The retirement experience can be enhanced significantly depending on where you decide to spend it. For many people, the Caribbean is the ideal option with its delightful weather and relatively low cost of living. However, there is much more to consider when choosing a retirement destination. If you think you’d like to retire to the Caribbean at some point in the future and have no connection to a particular island, here is what we recommend:
1. Learn as much as you can about the Caribbean region. There are many islands and each is uniquely different. Before you decide where to relocate read up about different islands and speak with family and friends who have visited these destinations. Issues like political instability and poor disaster-preparedness facilities should be taken into account. Learn about the utilities and telecom infrastructure they have in place that will allow you to maintain a suitable quality of life. Additionally, seek information food, the people, even local laws and customs which may be very different from that of your home country.
Map of the Caribbean region. Photo credit: ©EP Think Tank.
2. Speak with financial and other trusted advisors to understand the ramifications of living abroad. Have a detailed discussion about your finances and whether you can really afford to relocate. You should also find out whether you stand to lose government benefits or tax breaks should you move abroad. Make arrangements with a trusted individual to keep an eye on real estate and other tangible assets. If you are a US citizen, recent amendments to tax laws in the United States have legal ramifications for their citizens living abroad, so it is important to make sure that you put measures in place to keep up with tax obligations while away.
3. Investigate which Caribbean destinations offer residency incentives for retirees.
Some islands will issue a residency visa when you prove that you have the ability to support yourself. Others offer citizenship in exchange for a sizeable economic investment, allowing you to play a greater role in the country’s development.
Caribbean islands like Antigua, Dominica, St Kitts & Nevis have citizenship by investment programs. Citizenship by Investment Programs.
4. Make a list of the top three Caribbean islands you want to live and reach out online to the expat community. They will be able to offer helpful advice about the preemptive actions you can take to make your transition easier. Also, get in touch with professionals such as a real estate/property advisor or lawyer who can all give professional advice for moving to the island and explain your obligations in your new home country.
5. Visit each of the top three Caribbean islands on a number of occasions and really go off the beaten path. Speak to as many local people as possible to learn about the way of life and how it fits with what you’re accustomed. Check out the neighborhoods, food markets and stores, hospitals and local healthcare facilities. Find out about the cost of living (utility charges, food bill, transportation) and even crime rates. Meet directly with members of the expat community and seek recommendations for everything from housing to transporting pets.
High street on the Caribbean island of Bequia, St Vincent & The Grenadines which has a vibrant expat community. Photo credit: ©Old Fort Estate Development.
As this is a major decision, the process should be done over a period of months if not years. When you finally make the move, you will be happy that you took the time to do the homework that will make adjustment phase a lot easier.
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