Whether you are someone who can earn a living from anywhere with stable internet or a person who is contemplating retirement, the idea of being able to live comfortably for less money holds a lot of appeal. You may not realize that some great places in the Caribbean would be perfect for you. All it takes is to know more about what each offer and how it fits in with your plans.
There are plenty of aspects to consider. You’ll want to look closely at factors like the cost of renting or owning a home, the price of food, how much you will pay in utilities, and access to health care. You will likely consider other points, like languages spoken, tax laws that apply to expats, and what sort of entertainment and cultural activities are available.
Don’t forget to consider establishing financial accounts in the nation of your choice. Look closely at banking laws and how they would impact you.
Consider the following nations. They are some of the most popular relocation locations, and one might be ideal for what you have in mind.
Belize should be at the top of your list of considerations. The pace of life is relaxed, the people are friendly, and the fact that English remains the primary language spoken throughout the nation makes it a great fit. Add in that you can opt for living near the coast or find some great small cities and towns further inland, and you have a winner.
For banking, you will be hard-pressed to find a more secure and sound system. The nation places a premium on bank stability. Money is guaranteed to a degree not found in many nations. Maintaining certain balances earns competitive interest rates on your checking, savings, and time deposit accounts, making the deal even sweeter.
In terms of cost, areas like Ambergris Caye, including San Pedro, are more expensive but still affordable. Take a look at Belize City as well. You’ll find that Corozal is a good fit for many people, especially those who like to visit Mexico for evening entertainment or shopping. All told, there are several places around Belize where it’s possible to live comfortably for anywhere between USD 2,000-3,000 a month.
There are areas of Columbia, with Medellín and Bogotá being prime examples, where the cost of renting or leasing can be much like what you find in North America. The same applies to buying a home, where the price can easily be in the seven-figure range. If you look elsewhere in the country, things are a bit different. Renting or leasing could be as much as half of what you pay in the larger cities, while buying a home could be a quarter of that cost.
You’ll find that the amenities and features you like will be present in many parts of the country. Utility costs are determined based on what is known as an estrato system. That is, some tiers will pay more while others will pay less. You can find that even the modest homes found in an estrato neighborhood will be comfortable. This allows you to do well with a monthly budget of between USD 1,000 and 2,500.
3. Costa Rica
What sort of area would you like? Costa Rica has a little of everything. Those who like the idea of rural living will enjoy settling near Atenas. People who like something more urban might find the old capital city of Cartago to their liking. If you enjoy being near the shoreline, think about Limón along the Caribbean coast.
You’ll find medical care is excellent and will not cost an arm and a leg. The same is true for housing, with comfortable apartments and rental houses available per month in the three-figure range. You can do well on as little as USD 1,400 for a single person and USD 2,000 for a couple.
4. Dominican Republic
The combination of beautiful beaches, a tropical climate, and a leisurely pace of living make the Dominican Republic an excellent choice. Add in that it’s easy to find affordable housing and lots of delicious foods, and you have a winner.
If you like more action, an area with a brisk tourist trade will do nicely. The southern coast between Santo Domingo and La Romana will suit you well. The area around Punta Cana is also beautiful, but this area along the eastern coast has become pricier in recent years.
Even so, you will find the cost of spending your years in the Dominican Republic doesn’t have to break the bank. Depending on where you choose to live, you can be comfortable on a budget of USD 1,500 a month.
Honduras has a great deal to offer in terms of living well for less. You can find a two-bedroom home to purchase in the city of Roatan for the low six figures. Apartments are easily found for three figures a month. While it’s true that many foods are imported and will cost a little more, what you pay for utilities helps to offset the overall cost. You’ll find that somewhere between USD 2,000 and 2,500 per month will work out well, even if you like to dine out a few times a week.
Roatan and La Ceiba are considered among the best places for expats to set up housekeeping. There are robust communities of North Americans to be found. Setting aside those options for socialization, you’ll find that Hondurans are happy to include newcomers in local celebrations.
As with many other areas of the Caribbean, Panama offers living options that range from larger cities to smaller towns and rural areas. Depending on what you prefer, the cost will vary. Panama City based lawyer; Idaliz Guiraud says that “a larger city will cost more but will remain more affordable than many similar areas in North America. Some of the places to pay close attention to include La Concepción, Isla Colón, and Casco Viejo, Panama City.”
In many locations, renting a home will mean paying somewhere around the middle of the three-figure range. Food is more affordable than in some other areas, especially if you focus primarily on locally grown. In terms of entertainment, you can opt for the quiet of a smaller town or the varied choices in larger ones. It’s possible to be comfortable spending around USD 2,000 a month. Remember that if you have more expensive tastes, that figure can easily double.
7. Puerto Rico
Are you a US citizen who would love to live in the Caribbean without leaving your country? Puerto Rico is the solution. Since it’s a US territory, English is the official language, with Spanish spoken in most areas of the island. Beautiful beaches, lots of fresh fruits, ample shopping in most areas, and the slower pace make it a great place to live.
Puerto Rico is not the least expensive place to live in the Caribbean. If you opt for a larger city like San Juan, expect to pay more to rent a comfortable place. Even so, the pricing for food, shelter, utilities, and other essentials will run you less than most major cities in the United States. Expect to pay around USD 2,000-2,500 to live a simple but comfortable life.
Easily Access Your Money Wherever You Live
Remember that opening offshore bank accounts will be a good idea, no matter where you choose to settle in the Caribbean. An offshore bank can help you establish accounts that will serve you well in your move overseas.
Luigi Wewege is President of award-winning Caye International Bank, headquartered in Belize, Central America. He is the author of The Digital Banking Revolution, now in its third edition, and has co-authored economic research presented before the United States Congress. He also serves as an Instructor at the FinTech School in California and as an Advisory Board Member of Fort Kobbe International Vaults in Panama. He holds an Italian MBA from the MIB Trieste School of Management with a major in International Business and a BSBA with a triple major in Finance, International Business, and Management from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.