to the Caribbean on $800 a Month? ...is this a true story or fiction?
There have been several articles published about Margarita Island, Venezuela
in the last few months. (Margarita Island is located in the Southern Caribbean,
just off the northern coast of Venezuela - it is the State of Nueva Esparta,
Venezuela). One such article suggested that you could retire to this island
on $800 a month. I think it’s time to set the record straight.According
to Immigration, in order to obtain a Retirement Visa, you must prove a
monthly income of $1,200 U.S., and an additional $500 per month for each
dependent. Could you actually live on $800 U.S. per month? It is possible
if you are willing to live a more “Latin-style” lifestyle. For example,
eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and using less canned and processed
your house or apartment is paid for, you paid cash for your car, if you
want one, and are in reasonably good health, you can enjoy a much better
standard of living on $800 per month than is possible in the U.S. or any
other Caribbean island.
live WELL? That would depend on what you require to live well. To some
that means a large, expensive home and a new S.U.V. To others it’s having
a smaller home in a warm climate and cheap beer! If you are in the latter
category, a single person could live very well here on $800 a month. I
moved to Margarita Island full time about 15 months ago. The constant rise
in living costs, medical expenses, and the rapid decline in personal freedom
and privacy in America prompted me to search for a “better way”. Thanks
to publications like Escape From America and lots of other research, I
decided to take a chance on Margarita island.
I have a small
own a house and a condo, and have made some good friends here. I like it
the climate, the water, the people, and the prices! In the past few months,
I’ve talked to a lot of people who are trying to find an alternative to
living in the U.S.
The most frequent
Q. Do you
have to have the $1200 a month income to live there? A. You can
get a visitors visa good for 90 days. You can leave and return the next
day for another. Sometimes immigration will give an extension without leaving.
If you invest in or start a business you can apply for a residency
buy or start a business? A. Yes, I
estimate that more than 50% of business on the island are foreign owned.
businesses would be good to open there? A. I have
prepared a list of what I think would work or what the island does not
The list is
by no means complete. Just something to consider. I would be glad to send
it to you.
I find work there? A. It would
depend on your skills. However, wages are very low. The average wage for
unskilled labor is about $8 per day. A hotel manager might make $200 to
$300 a month.
I buy real estate there? A. Anyone
can own real estate here.
one get financing on real estate? A. Not usually,
but sometimes owner financing for a short term is possible.
I get title insurance?
No, you get an Escrita (Deed) but there is no title insurance here at this
Q. Do I
need to speak Spanish? A. Yes, it
would certainly be an advantage.
I bring my car? A. You need
to check with the consulate as the rules change all the time. You can get
a good new or used car here.
Q. Is there
good medical care available. A. Yes, and
it is affordable, but being able to speak Spanish is necessary in most
I bring my dog, cat? A. Yes, but
you need to check with the closest Venezuelan consulate for the permits
and requirements. We brought our Spaniel.
about inflation? A. Inflation
is high. In the last year for example, a basic taxi ride has gone up 25%.
However it is still under $1.25. Real Estate is rising too
as Venezuela seems to be pulling out of it’s recession due in part to the
high price of oil. The minimum wage was just raised 24% - still less than
$209 U.S. per month, at the official exchange-rate, and considerably less
at the unofficial exchange rate.
Q. Is there
a direct flight from Miami? A. No, at
this time you have to change planes in Caracas. There is speculation about
a Miami/Porlamar flight, but who knows when? However I’m sure it will cost
more than the rumored $125 round trip.
there discounts for Seniors? A. Rarely,
and not like Panama.
Q. Is it
a good place for a vacation? A. Yes, absolutely!
Margarita is a great place to vacation. It’s beautiful, cheap, tropical,
and the people are friendly. From windsurfing/watersports, to bingo palaces,
there’s lots to do!
is the down-side to living there? A. It is an
island, and some things are sometimes in short supply. It is difficult
to find a good mechanic, maid, Mexican food, dill pickles, and Fritos!
is the political situation? A. I am not
a political analyst. However as a foreigner I have observed that since
President Chavez legally won the referendum things have quieted down to
almost a whisper. Politics don’t usually affect the island very much.
heard Chavez is a friend of Castro and is in favor of Communism? A. Again I
am not an analyst or even close to any government sources. As I understand
it, Chavez stated publicly that he is sympathetic to socialism. Nothing
was said about communism. Venezuela needs doctors and teachers. Cuba has
an abundance of both so Cuban doctors and teachers are imported to teach
and supply medical aid to the poor.
do Venezuelans feel about Americans? A. For example...I
was walking downtown last Saturday and happened upon a group of young people
involved in the “Festival Mundial de El Juventud y Los Estudantes” (World
Festival For Youth and Students). They had a large tent set up on the Plaza.
Outside the tent was a poster of Bush, and someone had drawn a “Hitler”
mustache and written “Bush is a war-monger”. I stopped and talked to some
of the students. When I told them I was an American, and from Texas, they
asked my opinion of the President. I told them I thought President Bush
was ‘loco’ and dangerous. They all agreed, and I made some friends. Here
on the island I meet Latinos, Europeans, Canadians, etc., who share a similar
opinion of the U.S. government as it is in 2005. To be honest, many aren’t
too enthusiastic about Chavez either, but all feel that the U.S. should
stay out of Venezuelan politics.
Q. Is there
a lot of crime? A. There seems
to be a lot of petty theft and quite a few burglaries. Mostly because many
places are unoccupied vacation homes and apts. for most of the year. If
you're not here full time you need a good security system or condo with
Q. Is it
a good place to retire? Is it right for me? A. Is it right
for you? I can’t answer that because I don’t know you, but I will try to
answer your questions honestly and not sugar coat the facts. If you’re
like me, Proud to be from America...Far from it!, and have a sense of adventure,
the island might just be what you seek.
Moving to Margarita
Island might be like the story of the guy who, back in 1939, was searching
for the perfect life. He wanted warm weather, beautiful tropical seas,
lovely women, no stress, no strife - so he sold everything he owned and
moved to a South Pacific Island. The island was named Midway.