The Best Small Islands to Retire To

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Everyone dreams of retiring in the Caribbean. And the ultimate dream is retiring to a small, far-off island away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Retirement in the Caribbean certainly has its share of sacrifices and challenges, and that’s particularly true on a small island. But what you get in return is total independence, umatched relaxation, island charm and a completely different rhythm to your days. Another unheralded benefit is you really become part of a community, something that isn’t necessarily true in many larger “retirement” destinations. These are the small islands we think are the best starting points to make a decision like this — they’re small, they’re beautiful and they’re not really like anywhere else.

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Bocas del Toro, Panama

Panama has become one of the world’s hottest destinations for retirees, especially from the US. That’s in large part due two factors: the country’s pensionadoprogramme, which offers retirees a series of discounts on everything from medical exams to entertainment, and a cost of living that’s among the lowest of any destination in the region. And Bocas del Toro is full of tiny islands to choose from, from the “main” island of Isla Colon to the popular Red Frog Beach development on the island of Isla Bastimentos. (Above: a villa at Red Frog Beach)

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Treasure Cay, Bahamas

This island in the Abaco chain of the Bahamas has it all: some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, a surfeit of real estate for sale, both in condominiums and lots, easy access both through nearby Marsh Harbour (an international airport) and its own small strip. There’s also a great marina if you want access to the Bahamas’ spectacular waters. (Above: the Bahamas Beach Club)

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Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

There’s a great real estate product here in developments like Oil Nut Bay and Nail Bay. This is definitely a place for a luxury retirement, with great access to the boating and sailing lifestyle, easy access to many of the other Virgin Islands and the feeling of a high standard of living. (There’s an airstrip, too, just in case you need it). Above: Oil Nut Bay

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Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines

This is the coolest island in the Grenadines, an amalgam of cultures and generations; in part due its whaling history, there’s a bit of a vibration here of New England, which makes for a rare ambience that’s tough to find in the Caribbean. This is an artsy, funky place with a small town feel but also with a way of reinvigorating its residents and visitors.

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Bonaire

One of the Caribbean’s best retirement destinations of any size, this Dutch Caribbean island has a close-knit feel, with a significant expat community that makes new arrivals feel welcome almost upon touching down on the plane. And it’s a place to learn new things, whether you’re diving, windsurfing or speaking a new language. It’s also a great jumping off point if you want to spend your retirement on excursions to nearby South America.

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St Barth

Almost certainly the most expensive retirement in the Caribbean, but there’s a reason: you get what you pay for: some of the Caribbean’s best food, spectacular villas to choose from, very few cruise passengers to deal with, great shopping and a thriving French-Caribbean culture. There’s ferry and air access to St Martin, which provides a great weekend destination in its own right. Above: the Villa Pajoma listed with Sibarth Realty.

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Terre de Haut, Guadeloupe Islands

This is a bit of an affordable, mini-version of St Barth. This tiny island is dominated by a small fishing village, but has a surplus of quiet beaches, superb views and, because it’s France, high-quality supermarkets and restaurants. There is a small airport, but the regular ferry service is the best way to back and forth.

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St John, US Virgin Islands 

It’s not that small geographically, but this is definitely a small island. About 60 percent is covered by parkland, and the rest is covered by artists, divers, expats continentals and those in search of the archetype of island life. It’s very close to St Thomas with regular ferry service, meaning you can find all of the large-island amenities in 15 minutes.

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Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe

One of the under-the-radar destinations in the Guadeloupe archipelago, this is a flat, agricultural island that has more rum distilleries per capita than anywhere else on earth. It also has lots of land for development and a host of small villas to choose from, along with quiet, mostly empty beaches. The town of Grand Bourg is small but charming, and it’s an easy ferry ride to the “main” islands of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre. (Above: a villa on the market in Marie-Galante)

Source: CaribbeanJournal.com June 23, 2015

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