islands mentioned here, and like most Caribbean Islands, they are all beautiful with the same trademark snow-white sand and azure waters.
Except for Jamaica, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit any of them again. However, visiting and retiring are two completely different things and none of these would be my first choice if I were to decide to retire in the Caribbean.
When you are doing your homework, it’s important to look at several elements. The crime rate, cost of living, residency regulations(will you be required to invest in the economy?), and transportation options.
Pretty much all five of the islands mentioned here have high crime rates, high costs of living, and transportation issues.
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Feel free to comment below if you have any additional information on these islands.