When many North Americans think about places to retire, a nice condo in Florida or Hawaii is usually the first thought. Yet in recent years, a more exotic tropical locale has become increasingly popular with the retired set. That location is Roatan, Honduras, a breathtaking Caribbean island that is as affordable as it is beautiful. In 2011, Roatan was named the number one island to retire too, and U.S. News listed it as one of the 18 best overseas retirement spots in 2013.
The island itself is relatively small – 31 miles long and 5 miles wide – with a small, close knit community of 28,000, but there is still plenty to do on Roatan. Most of life on the island demonstrates the slower, more-laid back lifestyle typical of the Caribbean. Simple pastimes such as sunbathing on the beach, scuba diving, stretching on a hammock with a good book, or strolling through the mangrove forests are all popular daytime activities. For the more adventurous, the island offers excellent hiking trails, paragliding, and golfing thanks to the Pete Dye-designed Black Pearl Golf Course. Those who love to cook will enjoy grabbing fresh produce from the local market, having seafood straight from the ocean and being able to take some of the coconuts and mangoes that grow wild on Roatan. At night, the east end of the island comes alive. There are shops, restaurant and bars all with live music. People come out to dance and socialize, or simply walk along the gorgeous half-moon bay.
Despite being such an amazing locale, life on Roatan is not without its challenges. Crime in Roatan is generally petty theft and can be avoided by making smart choices such as not walking alone at night in large cities and not displaying valuable items such as jewelry or expensive technology. Roatan is also short on infrastructure, although that too is improving. Water treatment plants and hard-paved roads have been put in place in the last few years and the island has consistent electricity for the first time in it’s history.
It’s clear, however, the the benefits of living on Roatan far outweigh the challenges. Not only is the island fun and beautiful, but it’s extremely affordable and accessible as well. While a retirement visa on Roatan requires you have at least $1500 each month, a couple could live off of $1,200 a month here, per the Global Retirement Index for cost of living. English is also commonly spoken on Roatan, because while Spanish is the official language of Honduras, Roatan was once part of British Honduras which makes English more common on the island.
For many retirees wanting to see their families, Roatan may not seem like a good fit. Yet there are direct weekly flights to Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Toronto, Dallas and Milan. They are quick too – the flight from Roatan to Houston is a mere 2.5 hours. If you are looking for a laid-back tropical retirement spot, with picture perfect beaches, affordable prices, fun nightlife, and that’s easy to get too, Roatan might be right for you. Check out our Roatan MLS Listings to see the types of properties available on Roatan.