Purchasing property in St. Lucia with the view to retiring abroad in an island paradise is high on the radar of many British retirees. And the good news is it's not just the domain of the very wealthy these days. With an excellent infrastructure and well-priced real estate, in my experience, it's an attainable dream even if you're retiring on more modest means. |
In the second of our articles about retiring in St. Lucia, I'm covering the practical benefits of the region for retirees, including the relative ease of purchasing property, tax benefits, affordable cost of living, language and infrastructure.
Purchasing Property in St. Lucia
Unlike some countries, where purchasing real estate is a minefield fraught with hidden costs and legalities, the St. Lucian government encourages foreign investment and, in fact, I think they make it pretty easy.
As an expat, in order to buy, build, or develop property in St. Lucia you'll need to apply to the government for an Alien Landholding Licence, which is a relatively straightforward process, although it can take up to three months.
Once you've decided on your dream property in St. Lucia, you simply make the application (along with the necessary documentation), pay the required fee (which will depend on the value of the land), then sit back and wait until you're notified of approval from the Prime Minister's Office.
While the process is not complicated, you're dealing with government officials, so it's important you enlist the services of an experienced local property lawyer.
There are definite tax benefits to be had as a resident of St. Lucia. While the lower personal income tax is not likely to be an issue in your retirement, along with the duty-free shopping status of the island – on luxury goods and alcohol, for example – there is no inheritance, capital gains or estate tax. In terms of property tax, residents are taxed up to 5% of the value when selling.
Lower Cost of Living
In addition to the opportunity to purchase well-priced property in St. Lucia, I've found that day-to-day expenses are significantly lower than those in the UK, USA and even in other, neighbouring Caribbean islands. Food, entertainment, transport, utilities and most retail items are all very affordable so, although tourism and banking are the major economy drivers here, there's a very large expat community. Through talking to many of them, I've found that their decision to retire here is very often due to the low cost of living.
Medical facilities are reasonably good, with five hospitals located throughout the island, although for serious cases patients may be evacuated for treatment to a larger island, like Barbados or Martinique, for treatment. For that reason, I'd strongly advise any expats to take out private medical insurance to cover any associated costs. There are also numerous walk-in medical centres around the island, which, on the occasions I've used their services, I've found to be well-facilitated and with highly competent staff.
Getting around the island in your own car is made relatively easy with a linked road network that encircles the island, connecting every town and village. While in the past the roads have been notoriously bad, an ambitious government road building project has made great improvements in recent years.
I've found the public transport system here is cheap, easy to use and relatively reliable, and even the more remote regions of the island are serviced by the public mini buses. Registered local taxis (different to tourist taxis) are also a very affordable option for getting around if you don't have your own vehicle.
St. Lucia's telecommunications, media and postal systems are reliable and competitive. There are three major digital communications providers, along with 12 radio stations, five newspapers, and eight TV broadcasters.
A Familiar Language
While French Creole is widely spoken by the locals, English is the official language of the island, making it very easy for expats to assimilate. You won't have any difficulty in communicating throughout the process of purchasing a property, obtaining an Alien Landholders Licence, getting the utilities connected, or setting up banking accounts – which is often a major headache for retirees moving abroad.
Accessible, well-facilitated, affordable and – let's face it – outstandingly beautiful, it's no wonder this stunning Caribbean island is fast becoming one of the most desirable destinations for retiring abroad.
Adam Gobat is a renowned expert on the Caribbean, with a passion for its culture, history, people and places. His indepth local knowledge and wealth of experience in luxury property in St. Lucia, are key to the marketing and sales of the luxury villas and penthouses in The Landings, one of the most desirable freehold beachfront developments in the Caribbean.
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