Is moving to the Caribbean as wonderful as it seems?

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Caribbean SunsetEspecially as winter approaches, I know it’s an extremely common daydream to not only visit the Caribbean, but to actually move there. I’ve thought about it myself, even seriously, partly because I’m one of those new breed of location-independent people who can work anywhere. But I wonder, is it as nice as our daydreams make it seem?

Obviously “the Caribbean” is a huge area that includes challenging places like Haiti all the way up to extremely expensive islands like St. Barts, but for now I’m thinking more about moving to Puerto Rico or St. Thomas or St. Lucia or even the Bahamas, just to name a few possibilities.

Exchanging one set of problems for another?

I’d love to hear comments from people who’ve done this, or done something very similar, because right now I’m just guessing. One thing I’ve noticed in my travels around the world is that each place seems to have its own new set of problems. For example, some people leave a country in Europe because they don’t like the government there, and move to a country such as Thailand, which obviously has plenty of its own government problems.

Or you might leave England because it has 9 pretty dreadful months of weather each year, to move to, say, Bali, which has relentless heat and humidity pretty much year round, which also gets exhausting.

One thing I’ve seen in many of these tropical destinations is that the infrastructure tends to be poor. So you could move to Mexico for 10 or 11 months of sunny weather each year, but your power goes out 2 or 3 times per week, and it’s impossible to get fast enough internet to watch videos.

How difficult is it to get used to the slower lifestyle?

I’ve noticed around the world that people who live in hot climates tend to move more slowly. They also tend to take things like schedules and appointments much less seriously. Certainly there are exceptions, but it’s mostly true, and I wonder how much of a problem it is for people who move there from a different climate?

From time spent living in Thailand, I saw many newer expats complaining about how slow many things were, and the ones who’d been there longer would usually just reply “That’s Thailand for you,” as if you permanently have to assume that service will be poor forever. Is that really a healthy way to live, to just adjust to low standards? Perhaps it is.

Where are the better Caribbean places for expats?

Are there islands with moderate housing prices and a dependable infrastructure? My guess would be that the islands with high real estate prices also have reliable electricity and maybe even good internet, but I don’t know. Are there expat communities in Jamaica or Dominican Republic that have some of the conveniences of home?

Even as I consider moving to the Caribbean, I worry that it’s the sort of thing that sounds a lot better than it really is, and I’d love to hear opinions from people with experience.

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