There are nearly 20,000 Brits living across the Caribbean with Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda as well as Saint Lucia being the most popular (in that order).
There are over 700 islands in the region but only about 30 of these have any meaningful populations. The land area of the Caribbean is about the same as the UK though it is spread over a region ten times as big.
It is easy to imagine a tropical paradise of blue skies, white sandy beaches and laid-back turquoise seas. In reality, it is a remarkably diverse area both in terms of climate, biodiversity, cultures, languages and history. Each island has its own charms and appeal so it is useful to have in mind what you want from your dream destination.
The climate of the region varies from tropical in the south to sub-tropical in the north. It is warm and humid all of the year with average temperatures around 300 centigrade. You can usually expect sunshine and some rain on most days.
Whilst the region has been a magnet for the super-rich and famous, there is a wide range of property available to suit all budgets.
With its award-winning beaches, turquoise bays and year-round sunshine, Jamaica has an authentic Caribbean feel. It also has a vibrant cultural heritage and strong historical ties with the UK and is still a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Jamaica’s unique personality derives from a melting-pot of influences from around the world. It has a relaxed and laidback lifestyle, so much so, mañana may express too much sense of urgency.
Jamaica’s property market is buoyant at present and has been growing strongly for a number of years now. Buyers tend to focus on the Montego Bay area, Ocho Rios, and Negril. Recently, there has been growing interest with new developments in Port Antonio because of the airport expansion in the area.
This lovely island is located in the Caribbean Sea northeast of Venezuela and is often referred to as “Little Britain” due to its strong historical ties and Brits still form the bulk of the overseas property purchases. It is a premier tourist destination with its fantastic beaches and climate a small part of the attraction.
The property market has been soft for a few years and it still is a buyer’s market with prices still significantly below the pre-financial crisis peak.
The west coast, or ‘Platinum Coast’ with its quintessentially white-sand Caribbean beaches is the most fashionable part of the island. The west coast is on the sheltered side of the island with calm clear water which is excellent for swimming, water activities and sailing. It is also home to some famous locations and hosts a number of top-end luxurious destinations including Sandy Lane and Royal Westmoreland. Slightly more modest managed residential estates are available such as Apes Hill Club, Sugar Hill and the beach and golf club at Mullins Bay.
The west coast is also home to the island’s main towns so you are never far from shops, bars or restaurants.
The south side of the island is much livelier with a vibrant nightlife. It is also home to some great beaches and water sports activities. It is more affordable than the west coast.
The east coast is a little more exposed and wild and historically not been that fashionable. However, there are several popular developments around Holetown as well as a fast-developing area around Speightstown.
Despite the glitzy feel of Barbados, and it certainly has it fair share of luxury properties, it is still relatively easy to find properties on all coasts from as little as £100,000.
Trinidad and Tobago
This is another laid-back tropical paradise perching just 11 kilometers off the coast of Venezuela. As it is so south, the climate is very tropical and has the benefit of sitting outside the hurricane belt.
It is known for its famous carnival and is the home of calypso, steelpan and limbo. The nation is also rich in wildlife with over 400 species of birds and 100 species of mammals. Sublime beaches, great diving, golf, friendly people, you won’t be disappointed by this dual island country.
The property market is showing modest signs of recovery though it is still very much a buyer’s market.
On Trinidad, the west and south west of the island are the favoured areas for buying property. Port of Spain is popular.
Tobago is the smaller of the two islands and is a beautiful, peaceful and a biodiverse paradise. A number of resorts have been developed in coastal areas such as Crown Point, Store Bay, Buccoo Reef and Pigeon Point. The south-west of the island is popular.
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The islands are northwest of Jamaica and just south of Cuba.
The Caymans are a highly successful offshore financial centre and has one of the strongest economies in the Caribbean region. High net worth individuals and businesses are attracted to its tax neutral status and one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.
After several challenging years, the property market is now gaining momentum and prices rose strongly in 2015.
This trio of islands boasts some of the world’s best beaches and diving sites. The tourism industry has been growing at record levels. Smaller sister islands Cayman Brac and Little Cayman offer a slower pace of life and beautiful scenery.
The largest of the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is home to over 50,000 people. Popular areas are around the capital George Town, Cayman Kai and the world-famous Seven Mile Beach. Beachfront land and properties are also available on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua is renowned as a luxury holiday and wedding destination. It is also famous for its crystal clear waters and 365 beaches – one for every day of the year. With gorgeous views, landscapes and good property values, it is an ideal location for a second home and a magnet for the rich and famous.
After some tough years following the global recession, Antigua’s property market is now strong boosted by an attractive Citizenship by Investment Program, tax benefits and a new International Airport. There is a lot of construction underway.
Antigua’s north-western coast, including Dickenson Bay, Galley Bay and Blue Waters Beach have been a traditional long-time favourite. The mile-long white sand beach at Dickenson Bay is considered one of the best beaches on the island and is home to several hotels, bars and luxury houses. The north-western coast of Antigua has the added benefit of being situated very close to the airport and Antigua’s capital St John’s.
Some of the finest luxury homes for sale in Antigua are located on the eastern coast of the island. Nonsuch Bay, Browns Bay, Half Moon Bay and Willoughby Bay are popular. Half Moon Bay, a national park, is a relatively quiet pink and white sand beach with a reef protecting it from the Atlantic Ocean. Willoughby Bay is located slightly further to the south-east and close to Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour, a centre for Antigua’s sailing industry.
Another popular area is the south-west of the island and include Jolly Harbour, Fryes Beach and Darkwood Beach. Jolly Harbour, the largest man-made marina in the Caribbean, is the setting for a range of waterfront homes from the luxurious to the affordable and is an ideal base if you are a fan of sailing, yachting and fishing. A little further south, there are some beautiful beachfront homes for sale overlooking the pristine white sands of Fryes Beach and Darkwood Beach. Tamarind Hills is a popular resort.
Located just north of Antigua, the small island of Barbuda has a population of just 1,600. It is tranquil, secluded, unspoilt and exudes an old world charm. Its beaches are some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Best of all, Barbudan people are extraordinarily friendly and crime is almost non-existent.
There is very limited availability and property can only be bought on a leasehold basis. This may change following the approval of a $250 million Paradise Found resort and construction should start in early 2017.
St Lucia is blessed with dramatic scenery from the iconic twin peaks of the Pitons rising from the sea, breath-taking beaches set against lush rain forest draped mountains, national parks and stunning waterfalls.
St. Lucia’s property market is vibrant once more due to continued growth in tourism coupled with the introduction of the Citizenship by Investment program. The property market is largely dependent on tourism as most buyers start out as tourists and fall in love with the island.
Cap Estate, Rodney Bay and Marigot Bay in north-western St Lucia are a traditional favourite. Vigie and La Toc near the capital Castries and Soufriere and Vieux Fort in southern St Lucia are the more popular areas. Other more recent options include The Landings, Sugar Beach and Freedom Bay.
There is a range of properties from luxurious villas to basic apartments – something for every budget.