Best Caribbean Island on a Budget to live
Ok, I have read far more negative comments rather than positive when it comes to a relatively young family looking to change livestyle to one more Caribbean in flavor than Central UK or US.
The economy is in the crapper if you deal in Pesos, and cost of living from posts made by long time residents is equivalent to US in many ways.
Is there such a place that really is better to live than North Coast DR for around $2500 / month budget? I mean, spotty electricity, water outages and expensive grocery doesn't sound all that appealing for many looking to actually live in DR rather than visit a few times a year. I have a retirement level income at an early age. I want a lower cost of living in a temperate walking community where my son and wife can be safe and happy. I require DSL or high speed internet access as well as other comforts enjoyed by typical middle class families. If not DR, then what island can provide this lifestyle without owning a $600,000 home in Bermuda or whatever.
If DR isn't the place for us, I appreciate any pointers from those in the know, and I will join their board.
Grande Pollo en Boca Chica
You can afford it
If you have $US2,500 a month pension that is more than adequate for any part of the DR, even SD. Since it is in US$, the peso being in the crapper as you say is of no concern or even relevant. At times, until prices catch up, it is a benefit.
A planta or a building with one cures electricity ills and you will always have to buy water to drink and it's cheap.
The negative comments as you put them were for an idiotic plan for someone in their 20's to take a paltry sum of cash and try to live on it forever in a country with which they were unfamiliar. It wasn't aimed at someone with a recurring income in US$ adequate to live quite comfortably just about anywhere.
And they have DSL.
I've been on nearly all the islands of the eastern Caribbean. I like the Dominican Republic the best:
One reason is that I don't feel like I am on an island. I have lived here more than 17 years and never had the feeling this was an island. A few days on most of the other islands and you are very conscious of being on an island.
Other islands we thought were possibilities because of the level of sophistication and the availability of good supermarkets, medical services, etc., were St Lucia and Trinidad. But they aren't cheap, and Trinidad doesn't really want foreigners relocating there.
You have a young family so education is a consideration. I think that rules out a lot of islands for you, based on the comments in your post. Medical and dental care are also concerns, no doubt.
Whether your family can make it for an extended period on $2,500/month is up to you.
We set out to find a place to live that grows most of its own food in a mostly natural way, where we can mix with local people without being discriminated against, that is not expensive as Caribbean Islands go and that we can continue with our two businesses, without too much government interference, and where there is no pressure to take part in an overtly consumer society. Also, where there are other expats that we can become friends with but not live in a totally expat community.
Like Ken, we feel that the DR is big enough not to ever get Island Fever. Lots of stuff to do if you're into the outdoors and a lot of infrastructure relative to other islands.
We looked at Dominica (a beautiful small island just south of Guadeloupe where they wanted a million dollars for a spit of land in the path of a river bed) the British Virgins, Trinidad and Tobago, even the Bahamas and we lived in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a year. We still have business there.
Politically and economically the DR may be in a rough spot at the moment. In terms of being an expatriot living here, people are welcoming. There is no overt hard or harsh feelings against expatriots. On other islands, generally, this feeling is quite pronounced once you get over the initial welcome. Most other islands you get a feeling that they're really out to just welcome you for any money that you may bring.
We also looked at Panama and at Costa Rica. Neither of the two gave us the opportunity to live as part of the community in total. There is always the 'outsider' thing which in the DR is somehow less pronounced.
Chris makes an excellent point, one that I should have made myself. We feel far more at home, more welcome, in the DR than we did in the other islands. Despite the problems they have and are experiencing, Dominicans are friendlier and more open than the people living on the other islands. Believe me, when you live somewhere, having people act as though they are glad you are there is very, very important.
warm people & reasonable prices
I agree with the consensus expressed here on the Dominican people & their collective attituide towards Americans & Canadians; I can't speak for other foreigners. They're generally receptive & more than tolerant. If you're an eligible male, most of the females are more thuan welcoming. To encourage real in-your-face hostility, visit Jamaica or St. Croix. Money: I think that a couple or a single can live a lower middle class, American lifestyle for @ US $1,000. per month w/o a car; with a car, add $400 - $500 per month. Both prices excluding foreign travel. I don't know where in the US 1 or 2 people could live on that little. All in all, a fair trade off consiering thue negatives. I'm content.