If you don’t have Caribbean roots, it can be quite difficult to decide where in the region to purchase real estate as all the islands have beautiful beaches and scenery, and the people are extremely inviting. Thus, it’s a matter of looking more closely at factors such as ease of access, infrastructure, ex-pat community, healthcare system, ease of buying and selling real estate, types of properties available, taxation rules, etc. One Caribbean destination that rates well in all of these areas is Barbados, so a great reason to consider purchasing real estate in Barbados
Settled in 1627 by the British, Barbados is approximately 166 square miles (413km) and has a population of approximately 284,644 people. Barbados obtained independence on November 30, 1966, but still has a British style of parliamentary democracy. The island’s economy is still bouncing back from the global financial crisis of 2008. Still, for those interested in purchasing real estate, there is a range of properties for purchase, including historic plantation homes to newly built luxury apartments and villas. Also, real estate prices in Barbados are less than in other Caribbean destinations (St Tropez, St Barts, etc.) that attract those looking to purchase an investment, retirement, or vacation home. Beyond competitive pricing, below are the top 12 reasons why Barbados should be on the shortlist for purchasing real estate, specifically a luxury home in the Caribbean.
12 Reasons to Consider Purchasing Real Estate in Barbados
1. Geography & Fantastic Weather
Barbados is relatively flat and composed mostly of coral. The highest point is Mount Hillaby, at 1,104 ft (336km) above sea level. Also, Barbados has lots of picturesque white sandy beaches, and like much of the Caribbean, Barbados has year-round sun making it the perfect climate for an active lifestyle. Daytime temperatures in Barbados range between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (27 – 29 Celsius).
Barbados: Coconut tree lined beach. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
2. Ease of Access & International Airport
Barbados has a 24-hour international airport, Grantley Adams International Airport, which is a major gateway to other destinations in the Eastern Caribbean. With modern travel amenities, approximately 16 major carriers and charters operate from Grantley Adams International Airport, including:
- American Airlines, American Eagle, US Airways, and JetBlue, out of the United States of America
- British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Thomas Cook, Monarch, and Thomson Airways out of the United Kingdom
- Air Canada, West Jet, and Canjet out of Canada
- Condor out of Germany
- LIAT and Caribbean Airlines operating within the Caribbean region and GOL out of South America
Beyond the actual airlines, another reason to consider purchasing real estate in Barbados is that the flight time to Barbados from most major markets is quite reasonable. For example:
- United States: 3 hours 40 minutes from Miami, Floria; 4 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina; 5 hours 15 minutes from New York, New York; and 8 hours 40 minutes from Boston, Massachusetts
- Canada: 5 hours from Toronto or Montreal
- South America: 5 hours 40 minutes from Sao Paulo, Brazil
- United Kingdom: 8 hours 40 minutes from London or Manchester
- Germany: 9 hours 20 minutes from Frankfurt
The Grantley Adams International Airport is also home to the Barbados Concorde Experience, an interactive exhibit containing British Airway’s Concorde G-BOAE for those interested in aviation history.
Barbados: Grantley Adams International Airport. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
3. Robust Infrastructure
Barbados has about 916 miles (1,475km) of paved roads, many of which have undergone improvements in recent years. Also, a highway links the Northern and Southern parts of the island. Beyond the roads, Barbados has reliable utilities, and electricity rates are among the lowest in the Caribbean. Water is provided solely by the Barbados Water Authority, and the tap water is safe to drink. With regards to telecommunications, Barbados has a modern telecommunications infrastructure with the latest in digital technology and fiber optics systems. Phone and Internet services are provided by divisions of international telecommunications companies like Digicel and Flow, owned by Cable & Wireless Communications.
Barbados: Bridgetown Night. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
4. Modern Healthcare
Barbados is considered by many to have the most modern medical facilities in the Eastern Caribbean as in addition to numerous well-equipped clinics, health centers, and nursing homes, there are two major hospitals. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, with 600 beds, is run by the government and provides specialist services along with 24-hour casualty service. The second major hospital is Bayview Hospital, which is privately owned and provides medical care in a wide variety of specialties. Private health insurance for new residents is highly recommended.
Barbados: Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: © Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
5. World-Class Education System
The Barbados educational system is world-class, with the literacy rate estimated at 98% – one of the highest in the world. Modeled after the British educational system, children are required to attend school in Barbados until they are 16 years old, and government schools are free at the primary and secondary levels. There are excellent private schools, such as St Gabriels, St Winifred’s, and St Alexander, popular with ex-pats and local residents. At the University level, there is the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill, which attracts students and faculty from across the globe.
Barbados: University of the West Indies – Cave Hill. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
6. High-Quality Tourism
Barbados has a market-based (capitalist) economy, with tourism a primary driver. In fact, Barbados is a top ten tourist destination in the Caribbean, with approximately 591,892 stay-over visitors in 2015. A healthy number, but the island is not overrun. The ratio of tourists to residents is low: there are 1.8 tourists per resident compared with 13 in the British Virgin Islands. Visitors arrive primarily from the United Kingdom (37%), United States (25%), other Caribbean destinations & Latin America (15.9%), and Canada (12.6%) to visit the island for a variety of activities including cultural, heritage and music festivals, sporting events, beach and water sports, weddings and honeymoons, etc. Thus, property owners who decide to rent when not on the island typically achieve high occupancy with the constant flow of visitors, especially during peak season, mid-December through April.
Barbados: Tourists/snorkelers swimming close to turtles. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
7. Vibrant Social Scene
Barbados has many excellent restaurants, bars, and clubs throughout the island. Also, the social calendar in Barbados is good year-round, with many cultural and festive events enjoyed by locals and visitors to the island. Highlights include:
- January: Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series
- February: The Holetown Festival
- March: Oistins Fish Festival
- April: Sir Garfield Sobers Festival of Golf
- May: Carlisle Bay Festival
- June: Harris Paints Regatta
- July: Crop Over Festival
- August: Grand Kadooment Carnival Parade
- September: National Independence Festival of Creative Arts
- October: Swimming Festival
- November: Barbados Food & Wine & Rum Festival
- December: Barbados Film Festival
Barbados: Dancers during Crop Over Festival. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
8. Active Expat Community
Barbados has an active ex-pat community, with a majority coming from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, with a good number involved in banking and insurance. Ultra-high net worth individuals (people with a minimum of US$30 million in assets) can be assured of finding a good number of their peers in Barbados. Of the 1,115 ultra-high net worth individuals in the Caribbean, 66 are based in Barbados. From a social perspective, there are a number of ex-pat clubs, including Polo Clubs, The Canadian Women’s Club, The British Women’s Club, and The International Business Association. In terms of where in Barbados they reside, Alistair Brown, Sales & Marketing Director, UNNA Luxury Resorts & Residences, indicates, “Barbados is a small island, and while the Platinum Coast is home to the most prestigious real estate and many of the best restaurants, the expatriate community tends to spend time on both the South and West Coasts of the island.”
Barbados: Polo match. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
9. No Restrictions on Purchasing Property
There are no restrictions on buying real estate in Barbados by those who are not citizens or permanent residents. However, non-residents do need to have the necessary funds from external sources, and these funds have to be registered with the Central Bank of Barbados. Also, approval is required from the Exchange Control Authority for either the purchase or sale of a property by a non-resident irrespective of whether or not the non-resident is a Barbadian citizen.
Barbados: Saint Peter’s Bay Luxury Resort & Residences. Photo: © UNNA Luxury Resorts & Residences.
10. Favorable Work & Taxation Rules
Non-citizens can work in Barbados, provided they have a work permit that usually takes about six to eight weeks to process. Also, while Barbados is not a tax haven, the island does have Double Taxation Agreements with 34 countries, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Thus, individuals who are residents but not domiciled in Barbados are only taxed on their income derived from Barbados and on any overseas income remitted in Barbados. Non-residents are taxed only on income derived from Barbados. Capital gains, gift,s and inheritance taxes are also not material in Barbados.
Barbados: Treasury Building. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
11. Business Community
The low tax rates, double taxation agreements, and exchange of information treaties make Barbados attractive to international companies looking to set up in the Caribbean. In fact, there are approximately 4,016 international business companies registered in Barbados, up from 2,859 five years ago. According to Luxury Living In Barbados report via St Peter’s Bay Barbados, “The United States is the second largest trading partner for Barbados after Trinidad and Tobago, and the Barbados dollar is fixed to the US dollar at BDS$2.00 to US$1.00. At over US$15,880 per person, the Island has the third highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean after The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. As a low-tax jurisdiction, Barbados is now considered a cost-effective as well as a well-regulated international financial center.”
Barbados: Beach business. Photo: © Barbados Tourism Marketing.
12. Wide range of Properties
Like elsewhere in the Caribbean, real estate in Barbados is not cheap, but there are options for all budgets. One-bedroom apartments and condominiums in Barbados without a beach or sea view can be purchased for around US$250,000, perhaps even lower. For luxury developments like Port Ferdinand Marina and Luxury Resort, the investment required for a two-bedroom sea-view residence is around US$ 2 million. At the top end is the Caribbean’s most expensive property, Palazzate – Barbados’ US$125 Million Luxury Beachfront Mansion. So it’s a matter of sorting the finances and then spending time on the beautiful and inviting island of Barbados, checking out the areas and properties with favorable pricing. There are real estate deals in Barbados to be done.
Barbados: Palazzate, a 75,000 sq ft luxury beachfront mansion. Photo: ©Plazzate.