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How much does it cost to live in Roatan?

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…Here is how much it cost to live in Roatan for 2013. (You can find more information on how much it cost to live in Roatan in 2014 here.)

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!

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. 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!

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?

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 being actually dried. It’s lovely 🙂

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 things (that you can’t really afford but why the hell not?)…you’ll fit right in!

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.