For a lot of globetrotters, Antigua (and Barbuda) easily places itself as one of the best getaway destinations. It boasts 365 beaches with crystal clear waters, thriving marine life, stunning landscapes, and some of the warmest people around.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that since the 1950s, a lot of foreigners have decided to live in Antigua either for the large majority of the year or permanently. The expat community is growing slowly but surely and even more so in the last decade. With the Antigua & Barbuda citizenship program launched in 2014, it’s projected that the percentage of foreigners calling the island nation their home will grow significantly in the next few years.
But what, exactly, are the reasons that push foreigners to Antigua and make them want to stay?
1. Better work-life balance
One aspect of life in Antigua that expats share is the work-life balance. This may be primarily because of the island culture wherein doing things fast or in a hurry is not a common practice. The slower pace of life can allow you to spend more time with your family — and perhaps take on new projects together.
However, the latter benefit may be because of how it’s common for services to take longer to be delivered. Say, you need to have something repaired or replaced in your new home. It may take a while for local service folks to get around to it. Thus, you’re better off tackling the task with your family and a few friends and making a fun project out of it.
Also noteworthy is how the professional scene here is not as competitive and stressful as the one you may have been exposed to. There aren’t many corporate settings here — most people just feel less pressured working in Antigua.
2. The excellent program for new dual citizens
Citizenship specialists offer abundant information and resources for newcomers so they can adapt more quickly. They cover everything from the best schools for children to activities to get you better acquainted with your community, investment opportunities, and even the local health care system.
If you need more help with settling into the country, the agency that helped you with the second citizenship application can also direct you to the services that would be most helpful to you.
3. Accessible and convenient healthcare
A lot of expats enjoy the country’s healthcare system since it is considered to be the best in the eastern Caribbean region. It’s a blessing, particularly for those who originated from a country that does not have an effective health and medical care system.
The country’s Medical Benefits Scheme covers most serious health issues. Therefore, allocate a small portion of your monthly income or budget for the scheme, and after six months of regular contributions, you are automatically eligible to claim benefits.
These include treatments for 11 specific diseases, as well as lab tests, surgery, X-rays, ultrasound, and others for other health concerns performed in your doctor’s private office.
4. Great tax benefits – Antigua
Antigua is known for offering impressive tax relief to its citizens who are also permanent residents. So, if you long to protect your finances or make new investments, you will surely benefit from the fact that you don’t have to pay worldwide income capital gains tax, inheritance tax, and personal income tax should you decide to reside in Antigua.
Freedom from such taxes can open doors for creative financial tactics. You can boost your retirement fund, start a business, purchase properties that can provide you with residual incomes, and so much more.
According to Antigua tax policies, to secure these tax benefits, dual citizens only need to live in the country for at least six months per year to be considered permanent residents.
5. Solid startup opportunities
Antigua is still a developing country, which, as mentioned previously, means there aren’t many competitive industries upholding the economy just yet. Therefore, if you are an entrepreneur, you have a stronger fighting chance to launch a successful business here, particularly a new model. Antigua & Barbuda has one of the highest foreign direct investment ratios in the Caribbean. It is poised to be one of the strongest economies in the region for some years to come.
Your business can likely be the first of its kind, so you can focus completely on it and not worry about reaching or outperforming the standards of predecessors.
On top of that, starting a business venture here can prove to be so much easier than in other places. If you are a certified citizen of Antigua, applying for business permits and procuring and presenting necessary documents is faster.
Another unique advantage for startups by expats is the chance to create a new work culture. As mentioned earlier, there is a relatively slow-acting culture in the nation, which is one of the reasons it is such a wonderful place to vacation. However, in your business dealings, a laid-back culture can be frustrating, so be mindful of the local habits and search out team members on the ground who have a sense of urgency and efficiency.
6. Better health
Many expats, mainly retirees say that moving to Antigua is a prompt to better health. The weather’s ideal and not only is the lifestyle less stressful, but it also encourages being physically active, getting a lot of sun, and eating fresh food.
Although the Caribbean region does have convenient fast-food joints , especially KFC, the food scene throughout the West Indies in general is based on nutritious recipes using fresh produce, spices, and humble homestyle cooking.
Also, with the beaches and mountains nearby, you’re likely to spend a lot of time hiking, strolling along the beaches, and engaging in various outdoor activities, especially if you live in a high-end community.
7. Stronger sense of environmental-responsibility
Antigua has a lot of eco-friendly programs to protect the environment. For one, single-use plastic bags are a big no-no and now completely banned. This is to prevent the non-biodegradable material from building up in trash piles and finding their way to the majestic waters surrounding the island.
Plus, there are strict marine conservation initiatives. These are not only to keep the country’s waters pristine but also to protect the different sea turtles, stingrays, and colorful fish, which drive the country’s tourism industry.
All these initiatives give expats something worthwhile to do and commit to, which benefits their quality of life in multi-fold ways.
Antigua and Barbuda is a tiny country whose population is just around 80,000, but it offers the change that so many foreigners want in their lives. The seven reasons discussed above are just a few motivations to move to this country and stay. Of course, you’ll undoubtedly discover even more reasons once you have settled here.
Kal Kennard is the Managing Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.