How much does it cost to live in Roatan?

For updated Cost Of Living in Roatan posts, visit www.amandawalkins.com/Roatan-Information.


I get this question a lot from tourists, especially those who are considering giving in to the vortex and staying here forever. People assume that because Roatan is part of Honduras the cost of living should be super cheap. But it’s still an island and it costs money to import necessities. So how does it actually break down? I’ll try to help you out a bit with that…

Rent: We have a sweet two-bedroom apartment on the water (hopefully my landlords don’t read this) that is under-priced. We pay $550 per month plus 12% tax, so it comes to $616 per month. Other places right on the water cost much more. We feel safe here, it’s quiet, and it’s gorgeous. Nothing beats being at home, laying in a hammock, listening to the waves. Glorious.

Part of our place, part of our awesome view!

Part of our place, part of our awesome view!

Electricity: Ours averages about $80 per month (it’s been as high as $125…that month hurt a little, and it was also completely inexplicable).

Groceries: EXPENSIVE. My trips to the grocery store cost as much as or more than my trips when I lived in Washington, DC. And let’s just all agree that DC is not exactly a cheap place to live. Average grocery store trip? I’d estimate $100. That’s for two of us, and we spend about that once a week. We always eat breakfast at home, I no longer buy coffee every morning (sorry, Joe and Wendy, you know how much I love you!). We try to bring lunch to work every day and we cook dinner most nights, too. Why? Because eating out is very expensive. Average lunch is $5-10, average dinner $10-25. These are just sandwiches and normal dinners, you can of course spend MUCH more. You can go cheaper by buying baleadas all the time, but your heart would probably stop soon from clogged arteries.

It's hard to turn down scrumptious fish tacos!

It’s hard to turn down scrumptious fish tacos!

Phone/Internet: We use a pay-as-you-go system for both. So basically internet costs $25 per month for a modem (the modem was $30 to buy originally). However, that’s not unlimited usage. We’ve used up our “month” within a week. Other times the “month” has lasted for 5 weeks. It’s kind of hard to tell how it really works, so we just try to keep some extra minutes around to add when needed. The same thing goes for the phone – you add minutes when you need them. I usually spend $10 per month, more or less. There are two major phone companies here, Tigo and Claro. If you call within your company (same as in the States) you have bonus minutes you can utilize so you don’t spend as much. Remember those days when you would wait until the clock struck 9:00pm and you could call all your friends for free nights and weekends? Yeah, that’s kind of what it feels like.

Aren't they cute with their advertising?

Aren’t they cute with their advertising?

Cable: We don’t have cable, but we do buy DVDs off the street totally legitimately. I hear decent cable runs about $70 per month. Our DVDs run $3 each or you can buy several for a good deal. Or you can live here, get to know the guys who sell them, and specifically request movies you want. Kung Fu Panda: CHECK!

Laundry: We have a washing machine at our place. We also work, a lot. Drying things on a clothesline takes a while because of the humidity, and our fabulously shaded lawn does not help. There are two of us, which results in a lot of laundry. You will not be able to convince me to wake up an hour earlier to do a load of washing, hang it up on the line, and let it dry all day several days a week. Not happening. So we pay to get our laundry done. So sue us. It’s not cheap – we end up spending about $40 per month on laundry between the two of us, plus all our visitors (sheets and towels add up big time!). But our clothes come back folded up all nice and warm from beingย actually dried. It’s lovely ๐Ÿ™‚

So what’s the moral of the story? It is expensive to live here, but not as expensive as living in a U.S. city. However, let’s quickly evaluate the pay scale. In one month here, I make less than what I made in four (4) days of work in DC. And I was not overpaid in DC. And I am not underpaid by standards here. It’s no bueno if you’re trying to save money but it’s enough to get by. On average I spend…well I spend all of my money every month. That’s why I got a second job! More on that later…

If you’re looking to make money, Roatan is not your place.

If you’re looking to live on island time, cover your expenses, and maybe buy a few random thingsย (that you can’t really afford but why the hell not?)…you’ll fit right in!

IMG_1077

Want to know what it’s like from a scuba instructor’s perspective? Check out my friend Rika’s blog where she lays it all out. She also tracks her expenses way better than I do. And she’s generally awesome, so just click and enjoy.

If you’re looking for an updated Cost of Living Estimate for Roatan for 2014, here you go.

37 thoughts on “How much does it cost to live in Roatan?

  1. It is still a bargain. I was station in Honduras for one year. We did a lot of medicine and building missions to the small islands. It is a beautiful place to be in Roatan.

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    • Hey John! You’re right – it is definitely a bargain overall. I also think the wages will start to increase with continued development of tourism, which will help to not only cover expenses but actually save something as well. In the meantime, it’s a beautiful paradise ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I live on the mainland for about 10% of what it costs to live on the islands. Find a job you can do over the internet, like writing articles, then you can live anywhere, as long as there is 3G internet. Honduras is a beautiful place, but some people like the beach, mountains, city, small towns, mainland, islands etc. Best to look around and find your place. I can see Roatan from my mountain lair.

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  2. Excellent article. We visited there a couple of years ago on a cruise ship stop and really enjoyed a private tour of the island with our driver/guide Barney. Now seriously want to return for a few days and scout out possibly buying a place to retire to. We would enjoy the quiet lifestyle and can live without all the US amenities. Thanks again for a no bs report.

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  3. This helped me quite a bit! I’m almost done with my degree in veterinary medicine specializing in aquatic marine life and I visited Roatan when I was 16 and fell in love with it so I am really looking into properties for sale and the better parts to live in, so thank you!

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  4. Thanks for the post, Amanda. A google search brought me here. I am a teacher in the US and will be retiring in June of 2015. So far, I have done some research on Roatan real estate and was wondering if you have any recommendations on location. I seek a single family home and would like to be steps from the water. Even though I would like a relaxed atmosphere, I would not be at all opposed to being near some action as well. (restaurants, shops) Do you know of a real estate agent you’d recommend? I plan to travel back to the states several times a year and wonder about security when it comes to leaving a home unoccupied for a week or so at a time.

    I wrote to you because of your above comment when you gave your e-mail address in case someone had questions. I would sure welcome any advice.

    Thank you.

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      • Hi Amanda!! Thank you so much for sharing your experiance on the Island. It sounds like a beautiful place to live. Say you want t to order something on line and have it come to your apartment for delivery. Does it cost extra for shipping? if so, how much? say 3 lbs of wt for a package.
        Thanks!

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        • Hi Katie! Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚ Shipping things here can definitely be a pain. We use the human mail system mostly. For example, I know someone who’s coming to visit next month, so I tell anyone who needs something to ship it to her, she brings it down, they repay her in beers. That’s the usual deal at least ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of course, if it’s too large or nobody can bring it, there are shipping options. DHL is here, as well as several independent companies. They typically take 3-4 weeks from the States and can be costly but they’re reliable and professional. DHL or a personal carrier would be your best bets for such a small package.

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  5. I am thinking about moving down and starting up a van service for taking cruise ship passengers for tours of the island. Is that something that is feasible?

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    • Hey Kelly! That is certainly a popular activity here. Just keep in mind that working with cruise ship passengers is a bit difficult. To get a contract with the cruise lines requires that you meet all of their high standards. Not getting contracts means the onus is on you to get passengers booked prior to their arrival or convincing them upon arrival to join you rather than the other 100 people offering tours as well. It’s definitely something you need to research and plan for properly before making any purchases or moves!

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      • Definately would not contract with the cruise ships, I would be able to quickly market myself on the internet and have passengers lined up prior to docking, (or if not, could easily get a van full just by talking to cruise ship passengers). Is it easy to purchase a tour van on the island or should I consider bringing one with me? I heard that there are ships in port 4-5 days a week and 3-4 ships each day? Also, are there any special licenses or permits that I would have to get to accomplish this?

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        • There aren’t that many ships in – only 2-3 ships usually 3 days per week during high season. During low season (May-October) we only have 1-2 ships in 2 days per week usually. Buying a van or bus is possible on-island for sure. Bringing vehicles here usually means incredibly high taxes and fees. If you don’t have contracts with the cruise lines then you have to stay outside of the security gates and wait for people to walk out, where there are also about 100 other vendors offering island tours and taxis and scooter rentals, etc. It’s definitely something to research in depth before jumping in. I recommend you come here for a week to see both docks and the way it works here for vendors. It’s certainly not easy!

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  9. Hello Amanda, is nice of you share your experience in the island, I’m from Honduras, and my boyfriend is from Canada, we want to live there, both already has been there, but only on vacation, we will go in the of the fall to explore and see what options we can find, to live and work, it will be nice to have someone to talk, when we get there, let me know, if we can see you there or talk by email, thanks a lot…

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    • Hi NJ! I was waitressing at The Buena Vida at the time I wrote this, but I’m now managing Ocean Connections Water Sports full-time. If you can afford to buy a place and plan to stay forever then I definitely recommend contacting Roatan Life Real Estate to find a good deal. I, however, neither can afford nor want to buy a place so renting works perfectly for me! Hope that helps ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading!

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  11. Hi there. In the very early stages of looking for somewhere to retire and Roatan keeps popping up. To be honest I had never heard of it before. I am from the UK, do you know of any hiccups UK citizens are hindered with and how easy/ difficult, short or long is the transitional period for us pommys. Many thanks.

    Bri Hayes

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    • Hi Bri! Thanks for reading and commenting! There are lots of people from the UK who have moved here; some are retired, some are working. The residency process is fairly straightforward and painless here so that’s not a major concern. It typically takes around 6-9 months in total to process any type of residency here. Not bad! I’m working on a post on residency options so hopefully it’ll be up soon to help you out a bit. Meantime, feel free to email me if you have other questions! awalkins[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  12. The place in going to hell in a hand basket folks. The gangs from Honduras-Murder capital of the world mind you have really invaded this once peaceful Island oasis. I know its not reported as they don’t like negative press, but conditions aren’t what they use to be a couple years ago..which is too bad as I toyed with the idea of retiring down there..

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    • Hi Gman – Sorry to hear you don’t like Roatan, but not every place is suitable for everyone, and that’s okay! I’m always very honest about my life here and I do love it. I’m not writing from a cushy desk in the States; I live here, work here, play here, and absolutely love it here. I feel perfectly safe here and am very happy!

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  14. Hi I hear the Spring water there is to be much desired. I have also heard of how much healthier they are because of the lifestyle difference, have you ever hears of Dr. Sebi he is very popular in his naturalistic healing. I may Have MS and am looking to move to a warm peaceful climet with a different way of life.Lastly, I am in concessions/ food cart stands do you think this is something i can continue after my move

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  16. Hello from Charleston SC,
    we are wanting to move to the island… but I have diabetes.:(
    we were wanting to know about getting meds. there.
    are there Docs. there that would be able to help with that?
    any info would be a help… hope to see you soon! haha
    Thanks,
    Lee

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    • Hi Lee,
      You can find most basic medical care right on the island, while more specialized care can be found on the mainland. It’s just like living in more rural areas of the U.S. For more updated information, please visit http://www.amandawalkins.com. We no longer live in Roatan, but you’ll still find lots of insights there plus links to my other writings about the island. Good luck!

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