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St Kitts and Nevis is a twin island nation that covers 104 square miles. Fondly known as Sugar City, the island is lush, tropical and beautiful. In this article, I share pros and cons of living St Kitts and Nevis.
The pros of living in St Kitts and Nevis are the warm weather, easy access to international cities and the natural beauty of the island. Alternatively, the cons of living on the island are its high cost of living, its crime rate is higher than other Eastern Caribbean Islands and the island is in the hurricane belt.
Read on for further details of the advantages and drawbacks of living in St Kitts and Nevis from my visit. In addition, two expats currently living on the island in excess of five years contributed to the information included.
Pros of Living In St Kitts & Nevis
Natural & Beautiful Scenery
St Kitts is lush and tropical with beautiful hills and valleys. For me the most breathtaking view on the island is the panhandle.
There, you can see the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea at the same time. That view is stunning and unforgettable and a must visit spot on the island. I had to stop my vehicle and go outside to soak up that majestic view.
When you visit the island, you can also experience the last railway in the West Indies via a 3 hour tour. This adventure makes a 30 mile circle around the island.
18 miles of the tour is by a narrow gauge train and the remaining 12 miles on a bus. The rail was built between 1912 and 1926 to bring sugar cane from the plantations to sugar factories on the island.
In addition, visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park for panoramic views of the island. The Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a 17th and 18th century military fort that is of historical, cultural and architectural importance on the island.
The fort officially became a UNECO World Heritage site in 1999 and was built by African slaves to protect the island from attacks.
Easy Access To International Cities
Several international airlines fly to the island with American Airlines flying three times each week from Miami and once weekly from Charlotte.
In addition, Delta provides service from Atlanta and New York City once weekly. British Airways also flies twice weekly from Gatwick.
Easy Access To Neighboring Islands
The northern Caribbean islands are much closer to each other than the Southern Caribbean islands. The flight from Antigua to St Kitts is approximately 30 minutes.
At special times, there may be a ferry service organized between the island and St Martin to facilitate shopping.
There Is No Personal Income Tax
One major advantage of life on the island is that there is no personal income tax. However, individuals are required to make a contribution to the local Social Security Board.
There is however value added tax (VAT) of 17% which is levied on goods and services on the island.
Certain essential items such as bread and flour are VAT exempt. Usually around the Christmas season, there is a day called VAT day when VAT is removed from items. Locals usually take advantage of this day to make large purchases.
The islands are very small. The population of St Kitts and Nevis, according to Worldometer, is 53,639. Living on the island you will still experience community spirit and togetherness.
On the island, neighbors look out for each other and take an active role in raising children in the villages.
People still share with one another. For example, if you are walking on the island, it is not uncommon for someone to stop and offer you a ride.
The official currency of St Kitts & Nevis is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which has been pegged to the US (United States) dollar since July 7th, 1976 at a rate of USD $1 to XCD $2.70.
This currency is also shared by seven other Eastern Caribbean islands and is managed through a regional central bank which is based in St Kitts.
The US dollar is readily accepted by businesses on the island. However, expect to get change in the XCD dollar.
As with every other country, at times a business may be skeptical to accept larger currencies but the smaller denominations are easy to spend around the island. Worn and torn notes are usually rejected by businesses.
Exciting Night Life
At nights the Frigate Bay part of the island comes alive. There are a various range of restaurants and bars in this area of the island.
Three of the most common restaurants in this area are The Shiggidy Shack Beach Bar, Rock Lobster and Cathy’s Ocean View Bar and Grill.
My personal favourite is the Shiddigy Shack Beach Bar. There are also casinos on the island as well as a golf courses.
There are four of golf courses on the island with Robert Trent Jones course at Pinney Beach in Nevis and Royal St Kitts Club located between Half Moon Bay and North Frigate Bay in St Kitts.
Now that we have completed the advantages, let us take a look at the drawbacks of living in St Kitts and Nevis.
Cons of Living In St Kitts & Nevis
Cost Of Living Is High
Generally the prices of goods and services are more expensive in the northern Caribbean islands such as St Kitts & Nevis when compared to the Southern Caribbean.
Utilities such as electricity, internet and water can cost a family of four approximately XCD$300 to XCD$600 monthly. A two bedroom apartment can cost approximately XCD$1500 to XCD$3200 monthly as a starting guide.
Table 1 is a list of retail items for goods at a local supermarket in St Kitts & Nevis. This will provide you with a guide as to the cost of food items.
|Item||St Kitts- $USD|
|Cooking Gas- 201b Cyclinder||15.00|
|Sandwich Loaf Bread||2.64|
|Whole Kernel Corn – 16 ozs||2.26|
|Corn Beef- 12 ozs||3.02|
|Baked Beans- 16 ozs||2.64|
|Glow Spread Margarine-445g||1.87|
|Olive Oil-500 ML||11.32|
|Cooking Oil-500 ML||7.54|
|ECGC- Bakers Flour-1kg||3.02|
|ECGC- Wholewheat Flour-1kg||3.77|
|1 Packet Ramen Noodles||0.47|
|2kg chicken breast||15.95|
|5kg chicken leg quarters||15.95|
|Canned tuna 5 ounce||2.99|
|Laundry detergent 175 ounce||23.5|
|Palmolive bath soap||3.25|
Table 1: Cost of Food Items In St Kitts & Nevis (Expressed in US Dollars)
The Crime Rate is Higher Than Other Islands
Generally the Eastern Caribbean Islands are reasonably safe. However, according to the US Department State, Overseas Advisory Council based on a 2018 crime report per 100,000 citizens, St Kitts and Nevis had the highest number of murders being 42 and the second highest number of drug related crimes being 627.
Despite this, I felt extremely safe walking in the city during the day and having visited countless stores in Basseterre by myself. I also drove around the country in the day by myself comfortably.
Nevertheless, due care must be taken as in any other country. Visitors should avoid walking in secluded areas at nights and take only authorized taxis.
The Threat of Natural Disasters Is High
St Kitts and Nevis is located in the hurricane belt and the island has had its share of catastrophic storms. Hurricane Irma was the last hurricane to hit the island in 2017. This hurricane also affected neighboring islands such as Anguilla and British Virgin Islands.
And if you are also looking for guidance on the pros and cons of living in Anguilla, feel free to click the previous link which will take you to another article on our blog.
Hurricane Irma caused damage to buildings, property and livestock on the island. The island has recovered tremendously since then.
There Could Be A Loss Of Privacy
While there is a great sense of community which can be helpful, the drawback to this is that there is a loss of privacy.
In small villages and communities where everyone knows everyone, people may tend to overstep which can be detrimental to relationships and families, hence a measure of privacy could be loss.
Limited Access To Specialized Goods
Being a small island state means that local access to popular products and services is limited when compared to developed countries. If you require certain medical expertise, overseas travel may be necessary to neighboring islands such as Barbados and Puerto Rico.
While access to goods and services is limited, there has been several new businesses that facilitate easy online shopping and shipping to the island. One such business is Ezone located in Taylors Range, Basseterre.
As a general rule, the pros of living in St Kitts and Nevis are that the island is beautiful with stunning views, with no personal income tax and an exciting night life experience. Alternatively, the cons of living on the island are the elevated threat of natural disasters and the high cost of living.
If you are contemplating traveling to the St Kitts or the rest of 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?
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