An island in the West Indies, Barbados is a jewel of the Caribbean. Its turquoise waters and golden beaches are a perfect match to many people’s idealized days in the sun that they hope is waiting at the end of their working life. While this commonwealth country, where English is the official language, does have good reason to boast, you may wonder whether it’s right for you to retire in Barbados. Before contacting your financial planner to see if your finances are in order for the move, here are a few matters to consider first.
Cost of Living and Housing
Barbados’s cost of living tends to run a little higher than the U.S.’s on average, according to Numbeo, a cost-of-living database. Excluding rent, the U.S. is almost 18% cheaper than Barbados. But while Barbados has a higher cost of living, it has a much lower rent average.
In comparison to the U.S., Barbados’s rent is roughly 55% lower. Renting is the cheaper a single-bedroom apartment in a city center of Barbados costs about $599. However, purchasing is a different story. Buying an apartment in the same setting, $287 per square foot in Barbados and $389 in the U.S.
So, if you’re looking to stretch your retirement funds further, it makes more sense to rent in Barbados than purchasing a property.
Retire in Barbados – Visas and Residence Permit
For those who want to retire in Barbados, the process is relatively simple. Individuals over 60 with sufficient funds to support themselves can apply for immigrant status. After living in the country for five years, those people can then apply for permanent residence. You’ll have application and approval fees, in this case, $300 and $1,200, respectively.
Another option open to retirees is a special entry permit (SEP). This permit is offered to retired property owners and allows them to visit the island and leave as they please. The main requirements include owning Barbados real estate valued at $150,000 or higher and health insurance coverage. The latter’s value depends on the person’s age; below 50 has to have $350,000, and over 50 has to have $500,000 worth of coverage.
There are flat fees to cover for the SEP. It’s $5,000 for those below 50 and above 60 with $3,500 for those in between 50 and 60. Once you hit 60, this permit is indefinite, but you must renew it until then.
Retire in Barbados – Healthcare
Barbados enjoys a high standard of living and, thus, its people’s health is overall quite good. Its healthcare system is even viewed as among the best in the Caribbean. However, if you’re not a Bajan (as citizens of Barbados are sometimes called), you are not included under the island’s universal healthcare system. Therefore, if you’re an expat looking to retire in Barbados, you should ensure that you have private health insurance. Otherwise, numerous travelers and potential residents seek out the U.S. for treatment instead.
This outsourcing is also partially due to the difficulty in accessing professional care, such as rehab services. Otherwise, you’ll generally find four types of institutions: hospitals, both private and public; polyclinics; alternative healthcare clinics; and somewhat specialized hospitals, such as the five geriatric hospitals on the island.
Retire in Barbados – Taxes
After you spend 182 days of one year in Barbados, you are considered a resident. So, it’s important to know the tax distinctions between resident and non-resident status. Residents must pay taxes on their worldwide income, or the income they earn both inside and outside Barbados. In contrast, non-residents only pay taxes on income earned in Barbados.
For residents, they must file their income taxes on a minimum threshold of BBD50,000, or approximately $25,000. Incomes up to and including BBD50,000 incurs a 12.5% tax rate, while going over that amount leads to 28.5%. Residents are ensured a basic personal allowance of BBD25,000 ($12,500) and BBD40,000 ($20,000) for pensioners older than 60.
Non-residents receive the same tax rates. However, it’s important to note that even if you live outside the country, you must file taxes with the U.S. as an expat as well. Barbados and the U.S. have a tax treaty that can offer benefits and help ease the burden. There are also opportunities for U.S. expats through the foreign earned income exclusion and foreign tax credits to avoid double taxation on their Barbados earned income.
Retire in Barbados – Safety
While U.S. expats are not specific targets of crime in Barbados, they are still susceptible to crimes of opportunity and violence. Theft, such as burglary and gun violence, among other crimes, exist in Barbados. So, it is essential to remain vigilant, to avoid walking alone, particularly at night, and to know who you’re with at all times.
In particular, the U.S. Department of State advises against traveling through specific areas on the island to avoid these dangerous interactions. Areas to avoid include Crab Hill, Nelson and Wellington Streets and general nighttime party cruises.
Be cautious about which activities you enjoy, such as water sports or tourist events. This advisement comes more from a practical, safety concern than a pointed targeting of tourists, though. So, keep your wits about you.
Barbados is the island of dreams for some retirees. Thanks to the prominent U.S. community as well as an English-speaking citizenry, there’s less of a culture shock to shake you up. There is also the gorgeous weather, a location out of most hurricanes’ paths (historically, hurricanes have passed north) and the relative ease in becoming a resident. Though you should make sure you have enough savings and income for your retirement needs.
Tips for Achieving Your Retirement Goals
- Finding the most suitable financial advisor for your needs doesn’t have to be complicated. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Barbados may not have a high cost of living compared to the U.S., but the difference could still affect your finances. To see if your finances will support this, try our retirement calculator. Just put in a few details about where you want to retire, when you want to retire and the value of your current savings.
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