Endless days of sunshine, delectable cuisine, a picturesque landscape, world-class beaches, rich art and architecture, natural beauty, excellent infrastructure, and more make the Caribbean one of the most attractive places to live. In addition to these factors, the cost of living in the Caribbean islands also strongly influences the decision to move to the region. This may have you wondering, Which is the cheapest Caribbean island to live on? Or What is the cheapest Caribbean vacation?
If you are planning to relocate to the Caribbean for business, work, or post-retirement, you should definitely take into account the amount of money required to enjoy your ideal lifestyle in this stunning region. In this article, we will take you through the cost of living in the Caribbean — including the cost of real estate, food and drink, and more — and help you discover the cheapest Caribbean island to live on and visit.
Cost of Living in the Caribbean
In order to determine the cost of living in the Caribbean, you must consider the general things you need in your daily life, such as food, rent, transport, entertainment, and other utilities and activities. Once you have considered the cost of all these factors, you can then calculate your monthly budget. Please keep in mind that these are variable costs and can change based on the specific island you decide to relocate to.
For example, if you’re considering shifting to the secluded side of the Bahamas, your cost of groceries can shoot up as they will be delivered to the place either by an aircraft or a ship. On the other hand, the rent will be relatively low due to lower demand. In this section, we’ll take you through some important factors to consider when deciding where to live in the Caribbean.
Caribbean real estate
The Caribbean region has a thriving real estate market and there are many affordable Caribbean destinations to find your ideal property. The cost of housing that you encounter, however, will depend on the type of ownership – in other words, whether you want to rent or buy it.
If you are looking for affordable property in the Caribbean islands, you should consider places like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Honduras, and Belize, as they offer some of the most economical real estate options for you to buy or rent. To rent out one-bedroom properties in these locations, you will have to pay rent of around $700 to $1000 each month. Please note that these properties will not be beach-facing.
Places like Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands have more expensive properties than the ones mentioned above. However, since the Turks and Caicos Islands are a tax-neutral jurisdiction, it levies no annual property taxes, income tax, or capital gains tax on residents. People living in the Cayman Islands also don’t come under direct taxation by the government.
So if you plan to move to the Caribbean permanently, please keep all these factors in mind and assess them before making your big move.
To live in your home comfortably, you need to manage a few essential utilities like water, gas, electricity, telephone bills, air conditioning, and so on. The cost of all of these can differ significantly depending on where you reside in the Caribbean.
Places like the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Curaçao have the highest cost of utilities compared to the other Caribbean islands. The expenditure on utilities in these places can range between $200 – $350. Please note that this is the average cost of utilities if you live in a small apartment. When you get a bigger space, the utility cost will automatically rise since you will tend to use more water, electricity, and air conditioning.
If you are looking for a place in the Caribbean with a low cost of utilities, then you should consider moving to the Dominican Republic, Belize, Costa Rica, or Panama regions.
Food and drinks
Owing to its location and island life, most of the groceries on the Caribbean islands get delivered by air or water transport. While this may sound exciting, this method of delivery tends to cause the price of the commodities to increase, as there is a delivery charge for almost everything. The cost of everyday items like milk, bread, eggs, and chicken is higher across the Caribbean than in the United States. If you are looking for somewhere more affordable, check out places like Grenada, St Lucia, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
If you are fond of having fruit and vegetables, purchasing them from the local markets or roadside stalls is often a cheaper option.
On the other hand, luxury items like beer, wine, and cigarettes are cheaper in the tropical islands than in the United States. Although destinations such as the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are attractive tourist spots, the cost of living, food, and drinks are slightly higher than in the other parts of the Caribbean. The reason for the higher price is that these places offer a greater variety of imported goods that are readily accessible to you.
To give you an example of the cost of living, two people sharing a home would find themselves spending around $600 on groceries. But please keep in mind that this is an estimate for you. Your budget can go up if you indulge in good wine and food more than once in a while.
Restaurant and entertainment
The prices of restaurants and entertainment options vary from place to place in the Caribbean. For example, let’s take a look at the cost of a McDonald’s combo meal in the Caribbean. According to Numbeo, this will cost you around $7.04 in the Dominican Republic, while the same meal will cost you around $8.70 in Grenada, $10 in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and $13.80 in the Cayman Islands.
Eating out in the Turks and Caicos is expensive compared to all the other places in the Caribbean. For example, a regular meal in an affordable restaurant will cost you around $20, according to Numbeo.
The Cheapest Caribbean Islands to Live On
In this section, we will take you through a list of the cheapest Caribbean islands for families and more. No matter where you end up in the Caribbean, you’re likely to find direct flights to the US and Europe, untouched beaches, impressive resorts, ports for cruise ships, historical sights, natural beauty, and local restaurants offering a taste of local culture.
Compared to the United States or Europe, the cost of living in Dominica is low. Whether renting, buying property, or purchasing things from the local markets, prices are lower than the other islands in this Caribbean paradise. If you are planning to retire in the Caribbean but are worried about the expenditure, then Dominica is the perfect place.
For example, the monthly expenses come to around $4,014 for a family of four, excluding rent. If you stay alone, your monthly expenditure will be around $1,318 (excluding rent).
Check out our article: The Cost of Living in Dominica.
Like Grenada (which we discuss lower down), St Lucia is one of the cheapest Caribbean islands to live on. In fact, the cost of living in St Lucia is cheaper than many countries in the United States and Europe. The country is tax-friendly and levies no capital gains, inheritance, or wealth tax on worldwide income. Not only is St Lucia affordable, but it also provides its residents with a very high quality of life.
Check out our article: St Lucia Taxes – A Guide for Individuals and Businesses.
The cost of groceries in the country depends upon your consumption of local or imported food. The cost of local produce is relatively cheaper, and the cost of imported products is more expensive than in the United States. The rent prices here also depend on the location. For instance, if you rent a one-bedroom apartment in Castries’s city center, you will pay around $563.58 per month. In comparison, renting a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center will cost around $251.61 each month.
Antigua and Barbuda
Renowned for its white sand beaches, tropical weather, and relaxed lifestyle, Antigua and Barbuda is a popular destination in the Caribbean. The country offers all modern conveniences to people and is around 20 percent cheaper than the United States and the United Kingdom.
As per Numbeo, the monthly expenditure for a single person is around $1,100 (not including rent). For a family of four, the cost of living in Antigua and Barbuda will be around $3,900 (not including the rent) per month.
Grenada is also among the cheapest Caribbean islands to live on. Compared to the US and other Caribbean islands, the cost of living in Grenada is notably lower, be it education, real estate, groceries, or restaurants. In Grenada, a meal in a local and inexpensive restaurant will cost you around $7.40. A three-course meal in a mid-size restaurant will cost around $79.55 for two people.
In terms of rent, you need to pay around $753 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. Outside the city center, however, it will cost you around $386. If you are planning to buy a property in Grenada, the price can vary from $160,000 to $7,000,000.
Affordable Caribbean Vacation Destinations
Now, while some locations in the Caribbean have a higher cost of living, they can still make for an affordable vacation. In this section, we’ll take you through our list of affordable Caribbean destinations for your perfect vacation, where you can truly discover the country’s rich culture. Whether you’re a family looking for all-inclusive resorts or budget travelers looking for the best deals on scuba diving, these Caribbean destinations offer everything from upscale resorts and white sand beaches to affordable prices and budget-friendly accommodations.
When visiting the Caribbean with children, the trick is finding a location where everyone can have a good time without breaking the bank. Whether your kids and teens want outdoor adventures, love trying new foods, are eager to explore a destination’s music and culture, or want to spend their time lounging on a white sand beach, there’s something for everyone in Jamaica.
Jamaica is often considered one of the best Caribbean destinations for relocation or an affordable Caribbean vacation. The cost of living here is around 48 percent cheaper than in the UK, and if you’re thrifty and plan to make use of seasonal package deals and offers, you and your family can enjoy a fun-filled and affordable vacation in one of the island’s hotels or world-class resorts. There are a variety of affordable all-inclusive resorts, particularly in Negril. The best time to visit is between December and April, and you can find cheap flights to Kingston or Montego Bay.
The Dominican Republic is another popular choice for those in search of a destination full of all-inclusive resorts and plenty of adventures at affordable prices. This island boasts several world-class beaches with crystalline waters and nearby restaurants. The best time to visit is between November and May to ensure you can enjoy the many ziplining, cave swimming, and other adventurous activities.
Here, you’ll find yourself spending around $25 or $30 on food and $5 on local transportation. Despite the fact that Punta Cana is one of the most luxurious cities in the Dominican Republic, you’ll find affordable accommodation using platforms such as Airbnb and plenty of all-inclusive resorts with fantastic deals.
While Puerto Rico is known for its turquoise waters and gorgeous beaches, there’s much more to do when visiting this Caribbean destination. Make your way through stunning mountainous landscapes, immerse yourself in the colorful street life, and visit the must-see El Yunque rainforest.
San Juan is the island’s largest city and is often likened to a miniature tropical Las Vegas, thanks to its hotel strip, bars, and casinos. Of course, it’s a highly popular stop among younger travelers.
The island also caters to the more sophisticated traveler with the old town and its gorgeous ocean-view fortress and cobblestone streets. Various budget airlines now fly to San Juan, making it even easier for the budget traveler to enjoy a fabulous holiday and a great deal.
When looking for affordable Caribbean destinations that still offer an atmosphere of luxury, then the Bahamas is the spot for you. Due to its proximity to the US, it’s an exceptionally easy place for the country’s citizens to visit, being just an hour’s flight from Miami.
This Caribbean getaway offers watersports, scuba opportunities, golf courses, all-inclusive resorts and hotels, and a plethora of other sites and sounds to enjoy.
Consisting of more than 700 islands in total, it is the perfect place to visit if you’d like to partake in some island hopping. The island is also home to the highly Instagram-able ‘Pig Beach’, Paradise Island, and the famous Thunderball Grotto, which was used in the James Bond films.
Other Caribbean destinations to consider include:
- US Virgin Islands
A popular cruise port, this Caribbean paradise is a great place to visit outside of the peak winter season. As it features as a port for many cruises, you can enjoy this destination as one stop on a tour of the Caribbean.
- British Virgin Islands
A great place to visit and explore a wide selection of hundreds of small islands, all located within a relatively small area. Chartering a small boat is a good way to get around.
With a variety of free attractions, such as Les Salines Beach and St. Louis Cathedral, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy. Furthermore, the many budget-friendly street food vendors and accommodation deals make it an excellent option for a cost-effective getaway.
- Trinidad and Tobago
Located near Venezuela, these twin islands offer much to do. In addition to the pristine beaches you’d expect to find on a Caribbean island, you’ll see a variety of colorful birds at the wildlife sanctuaries around the island and can go island hopping and explore picturesque coves and hidden bays.
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As you can see, you will need to explore the different options available when deciding to visit or relocate to the Caribbean. No matter which of these islands you choose, you’re guaranteed to find excellent weather year-round, crystal blue sea, beautiful beaches, and — most importantly — a very nice life. So why not make your dream a reality and find your perfect island getaway in the Caribbean today?
Frequently Asked Questions about the Cheapest Caribbean Island to Live on
What is the most affordable Caribbean island to live on?
Dominican Republic, Belize (the only English-speaking country in Central America), Costa Rica, and Panama are a few of the most affordable islands to live on and double up as top destinations to visit. The best option for you will depend on the type of lifestyle you intend to lead.
If you’d like a more detailed breakdown of life in the Caribbean, check out our article: Living in the Caribbean – The Pros and Cons You Need to Know.
What is the best Caribbean island to live on?
The best Caribbean island to live on will depend on your individual circumstances and requirements. If you are more budget-conscious, you may prefer to live somewhere like St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, or Jamaica. If you want a more luxurious lifestyle, you may want to live somewhere like the Bahamas. The ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) in the southern Caribbean are popular among families.
One thing is certain: No matter where you decide to live in the region, you’re sure to enjoy a high-quality life of tranquility and beauty.