In many cases, the purchase of real estate in the Caribbean follows the same general rules as those in the USA, Canada and Europe. Remember, though, that each country has its own laws and regulations regarding the purchase and ownership of property and that these laws may treat foreigners differently than the country’s citizens.
As an example, some countries do not allow beachfront property purchases by foreigners, while others have very long qualification procedures. Learning about real estate restrictions is an essential aspect of finding your new home in the Caribbean. Take a look at our Countries section to find details for specific countries.
Financing the purchase of your new Caribbean home must also be addressed. Many choose to pay cash from their retirement savings, the sale of their primary residence or by refinancing their home. There are also lenders available in some countries, and some developers may offer financing on units in new developments.
Rent or Lease
Renting a home can be an appealing option for many people retiring or semi-retiring in the Caribbean. To begin with, a lease represents a shorter commitment to staying in the area selected. This means that you can get to know the location better and decide if it is right for you. The financial commitment is also substantially less. In addition to avoiding the significant expense of purchasing a property, you save on maintenance, repairs, taxes, etc.
There are drawbacks, of course. Usually you can not sublease the home when you are not using it. In addition, there is no capital appreciation benefit.
Residence Resorts and Fractional Ownership
Fractional ownership simply refers to the shared ownership of a property, lets say a condo in St. Barts. As a buyer, you acquire a % ownership of the condo and can use it for the time allotted. Many buyers, though, purchase fractional real estate interests as an investment and rent the condo during their designated period.
The idea behind fractional ownership is twofold. First, many buyers do not want the headache and expense of maintaining a second home. Second, it allows buyers to reside in a luxury property, one that they not be able to afford if purchased outright.
For this reason, a large number of the fractional ownership properties available in the Caribbean are located at exclusive resorts. Many are “Resort Residences” or super luxury units in breathtaking locations. The property management and administration are handled by the resort, so owner responsibilities are minimal.
This type of arrangement is ideal for many semi-retired and retired people who want to enjoy a Caribbean lifestyle for several months each year rather than year round.
Unlike fractional interests and residence resorts, timeshares typically do not involve the actual purchase of an interest in the property. Rather, the purchaser acquires a right of use in the property, usually a condo, for a set period of time. There are many varieties of timeshares, and developers often have specific rules regarding their use, sale and exchange, so be sure to work with an expert in the area.