CONNECTING WITH NEIGHBORS
Moving to a new place can be scary, especially if that new place is to a new country. There are a few groups for Roatan on Facebook and there is also an online forum to help you meet new people as you transition to your life in Roatan. You can visit Roatan.Online to get more info on the island and a better sense for the community. The Online Community Forum can answer many of the questions you might have ahead of your move. There are also Facebook groups, Expats Living in Roatan, Roatan Garage Sale, Roatan Schedule and Roatan Community.
In these groups, you will find quite a bit of information on activities and updates from Roatan residents. The groups are not a be all, end all, but they will allow you to get a better feel for the community.
COST OF LIVING
The cost of living in Roatan is, for sure, lower than the cost of living in North America or Europe. Some expenses are the same or higher, such as groceries and electricity. But overall housing and transportation are much lower, so the result is you will be spending less in comparison to the U.S. and Europe. For example, an average couple can live comfortably on a $2,000 a month, and that's including living expenses. You can spend more than that but that is based on factors you control like living in a larger home or spending more of your discretionary income.
You will find an array of brands in the local grocery stores. Most U.S. brands are available, and you may find some items from Canada and U.K. The larger grocery store on the island is Eldon's Grocery, which is quite similar to a Safeway in the U.S. They have two locations, one in Coxen Hole and French Harbour. There is also Plaza Mar located above Eldon’s in Coxen Hole. Plaza Mar offers similar products, and you may find yourself shopping at both to get all the items you need. And lastly, there is Super Isleño which is located down the hill from Eldon’s in Coxen Hole. It offers more local products, including many Central American brand products. If you are looking for staple items at a reasonable price, this is the store for you.
COMMUNICATION WITH HOME
It's easy to call home thanks to technology. Many shops have Wifi, and most expats also have Wifi in their homes. The cost ranges from $60 up to $100 depending on the speed of the service in your area. The internet comes bundled with the cable service provider.
You can choose to use MagicJack to make international phone calls. It uses your internet connection to make phone calls to the U.S. and Canada via a phone. And of course, you can use services like Skype, Facetime, or WhatsApp to communicate home.
Cable and internet are often combined like in the U.S. There are many companies on the island providing cable & internet service. Some areas on the island are wired for certain cable companies allowing you to get internet service quickly. There are still some parts of the island (East End) that have not been wired, and you will need to call all the providers to see who services that part of the island. Costs for cable are affordable and include many American stations and movie channels like Starz, Showtime, and HBO.
Wireless internet is the most accessible solution for your home, but if you cannot access any company for some reason, you can also purchase a USB Modem through either telephone company on the island (Tigo or Claro). You can pay for a set megabyte usage in a pay as you go system. This may be a cheaper solution if you only use the Internet for emails, but if you video chat with family and friends back home or subscribe to services like Netflix, you will quickly exceed the allotted usage amount.
HOUSEKEEPERS AND NANNIES
Having your home cleaned or landscaping done is relatively inexpensive. Various companies provide this service, but also many individuals offer these services as well.
Finding a nanny on the island is not an issue. Some companies provide childcare at their facilities, but you can also choose to have someone come to your house part-time or full-time. Babysitters are not as readily available as they are in the U.S., but with a little networking, you're sure to find someone on the island that is able to provide you with babysitting services. Expat parents also rotate babysitting within other expat families to help each other out.
Housekeepers are readily available in the Bay Islands on a part-time, daily and live-in basis. The pay rate varies depending on how often you plan to use the housekeeper. If you plan on having a long-term or live-in housekeeper you should consider having a contract outlining the relationship.
One of the quirks of Honduras and Central America is the Spanish word for watchman, which is taken directly from English and given a Spanish pronunciation as Wachiman or Guachimen. The pay for watchman varies and depends if you offer living quarters and how many hours you want them to work. As with housekeepers its best to have a contract with the watchmen to avoid any misunderstandings. The pay ranges from $450 up to $1,000 per month. Most folks opt to have the person work a 12-hour shift. This service is for either a home or business.
FINANCES AND BANKING
Moving to a new country also requires you to adapt to a new banking system. Opening a new bank account on Roatan requires different information which can vary from bank to bank. The banks on the island are, Banco Lafise (only bank located on the West End), Davivienda, BAC Credomatic, Banco Atlantida, and HSBC. Each of these banks have an office in Coxen Hole. Some offices are located in French Harbour and Oak Ridge.
You can have a credit card from back home but check on their fees for foreign transactions, some credit cards may waive this but others will not. Many small restaurants or shops may not accept credit cards or may have a minimum charge to use your credit card. But larger establishments do accept all major credit cards. But you would need to pay with your home bank account as you cannot pay a U.S. credit card bill with your Honduran bank account. And you can not transfer money to an international account from a Honduran bank account.
You can wire money back to your account at home using the service of Western Union, but you will pay fees for that wire transfer. You need to have all the information specific to your bank at home on how to process a transfer correctly via Western Union.
You should get this information directly from your bank at home. The customer service you are accustomed to is not in Roatan. You will have to be diligent in getting all the information and questions answered, so your banking transactions go smoothly.
There are many things that are cheaper on the island, but electricity is not one of them. The electric company in Roatan is called RECO (Roatan Electric Company) it operates in French Harbour.
Here is the pricing scale for residential units. (the exchange rate changes daily so the prices below are in Lempiras):
- 0 KW to 10 KW = 4.47 Lps
- 11 KW to 50 KW = 5.72 Lps
- 51 KW to 100 KW = 7.38 Lps
- 101 KW to 300 KW = 7.95 Lps
- 301 KW to 500 KW = 8.25 Lps
Commerical rates are 9.77 Lps/KW and 8.17 Lps/KW for industrial rates. You may consider following RECO on Facebook as they will post updates when they have power outages due to scheduled maintenance.
The rates for commercial and residential are subject to change monthly.
The taxes you pay through the Municipal that are added to your property taxes include services for your trash. Trash services are paid annually. Large community trash bins are located along the main road and are picked up when full. Trash bins that are closer to your home will not be serviced as often so you may choose to bring your garbage to the trash bins on the main road.
BUTANE OR PROPANE TANKS
There are filling stations around the island to fill your butane or propane tanks. There is also a delivery truck that services certain neighborhoods on the island. The delivery trucks play a catchy song notifying you that they are in your area. But if you want a specific time frame you can call the company to set that up. It costs approximately $15 to fill up a household propane tank.