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The Caribbean consists of more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays. It is not part of the United States of America.
Within the Caribbean region, the United States of America has two overseas territories. These islands are Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of living in the Caribbean.
The pros of living in the Caribbean are excellent weather, breathtaking natural scenery and access to beautiful beaches. Alternatively, the cons of living the Caribbean are the limited access to specialized products, the threat of natural disasters and the high cost of intra-regional travel.
Read on for comprehensive details of the pros and cons of living in the Caribbean. Contributions to this article were made by Caribbean nationals.
Pros of Living In The Caribbean
There are two main seasons that affect Caribbean islands. This is the rainy season and the dry season. Generally, the weather in the Caribbean is warm with highs in the eighties.
The amount of rain varies based on the country. As an example, islands in the Eastern Caribbean gets much more rainfall than islands in the Dutch Caribbean.
There is no winter in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, countries such as Bermuda experience cold temperatures from December to March annually.
The Caribbean is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world. An exception to this is Saba where there are no white sand beaches. Saba’s coastlines are sharp cliffs and hence there are no beaches.
Nevertheless this island is still a paradise and is fondly known as “The Unspoiled Queen.”
Let us explore some of the remarkable beaches in the Caribbean.
Magens Bay is a beautiful one mile stretch of white sand located on the northern end on the island of St Thomas.
This stunning beach with clear turquoise water is a favorite with both locals and tourist to the island. The water is usually very calm which makes it perfect for small children and beginner swimmers.
When it comes to beaches in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos stands out. Grace Bay Beach has won several awards regionally and internationally among other amazing beaches.
The water is crystal clear, blue and spans a magnificent 7 miles. There are several water sporting activities that you can enjoy such as paddle boarding, kayaking, para sailing, windsurfing and jet skiing.
Another award winning beach in the Caribbean is Grand Anse Beach in Grenada. This gorgeous two mile stretch of white sand beach is covered with many almond trees and sea grapes. Grand Anse beach is also located near the cruise port.
The area of the beach near the Catholic Church tends to be the calmest while the area on the other extreme end tends to be much rougher. Many hotels on the island of Grenada share the shoreline of Grand Anse beach which makes it well loved by visitors to the island.
We cannot talk about spectacular beaches in the Caribbean without mentioning Aruba’s Eagle Beach and Palm Beach.
Both beaches are popular with visitors to the island. Palm Beach shares its shores with many of the high rise hotels on the islands with several clubs and theaters located nearby.
Easy Access To Major International Cities
Many of the Caribbean Islands have international airports. There are direct flights from the islands to major international cities such as Miami, New York, Toronto and Gatwick.
One major contributing factor is how dependent the Caribbean as a region is to tourism.
Airlines such as American Airlines, Jet Blue and British Airways are the key carriers serving the region.
The Islands Are Safe
Generally, the islands in the Caribbean are very safe. I have heard several accounts of tourists to various Caribbean islands who have forgotten their wallets in places. When they returned to the location, they found all their belongings intact.
Minors can travel on public transportation unaccompanied by an adult and the bus drivers will ensure that they arrive at their destination safely. Bus conductors are usually seen helping minors and the elderly crossing the street.
Generally crimes in the islands are not directed at visitors but are local domestic disputes. Nevertheless, if you are visiting the Caribbean, care and due diligence must be exercised as any other country.
Valuables such as laptops, mobile phones and electronic gadgets should not be left unattended. It is also advised that valuables are stored in a safe.
Cons of Living In The Caribbean
The Threat of Natural Disasters
One con of living in the Caribbean is the high risk of natural disasters in particular hurricanes. The hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends November 30th annually.
There are some countries that are highly susceptible to hurricanes as they are located in the hurricane belt such as the St Maarten and the Bahamas.
Alternatively, there are islands where a direct hit by a hurricane is highly unlikely. Examples are islands such as Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
Earthquakes also affect the Caribbean region. The island of Trinidad & Tobago is prone to earthquakes due to its location in the South Eastern Caribbean.
Most of the Caribbean Islands are volcanic in nature and they are dormant volcanoes present on some of them.
It is not uncommon for dormant volcanoes to become active and erupt after a number of years.
In 2021, La Soufriere in St Vincent & The Grenadines erupted explosively. Its previous eruption was in the year 1979.
Intra-Regional Travel Is Expensive
Island hopping within the Caribbean is costly. The easiest way to visit various islands in the Caribbean is by air. There are several ferry services available for islands that are near each other.
As an example, ferry services are available between the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands.
Also, ferry services are available daily between Anguilla and St Maarten as well as Saba and St Maarten.
Furthermore, there is a ferry service between the islands of Antigua & Barbuda and Montserrat.
Additionally, L’ Express Des Isles provide ferry service between the French Caribbean Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe as well as St Lucia and Dominica at various times during the year.
Nevertheless, air travel from island to island is extremely costly. As a result, many nationals in the Caribbean choose to vacation outside of the Caribbean to places such as USA, Canada and UK.
Things Take Time
Another con of living in the Caribbean is the long period of time it takes to get things completed. The culture of individuals on the island is very laid back and people do not operate with the same speed as in larger countries.
If you are conducting business with public sector organizations, expect delays. Many processes are still very manual as the cost to automate in some instances is substantial.
High Cost of Living
Historically, the Caribbean depended primarily on agriculture as the sector to drive its economic growth. Banana was one of the main export crops that many islands produced for export.
Nevertheless, there was a dispute between the European Union and the United States of America called the Banana Trade War.
This resulted in Caribbean Islands losing its preferential to trade with the European Union.
As a consequence, exporting bananas became extremely unprofitable. Tourism emerged as the sector to drive the economic wellbeing of the Caribbean Islands and as such many islands import a large amount of the goods it consumes.
Import duties and tariffs have led to these items being expensive.
Most islands in the Caribbean are developing countries. This means that many of the islands lack basic adequate infrastructure. It is not uncommon to find roads that are unpaved and with potholes.
Many of the local hospitals lack specialists who are able to treat certain ailments. Persons who require specialized care needs to travel abroad.
Public transportation exists in most but not all islands. In some instances where it is available, individuals may need to walk to access main bus routes..
Lack Of Privacy
One downside of having a strong sense of community is the lack of privacy that comes with it.
Many at times, people may tend to overstep which leads to relationship challenges in small societies.
High Crime In Certain Islands
On a whole, crime in most Caribbean Islands is at low to moderate levels. Nevertheless, there are countries with alarming levels of crime. As an example, crime is a huge problem in the island of Jamaica especially in Kingston and Montego Bay area.
Trinidad & Tobago is another Caribbean island with high level of crime. Kidnapping and murders occur daily.
Visitors to these islands should exercise extreme care and caution. Living in gated areas does not exempt you from crime in these countries.
Avoid secluded areas and where possible travel only in groups. Solo female travels should be extremely cautious if visiting these islands.
Limited Access To Specialized Products
One of the drawbacks of living in the Caribbean is the lack of access to specialized products.
This is because the population in most islands is very small. As a result, it is difficult for businesses to cater to the needs of specific groups and remain profitable.
As an example, individuals who live in the Caribbean who may be taller or shorter than the average person will struggle to find clothes on the islands.
Companies such as Ezone who have created a regional footprint have created a seamless option for online shopping.
Activities Can Become Repetitive
The Caribbean islands are generally small. As a result, there are only so many clubs, bars, theaters and other forms of entertainment that one can build in a small space.
Life on the island especially for young people could become very monotonous and many opt to migrate to bigger countries in search of a different environment.
Nevertheless, individuals who have are adventurous with an amazing circle of friends may not be comfortable living in a small island environment.
Limited Job Opportunities
Due to the size of the islands, there are limited industries and hence places to work. Most jobs in the Caribbean are tourism related and the majority of persons are employed in that sector.
As an example in Grenada, in the budget statement for 2017 that was presented to the House of Representatives, Grenada’s Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Dr Keith C Mitchell, highlighted that tourism contributes in excess of 25% to gross domestic product (GDP) and as much as 5,000 direct jobs to the economy.
Besides the tourism sector, a large number of other individuals are employed within Government offices and statutory bodies.
Many youths opt to move abroad in search of better job opportunities.
The pros of living in the Caribbean are spectacular beaches, beautiful natural scenery and easy access to major international cities. On the other hand, the cons of living on Caribbean are the high cost of living, lack of privacy, limited job opportunities and the repetitiveness of activities.
If you are contemplating traveling to the Caribbean, cruising is an affordable option to consider. I have recently completed an informative course by cruise specialist, Emma Cruises which you should check out titled How To Cruise For Less.
This course provides detail tips and techniques on how to save money while cruising onboard, onshore as well as the importance of insurance. So if you if you are considering a cruise for your next Caribbean vacation, check out How To Cruise For Less.
Need More Information?
Feel free to browse our website for destination tips and travel tips for the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page. We have extensively covered the pros and cons of living in various Caribbean Islands. Feel free to click on any of the links below.
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In Anguilla
Pros & Cons of Living In Antigua & Barbuda
Living In Aruba (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In Barbados
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In Bonaire
Living In The British Virgin Islands ( Pros & Cons)
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In The Cayman Islands
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In Curacao
Living In Dominica (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In Grenada
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In St Kitts
Living In St Maarten ( Pros & Cons Fully Explained)
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In St Lucia
What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In St Vincent
Living In Saba Island (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)
Living In St Thomas (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)
Pros & Cons of Living In Turks & Caicos Islands
Pros & Cons of Living In The US Virgin Islands