Cost of living in the Caribbean

Hi everybody,

This topic is dedicated to your experience of the cost of living in the Caribbean.It would be interesting to gather everything in one unique post.

Don't forget to mention where you're living: country, state and city (is it a big/small city?)

Let's compare the:

> accommodation prices

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc ...)

> food prices(per month, how much does it cost you?)

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance)

> eduction prices (if you need to pay)

> energy prices (oil, electricity)

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone)

> prices of a good menu in a traditional restaurant

> prices of a beer and of a coffee in a regular pub

Did I forget something or is this list complete enough?

Thanks for your contribution!

hi there, to help with your queries on the caribbean!   ST.LUCIA

accomodation prices...seasonal variations in hotels for short term stays (coco palms is great value and near everything if you come to check the place out first!) but long term rates can apply in low season and vary from place to place, there are lots of estate agents to chose from, home link deal in mainly condo rentals suitable for couples or small families and are more reasonably priced. expats tend to get a bit ripped off if a big company name is paying the rent (anything from 1000 - 3000 ec $ above norm) there is also blue reef, belle vue, tropical villas etc however, be warned, the place everyone wants to be is in the north of the island (rodney bay, rodney heights and cap estate) high premium due to high demand and apart from gated communities that are managed, privately owned residences that use these estate agents are usually only paying a finders fee (first months rent, which they have a tendancy to not return by billing you for damages that equal the amount!!) and in our experience of two houses to date (currently looking for another one but cricket has put a huge demand on all rental properties) these properties, though they look good are deceptive as they have a lot of problems due to poor maintenence, and cowboys are used to fix these problems which can sometimes make it a whole lot worse! rental for a 2 bed condo expect to pay from 3000 ec to 7000 (top of the range). for a nice reasonable place in good area. make sure there is security and mosquito screening, gardening included etc as this is what should come with a property of this calibre for these prices. you can go a lot lower and they will be what you pay for, you can go higher and it tends not to make a difference!!! (or be worth it)

public transort: minibuses and taxis only....the minibuses are called 'transport'(small cramper hot hi ace vans) and you will pay 2 to 3 ec dollars for a fare. taxi prices vary depending on wether your local or considered a 'tourist' about 40-50 ec to the airport at vigie (castries) from rodney bay. tipping is expected and at the airport there is sometimes an additional fee per bag to be loaded. (because of import duty cars are a bit pricy but you can get deals, check the voice newspaper)

just a note on island hopping flights. the two local airlines are caribbean star and liat (nicknamed late in again today!!) generally unreliable and try to ahve only hand luggage, as it has a tendancy to end up anywhere but where you are! these two airlines have just joined to create a monopoly and the prices are shooting up and the staff are being cut.

food: favourite top restaurant in the north The edge restaurant!! (special occassions) on the water has a sushi bar and some very exciting and intersting food combinations. can also boast a great chinese and indian on the main strip along with a thai, down to earth food and junk also available, KFC burger king and new to town subway.  dont be surprised to find somewhere like a burger joint out of burgers etc. great panini van also on the main strip. dominos pizza and also key largo pizza (near the marina) not too many coffee shops but in the marina there is cafe ole and the bread basket and some good lunch time eating....thats the good news. expect to find a shortage of fresh milk, cereals meats cream and good fresh veg in the supermarket (this is why knowledge of the above is large!! however, the simple things in life give great pleasure so when a delivery of the basic items gets into the supermarket everyone tells everyone but it is not always like this and we all get by just fine!! for a family of 6 we spend about 700-800 ec a week but we eat very well on it. if your single and like beans divide the above by about 12, and you can get heinz baked beans!!. avoid the local meat counter, its all the stuff you wouldnt eat. tongue hoof chicken feet/backs etc local food is quite good though and the roti's and boullion are a firm fav with the kids. for the uk gang, there is hellmans liptons tea and a lot of waitrose brands!! for the irish there is kerrygold powdered milk and for the kwis there is anchor butter and cheese.!!

drink: now having grown up in Ireland, sure now tis a subject dear to my heart!! cheap and rarely measured!!! interestingly enough wherever the expats hang out you can be sure there is a measure at hand!! but a well poured vodka/rum with mixer might set you back about 8-10 ec depending where you go. a favouite spot would be coco palms, at the bar in ti banane on  a weekend night, and if your still a tad thirsty at closing (about 12-1) there is always castaways not a great measure but its generally where they gather, or mangos bar which goes till late. wine in the supermarket goes from about 25-50 ec a case of beer heineken or piton only!! about 100 ec for 24 small bottles.  no real nite clubs nad not an ideal place for the single person looking for a partner but we always seem to have some function or another or some get together going on!!

health: doctors visit approx 70 ec prescriptions generally very reasonable depending on the drug, hospitals tell them your resident on the island!! they charge for every bandage and inch of tape used! we have company insurance and thankfully are rarely sick. if you have asthma stock up on your meds and bring a nebuliser if you use one!

dentists are good value and if you need or want high end work done wait till you get here. veneers for eg. about 1500 ec but negotiable if you get a few!!

education: be careful and selective picking a local school, some are good with good reputations but do your research. education in these is free but obviously you get your own books and uniforms, bring your own cotton shirts for the kiddies, could only find polyester everythin here. private schools (montessori centre bonne terre and tapion all have good reputations and go to 6th grade/age 12)  are very reasonable compared to at home and other countries. about 6000 ec per child, additional for food and extra curricular activities. also the international school has recently opened to cater for the secondary/high school age group, and gaining a good rep.

household bill" electricity - also a monopoly, air conditioning pushes it up quite a bit as does a pool pump if your in a private residence and have one. if you have kids a pool is great but insist on it being gated (some are but it is not general and you can ask!!) our bills can range from 300 -600 ec... phone, we use mobiles and are with digicel, they have good rates but currently do not provide broadband. we get that from cable and wireless at about 150 ec a month, you also pay about 50 ec for cable tv though most of the channels seem to be free to air and all news!! channel 39 shows some good movies though. water bills are usually included in the rent but not always, they dont appear to be to bad price wise. most stoves/cookers are gas also not exorbitant. neither is fuel if your from europe!!

if you have kids bring their bikes and stock up on birthday pressies etc for your duration, failing that fly to puerto rico a couple of times a year but remember if you carry electronics back with you there is a 70 % tax (if your caught) there is a toy shop but to give you an example, I got  a friend to bring over a leapster hand held toy for my youngest at a cost of almost 50 euros (150 ec)- it is 475 ec in the toy shop!! a bratz doll is about 150ec and a razor scooter is about 175ec. bring cotton sheets and towels, stock up on swimsuits underwear and good quality flip flops....they can be got on ocassion but never when you actually need them and you go through lots of them.

we have had a lot of fun here and continue to do so. we have met lots of wonderful people and the kids are happy. there is not much to do after the few touristy bits are done but the beach life the night life and the slow life really make up for the few discomforts!!

Cost of Living <<<<Jamaica

Housing Costs....Very expensive here in Montego Bay.  To get an apartment in a gated community will cost you around $1000.00-$1300.00 US/monthly for a one bedroom.  A two bedroom could be anywhere from $1600 to $2500 US per month.  Most of the Expats live in these areas.  Coming from a smaller town in the US, I could have died when I saw the prices.  Now you can get a cheaper place that is not gated, however you do risk your safety as well as getting robbed.  A few of the expats here have already been mugged or robbed (not that often).

Transportation....To buy a car here is also very expensive. Public transportation (taxis) can be found at any time and the prices are not that bad however when people see me coming, I tend to get ripped off :)  I have to be very firm about the price I am willing to pay for a ride.  The company drivers are very expensive so it is actually better for me to grab my own taxi.  I will say however, that taxi drivers here can also rob you and that has happened to a few of my colleagues.  You should stick with a driver who knows you. 

Island Hopping....Air Jamaica actually has some decent rates on Island Hopping.  Way better service than USAir.

Food prices........the grocery stores in the expat areas are pretty expensive.  Higher than what I am used to in the states but if you buy local products(of which there are not many might i add), the prices won't be so bad.  Restaurants are a little more expensive but around the same as the states.  If you go to small local restaruants you are going to pay way less money and the food is good.  It is usually hit or miss whether or not you can find your favorite foods in the store.  Sometimes they have it and sometimes they don't.  Don't be surprised to go to the grocery store on a weekend and have them be out of milk, bread and such.  Also, don't be surprised to go to KFC and have then be out of chicken :)

Drinks:  Well lucky for us that Red Stripe beer is brewed here so if you like that, it is not expensive at all.  You will pay a little more for beer of any other kind.  Rum is also something that is priced fairly.

Health:  The dentists are good and cheap here as well.  I would definately rather go here than back in the States.  As far as regular health, I have been to the doctor a few times here and I would never go back.  I really don't want to get into it but it was not a good experience.

Household bills....I find that the water bill is inexpensive as well as the cable.  The electricity bill (another monopoly) will kill you.  I only turn on the air conditioning at night and I was away for a week (small one bedroom apt) and my bill is anywhere from $300US to $500US per month.  Good God, that is a car payment :(

I have been here for a year and overall my experience has been an ok one.  I don't hate it but I don't love it either.  You just have to enjoy what the Island has to offer and forget about the rest.

I am a Jamaican and moved to the UAE a year ago.  I love my home country but it has its faults.

Everything in Jamaica is expensive.  Food, clothes, transportation, whether you buy or rent your  accomodation, healthcare, education, you name it.  The lower to middle class nationals are suffering. They can't afford anything.  Basically you have to choose between paying a bill or eating, that's what alot of Jamaicans have to do.

The prices are so high they are quoted in USD to make it sound less expensive, the jamaican dollar has no value there and the government is just worthless to stop their own people that they are there to serve,  from living basically below the poverty line. It's inhumane if you ask me.

There is also one more thing to worry about no matter which neighbourhood you live or whether its uptown or downtown, everybody is a potential target.   

It's actually much cheaper to buy your alcohol at a supemarket and drink it at home than going to a bar.

For your list above everything is expensive and something as simple as fruits and vegetables are considered luxury items, because you just can't afford it.

me and my girlfriend are looking to move to the bahamas, either nassau or grand cayman.. we would need to get jobs down there first, can anyone give me websites to go to to search cost of living or apartments for rent in these areas.. that would show me prices as far as rent, food, other bills, etc.. we are currently living in milwaukee , wi.. own a condo and 2 vehicles... please e-mail to dry_communitymortgage[at] your help is appreciated..thanks

I´m from Brazil. My wife is in a negotiation a job opportunitie to Montego Bay.  We understand that cost of living is somewhat high in jamaica. There is another things we´d like to know. For an example: to rent a place in jamaica, what is demanded by the real stators as guarantee for people from another countries?

And another thing: the employment taxes: when a job offer is made, the taxes is already included? Taxes needs to be deducted for the job employer?

Sorry about my english. We don´t have many oportunities to practice it in Brazil.

In regards to cost of living in the Caribbean, I lived on Grand Cayman from 2004-2006.  It was beautiful and quiet and pretty safe.  My husband and I rented a 2 bedroom apt directly on the beach for around $2400USD before Hurricane Ivan.  After all the hurricane damage rents shot way up; we ended up paying about $2500 for an off-the-beach place towards the end of our stint there. 

For groceries I'd spend about $200 per week for the 2 of us.  Eating out is expensive; all prices are in KYD (cayman $) so about 25% higher to convert to USD prices.  Utitlities ran about $350/mo for electric and at least $100/mo for water.  For an American it was definitely worth the tax break and the diving was amazing.  ;)

We are currently back in the states but considering a move to Turks & Caicos; anyone have info about costs there???

Greetings -

I currently live in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and have been here for the past four years. Before moving here I had traveled extensively and lived in Papua New Guinea and American Samoa (if you have questions about those two places.

One word can pretty much sum up the BVI and that is expensive. We once had to pay $9.00 for a thing of dental floss that typically costs $1.50. To answer your specific questions I thought I would just go right down the line in order:

> accommodation prices - since this is the expat-blog I will assume you mean housing cost for someone planning to stay here for a while. A basic one bedroom apartment will start at $1,000 a month and if you want a two bedroom - two bathroom place they start at $1500 and go up in price to $3000. A rental house would start at $3000 and can run to the ridiculous (we are on a 12x3 island) $10,000.

> public transportation fares (tube, bus etc ...) - here's a funny one, the BVI has NO public transport you either rent a car (long term), buy a car, or use overpriced taxis.

> food prices(per month, how much does it cost you?) - for two people who don't really eat a lot of junk food can be very expensive. We have live in the jungles of New Guinea, so we don't really require anything fancy but we probably spend $150 - $200 per week on food. That does not include anything extravagant or out of the ordinary....just your standard - fruit, yogurt, bread, eggs, milk, cheese, cereal, etc.

> health prices (for those who need medical insurance) - medical insurance runs $150 a month. But that is subsidized by my job.

> education prices (if you need to pay) - if you have children private school will cost $6000 - $10,000 per year.

> energy prices (oil, electricity) - standard is $100 a month for electricity.

> common bills (Internet, television, telephone, mobile phone) - internet price is insane at $100 for very unreliable DSL. I don't have a cell phone but Cable & Wireless have a monopoly (see internet price) and we use skype for any long distance calls.

> prices of a good menu in a traditional restaurant - $20 - $30 per person eating very cheap at a roti place and having one or two drinks. Real restaurants probably start at $50.00 per person.

> prices of a beer and of a coffee in a regular pub - Alcohol is quite cheap here! A beer at a bar can be had for $2.00 during happy hour and $3 - $4 during regular hours. A six-pack at the store is $6.00.

That being said, the beaches are unreal and we get pretty good waves during surf season.

Kind regards,

The Dominican Republic though getting more expensive every day is still a bargin comparred to what I am reading here.

Depending on where you are it is relativly cheap. On the north coast where we are a two bedroom apt can run between $400-$1000 a month. Small villas about the same. We rented a small 2BR villa with pool and daily maid service and daily pool and garden service for $850/mo. Ultilities were extra. This was in a gated community and a short 5 min ride to town or beach.
Public Transportation:
Very cheap.  Motoconcho (small motorcycle) between 30 cents to 60 cents depending on distance. Public taxi (multiple and i do mean multiple) passangers or small minivans (guaguas) about 60 cents to a $1. Pfivate taxi can be expensive in the tourist areas.
Food prices:
If you stuck on american brands then this can cost more then in the US. However local products are cheaper. Veggies and fruit very cheap especially if bought off the local farm trucks. Meats are slightly cheaper then the US.
Energy pirces:
Very expensive compared to US. Gas in now about $4,50 a gallon. Electricy is expensive and not very reliable in most places. Most of us have either a back up generator or an inverter system. Having said that our bill for the villa with the AC in the bedroom only and run only at night was about $150-200 a month. This also includes the cost of running the pool pump (filter) 6-8 hours a day.
Common bills:
Phone with DSL internet =$80. Cable tv=$15 a months mostly spanish stations, but did include ABC,CBS,NBC, CNN, other US stations and HBO, CMAX, Showtime etc. Mobile phone about $70 for about 900 min. for us.
Meals out:
These are getting more expensive every day. There is a %16 tax that until recently most resturants have not charged local customers, but this is changing. Most stll do make some kind of adjustment for the locals as we keep them going in the off season. Still eating out is cheap.  A meal with appitizers, entreee, a couple of drinks usually (unless very expensive rest.) runs us for two between $20-30 with tax and tip. It can be as cheap as $11 as well. Beer has gotten expensive with local presidentes now at $2.50-3.00 at the local bars and rest.

All in all still much cheaper here then in the US.

Sorry for the long post.

Bob K

Does anyone there can share the cost of living in turks & caicos island?..hw mch must we earn 4 a family of 3 to meet the standrd of living there?....any info will do great....thnks!

This is not exhaustive, because I haven't yet actually moved to Puerto Rico, only what I managed to arrange (or find out) before actually moving.

I got a job offer, and although I am early retired, I entartain job offers if the place is interesting and I feel like I'd like to move there for a while. This time the offer I accepted was from Puerto Rico. The only part of Puerto Rico I have seen so far was old San Juan on a Caribbean cruise in January. I liked the atmosphere, knew there would be infrastructure I'd like, and nature to keep me exploring on weekends, so I agreed to 6 months with possibly unlimited (but part time) extensions, but also with a possiblity to quit after only 3 months if needed.

Accomodation. Since transportation - especially outside San Juan - is a big problem in Puerto Rico I decided to start with finding accommodations at the walking distance from my employer and the beach. Found (on line) a one bedroom apartment in a large villa (which has three apartments total) one block from my employer and one block from the beach for $600 furnished, with basic equipment ( but no bedlinens, which is no problem), with utilities and a wireless broadband connection. The villa is in a large tropical garden to be shared among the three tenants - my apartment is the largest, has two balconies on two sides and is the most expensive. I'll be needing a maid once a week for about 3 hours at $8 an hour (I prefer to pay for domestic help on the high side of the local  pay scale to avoid always having to train a new one) or about $ 100 a month.

Food. I did not have to worry about being close to a grocery store, because  3 meals and two snacks a day (healthy, organic, lots of fruits and veggies) are one of my job's benefits - which  compensates a bit for the paltry - by US standards - cash compensation (decent by Puerto Rico's standards). Available 7 days a week, should I choose to use them. I plan to travel on weekends, however and eat in seafood and local cuisine offering resstaurants, figuring out about $100-$150 a weekend for food or $400-$600 a month. May be a bit on the high side, but in old San Juan I had a fabulous, though very pricy seafood lunch for two for close to $100 ( with a very good wine), so - even knowing it was very much on the high side - I budgeted accordingly. (Hotels will be extra, of course)

Health. My company sponsored insurance will cost me $42 a month. If I were younger and did not have a preexisting condition it would be only $24. I don't yet know how much my maintenance medication and supplies will be, but was told that definitively less than half of what it costs in the USA even using generics, so I factor about $150 a month, to be on the safe side.

Transportation: I initially plan to rent a car for weekend trips only and found Hertz willing to rent a compact for less than $100 per weekend, or $400 a month + gas, which I budget at $80-$100  per month.

During the week I will sometimes be using company car (with a driver), but might need a taxi occassionally, say another $100 (?) a month.

Future. If after 3 months I decide to stay,  then I'll figure out whether to lease or buy a car ( expensive there) and  whether to stay in my apartment ( if  I like it and the owner decides to allow pets - because at that time I would want to import my two cats) or possibly rent (long term) a house on the hill with ocean and mountain view ( I love views more than the sheer proximity to the sea)  to have space for visiting friends and family - I've seen such - acceptable - ones advertised  for $750 - $1000 a month + utilities, of course, the cost of which i don't yet know.
I could but a house, too - there seem to be reasonable choices of houses with views, but ownership makes me feel imprisoned, so I'd really have to fell hopelessly in love with a place to commit to it. ;)

Of course it is possible to live cheaper: I could cut weekend trips and eating out by half if I needed, or rent an apartment within walking distance for about $350 (but without internet, furnishings and in a less attractive location). It is also possible to spend a lot more (a luxury condo directly on the beach is $1200 and up, up). For more and future info you are welcome to check my blog at

never lived there, but 13 of us from my college decided to rent out a 50-ft sailboat in the British Virgin Islands for a week last winter, and the flights, food, boat rental and maintenance, fuel, ridiculous bartabs, stereotypical tourist ittinerary, only about $1500 each (not cheap but all things considered, a bargain compared to what I would've expected).  Although crowded, the boat was a ton of fun, most of us had boating experience in some form or another, three of us had sailed large boats like this before, so with all the experience, we had a mind-blowing time down there with no fear of making sail to hinder us. 

It made me wonder (naively) if I could live around there for a few months, just cause it was so fun.  Unfortunately for me but very intelligently-done for the residents of the BVI, job outsourcing is made extremely sparce if it's done at all, and if it is, they hire residents of nearby island groups and such, definetly not naive young americans like myself.  I have to wonder though, what kind of small jobs could I land in what places if I was only planning on living around there for a few months? 

Even if I never do it, it's a fun thought to entertain, thought I'd ask if anyone happened to have some ideas :)

In terms of living in Jamaica. I have only been there two times but my boyfriend lives there.

I sometimes worry about going there and not being able to afford things but my boyfriend assures me, as long as you have a job, a decent job, then "living like a jamaican" is easy.

This means "living like a Jamaican" necessities that we are all used to in the Western world. And rightly so, you ARE in the Caribbean, what more could you need then water, Red Stripe and a couple heads.

Anyway, don't be afraid to move there, just remember that you must sacrifice, but it is hardly a sacrifice to live in one of the most beautiful countries.

And remember to explore!

Peace & Blessings

Hi all,

I have been recently offered a job in St Lucia and i need to find out the cost of living in St Lucia.

Can someone please tell me what would be considered a good salary package?

Many thanks


I have been offered a job as a teacher in St. Maarten. I'm excited about the opportunity, but, I'm having a hard time finding information on the island.
Before I seriously consider moving there, I'm concerned about the cost of living.
Can anyone shed light on how much if would cost to rent there? (All I can find is vacation (expensive!) rentals).
I've also been looking into the cost of food etc. . . .the only thing I've seen people blog about is that alcohol is fairly cheep.
Thank you so much for your help!

I definitely would love to live on Curacao in the distant future. I love this Caribbean island. It is just wonderful there and besides this the people are very friendly. It would be cool to open my own business on Curacao and if I have a brainwave I will actually do it. I recently heard that Curacao as business location is actually not a bad choice. Hope that I can once live there and have my own business.

(moderated: off topic)

I want to learn all I can about friendly, cost effective, water front areas to live in the Caribbean.
Planning a move in the next year, and have 2 friends who need excellent medical care at affordable prices. 
I also need decent airfare connections from the States, as my kids will be visiting while attending college. 
I am willing to learn the language, and also to work part time.
Tell me about your experiences, please!

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