Honduras wasn’t on our list of retirement destinations until International Living introduced us to the Bay Islands of Honduras in 2003. After checking out the islands, we knew this was the place for us and have since moved to Roatan (the largest of the Bay Islands). Below are just some of the reasons we love living here.
1. Roatan is beautiful. It’s not densely populated (neither are the other islands)…and everywhere you look you’ll see beautiful shades of blue from the ocean and land that is deep green and punctuated with flowers. The water is clear and warm and the beaches are white-sand. The world’s second largest coral reef lies just offshore, making the Bay Islands a favorite with divers, not only for their beauty and abundant facilities, but for their ultra-low cost.
2. It’s affordable and a great place to retire. There are not yet crowds bidding up prices here, although that may soon change. In 2011, Islands Magazine named Roatan the #1 island in the world to retire to and Kiplinger.com listed it as among “8 great places to retire abroad.” With hundreds of thousands of new cruise ship visitors arriving here each year, and countless others taking virtual real estate tours on House Hunters International, anything left of the secret is long gone.
Because it’s a tourist destination, you’ll find a variety of good restaurants offering everything from sushi to Thai to steak houses. And the large expat community is now supporting four modern supermarkets with almost everything you can buy at home, and some that you can’t.
Retiring in Roatan, Honduras
3. Getting residency is easy. You can get a retirement visa, for example, by showing an income of $1,500 per month, and you can own title up to ¾ acre of land in your own name or an unlimited amount through a corporation. Property taxes are a fraction of that in the U.S., and foreign-earned income is not taxed at all.
4. Roatan is easy to get to. Honduras is 2.5 hours by plane south of Houston and is served every day by several major airlines. We have been traveling back and forth to Los Angeles every few weeks for three years and we are glad each time that our home is in Roatan and not Rarotonga.
5. It’s a good time to buy property here. Real estate in Roatan has long been tied to the economies of the U.S., where most of the large community of expats and second home owners come from. Just as now is a great time to bargain-hunt in that market, so it is in Roatan. Sales are just now starting to show momentum after a two-year slump, beginning with the lowest priced properties selling at a discount. As in the U.S., the recovery has some distance to go, but when it’s over, it’s over.
You can get everything you need in Roatan, Honduras
Honduras is not lacking in challenges. When our friends in the “old country” ask us skeptically what we do there, we don’t tell them about the great restaurants, the world-class beaches or that it’s like being on vacation full-time. They would be too jealous. Rather, we say, it’s at first like joining a scavenger hunt. Everything you want is here, you just don’t know exactly where. The diet pomegranate juice you bought last week at the supermarket has disappeared, but it might be at another market. You can ship in things you just can’t find at reasonable rates from Miami or New Orleans. But frankly, getting out and greeting your friends in the stores is part of the fun of this place.
In the end, when choosing a country to retire to you can only go so far with a checklist. You’ve got to go there and ask yourself: “Does this place feel like home?” For us it did. Put Roatan on your list and check it out.
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