Antigua is the main island of Antigua and Barbuda, a small independent Caribbean country, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It consists of two inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, plus a number of smaller uninhabited islands. The permanent population is about 90,000. The capital, port, and largest city is St John’s, on Antigua.
The official language is English, though a dialect is also spoken by many locals. The major industries are tourism and financial services. The country is open, welcoming of foreigners, and outward looking. In the words of Prime Minister Gaston Browne it aims to be “The Economic Powerhouse of the Caribbean”.
Antigua is a vibrant country with many attractions for visitors and residents, especially for those interested in sun, sand, surf, sailing, and outdoor life in general. Specifically:
- The climate is great. As this is such a key part of the reason for living in Antigua for many people it has been given its own section below.
- Frequent direct flights link the country with Europe, the USA, and Canada.
- There are many great beaches.
- Boating is a part of the lifestyle – Antigua is the yachting centre of the Caribbean.
- Dining out options are many.
- Telecommunications facilities are good.
- Infrastructure is reasonable and improving e.g. solar electricity generation capacity is increasing, and reverse osmosis plants to produce fresh water from sea water are now sufficient to meet 100% of the country’s needs, so removing droughts as a water supply threat.
- Buses are inexpensive e.g. EC$3.25 for a typical bus ride. (Taxis are not inexpensive, however!)
- Medical facilities are relatively good. The main hospital is well equipped. Air ambulance links to US or French (Guadeloupe) facilities are available.
- The new (2015) public library is good.
- There is a good movie-theatre complex.
- Public and private schools to secondary level, plus some tertiary level facilities, are available. A University of Antigua and Barbuda is being planned.
- There are several good supermarkets plus a public market and many street side vendors. Small village shops can supply basics.
- There are no capital controls, no personal income tax, and no capital gains taxes. (The main sources of Government revenue are customs duties, a VAT tax called ABST, and business taxes.)
- Citizenship for those who are not already citizens is available after seven years of residence, or by investment, including by purchase of eligible real estate, under the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP). This is a significant advantage for a purchaser of a CIP eligible property if you are not an Antigua and Barbuda citizen already, as you may apply for citizenship under the program for yourself and family, with nothing extra to pay apart from processing fees, and thereby avoid all residence visa issues, and the seven year wait, while obtaining a good second passport.
- As a middle income country (country #79 with US$24,100 GDP per capital on a PPP basis according to the CIA World Factbook 2016 estimate) the country is wealthy enough to fund decent infrastructure and public services.
- Racial tension is minimal. Mostly the races get along well together which is wonderful.
- Crime is moderate. Gun ownership is rare – guns are banned unless licensed. The police force and coast guard function.
The climate of Antigua and Barbuda is healthy and invigorating, one of the country’s best features. It is never cold (no ice or snow ever!) but nor does it ever become oppressively hot thanks to the surrounding seas, the reliable trade winds, and low humidities. Temperatures range from low to high twenties (C) or seventies to eighties (F). As Wikipedia puts it “Its low humidity makes it one of the most temperate climates in the world.”
To find out more, a search for “Antigua and Barbuda” reveals millions of websites, but here are a few good starting links:
- Antigua and Barbuda in Wikipedia
- Website of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism
- Antigua Nice for a more topical views of what’s happening
- Cost of Living in Antigua and Barbuda
Of course, everything is not always perfect in the “paradise” of Antigua, so here is some balance to the image painted above.
Antigua is located in the North Atlantic hurricane belt, so is subject to the risk of hurricanes, between June and October, peak month September, though Antigua has not had a direct hit by a major hurricane since 1999. Though frightening and potentially inconvenient, hurricanes should not damage houses built to be hurricane proof.
Earthquakes are also possible, as for anywhere in the Caribbean, since the region sits above a complex junction of four major tectonic plates. Small trembles are frequent as the plates move. The last big quake of magnitude 7.5 was in 1974. The biggest recorded earthquake was in 1843 with an estimated magnitude of 8.5. Again, proper house construction to earthquake resistant standards limits the risk of damage.
Imported items can be moderately priced or can be expensive depending on the import duty that is attached to particular items.
Cultural life is limited. If you want to attend an opera or listen to a symphony orchestra in person you will need to visit Europe, the US, or Canada.
Antigua is not among the lowest cost countries in the world, but that goes with it having near first world facilities and little abject poverty. Thus it is a most desirable home for those with sufficient income or assets to cover their desired lifestyle cost. Then the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.