Honduras: Quintessential Caribbean
Honduras has 367 miles of Caribbean coastline on the mainland alone. Towns along the coast offer hospitable, waterfront living, with a mountainous backdrop—and property prices are often lower than those on the Bay Islands. But even on the Bay Islands you can still find good bargains if you know where to look…
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- Population: 8,448,465
- Capital City: Tegucigalpa
- Climate: Subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains
- Time Zone: GMT-6
- Language: Spanish (official)
- Country Code: 504
A new report from the editors of InternationalLiving.com ranks and profiles the five best tropical-island paradises for retirees today. Spread throughout the world, these islands are unique—but they share certain characteristics: They’re warm, offer good infrastructure, provide acceptable healthcare facilities either on-island or nearby, and they represent good value—a couple can live comfortably from $1,500 a month, housing included. “Something about the word ‘island’ makes the mind race to ‘escape,’” says InternationalLiving.com’s executive editor, Jennifer Stevens. “On an island, the pace slows, you live in the present, you shed concerns right along with your closed-toed shoes.
In Western Australia, April marks the return of the majestic whale sharks to Nimbaloo Marine Park. This is a perfect time of year to snorkel with these gentle giants— the largest fish in the ocean. If behemoths of the deep aren’t your thing, there’s plenty more for you to do at the Surfer’s Paradise Festival, on the country’s Gold Coast April 3–18. You’ll find a wide array of food, street performers, art, music, and other entertainment to cater to all tastes… and all of it free of charge. April also rings in the Buddhist New Year. In Malaysia this is marked by the Songkran Festival (April 12–14), which also serves to celebrate the country’s Siamese community. Rivers and beaches in the state of Kedah are ornamented with sand temples, called stupas, which are then washed away by the tide.
In this article, we outline the best five tropical island paradises for retirees. These places meet all the criteria needed to make them perfect retirement havens. As well as looking the part, all five of these islands—spread throughout the world—are becoming easier to get to as more and more flights open up to and from North America. Many tropical getaways have been consumed by commercialism, leaving them beyond every reasonable budget. But the islands on our list remain affordable, as attested by our expat experts on the ground. On some, it’s possible to live for as little as $1,500 a month including rent.
Turquoise blue water, white sand, palms swaying in the breeze, and a cold drink in hand…it’s the setting for a new life on one of Central America’s picture perfect Caribbean islands. In a place like this, the cares of the world melt away and you are very much on island time.
I’m on an English-speaking tropical island right now gathering data for International Living readers. The sea and beach views are hard to beat. The island’s surrounded by a fringe of coral reefs, so the water inside the nearby reef is that irresistible aquamarine color. The beaches on this island tell a variety of geological stories. Some are composed of soft, golden sand, with wide, welcoming shores.
“I love the greens and blues,” says Washington native Deb Crofutt of her new life on a tropical island. “I love the smiles on the faces of everyone I make eye contact with. I like being away from the hustle and bustle of home and the pressure to own ‘things.’ I spent so many years working in the corporate world just to have stuff. This is a simpler, better life.” Imagine the feel of the warm sun on your shoulders as you walk along a pristine white sand beach stretching to the horizon, fringed by palm fronds and the sumptuous blue ocean.
Standing knee-deep in clear Caribbean blue water looking back at the white-sand beach and the swaying palms, I thought it over. I was on vacation, but what was stopping me from living here? Rent here was a fraction of what I paid for my apartment in Washington, DC, the cost of living was low, and I hadn’t felt this relaxed in years. So…five days after arriving on the Caribbean island of Roatán, 30 miles off the coast of Honduras, my vacation became a new life. I forgot about that return flight and instead settled further into the sand. I felt at ease and welcome in this community, and I realized it was because people were taking the time to actually chat and get to know me. Nobody was rushing; nobody was too distracted by emails or phone calls. Everyone just seemed so calm.
Imagine owning a business needing zero capital investment and offering an immediate start-up option. Now imagine owning that business on a Caribbean island… spending your days in the sun and your evenings enjoying the ocean breeze with friends. That’s exactly what Sophia Fedio does after leaving her trendy loft and successful career back in Toronto and becoming a tourism concierge in Roatán, the largest of Honduras’s Bay Islands in the Caribbean Sea. In early 2013, she joined forces with Avi D’Souza, who had started the business, West Bay Tours, and was seeking a partner.
It isn’t hard to understand the love affair expats have with the little island that I’m happy to call home: the blue skies and turquoise seas, the endless sunshine, and lush, jungle-covered hills. It’s a love affair that continues to suck more North Americans and Europeans into its vortex. Those expats who live on the island of Roatán will tell you they couldn’t stand another harsh winter, or another day in their fluorescently lit office, or yet another advertisement telling them what else is missing in their lives. Roatán offers an escape from all that.
The spread of the British Empire through trade, colonization, and conquest brought the English language to far-flung corners of the globe. But even as that empire declined and shrank, the language was left behind. And with English becoming the language of business and diplomacy, that influence is in no danger of going away.
“Plenty of everyday people are choosing to live on the water full-time—in their retirement,” says InternationalLiving.com editor Jason Holland, author of the publication’s new report. “After a bit of training and hands-on experience at home, they’re tying up beside mega-yachts in the Mediterranean, finding large floating communities of like-minded expat sailors in the Caribbean, and island hopping in the Gulf of Thailand, heading wherever their fancy takes them.”
I bet you’ve imagined it before: the sun is slowly rising over the palm trees, its morning rays glistening across the water as far as the eye can see. The birds are waking up and singing their morning tunes to welcome the day. They’re not early risers because everything here is on island time. A cool breeze blows in from the ocean to balance the warm sun shining on your face.
Vacation rentals are a great way for an investor to create an income overseas but, unless they’re living next door, anyone who owns a vacation rental needs someone to manage it for them. Property management is a business you can start with absolutely no investment. You are simply trading your time and effort.
Most mornings Chuck and Kathy Baumgarten can be found leisurely sipping coffee and enjoying the sunrise from their porch. It’s easy to see why if you visit their home. They have one of the most scenic vistas in all of Ecuador. Mount Imbabura seems to rise from their backyard. A 180-degree turn showcases Mount Cotacachi’s golden-hour glow.
It’s no coincidence that commercials for vacations, resorts, or cruises in North America prominently feature the white sands, clear-blue waters, and laid-back vibe of Caribbean beaches. It is paradise and close to home. Maybe that’s why it’s been a premier vacation destination for decades. But thanks to affordable real estate available throughout the region, you’re not limited to the all-inclusives—it is possible to enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle year-round from your own home.
“Sometimes we just shake our heads in disbelief that we actually own a home right on the beach in one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen,” Paula Irvin says. “It’s absolutely amazing!” Hummingbirds zip around the bright-red feeder hanging from the balcony. “They always come at this time—just as the sun begins to dip into the ocean and the other birds start calling to each other a goodnight song,” says Paula. Paula and her husband Randy blissfully watch this evening routine…
For Rebecca and Keith Clower, and their two young children ages three and five, their house by the beach isn’t just an address…it’s a lifestyle. They recently built a home in a development on the Bahia de Los Piratas, or Pirate’s Bay, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, also known as the Gold Coast. They live on a hill, with an ocean-view, and you can see clear to Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal, two nearby expat enclaves. The beach is mere minutes away on foot.
Islands are places where the stars shine bright at night. Out in the ocean, a profound quiet exists (no traffic jams, hassled commuters, sirens). And because not everything is always so easy to get on an island, one tends to care less about “getting” at all. Life really does become simpler. That stretch of water that separates an island from the mainland is nature’s moat. It keeps these places special…apart.
Islands are places where the stars shine bright at night. Out in the ocean, a profound quiet exists. There are no traffic jams, hassled commuters, or sirens. And because not everything is always so easy to get on an island, one tends to care less about “getting” at all. Life really does become simpler.
I’ve always been one of those people who won’t settle for “ordinary.” Sure, I have done my share of everyday things…but if I can find a way to step beyond the run-of-the-mill, you can bet I will! One of the ways I left “ordinary” behind was with my career. I spent many years working as a tax accountant—I knew there had to be a better way to spend my time.
When you ask folks who live on an island what drew them to life on a curio of clay, they tend to respond by saying things like, “I can live simply without much interference.”
In this edition of Property Picks, we take a look at some of the world’s most picturesque island real estate.
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.
Look at the right places beyond our borders today, and you’ll find you have more good choices than ever for a comfortable – even a pampered – retirement. In any one of our top 19 havens for 2012, a lifestyle well beyond your reach in the States could be yours for pennies on the dollar. In this, our annual Global Retirement Index, we bring you the top choices available on the planet today.
France came in joint second place in this category, thanks in large part to its rich, fascinating culture. But you don’t need number-crunchers to tell you its bon vivant lifestyle is special. Step off a plane and you’ll experience it first-hand. It’s impossible to enumerate the joy of lingering for hours over dinner and a bottle of red wine in a Parisian brasserie…
Quentin and Wyona McKay wanted to move to paradise. They wanted to exchange their hectic life for a simpler, more fulfilling one…to own their own business in an exotic tropical location and work for themselves doing something they enjoy.
Quentin and Wyona McKay wanted to move to paradise. They wanted to exchange their hectic life for a simpler, more fulfilling one…to own their own business in an exotic tropical location and work for themselves doing something they enjoy…
It might be a palapa bar on a white-sand beach, deep-sea ﬁshing tours, a restaurant, a surf shop, importing t-bone steaks, teaching English, making cheese, exporting art work…Whatever your idea, there’s a place overseas where you can make it a proﬁtable reality. But readers ask us all the time: Where is best? That’s why we’ve put together International Living’s ﬁrst-ever Business Index.
While still in Canada, Daphne visualized her new life. She knew what it would look like when she found it. Taking vacations throughout Latin America, she evaluated each country as a possible location. Some were already too developed, others too remote with limited business opportunities, still others lacked the pristine beauty and relaxed quality of life she sought. Nothing seemed quite right. Then she found the island of Roatán, Honduras.
Three ex-pats in three different countries tell the story of how and why they made a new life for themselves abroad.
Out beyond the turquoise water, waves break on the reef. I’m standing on a white-sand beach looking at the Caribbean. Behind me, a gentle breeze rustles the thick foliage covering the hillsides. The occasional sway of the trees reveals sheltered shorefront homes just back from the sand.
Everyone knows the world is in crisis. Yet I’m looking forward to the New Year…and you should be, too—because you could make some serious money.
There’s a lot going on in the world of real estate opportunities right now…too much to fit in my regular weekly alerts.
That’s why I’ve made a brief video report alerting you to important updates on Mexico’s Caribbean coast…the island of Roatan…Fortaleza’s next big thing…Ecuador’s north coast…and more.
Real Estate Trend Alert Update: Nov. 5, 2010
* Mexico’s Riviera Maya
* Ecuador’s North Coast
We’re flying in a small Czech-built LET 420. The kindest thing to say about it is that it’s an experienced aircraft, chugging and bouncing us to the island.
I’ve just returned from a scouting trip to Roatan—the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands. When I arrived on Roatan, I found was an island where everything had changed…and yet nothing had changed. Let me explain..
The market was clearly headed straight up in 2003 when we went to Roatan, Honduras, on an International Living tour.
When there is a disconnect between the public perception of a place and the reality on the ground, you’ll often find opportunity as an overseas property buyer.
After a lifetime of doing what we were expected to do, my husband Joel and I finally broke several “rules” and moved overseas—to our new house by the sea.
Over the last 30 years, IL has helped many readers fulfill their dreams and move overseas. Below we profile three couples: Lifetime Members Anna and Joel have been living blissfully on the tropical island of Roatan for the past four years; Derek and Lesley have just quit their jobs and are leaving Canada in an RV, in search of Paradise; and Scot and Kristine have recently opened a new resort on Little Corn Island off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.