November 4, 2014 — Have you ever dreamed about retiring on an island? A relaxing place with warm breezes, the gentle sound of lapping waves, endless sunshine, and friendly locals? You certainly wouldn’t be the only person to share that dream. This article will review the pros and cons of island living, plus share 2 list of islands that might be good retirement spots – a domestic list we created and another, the 10 best tropical island retirements from NextAvenue.org.
There are islands – and there are islands
Some people’s idea of an island for retirement might be domestic, such as an island on a big lake in Michigan, one of the many off of the Maine coast, Catalina Island near Los Angeles, or the San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle. There there are places on the East Coast, many of them barrier islands.
But for other folks the only islands they are interested in are tropical ones, which almost always means foreign locations. Most are relatively close to the US, usually in the Caribbean. Although there are some great islands in few are in Europe, Africa, or Australia/New Zealand, NextAvenue did not choose any of those.
Time of year
Some islands are better for year round living than others. Those in the Caribbean or Southeast Asia never get cold. However they can be susceptible to hurricanes or typhoons in season. Islands in America’s Northeast or Midwest not only get pretty darn frosty, they can also be impossible to get on or off in the depths of winter. For that reason many islands are really only appropriate as part time retirement residences.
The decision to live on an island is a very personal choice. You have to know what you like, and what parts of ordinary life you can stand to miss. Here are some of the advantages of an island retirement:
– Peaceful. Life slows down when you are on “Island Time”.
– Beautiful. Surrounded by water, the bays and coasts and the vegetation are picturesque.
– On the water. Big bodies of water moderate the air temperature, keeping you cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
– Recreation. There is swimming, boating, fishing. Usually there is a lot more, since most islands are resorts with things for tourists to do when not sitting on the beach.
– Casual lifestyle. Your editor, who lives most of the year in Key West, has never worn a tie there. Long sleeve dress shirts and slacks hang unused in the closet. People are less formal in every way, with flip flops and shorts the order of the day.
Not all of the disadvantages of island living are immediately apparent. It might take weeks, months, or even years to discover some of the hidden issues that affect those who try island living. Here are some:
– Claustrophobic. Many aspects of island can get to you. Your circle of friends will be limited. It is hard to get on and off the island. Tourists might start to get on your nerves.
– Transportation. You will probably pay more to come and go, and have fewer options. On the other hand, you might not need a car.
– Limited culture. Some big islands have cultural opportunities, either on or just off. But many times you will be limited to a small library and whoever is performing at the hotel.
– Medical. This can be the scariest limitation, particularly as our list of baby boomer ailments grow. You don’t want to be in a small clinic with a big problem. And being medevaced is expensive and scary.
– Expense. Just about everything on an island except coconuts and fish has to be imported, and you will pay a price for that. Shopping and variety are limited.
– Evacuations. Another thing that no one enjoys is a mandatory evacuation order. Getting off the island in the face of a natural emergency can be frightening and is always inconvenient.
8 Best USA Islands for Retirement
We think these make great places to retire, but are not listed in any particular order.
– Port Isabel, Texas. In southernmost Texas, Padre Island is a barrier island resort with great beaches.
– St. Simons Island, Georgia. This is one of the Golden Islands at Georgia’s southern tip. There is great golf in this upscale community. Sea Island is just above it.
– Amelia Island, Florida. This barrier island is a resort and large development in northern Florida’s east coast. The charming village of Fernandina Beach is just above it.
– Marco Island, Florida. This relatively new area is at the bottom of Florida’s Gulf Coast. There is a lot of tourism and developments. For people who might get bored there, bustling Naples is just up the road.
– Hawaii. Like they say, the island of Hawaii, the Big Island, is big. It is home to several towns including Hilo on the east coast and – Kailua-Kona on the west. Then there are the other Hawaiian Islands including Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. They are so beautiful you will easily get used to seeing lots of vowels in your place names and local words.
– Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Located on a barrier island in southern North Carolina, this small community has wonderful beaches.
– Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Favored by many Presidents for family vacations, Martha’s Vineyard offer a laid back and self-contained universe. There are beautiful beaches, farms, and charming little towns. In winter life slows way down, although it isn’t as cold as on the mainland. The island of Nantucket is nearby, but it is even smaller and more expensive.
10 Best Tropical Islands for Retirement
NextAvenue.org developed this list of the 10 Best Tropical Islands for Retirees. Use this link to find out more about these islands. We think it is a pretty interesting list – in fact we had never heard of most of them before! The author of the article, Park Wilson, is an American expat living in Panama. He has a website, Vivatropical.com, which is definitely worth a look.
Note that some of these islands are referred to as archipelagos, which means a group of islands or a stretch of water containing many islands.
1. Caye Caulker, Belize. A 5 mile long and casual island in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize.
2. Curacao, Dutch Caribbean. Willemstad is the capital, which offers a blend of Dutch culture with Latin spice. Curacao is near the coast of Venezuela.
3. Boca Chica, Panama. NextAvenue describes this Pacific Coast archipelago as an undiscovered and “up and coming” place for expat retirees in the very retirement friendly country of Panama.
4. Roatan, Honduras. One of the Bay Islands, it is on the mesoamerican reef, 2nd largest in the world.
5. Nevis, Lesser Antilles. Next to St. Kitts, and 200 miles from Puerto Rico.
6. Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It’s across the bay from Cancun.
7. San Andres, Colombia. An archipelago off Columbia’s Caribbean coast. The ecosphere is quite interesting.
8. Pearl Islands, Panama. It is about 30 miles from Panama city . Panama has a stable government and uses the US $ as its official currency.
9. Palau, Micronesia. A nation of 250 islands with friendly immigration policies. It is near Indonesia and the Phillipines.
What do you think about an island retirement, tropical or not? Have you had experiences living on an island? Please use the Comments section below to share with your fellow members.