The benefits and challenges of living on an island

Living on an island in the sunny Caribbean sounds like a dream that’s too good to be true, but for many, it can become a reality. In fact, according to Islands Magazine’s most recent Best Islands to Live On the report, 80% of expats have thought about moving to an island someday, and 75% have even considered purchasing an island home.
No matter where you choose to live, every city, town or village comes with its flaws, and
unfortunately, this is all too true with island living too. There are many aspects of living on an island you may not have considered, so to help you ensure you’re making the right decision, here are a few pros and cons to island life.

Cabarete Beachfront Property, Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Living on an island



1. A slower pace of life

Many people opt for islands because they’re seeking a slower pace of life, and that’s exactly what you’ll find if you move to an island. You don’t have to be retired to be yearning to slow things down either!
It’s all too common for people to be swept up in the rush of everyday life, and it can be hard to find breathing space when you’re surrounded by a community that only knows one swift pace. This is why moving to an island, where the community often takes a slower approach to life is as enjoyable as it is refreshing.

2. Glorious weather

If you’re moving to somewhere like the Caribbean, where the climate is as tropical as it is glorious, you’re sure to experience great weather all year round – perfect for those who detest the cold. Warm, sunny weather often encourages people to go outdoors and can promote a healthier, happier lifestyle. So if you tend to live your life very much outdoors, or if you’d like to, there’s a good chance you’ll love living on an island.

3. A strong community

It’s only logical for small islands to house small populations, which is exactly what makes their communities so strong. Many island dwellers choose island life for similar reasons – whether it’s to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life or it’s in search of new opportunities, like starting a business.

This mutual choice of lifestyle and love for the island tends to bring communities together. Coupled with the fact that you’ll literally never be far away from a new friend or neighbor, it’s safe to say you can never truly feel alone when you’re crossing paths with a familiar face every day.

4. Location, Location, Location

Being surrounded by the sea or ocean can really come with its benefits. From water sports and activities to beach walks and boat trips, there are plenty of things to enjoy when you have your own slice of paradise.

When you picture the Caribbean, many people initially think of places like the Bahamas, the Turks, and Caicos amongst other tourist hotspots. However, the region is much larger than people may initially think. So, whether you’re seeking a quaint coastal haven or a bustling beach town, the Caribbean is as diverse as it is dreamy.

Beach House Cabarete, Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Cabarete Beach



1. Limited access to medical care

While there are many islands with high-quality medical facilities, like the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Cuba, there are also many islands where the quality of healthcare is low and access to medical services is insufficient. Don’t be surprised if the island you’re living on has only one hospital or clinic because this is very common when you’re living on a small, underdeveloped island.

Private facilities can be harder to find, and even though they offer a higher standard of healthcare services, they may still lack some of the medical equipment you’ll find on mainlands and in larger countries. For instance, in Jamaica, the standards of both private and public medical facilities can vary and some may not be up to the standards that you’d expect.

In this instance, you may have to travel overseas to have access to high-quality, private medical facilities. If you do need to travel overseas for a medical emergency, for example, it can be a wise choice to take out an appropriate international health insurance policy so that you can access high-quality medical facilities as and when you need to.

2. Lack of amenities

They say it’s the simple things in life that make you happy, but the word ‘simple’ can mean different things to different people. Not having access to simple amenities and basic goods and services can be frustrating and depending on how remote the island is, you’re likely to experience this. Fortunately, the Dominican Republic is big enough and we find everything.

You’ll rarely find a large ‘has-it-all’ supermarket on a smaller island. Instead, you’ll have to buy groceries and the like from local stores, markets, and street vendors. Online shopping isn’t always an option either if you’re living on a small, secluded island. Depending on how remote the island is, it can be a struggle to find an online retailer that will actually deliver, and even if a retailer is able to deliver, packages often get caught in customs, meaning that the process could take around three or four weeks to arrive.

3. Everybody knows everybody

While ‘a strong community’ is listed as a benefit, it can also be a con. Living on an island is the equivalent of living in a small town or village – everybody knows everybody. While this can be a good thing, it can also be frustrating. The expression ‘news travels fast’ is a very accurate description of island social life. You may find it difficult to keep personal things private and you’ll quickly get to know the residents who you’ll continue to bump into, every day, at the same time.

4. Weather

While some areas of the planet are exposed to a greater risk of natural disasters than others, when a tsunami or hurricane hits an island, the results can be devastating. Before a natural disaster, a weather warning is usually signaled and the inhabitants of the island are evacuated to safer ground, but sometimes disaster can strike suddenly.

Whether it’s a flash flood or a bad storm, it’s always a good idea to stock up on food and supplies in case you are trapped on the island for a period of time.

While the prospect of living on an island can be exciting, you’ll need to think seriously about your decision before you make the move. Island life can have its downsides, but hopefully, the pros outweigh the cons and if you do choose the make the move, you’re sure to adore the slower pace of life, the strong community and the glorious weather that comes with it.

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Sabine A. Mertes-UrbahnSabine A Mertes-Urbahn
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Over 10 years of experience selling properties in Cabarete, Sosua, Puerto Plata and Cabrera.

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