As your retirement approaches, you may be yearning to move, maybe even to another country. Of course, this is a decision that requires careful consideration. As excited as you may be to get started on the next chapter of your life, you’ll need to decide what you’d value most in a retirement location.
Whether you're looking to escape snowy winters, get away from a stressed and fast-paced lifestyle, or explore the finest of what nature has to offer, all signs point to the Caribbean.
The Caribbean is rapidly growing as a desirable region for retirees to live. But there are many Caribbean countries to choose from, and deciding which one to explore for your retirement can be overwhelming. Read on to learn what you can expect living in some of the Caribbean’s hottest retirement destinations.
Why retire in the Caribbean?
The Caribbean is becoming more popular for retirees because of its proximity to the U.S., year-round average temperatures in the 80s F, and the calm, relaxing lifestyle enjoyed by locals. Retiring in the Caribbean means you get to take in stunning scenery, delicious island cuisines, and fun family activities when the kids and grandkids come to visit.
But where is the best place to retire in the Caribbean? It’s essential to examine a variety of factors. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most sought after retirement locations in the Caribbean.
Belize is at the top of many lists as the best place to retire in the Caribbean, and for good reason. Not only is Belize utterly stunning and only a 2-hour flight from the southern U.S., but it’s also the only Latin American country with English as its official language. Real estate is affordable, US dollars are accepted, its economy is stable, and its legal system is based on British law. The locals, which make up a diverse mix of cultures, are friendly and welcoming to expats, and there is a strong sense of community in Belize.
Retiring in Belize comes with the perk of its Qualified Retirement Program (QRP). This program offers retirees who are 45 and older, valuable tax benefits. This includes not having to pay taxes on foreign earned income, and you can import personal goods, including cars, boats, and more - tax and duty-free. Besides the minimum age requirement, qualified retirees must prove they have retirement plan income or another form of regular income that’s at least $2,000 a month or $24,000 a year. You must also take up residence in Belize for at least 30 consecutive days per year.
Lots of Americans are flocking to Panama thanks to the luxurious, yet low-cost lifestyle it provides. Housing and healthcare are much less expensive than one would expect, and a retirement visa can offer discounts on transportation, entertainment, food, and utilities. A retired couple can live comfortably in Panama on about $2,000 a month. Panama also uses the US dollar, which makes budgeting easy to calculate.
It’s worth noting that Panama’s laid-back culture can be a double-edged sword. Panamanians are known to be cheerful and sociable, which certainly puts expats at ease. But the nation’s lifestyle is often slow-paced and heavily centered on a partying culture. If you are looking for somewhere quiet to live and prefer that your personal and business needs are taken care of as quickly and efficiently as they are in the U.S., Panama may not be the right fit for you.
Honduras is appealing to American retirees thanks to its reasonable cost of living, the predominance of the English language, and friendly citizens. It's only a 2-hour flight to the U.S., and its developing infrastructure is leading to an increase of expats taking residence here.
Even with its improving infrastructure, Honduras is not as developed yet to the level of comfort many American retirees would expect. Therefore, the quality of life may not be quite what you’re accustomed to in the U.S. There is also a fair amount of crime and poverty in many areas. A happy and safe retirement in Honduras is certainly achievable, but it's mostly a matter of where in the country you choose to reside.
There are a plethora of reasons to retire in Mexico. It's proximity to the U.S. makes it easily accessible for back and forth travel, and it has a wide variety of climates to meet your personal preferences. Many real estate developments cater to American retirees, which cost less than they would in the U.S., and Mexico offers high-quality healthcare at a low cost. It’s no wonder why so many Americans are flocking here for their retirement.
As Mexico’s is already a popular destination for retirees, this means you won’t be moving to an undiscovered, up-and-coming destination. Furthermore, certain areas may not provide reliable access to amenities like electricity and the internet. Like Honduras, Mexico is a country that has its safe and not-so-safe regions, so a lot of research is needed in deciding where in the country to live.
The Dominican Republic is desirable to Americans who are retiring on a budget. The country offers white sand beaches, a warm climate, stable infrastructure, and good healthcare. It’s also one of the least expensive Latin American countries to live in, and most retirees can get by comfortably on about $1,200 a month. There's a growing expat community as it's a short flight to the U.S., and it’s upgraded airport and new roads and highways make travel within and out of the country easily accessible.
However, tread carefully before letting the Dominican Republic’s breathtaking beaches lure you in, as numerous safety risks are currently being reported, and the country's economic, political, and financial systems can be unstable. Also, if you don’t speak Spanish, you may have difficulty navigating daily life.
The Top Pick for Retirement in the Caribbean
All of the above Caribbean countries offer their own unique benefits. But, when factoring in all the pros and cons, we think Belize is the best option for many American retirees. With effective budgeting strategies, it’s easy to live comfortably while exploring all the exciting activities, exotic surroundings, and historical sites that Belize has to offer.
Life in Belize is even better when choosing to live at Orchid Bay. It’s the ideal community for expat retirees who wish to experience the laid-back lifestyle of the Caribbean, while still enjoying the modern amenities you’re used to in the U.S. At Orchid Bay, you can own a piece of paradise in a gated community of like-minded individuals, and choose from a variety of homes, including beachfront condos, bungalows, and beach villas.
Contact us today to learn more about living at Orchid Bay and the benefits of retiring in Belize.