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window view of Calibishie in Dominica

Once you’ve selected Dominica (or any other country) as your place of residence, you must decide where in it you wish to live. Do you like the city or the countryside? We prefer the latter and were willing to forego ability to pop in quickly and easily to shop, attend an event, etc. But we also noticed that people who had nicer houses and things living near a city had to fence their yard; have guard dogs, etc. That’s not for us.

You also have to choose between the interior (mountains, possibly cooler and wetter if in the east, or hotter and dry on the west side), or the coast. And if it’s to be the coast, Atlantic or Caribbean (you can have both in Scott’s Head or Capuchin). We prefer the views of waves against rocks, so we chose Calibishie in Dominica’s northeast Atlantic coast.

The first thing you must do when shopping for land in a village is let it be known that you won’t even speak with anyone who can’t show you the title document for the land. That’s because any deal for non-titled land will probably break down once the caveat is published and people come out of the woodwork to lay claim to the land or its prospective sale proceeds.

Then you have other decision points:

  • How good will your view be? Remember to consider how it will be if anyone builds nearby.
  • What is the lay of the land? Is it too steep? (Think about landslides, erosion and strenuous walking about.) Is it too low by the sea? (Think about storm surge danger.) Is it in a river valley? (Think about flash flooding.)
  • What is the soil like? Is it sand, clay, or rocky?
  • Is it on a road?
  • Is it on or near electrical power? (You’ll want an emergency power source anyhow. I could – and later may – write an article about electricity issues.) Note that if it’s not on or near power, land-line telephone, cable TV, and high-speed Internet access won’t be available either. Or, are you prepared to go with solar or wind, or hydro power of your own, and cell-phone Internet?
  • Is it on the “pipe water” line? (You should have an alternate water source. A rain cistern is a must. Proper planning will provide water pressure at least at some taps in the house, or you must have an electric pump – see the point above.) Or, are you prepared to live with only cistern or river water?
  • Will you live among other expats, or become a villager? There are huge social consequences.
  • Will you have the requisite personal and building security?
  • Can your building have the right layout? At 15.5 degrees north latitude the sun passes north of vertical from May through August, and south of vertical the rest of the year, and the trade wind normally blows in from an easterly direction; and controls the slant of driving rain.

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