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St Maarten is a Dutch Caribbean island that has a unique feature being the smallest landmass divided by two nations. The Dutch side which is the southern part of the island and the French side which is northern area of the island called St Martin.

St Maarten occupies 13 square miles of the island. Alternatively the French side covers 33 square miles. Fondly known as the Friendly Island, St Maarten is commonly referred to as SXM.

The capital of St Maarten is Philipsburg and is well known for its cobblestone streets and architecture. In this article we will explore all the pros and cons of living in St Maarten. Contributions to this article were made by a native of the island.

The pros of living in St Maarten are the ease of island hopping, stable currency, beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife and excellent shopping. On the other hand, living in St Maarten has its cons such as the threat of natural disasters, unpredictable power outages and the high cost of living.

Read on for comprehensive details of the pros and cons of living in the St Maarten.

Pros of Living In St Maarten

Multi-Lingual

The official language of the island is Dutch. Nevertheless, English is widely spoken. It is not uncommon to hear other languages such as Spanish and Papiamentu.

You may also hear French as individuals from the French side also interact with individuals on the Dutch side.

There are both Dutch and English schools on the island. Whichever school a student selects is the language of instruction Dutch schools usually teaches English as another language.

Living In St Maarten ( Pros & Cons)

Multi-Cultural

St Maarten is a melting pot of various nationalities. There are over 140 countries represented on the island.

This makes the island extraordinary as there is a fusion of food and culture all blended together on the island.

Access To Major International Cities

Several airlines provide direct and non-stop flights from major international cities. St Maarten is approximately 3 hours flying from Miami.

International airlines that provide direct service to St Maarten include American Airlines, United Airlines, Jet Blue, Frontier Airlines, Air Canada and Delta.

Easy To Island Hop

In St Maarten, there are several neighboring islands which you have easy access via ferry. There is daily ferry service to St Barths, Anguilla, St Eustatius and Saba.

There is a newly launched ferry service called Makana Ferry Services which is operated by Blues and Blues Ltd from Anguilla as another option added to this service.

Exciting Nightlife

Entertainment options are endless in St Maarten as the island has a large selection of clubs and bars with live band entertainment. So if you love to socialize, then you will enjoy this Caribbean island.

The Red Piano is one of the most popular spots in St Maarten. Church on Mondays is a famous band on the island that performs at this location with the centre of the room being a Grand Red Piano.

Many outstanding singers, guitar players and DJ’s can be found at this location. The crowd as well is usually diverse as this location is a favorite by both locals and tourists on the island.

Excellent Shopping

Front Street, St Maarten is a paradise for individuals who love to shop. You can find a variety of shops selling clothes, perfume, electronic equipment and jewelery. Most importantly, these are all untaxed.

You can find selection from international brands such as Gucci and Versace. International businesses such as Little Switzerland have a presence on this street which offers the best names in watches and jewelery design from Omega and Breitling. Diamond International also has retail operations in St Maarten.

Amazing Beaches

One of the advantages of living in St Maarten is its amazing beaches. This is one of the factors that draw several visitors to the island. Some of the well-loved beaches include Maho Beach, Indigo Beach, Great Bay and Mullet Bay.

Maho Beach is the island’s most famous due to its proximity to the airport. Many individuals love to experience jet blast as planes must fly at a low altitude of less than 100 feet above the ground to land at Princess Juliana Airport.

Two beach bars are located at either end of this beach being Sunset bar and grill and Driftwood boat bar respectively. There are hotels as well in this area such as the Sonesta Maho Reef Resort. Maho Beach is a white sand beach but there is little vegetation present due to the effects of jet blast.

Another beach that is well loved by both locals and visitors to the island is Mullet Bay Beach. This white sand beach is beautiful with calm waters and amazing landscape. It is larger than Maho beach and usually there is a crowd on weekends.

Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent and local foods can be found at Rosie’s Snack Bar. The beach is great for swimming but at times can be rough so definitely one has to be cautious with children.

Great Bay Beach is the closest beach to the cruise terminal on the island. This beach is located in the capital Philipsburg near all the restaurants, cafes and shops.

For visitors arriving on cruise ships, you can easily access this beach by taking a water taxi from the cruise ship pier for only USD$7 for round trips. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent.

Stable Currency

The official currency of St Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean Guilders or Florin. The Antillean Guilder exchange rate to the US is $1 to $1.80 ANG. The Guilders is also the official currency of Curacao.

Nevertheless, US dollars is accepted everywhere on the island. If you are considering relocation to the island, there is no potential for financial loss due to currency conversion. The currency is managed by the Central Bank of Curacao and St Maarten.

The local currency is available in bank notes and coins. Bank notes are available in $10, $25, $50, $100 Guilders. Coins are available $1 Guilder, $5 Guilders, 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents pieces.

Living In St Maarten- (Pros & Cons Fully Explained)

Cons of Living In St Maarten

Threat of Natural Disasters

Unfortunately, the island of St Maarten is located in the hurricane belt. Every year the hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends November 30th. St Maarten has experienced its fair share of destruction due to hurricanes the last major one being hurricane Irma in 2017.

Power Outages

One of the challenges of living in St Maarten is the frequent power outages.  Additionally, these outages are unannounced.

If you are contemplating moving to St Maarten, this is a factor that you bear in mind. If you are a digital nomad or a remote worker, it is best to seek housing that has generator facilities.

High Cost of Living

Much of what is consumed on the island is imported and as such the cost of living in St Maarten is high.

Several years ago locals engaged in farming. However, farming on the island can be challenging due to the presence of the iguanas and monkeys.

Nevertheless, with the uncertainties around Covid-19, many individuals have returned to backyard farming which could lead to more agriculture on the island in the future.

Traffic Congestion

Due to high number of vehicles on the island, there is usually traffic jams in the mornings and evenings.

The areas most affected are Simpson Bay, Cole Bay and Philipsburg with other places having light backed up traffic. The traffic during the evening periods tends to be worse than on mornings.

Things Can Become Repetitive

St Maarten is a tiny island with a population of 43,578 according to worldometer.com at the time of writing.

The island has a bustling nightlife, however living on the island these locations and their offerings may become very monotonous.

Nevertheless, if you have an active and enjoyable circle of friends this can overshadow the repetitive nature of these activities.

Final Thoughts

The pros of living in St Maarten are that the island is multi lingual with amazing beaches and easy access to international cities. On the other hand, the cons of living in St Maarten are the repetitive nature of activities, traffic congestion, high cost of living and unpredictable power outages.

If you are contemplating traveling to St Maarten 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?

Feel free to browse our website for more content on St Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean and rest of the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page. The following are some of our articles which we believe may be suitable for you.

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