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Roatan Featured as One of the World’s Best Islands in International Living

Our founder, Peggy Stranges, was quoted in this month’s International Living Magazine. You can read the except below which is the section about Roatan featured in an article titled, “Robinson Crusoe-Style Retreats on 7 of the World’s Best Islands”. To subscribe to International Living visit their website: www.internationalliving.com. Thanks to Jennifer Stevens and International Living for helping to spread the good news about Roatan!

Roatan, Honduras: Quintessential Caribbean and Rolling Hills

By Jennifer StevensScreen shot 2013-09-11 at 10.45.58 AM

“On some famous islands, if your camera aims inland from the beach, you see flat desert—complete with cactus,” says expat Joel Moskowitz. “But Roatan has green, rolling hills, tropical beaches, multi-blue waters, all surrounded by world-class coral reef.”

Long a sleepy emerald escape in the western Caribbean, Roatan has quietly graduated from secret divers’ getaway to livable island haven. Just 50 square miles, this dollop of sand off Honduras’ northern coast is long and skinny, fringed by a reef rich with sea life and garnished by white sand beaches.

Though more than half a million cruise-ship passengers are expected to land on Roatan this year, save for the days they invade, the beaches remain quiet and pristine. Life is laid back, lived in rhythm with the sun and the surf. No big-name resorts. No “spring break” strips. No high-rise developments. This is old-school Caribbean…though fitted out with modern conveniences…

“I’m an American so I was raised with certain luxuries,” says Amanda Walkins. “Living in Roatan allows me to indulge those. I don’t have to search far and wide for a great restaurant with quality food—the options are plentiful here. I also appreciate my work life—I’m not cooped up in a highrise office. My meetings are conducted on the dock with an ice-cold beverage in hand. I still maintain the American-style ethic of hard work, but my view is of the ocean and my clients are on an island so they’re always smiling. Can’t beat that!”

Here, 35 miles off the coast of Northern Honduras, English is widely spoken. That, along with an established expat community, makes it a relatively easy place to settle in. “A trip to the supermarket is a social occasion,” says Moskowitz. “It’s like smalltown America in the 1930’s.”

Peggy Stranges, an American who founded and directs the island’s Clinica Esperanza, says, “Every day I wake up and look at the tranquil water and thank God that I have such an opportunity as this. The lifestyle here is much more relaxed and slower paced.”

Rhode Islander Asa Davis owns a vacation rental on Roatan, Casa Vista Verde, which he enjoys about eight weeks a year and rents out the rest of the time. He says he chose the island because, “Roatan had the perfect combination of great diving, hospitable environment for new business and investment, reasonable real estate and construction costs, and friendly locals who like and appreciate visitors.”

Life on an island is often more expensive than mainland living—almost everything has to be imported, after all. But relative to the rest of the Caribbean, Roatan offers excellent value.

Expats report that a couple can live comfortably (with the occasional dinner out and with a housekeeper to tidy up once a week) for $3,000 to $4,000 a month, rent included. (You’ll want to budget anywhere from $600 a month for rent on a one- or two-bedroom apartment near the beach to $1,000 or more for a house.)

It’s a good time to buy. Roatan’s property market is dependent on the health of the U.S. economy and post-bust it ground to a halt on the island, just as it did Stateside. But real estate agents report that in the second half of this year, interest is up significantly and properties are moving.

Distressed-deal bargains continue to pop up—though they’re snatched up quickly by Roatan-lovers who have been lying in wait. Right now a 997-square-foot, one bedroom, one-bathroom condo with a gorgeous water view, pool and private Beach, a short walk to popular West Bay Beach (where there are restaurants and resorts) lists for a modest $155,900. And you could pick up a small lot in a high-end development for just $35,900. A lavish 11,000-square-foot, five bedroom, five-and-a-half-bathroom villa in one of the island’s premier developments offers great water views as well as a pool and landscaped gardens. List price: $899,900. (See: Roatan-realestate.com.)

Bottom line: Roatan is great for good value, laid-back living in the sun. Culture vultures will get bored. But if you like to dive, snorkel, swing in a hammock or sit with your feet in the sand, you’ll want to linger.

1 comment

  1. penny leigh - December 10, 2013 3:46 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    Don’t have your personal email, why I am contacting you here. I have a friend in FL who is a psych nurse. He would love to relocate to Roatan. Would it be possible for him to make a living here? He lives modestly, but has 2 children to support in the states.
    Your advice and comments most appreciated.
    Penny