Honduras: Quintessential Caribbean
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…
Roatán is the largest of the Bay Islands and the most developed. Yet even here you can still find affordable beachfront property. If you’d prefer to keep the sand out of your house, hillside oceanview homes enjoying cool breezes and stunning vistas abound at incredibly low prices. Roatán is often called the gem of the Caribbean. It reminds people of what the rest of the Caribbean used to look like before major development and hotel chains took over the prime real estate. Roatán retains its rustic Caribbean charm and pristine natural beauty.
The expat community in Roatán has grown in recent years. New arrivals can expect to be welcomed into well-established communities offering insights and relocation assistance. Both retirees as well as entrepreneurs find Roatán to be a welcoming home with frequent social gatherings among expats and ample opportunities for work and play.
Volunteering with one of the islands many non-profit organizations is a popular activity for retired expats. Whether helping the local Humane Society or fundraising for supplies for local schools, many expats become involved in their local community through volunteer work.
Expats looking to start a business in Roatán will find a friendly environment for foreigners. The growing tourism industry utilizes the many expats on Roatán to connect with North American tourists. New business ideas are always welcomed, and red tape is minimal for a foreigner opening up shop. You can be up and running in a matter of several weeks! Many expats are finding opportunities to work online, saving themselves the costs of a bricks and mortar business. Both options are popular in Roatán and expat-run businesses continue to emerge, filling gaps and offering new opportunities for visitors and locals alike on this beautiful island.
The main attraction for most expats coming to Roatán is obvious: the picturesque clear Caribbean waters and the beautiful coral reef surrounding the island. SCUBA diving and snorkeling are the most popular activities, with many expats learning to do both in the calm lagoons that are so well protected by the reef. Kayaking and sailing are also popular, and daylong gatherings on the beach are frequent among expats. The natural beauty of this island continues to amaze even those expats who have lived there for decades.
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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
It’s that time of year again—the birds are singing, love is in the air, and hopeless husbands are trawling gas stations for that last bunch of flowers. It must be Valentine’s Day—that special day when you spoil the one you love, devote your attention to one another, and escape momentarily from the humdrum of everyday routine. It can be a wonderful time, no matter where you are, but it’s undeniable that some locations have a certain je ne sais quoi that adds that something special to the occasion.
My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I do a lot of traveling. So we often find ourselves on the way to places. We find ourselves in airports. In taxis and shuttles. In planes and buses. In snow-bound cities and towns for holidays and family functions.
Many factors come into play when considering a retirement abroad. Cost of living, prices of rents and real estate, and healthcare options are main concerns. But quality of life for retirees moving abroad also depends in large part on being able to fit in quickly, learn the ropes, and mix well with the locals in their adapted communities. Language, culture, and community support from locals and other expats all can have a dramatic effect on the quality of the expat retiree experience.
When planning your retirement overseas, many factors come into play. Low costs, real estate, and healthcare are some of the main concerns…but what about being able to mix well with the community or make friends with the locals? Being able to integrate well will help ensure that you feel at home in your new home. Do the locals speak English or do you speak the local language? Is the community welcoming to expats? Are there groups and clubs available to join?
You can take Rob Baker and Lisa Blythe out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take away their obsession with the Green Bay Packers. The dynamic duo left their snow-covered home for a beachfront business in paradise, and they’ve brought their favorite pieces of home with them. “Our restaurant was the ﬁrst ofﬁcial Packer Bar in the whole country!” Lisa proudly exclaims. “Football season is so much more fun on the beach.”
Retiring abroad is easier and more affordable than ever before. These days it really is possible to spend your days relaxing beneath palm fronds on a Caribbean beach, enjoying farm-fresh produce in a mountain haven with year-round spring weather, or wandering the storied streets of a historic and cultured European city…or all of the above. But with so many choices available, finding the right one can seem daunting.
Often voted one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, West Bay Beach, on the western end of the island of Roatán, Honduras, boasts a growing community of contented, beach-loving expats—part- and full-time. West Bay rests along Roatán’s northwestern shore, which is perfectly protected from the island’s prevailing southeastern breezes. This leaves the turquoise waters calm and still, perfect for a refreshing swim or snorkel. For many residents, a people-watching stroll on the white sands with a cold beer in hand is a daily routine.
Sunlight streams into your bedroom. The birds sing and the soft lapping of the ocean on the beach lures you to your front patio. The light is golden as it glides across the water to bathe the palm trees.
Roatán offers an appealing expat lifestyle, diverse and healthy food, easy access to North America, and great infrastructure for such a small island (only about 50 square miles in size). You’ll find an international airport, two cruise line ports, paved main roads, two hospitals, a golf course, and several high-quality grocery stores that stock North American gourmet items. The lifestyle is also highly affordable for the Caribbean. I met one expat couple who own their own home and live comfortably on less than $1,200 a month.
Your voice could be your passport to an income overseas…and we’re not just talking about singing. Sure, if you can carry a tune, you can take that talent with you. Many expats make their money, or at least a supplementary income, from singing. Some even discover that carving out a singing career is easier overseas.
Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, is surrounded by the beautiful Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and also boasts a lush, verdant landscape above water. As you fly toward the island on a direct flight from the U.S. or Canada, you’ll notice how much of this paradise remains undeveloped. Natural beauty abounds on Roatán. Homes built on the gorgeous jungle-covered hillsides overlook the turquoise Caribbean water and even beachfront homes enjoy privacy and tranquility.
“We love the culture and the people in Roatán. The quality of life is fantastic here and it’s really just so affordable. We couldn’t afford to do everything we do in Roatán in most other Caribbean locations,” Bill explains. “I’m a member at Pristine Bay Golf Course, we own a beachfront condo, and we own a boat that we can take out for a joy ride anytime. That’s not something we could do in Florida or on most other islands.
“I get to be barefoot all day,” says Sylvia Miller from the beachfront in Roatan, Honduras. I’d die if I had to be inside a cubicle!” The 43-year-old from Haliburton Village, Ontario lives on West Bay Beach in Roatan. Her “workplace” is a bohemian enclave in the sand facing the ocean with small peace flags hanging over the open stairway leading onto the deck. And she’s loving the vibe.
Ann and Lew Tucker, from outside Albany, New York, now invite everyone into their brand-new home on the Caribbean island of Roatán. From here they can relax on the upstairs patio and watch the boats float by, admiring the sunset over the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the gorgeous scent of orchids wafts up from the garden below. The place they now call home is a Cape Cod-style cottage on the hillside of a popular neighborhood in West Bay. But this is a relatively recent development. For nearly two decades, they’ve been sailing around the world together.
It’s another tough winter day in paradise for Bill and Ann Addison. Bill just finished a round of golf on a course that overlooks the turquoise Caribbean Sea, while Ann spent the day at a picturesque, secluded beach, snorkeling with her friends. Retirement is filled with fun for these snowbirds.
When Christine Larose moved to the Caribbean island of Roatán in 2011 it didn’t take long before her neighbors were telling her how desperately they needed a personalized property management service for their vacation homes… “I seized that opportunity and created a business,” says the 45-year-old. “I had no property management or real estate background at all—I worked in sales marketing back in Ontario. But what I learned from that job was quality customer service.”
There is no better way to celebrate island life than to step aboard a boat and cruise away from shore for stunning views and extraordinary experiences. Whether it’s in a luxury yacht, a spacious catamaran, a quaint sailboat, or a personal kayak… The Caribbean island of Roatán, off the northern coast of Honduras, is surrounded by clear turquoise water.
Roatán is a gorgeous island located off the northern shore of Honduras, and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. It’s known for its exquisite, crystal-clear turquoise water…beautiful golden sand beaches…diverse water sports…abundant marine life…and the World Heritage barrier reef that runs along its shores. Life is easy on Roatán, a laidback island with a Caribbean vibe. English is the primary language and a couple can still live on a budget of $2000/month here.
The dazzling Caribbean island of Roatán offers much more than spectacular sugarsand beaches and cozy, inviting bays. You’ll also find mountainous terrain lush with vibrant tropical flowers. Head up any of the many hills that form the interior to be awestruck by the surrounding Caribbean Sea, its surface sparkling in the sun, its depths tinged with aquamarine, topaz, and soft green hues.
Neither Yvonne nor Michael Bauche qualiﬁed for a pension in Canada. And so the adventurous duo decided to embark on a round-the-world trip that has seen them visit Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Portugal, Italy, France, and the Caribbean. “We cut our expenses in half,” says Yvonne of their new life on the road. “Running two cars, paying for electricity, gas, phone, cell phone, internet, food, and eating out used to cost us almost $4,000 a month. Our average expenditure is now about $2,000, and we live and play very well on that.”
After working as an electrician for over 27 years, Jeff Brewer was ready for something new that didn’t involve another snowy winter in New York. In March 2014, as the piles of dirty snow still filled parking lots and street corners, Jeff decided he’d had enough.
Every morning Barbara Wastart rises to another glorious tranquil day, surrounded by fruit trees, coconut palms, and exotic tropical birds. As she looks out from her hilltop home, she takes in the spectacular view of the turquoise Caribbean bay below. A fleet of kayaks, and a pontoon boat, are tied to her private dock. A quick paddle through the mangrove forest and she can tie up to a private buoy near the barrier reef, and snorkel in the crystal clear waters abundant with fish, rays, and coral.
Each morning I’m greeted with vibrant sunshine and the enchanting sounds of a jungle awakening. I often start my day watching the stunning sunrise while walking along the beach. Then, perhaps a late-morning swim in the warm, clear waters or snorkeling on one of the most incredible coral reefs in the world.
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The Honduran island of Roatán has a lot of things going for it: low cost of living, a laidback island lifestyle, sun, sand and, of course, sea. The island has over 95 miles of coastline fronting the rich, warm waters of the Caribbean making it a scuba diving Mecca. This is a fact that expat business partners Gary Carlson and John Hart have been able to take full advantage of with their diving shop, West End Divers.
It’s almost lunchtime, which means it’s time for the work to end and play to begin. The beach awaits and the dive boat will be heading out soon, leaving just enough time to shut down the laptop and mosey into town. Such is a typical day in Roatan, Honduras, for expat Rika Purdy. Originally from Vancouver, Rika worked as a paralegal for years, obeying the clock, and working to make other people rich. But she came to realize there were new opportunities for earning online which could release her.
I live in paradise—there’s no disputing it. My home on the island of Roatan is surrounded by gorgeous, lush jungle and faces out to the sea. The palm trees and flowers that fill my yard draw hummingbirds who zig and zag their way among the colorful blossoms.
In International Living’s March issue, Roatan was named as one of the best islands to retire to in 2015. Having just returned from an exploratory trip of Roatan, that didn’t surprise me. So what exactly makes this island so special? Most islands are surrounded by a sea…but not all are created equal. If, like me, you find the Caribbean Sea’s aquamarine hues and vibrant sea life irresistible, this article was written with you in mind… I’ve experienced many seas during my many travels. But the Caribbean Sea is my all-time favorite. After my first trip to the Virgin Islands, my mind kept leading me back to the idea of investing in a property on the Caribbean Sea.
Five days after arriving on the Caribbean island of Roatan, 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.
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.
It took me a while to shake the stress-inducing habits of home. On Roatán, expats and locals alike operate on island time. Island time is a state of mind, something caused by the timeless nature of the ocean all around, and it’s taught me to ask “what’s the rush?” I’ve learned the value of living in the present. Why worry about something that hasn’t yet happened when there are so many wonderful things happening right now?
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.”