Monday blues are a thing of the past in my new home on Roatán. In fact, in winter, when all the snowbirds return, we have a social gathering we call “Mondays Don’t Suck” at a stunning, secluded beach on the island. Just a bunch of expats from all over the world who have made this beach paradise their home.
We enjoy a barbecue on the sand, with everyone bringing their meat of choice and a side dish to share. We swim, play volleyball (poorly), and hoist the Jolly Roger to fly alongside our “Mondays Don’t Suck” flag. Above all, we enjoy our lives and friendships, one day at a time. Our days begin the way we want them to. No meetings, no business clothes, no agendas. Our way. We’re finally able to set the tone for our lives.
My husband Bill and I first visited Roatán in 2007 to “look” at properties. By the second day of our visit, we had fallen in love. It’s a dense, jungle-covered island, dotted with white-sand beaches that merge into the crystal-clear waters around the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest. When you step off the plane, you’re immediately hit with the sultry tropical heat and breeze. It’s a fabulous greeting from the island.
In 2012, I could no longer physically do my job (tenosynovitis—repetitive stress syndrome—in my hands and wrists). I packed up my cat and moved down here, intending to stay for three months. I stayed four. I started our immigration/residence process, and the groundbreaking for our house began. When we finally moved here permanently in October 2013, we rented while we finished building our house.
When we bought our lot, it was a tangle of thick brush with huge rubber trees, coconut trees, and weeds. There was already power, a septic tank, a shared well, a cistern, and a concrete drive. The lot itself is less than a third of an acre. We paid $100,000 for it and spent close to $300,000 on the build. Our home is solid concrete. The lower level is a full guest condo, and we live upstairs. We have a second-floor pool and a rooftop deck, both of which come with breathtaking views of each shore.
The scent of fragrant plumeria trees wafts in on the Caribbean breeze. We have papaya, coconut, and bananas growing on our lot, and we have planted lime trees and avocados as well.
Some of my days are busy, others nice and relaxed. Whatever we want is what we get. Even on the days that have full agendas, we’re doing what we want to do. It really does make a big difference to your whole outlook on life. Our home is paid for, as are our cars, which we bought here. The only bills we have are internet and electric ($100 a month each), gas for the cars, propane for the house appliances, and a yearly water bill of $120 (we are on a shared well and have a cistern). Our biggest expense is feeding our five dogs. If we didn’t have those extra (big) mouths to feed, we could easily live on $1,000 a month.
Of course, we are still working on the house, so there are always those added expenses. And did I mention property taxes? Ours are under $150 a year, and you get a discount if you pay in the first quarter.
If you decide to rent on Roatán (as most expats do), you can find basic studio apartments for $400 a month; in the more rural East End, $650 a month can get you a three-bedroom apartment with a pool. Healthcare is often a concern for retirees moving out of their home countries, but a brand-new, state-of-the-art hospital recently opened on the island.
People enjoy the easy rhythm of Roatán, the endless blue sea that encircles it, and the camaraderie between the expats and the locals. There are many expat hangouts on both ends of the island and an active expat scene.
The main complaint people have about Roatán is the weather. Some think it’s unbearably hot here. Yes, it’s warm; it’s a tropical island, after all. By day it can get up to 90 F plus, but usually there is a nice breeze blowing in from the sea. Bill and I have air conditioners in our house, but we have never hooked them up. When the heat gets to be too much, we just jump in the pool or drive five minutes to a beach to cool off. Even with the heat index here, it sure beats driving on ice-covered roads and wearing heavy winter coats and boots. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for us.
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