A Tropical Caribbean Island Retirement From $1,000 a Month

Monday blues are a thing of the past in my new tropical island home. In fact, in winter, when all the snowbirds return, a bunch of expats from all over the world have a social gathering we call “Mondays Don’t Suck” at a stunning, secluded beach on the island. We enjoy a barbecue on the sand and we swim and play volleyball (poorly).

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 finally are able to set the tone for our lives. It’s been a long time coming.

My husband Bill and I first came to Roatán, Honduras, in 2007 to “look” at properties. By the second day of our visit, we had fallen in love. During the two weeks we spent here, we kept returning to the same piece of land, atop a hill with views of both sides of the island. (Roatán is only four miles wide at its widest point.) The land was in a quiet, unpopulated area—far enough from the crowded tourist hub, the West End, to be peaceful, but still close to the grocery and hardware stores we needed. Before we left we made an offer. It was accepted, and we went home as owners of a piece of land on a Caribbean island.

What were we thinking?

Back in Washington State, we both had jobs that paid well. Bill was in quality control for a large tool-manufacturing company and I was a banker. But these jobs came with stressful, living-your-life-for-your-job existences. We saved hard, because we knew we didn’t want to work like that forever.

We continued to vacation on Roatán for years, bringing friends along with us each time. In 2012, I could no longer physically do my job and I said, “I’m moving to Roatán.” I packed up my cat, moved down here, and stayed for four months. I started our immigration/residence process, and the groundbreaking for our house began. And when we finally moved here permanently in October 2013, we finished building our house.

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.

If you decide to rent here (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. A new, state-of-the-art hospital recently opened on the island. My husband just saw an ophthalmologist and it was $40. Our excellent dentist was trained and worked in the U.S. for many years. The cost of a root canal here is less than the co-pay of your dental insurance in the States.

We have made many friends from all over the world who have chosen Roatán as their retirement home. People enjoy the easy rhythm of the island, the endless blue sea that encircles it, and the camaraderie between the expats and the locals.

Since moving to Roatán, my husband has kept busy helping people fix things, building furniture, and working on our house and I do some volunteer work. Some of my days are very 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.

Moving here was a good choice for us. Living here has freed our souls and given our lives a new meaning.

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