The Pluses And Minuses Of Expat Life In Honduras

“On the subject of Honduras,” writes friend Rod Nugent in response to my comments in yesterday’s Mailbag, “I can speak from some experience.

“In my search for an expat retirement location, I traveled throughout the Caribbean Islands, Honduras, and Mexico before settling on Panama. I spent several weeks in Honduras and agree that the only interesting areas are the Bay Islands, including Roatan.

“Although there are some very nice beaches on Roatan, the real estate market is certainly at a mature state, with large increases in value now in the past.

“Furthermore, although it is true that there are native English-speakers on Roatan (known as Caracols), remnants of the old British Honduras culture, these folks are dying off rapidly and being replaced by mainland Spanish speakers.

“The population of Roatan is about 30,000, and the commercial possibilities are limited. Good restaurants can be counted on one hand, and cultural events are almost non-existent.

“Also, there are some restrictions on foreign land ownership. The main town, Coxen Hole, is well-named.

“During the cruise ship season, several thousand day-trippers descend on all possible island venues.

“The upside: Short flights from the U.S. mainland.

“The downside: Deep and hopeless poverty.

“Local residents have little opportunity for advancement. They earn very low wages in a place with a relatively high cost of living. And, as the English-speakers die off, they are immediately replaced by the desperately poor Spanish-speaking mainlanders (and there are 7 million of them), who see Roatan as a relatively prosperous opportunity.

“I would contrast this situation with Panama, where the wages are low but the cost of living is also low and it is very possible to live a relatively comfortable life and raise a family, own your own house, have good health care for your children, etc., on local wages.

“Bottom line: I would consider a week vacation on Roatan, but, as a retirement destination, I would give it a pass.”

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