If you’ve always dreamed about owning a tropical island home, you’re unsure of how to make this a reality or where to even begin. If you’ve vacationed in the Caribbean and been drawn to the idyllic, lush scenery and gazed longingly at Real Estate listings posted around your resort, the allure of having your own personal tropical hideaway will likely not go away anytime soon! If you’d like to move past the dreaming stage of owning a home in the Caribbean and learn how what you need to know about buying a home in the Caribbean, keep reading below!
Choosing Your Location
The idea of laid back lifestyle in the tropics, spending time on white-sand beaches, and exploring the vibrant jungle scenery is on the top of the list for most people wanting to purchase a second home in the Caribbean. The first step needs to be determining your location. There are plenty of idyllic tropical locations but they might not all be right for you. The cost of living, language, culture, lifestyle, access to healthcare, and a number of other factors can heavily influence which location you choose.
For example, two decades ago Costa Rica was the hot spot for reasonably priced land, foreigner-friendly real estate laws, and plenty of opportunity for development. Fast forward to today and the cost of living and real estate has skyrocketed, making a move to Costa Rica prohibitive for most, especially retirees on a fixed budget. The relentless increase in the cost of living and rampant inflation has caused a number of expats to return home or move to a new location in Latin America.
Many expats and people longing for a warm, new change of scenery have been searching for the ‘next Costa Rica’ where they can take advantage of reliable infrastructure, low real estate prices and relatively easy moving requirements, such as being allowed to bring pets along with them.
The best probable candidate that meets these requirements and is surrounded by amazing beaches, world-class dive sites and a low cost of living is Roatan, Honduras which is part of the Bay Islands in the Caribbean Sea.
Researching Caribbean Second Home Destinations
Thanks to the internet and major advancements in technology, it is simple to begin searching for your little slice of tropical paradise from the comfort of your own home. Listings with detailed floor plans, photos, and even 3D virtual tours are being the norm for many real estate agencies to market their properties. You can easily browse listings in the Caribbean and contact the local agent with any questions about a listing that piques your interest.
Before getting too attached to a destination, it is important to research the foreign real estate laws. For example, in Mexico, foreigners are not allowed to purchase coastline property and instead would have to do a long-term leasehold instead. One of the reasons Roatan is considered the ‘new’ Costa Rica is the ease in which foreigners can purchase land. An individual can buy up to .74 of an acre of land and more if a proper corporation is formed.
Once you have a destination in mind and have explored listings and options online, the best course of action is to book a trip to explore the location in person. If possible, it can be helpful to rent for several months before buying so that you can get a true feel for what the local lifestyle is like and have time to discover different communities and neighborhoods to find which will suit you best. If you have been corresponding with a real estate agency online, once you arrive you can meet your realtor in person and learn more about the location as you view properties.
Understanding the Process
A sign of a good realtor in a foreign country is one that takes the time to explain exactly what you should expect from the buying process. A few other things to consider is that mortgages are typically not available for most Caribbean real estate although financing may sometimes be a possibility.
Be sure to get references for the realtors you are planning on working with as well as lawyers involved in the purchase process. Be sure to only work with licensed professionals to avoid potential scams or title issues. Also, inspection contingencies are typically not a common part of negotiations.
If you’re ready to start exploring real estate in Roatan, get in contact with our team. We’ll be happy to review what your tropical dream home is and get to work on helping you make owning a home in the Caribbean a reality.