So You Want To Live (and Work) In The Caribbean?

The rumors are true: The Bay Islands combine spectacular natural beauty, balmy weather, and a laid-back lifestyle. But before you drop everything and head for the beaches, you need to do a little advance planning for your new life...

The rumors are true: The Bay Islands combine spectacular natural beauty, balmy weather, and a laid-back lifestyle. But before you drop everything and head for the beaches, you need to do a little advance planning for your new life…

Many of the questions we get in our local office here in Honduras are about employment:

“I’d love to live on Roatan [or Utlia…or Guanaja], but what would I do? I still need a little income…won’t I get bored…..what kind of business could I start?”

The answers depend on your age, how active you want to be, whether you are a morning person or a night person, what kind of specific skills you have…and, of course, what you are willing to do.

The easiest job to get is as a Beach Bum. You see them everywhere; they dive during the day and work at night in restaurants or resorts. Some find paid work as divers–the best combination. Beach Bums also sell souvenirs, handmade goods, food, all kinds of things. It’s the perfect life for the right person.

There are always jobs around for Beach Bums. For instance, right now one resort needs a divemaster, a handyman, and a diesel mechanic. Another dive shop needs someone to manage the operation. These require specific skills and are a great experience for the younger Beach Bums (but don’t exclude the more mature ones!).

Perhaps you would rather start a business of your own? Here’s a list I just dreamed up of businesses Roatan would welcome:

* Independent escrow company
* Mortgage services (financing is difficult on the island…most financing available is owner financing)
* One-hour photo service
* Self-storage facility
* New and used cars and/or motorcycles sales
* Sporting goods shop (this one in particular could be very good, since half the island fishes but you can’t buy equipment. Also, the sale of trophies and jerseys for baseball and soccer would be a great addition.)
* Chiropractor
* Psychologist
* Computer technicians
* More CD and video stores in some locations
* Ladies’ clothing shops (offering clothes above a size 3!)
* Office supply and furniture shop
* Bowling alley
* Movie theater
* Laundromat
* Ice cream parlor

That said, there are three things to remember before you charge down here. First, you need a work permit or residency papers in process to work here legally. Second, keep in mind that wages are low. If you work in the Bay Islands, you will earn Honduran wages, perhaps a little more if you bring a specific skill. On the other hand, you can live here cheaply if you are prepared to make some compromises.

Finally, plan for the beginning of your dream. Make sure you have enough money to live on when you arrive, so that if you don’t get something going right away, you’ll be able to afford a place to live and other necessities.

Here, however, is our most important advice: If you have a dream, you can make it come true. Believe that.

For us, the dream was moving to a Caribbean island…a dream we’re living seven years later. It’s like happily ever after come true.

You can do the same, with some advance planning.

See you in Paradise!

Janine Goben
For International Living in Honduras

P.S. A final suggestion to anyone who is contemplating a move to a Caribbean island…you should read “Don’t Stop The Carnival,” by Herman Wouk. It’s a hysterical story of someone who did just that, and the trials and tribulations he experienced. I’d recommend it as required reading for anyone coming here!

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