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20 Islands Worth Calling Home

Article Summary:

Island Magazine editors rank the best islands to call home, whether you want to retire, relocate, invest in real estate, or be living on an island for cheap. Top picks include Panama’s Caribbean destination, Bocas del Toro and many expat’s island choice, Roatan, Honduras.

Photo Credit: Island

Original Article Text From Islands:

Top 20 Best Islands to Live On

Island editors rank the best islands to live on — No. 20 Puerto Rico to No. 1 (?), from Hawaii to St. Croix, Grand Cayman to Tahiti, and more whether you want to retire, relocate, invest in real estate, be living on an island for cheap or just enjoy the island life.

No. 20 – Culebra, Puerto Rico
Fifteen miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico is this tiny island with a public school and a year-round population of about 2,500. Flying a family of four to the U.S. and back can be done on the cheap through San Juan. Ferry to mainlaind Puerto Rico is only $2.50.

No. 20 – Culebra, Puerto Rico real estate listing
Imagine living in this absolutely stunning Culebra estate perched over the beach in this luxury Puerto Rico real estate listing. It’s sprawled across 5 1/2 acres on Culebra and the price has been lowered to $3.9 million. See the full listing with more photos and information on

No. 19 – Bocas del Toro, Panama
A solid expat community organizes barbecues and beach outings. Another plus: There’s no minimum age requirement to be considered a retiree and collect benefits in Panama.

No. 18 – Hvar, Croatia
This Croatian island straddles the line between trendy and undeveloped. The 300 days of sunlight per year help the orange and olive groves thrive.

No. 17 – Penang, Malaysia
Relocating here is a relatively simple process because of Malaysia’s “My Second Home Program.” Deposit $90,000 in a local bank, and you can come and go as you please.

No. 16 – Fiji
The expat community on Taveuni is growing because of available beachfront property and easy access to the main Fijian island of Viti Levu. English is spoken in schools, but lessons in Fijian culture are central to the curriculum.

No. 15 – Tonga
Dedicated expats who make it here typically live in the Vava’u group, where beachfront homes are available from less than $100,000. Even locals can’t own property (per the Tongan constitution), but long-term leaseholds are common. So are sailboats.

No. 14 – Ambergris Caye, Belize
Life moves slowly on this tax-free, English-speaking island off Belize. Transportation is by golf cart or bicycle, but telecommunications are modern and the postal system is advanced. There’s a fun night-life scene in San Pedro, and as the town’s main sign says, “You won’t be a stranger for long.”

No. 13 – Vanuatu
Beachfront homes on Vanuatu’s Efate Island start at around $300,000. The town of Port Vila is full of sidewalk cafes, and there’s also an amateur expat theater group.

No. 12 – Anguilla
Pictures of the island’s centenarian population line the walls of Anguilla’s National Heritage Museum — a positive sign for retirees. With enough beaches to visit one per day for a month, it’s no wonder people live to 100 here.

No. 11 – Mallorca
The cost of living on this Spanish island is less than it is in other European population centers, with villas and homes available from around the mid-$300s. A network of exclusive (and costly) private schools offers British curriculums and bilingual language lessons.

No. 10 – Palau
Most islanders speak English, and the currency is the U.S. dollar, yet your feet are far away — 500 miles east of the Philippines. Those who move to this South Pacific island group typically do it for the diving.

No. 9 – Turks and Caicos
The majority of people live on Providenciales (aka Provo), including expats who have obtained residency by investing at least $250,000 in property. Eight airlines offer nonstop service from the States, and tourism has created a job market.

No. 8 – Whidbey, Washington
Lavendar farms, family-run wineries and the oldest commercial mussel farm in America dot the mostly rural 35-mile-long Whidbey Island, a 20-minute ferry ride from Seattle. Along one of the most scenic drives in Washington is the artsy town of Coupeville, where modest homes mingle with waterfront mansions.

No. 7 – Maui, Hawaii
Children can grow up in an exotic culture but still receive an education on par with that in major American cities. Field trips embrace nature: whale-watching tours, hiking and snorkeling excursions. You’ll also find kalua pig, poi and Hawaiian shave ice.

No. 6 – New Zealand
The majority of North Island is rolling and undeveloped, playing right into the hands of those who want to try to live organically on the other end of the globe. World-class wineries are everywhere, as are diverse climates.

No. 5 – Indonesia
As Nathan Myers writes in his story from ISLANDS magazine, “Word has gotten out about Lombok: ‘The next Bali’ is the specific phraseology. It’s a complicated turning point in the island’s impending gold rush, but that’s often when the getting is good. Scott paid about $30,000 for his land 10 years ago. Today, his beach and hill parcel might go for a million.

No. 4 – Siargao, Philippines
As David Haldane writes in his story about the Philippine island of Siargao in ISLANDS magazine, “Though we live in Southern California, we have journeyed to the island often enough to feel at home. And sometime in the next couple of years we hope to make it the permanent berth.”

No. 3 – Roatan, Honduras
Away from Roatan’s busy West End, the Honduran island is largely undeveloped. There’s a close-knit American expat population and a handful of weekly direct flights to five U.S. cities. “Retirees don’t have time to rot in front of the TV,” says one local. Volunteering bonds the community.

No. 2 – Bahamas
As Chantelle Euteneuer writes in ISLANDS magazine of living in Nassau, “Our kids are exposed to the whole world through their classmates at school. Besides Bahamians — both black and white — we have friends from South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, India, Italy, Spain, Peru, France, Mexico and Venezuela.”

No. 1 – Big Island, Hawaii
As Bill Harby writes in his story from ISLANDS magazine, “How did I wind up in a village called Volcano, atop Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii? First, I had to ignore the advice of more than a few nervous Nellies. I eventually admitted, ‘Yes, I’m foolish. Maybe I’ll come back to Earth in six months.’ That was nine years ago.”

Link to Original Article:

From Islands

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