There is so much to like about Barbados. Sure, there’s the usual suspects - it’s a beautiful Caribbean island with plenty of blue skies, sunshine, and beaches (in fact, ALL beaches are open to the public...even those at the fancy resorts). You can’t go wrong with that. But it’s also the Caribbean nation with the highest emphasis on education. A literacy rate near 100%, strong infrastructure, social programs and a low crime rate, make it one of the safest places in the region. It lies just outside of the hurricane zone, making big storms a rarity. And, of course, it’s the birthplace of Rihanna. It’s a tropical paradise, with healthy tourism, financial, and manufacturing industries. If you’re looking to relocate to a tropical island in the sun, look no further. Barbados has it all.
A Bit of Background
First “discovered” by Spanish explorers, the island first appeared on Spanish maps in 1511, and despite its early involvement with Spain and Portugal, it was Britain that forged the closest ties. Starting with the first permanent settlers from England in 1627, Barbados has been connected with the United Kingdom ever since, first as a colony, and now as a member of the Commonwealth since gaining its independence on November 30, 1966. The country is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch, an appointed Governor-General, and an elected Prime Minister. The central government delegates some power and control to the eleven parishes that make up the island. Barbados has a population of roughly 282,000 people on 432 square kilometers, making it one of the most densely populated countries on the planet (15th). The capital city of Bridgetown has a population proper of 7500, but the greater metropolitan area contains just over 100,000 in total.
Visas and Immigration
Tourist visas are straightforward and in keeping with the procedure for most locations. Fill out the application, pay the fee, provide your passport, photos, and supporting documents (if any), and you should be well on your way.
Work permits fall under two categories: short-term (up to 11 months) and long-term (up to 3 years). Regardless of which one you need, your employer will need to apply on your behalf, and if it’s the long-term permit, they will also have to explain how and why they cannot fill the position with a local resident.
Permanent residency can be applied for providing you can give adequate proof you are not and will not become a drain on the country. There are a number of requirements, most of which should be fairly easy to meet if you’re already financially secure enough to be considering a permanent move to the Caribbean.
Finally, you will have to pay income tax on all income earned while working in Barbados.
There is no shortage of great property available on the island, whether you’re looking to buy or rent. Luxury villas. 5-star resorts and hotels. Serviced apartments. Beach houses. Cottages. Condos. Barbados Vacation Rentals is a good place to start for short(er) term properties (and there also have a “for sale” section, but it tends to be expensive, luxury properties). Some local real estate companies with great reputations include Terra Caribbean, Island Villas Ltd., Million Dollar Homes, and Ask Barbados Realty. These firms deal mainly with sales, but do provide rental listings and assistance. Finding budget options may prove challenging, but not impossible. When you find that perfect spot on the beach, or nestled in the trees and back from the road for peace and quiet, it’ll all be worth it.
The Barbados government covers the full cost of education at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, including tuition and book costs. The importance placed on education for all has resulted in a literacy level near 98%. There are numerous public and private schools available, as well as several colleges and a university. The Codrington School (also known as The International School of Barbados) provides the International Baccalaureate program for its students.
Barbados is a Caribbean island, with everything that goes along with that designation. There are basically two seasons - a wet season from June to November, and a dry season from December to May. Both have temperatures in a very pleasing 20-31’C range, making Barbados lovely year round. The annual rainfall ranges from 40-90 inches. Technically a tropical monsoon climate, Barbados is subject to some influencing and gentle breezes that essentially relegate it to a moderate tropical zone, and its location just outside the hurricane zone means it is hit by strong and devastating storms very infrequently (about once every 25 years according to some sources). The weather and climate of the island is about as perfect as could be hoped for in the Caribbean.
Cricket is the national sport and passion, and the tiny island has given the world several world-class cricketers, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell. Basketball, polo, and golf are also great ways to spend a day in the sun. The largest celebration of the year is the Crop Over Festival, which emphasizes music and dancing competitions. As the entire country is relatively small, consider renting a car or scooter and taking an epic road trip around the entire perimeter. See St. Michael’s Cathedral, built in 1789. Try the local cuisine, heavy on seafood (of course), but a tantalizing blend of British, African, and Indian characteristics. Visit the Parliament Buildings in the capital, built in neo-Gothic style in 1871. Wifi is widely available, and the government has an ambitious plan to cover the entire island with free wifi in the near future. Of course, this being the Caribbean and all, the sand, sun, and water are the top draws. Swim, fish, snorkel, scuba dive, boat, sail, sunbathe, or build the sandcastle to end all sandcastles.
As far as Caribbean islands in the sun go, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one to relocate to than Barbados. The people are some of the warmest and friendliest you’ll ever meet, the weather is idyllic year round, and the country is small enough so that you can explore it all, but with the amenities of bigger locales. If your dream is sitting outside your beach house, watching the sun slowly set below the horizon, while sipping a tropical cocktail on the sand, Barbados should be your starting point. You can’t lose.