You heard us right. We have been living and playing in the Caribbean since February 2014 and have spent on average $2,000 Canadian per month (for both of us, not each). We have not been slumming it either, in fact quite the opposite, as we have spent the majority of the time in luxury villas with pools overlooking Marigot Bay in St. Lucia and with jaw dropping views in the Grenadines.
So is it an outdated myth about how expensive the Caribbean is? Yes & No. If you are visiting for a few brief weeks and paying for a beachside hotel and meals at tourist restaurants, you will pay a lot for the privilege. Many restaurants are comparable or more expensive than their counterparts in North America are and imported alcoholic drinks will send your bill skyrocketing.
Because we have spent the majority of those 7 months housesitting, we have eliminated the cost of accommodation. While housesitting our lowest monthly cost was $1300 for the month, which included food, gas for a vehicle, the odd meal out and a occasional cold beer at our favorite sunset beach bar.
Our most expensive month–we had a break between housesits and went island hopping–cost more than double, $3400 in fact. Accommodation, ferries, taxis and eating out were the culprits, but we had a lot of fun and probably still spent less than an all-inclusive 2-week trip to St. Lucia would cost.
For those of you planning a trip to the Caribbean here are some easy ways to keep your costs down and still have fun.
- Housesit wherever possible, as accommodation is your biggest expense
- If possible rent a suite or apartment with a small kitchen (eating out is another big ticket item)
- Use local buses rather than taxis (cheap and fun)
- Buy produce at the local market or vendor rather than the supermarket
- Buy local brands and foodstuffs (imported goods come with a hefty price tag)
- Eat where the locals eat; salt fish and bake, roti’s and doubles to name a few cost almost nothing and you get a true insight into the local cuisine
- Invest in a small cooler and pack cold drinks and nibbles. Combining picnics with beach days, sunset lookouts and jamming sessions is a lot of fun
- Visit during low or shoulder season as prices drop with decreased demand
After seven months in these gorgeous islands, our general feeling is that the more popular the island is with tourists the more expensive it is, however that is countered with cheaper foodstuffs and wider choices.
Wherever you go in the Caribbean, we know that you can spend a little or a lot. That choice is entirely up to you and what experiences you want. Wherever it is you go, we hope you relax, enjoy and get into a little of the island grove, because you’re on “Island time Mon”.