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The Top Caribbean Islands For Retirement

The Top Caribbean Islands For Retirement

Posted by PanamericanWorld on August 24, 2015

Millions of tourists visit the Caribbean region each year in search of white-sand beaches, world-class diving, beautiful weather and adventure from kayaking and mountain biking to kiteboarding and sailing.

It’s not unusual for visitors to imagine themselves settling down on one of the Caribbean’s many islands during retirement. After all, the Caribbean offers a tropical paradise that is close to home – you can fly from New York's JFK to Nassau in about three hours – along with good healthcare, favorable tax treatment, great food and a laid-back island lifestyle.

Here, we take a look at five islands that many expats are already happy to call home.

Bahamas

Population: 382,571

Official language: English

Flights: Nassau (NAS) to JFK, nonstop, about three hours

The Bahamas (officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas) is an archipelago made up of more than 700 islands, 29 of which are inhabited. The majority of the population lives on New Providence Island, home to the country’s capital, Nassau. In order to achieve residency status, you’ll have to buy a property with a minimum value of $250,000 – that will make you eligible for annual residency. For permanent residency, you’ll need to purchase a property with a value of at least $500,000. Expats enjoy a relaxed lifestyle with beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, golf, sailing, fishing, diving, music, an excellent healthcare system (both public and private) and a favorable tax environment.

Cayman Islands

Population: 59,226

Official language: English

Flights: Grand Cayman (GCM) to JFK, nonstop, about four hours

The Caymans are a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean consisting of three islands: Grand Cayman, the largest, most developed and cosmopolitan of the three; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. A major offshore financial center, the Caymans have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean, and the country’s GDP (per capita) is the 17th highest in the world. Seven Mile Beach (actually only five-and-a-half miles long) is considered one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches. Expats can enjoy a relaxed lifestyle or take advantage of the hip nightlife scene, along with sailing, fishing, world-class diving, music, excellent healthcare (both public and private, with air ambulance service to Miami available), and favorable taxation.

Curaçao

Population: 161,836

Official languages: Dutch, Papiamentu, English

Flights: Curaçao (CUR) to JFK, one stop, about eight hours

Curaçao is located beneath the hurricane belt, about 35 miles north of Venezuela. This small Dutch island is known for its diving, considered to be among the best in the world. Expats enjoy being active with cycling and mountain biking, golfing, horseback riding, sailing and kayaking – or relaxing on the beach, at the spa or at a yoga class. The healthcare system is good, with both public and private facilities serving the island. The island’s Pensionado scheme provides tax breaks and other incentives to eligible retirees (among other requirements, you must be at least 50 years old and own a house in Curaçao worth at least $255,000). 

Roatan

Population: 52,000

Official language: Spanish, though English is widely spoken

Flights: Roatan (RTB) to JFK, one stop, about eight hours

Roatan is one of the small Bay Islands off the northern coast of Honduras in the Caribbean. It is home to the second largest coral reef in the world (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), and it is known as one of the world’s best diving and snorkeling locations. Expats should expect an active yet laid-back lifestyle, with friendly locals, good food, beautiful scenery and a lower cost of living than most of the Caribbean. You can get a retirement visa by proving an income of at least $1,500 a month, and you can own up to three-quarters of an acre of land. Property taxes are low, and foreign-earned income is not taxed at all. Several clinics provide simple healthcare services; many expats visit mainland Honduras (the capital city of Tegucigalpa is home to the Honduras Medical Center, one of the most modern facilities in Central America), or fly to the U.S. (nonstop flights will get you to Atlanta or Dallas in about three hours). 

Millions of tourists visit the Caribbean region each year in search of white-sand beaches, world-class diving, beautiful weather and adventure from kayaking and mountain biking to kiteboarding and sailing.

It’s not unusual for visitors to imagine themselves settling down on one of the Caribbean’s many islands during retirement. After all, the Caribbean offers a tropical paradise that is close to home – you can fly from New York's JFK to Nassau in about three hours – along with good healthcare, favorable tax treatment, great food and a laid-back island lifestyle.

Here, we take a look at five islands that many expats are already happy to call home.

St. Martin

Population: 77,741 (61% on French side; 39% on Dutch side)

Official languages: French and Dutch, though English is widely spoken

Flights: St. Martin (SXM) to JFK, nonstop, about four-and-a-half hours

St. Martin (Dutch: Sint Maarten) is a small island in the northeast Caribbean, about 200 miles east of Puerto Rico. The island is known for its beaches, forested mountains, diving, sailing, fine cuisine (especially seafood), upscale boutiques, casinos and vibrant nightlife. You can stay in St. Martin for up to 90 days without a visa, and you can apply for a longer-stay visa if you have adequate funds or proof of income from a retirement or pension plan. Both the French and Dutch sides of the island have small hospitals; however, serious medical conditions may require a trip home (nonstop service gets you to Miami in about three hours or Atlanta in four). 

Note: Although the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean, the country is often accepted as a member of the Caribbean community.  

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