Holiday Home Owners Go West

There was a time when buying holiday property meant, for the British, a caravan in Cornwall or, for the rain tolerant, the Lake District.  These day’s we’ve branched out a bit and, like our colonial forebears, aren’t afraid to go global in the property search.  Buying in France, Spain or further a-field in Florida or the Caribbean is now not unheard of.  The States and the Caribbean can both offer one very attractive thing to us Brits; bloody good weather.  However, buying abroad can be a risky business and for anybody considering the Caribbean it’s worth taking your time and not rushing to buy the first beach hut you find!

Where is the Caribbean?

No, I’m not being facetious; after all, Columbus thought he’d found India.  The problem with the Caribbean is that it’s a small word that covers a big area.  Nor is it one neatly defined jurisdiction but covers a whole massive great range of states, most of which are tiny.  St Kitts and Nevis, for example, covers a startlingly small area and has a parliament consisting of fewer members than a town council back home in the UK. At the other end of the scale are the big Caribbean states, Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.  In the case of St Kitts and Nevis, like so many Caribbean states, there’s a slightly bigger power behind the throne, or in St Kitts case, on it.  Formerly a British colony, St Kitts is now an Overseas Territory, which is a bit like being part of the UK, only way better.  Jamaica, while independent still has the Queen as head of state, while Cuba has been one of the smaller, but feisty, communist nations in global history.  You can also add to this mix the independent Dominican Republic and the politically confused “country most likely to become the 51st US state” (Puerto Rico) and Belize.  Formerly British Honduras, Belize is also listed as a Caribbean state, though technically in Central America, this former British colony is also a popular ex-pat home from home.  As you can see that “buying a home in the Caribbean” is never going to be straightforward!

Caribbean Holiday

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grandvelasrivieramaya/3180226686/

So where to look?

So what does this mean for those starting their search for the dream home in paradise?  Tread carefully and consider where you would like to settle is probably good advice.  The Caribbean states are not known for their political upheaval in recent years.  In the past the area was strategically important and riddled with pirates; these days things are quieter, but potential for trouble remains in Cuba and uncertainty as to status is possibly a national past time in Puerto Rico.  Belize is considered one of the most politically stable countries in the region, although neighbouring Guatemala has some issues over the exact borders.  The smaller islands in the Caribbean often offer the most stable, not to mention unspoilt, places to hang your hat, sunglasses and exotic cocktail.  For British ex-pats islands like St Kitts and Nevis may well hold the strongest appeal.

Residency requirements

There are around 7000 islands in the Caribbean that have laws allowing foreigners to buy property.  Some require a licence, like Tobago, while others have no restrictions.  St Kitts and Nevis have an economic citizenship scheme, which allows those investing over $400,000 in property to become citizens of the country.  This has some significant tax advantages for many British individuals who can take advantage of the warm and friendly tax climate, whilst retaining their rights to travel freely in EU states.   The biggest advantage too many facing increasing costs and taxes in the UK are almost certainly financial, although the climate may be more than enough of a reason for many British people.

St Kitts real estate can offer a little slice of paradise for those looking for a more exotic home from home.  With attractive tax arrangements and an even more attractive climate this tiny Caribbean nation offers a great deal for investors and ex-pats alike.

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