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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

ship side view of Roseau, DominicaPhoto by gailf548

Ruth and I love being near the ocean. In the US, all the good spots either cost too much or have become tacky, or have unpleasant weather. For example, in Florida or Southern California, what separates the nice places (far too expensive for us) from the tacky places (trailer parks and strip malls) is money – far more than we have.

The Pacific Northwest is nice to look at, but it rains there most of the time and the ocean water is always cold – and dangerous too, with only rocky beaches, rogue waves, and great white sharks and killer whales).

The New Hampshire to Maine coasts in the Northeast also have only rocky beaches and cold water, and below zero Fahrenheit temperatures in winter. Florida and the Southeast and Gulf coasts are low and sandy, mostly prone to storm flood damage and erosion – it doesn’t even take a hurricane to destroy your house to wash your land into the sea. So, we started looking around in the Caribbean in the mid-1970s.

We had a number of criteria for where we wanted to settle in retirement:

  • The country had to be English-speaking. From what I’ve heard you don’t want to be a gringo.
  • The country had to be politically stable. We wouldn’t want to be caught between sides in a civil war.
  • The country could not be on a land drug-traffic route. We definitely wouldn’t want to be in the way of those types!
  • The country had to have good soil, because we like to see trees and flowers and be able to find produce available at a fair price.
  • The country’s currency had to be stable, based on the US dollar. Our savings are in US dollars, and it’s nice to always know how much money we have.
  • The people had to be nice. In Dominica, they are. We’ve made wonderful new friends here.
  • Finally, the country had to be off the main tourism maps.

Dominica is the only country we visited that met all the criteria. And we visited Grand Cayman, Nevis (which met the criteria, but is too tiny, and which has become a playground for the wealthy), “Provo” in the Caicos, Ambergris Cay in Belize, Bonaire, and St. John (which also met the criteria, but is too expensive). For us, Dominica is the prettiest and its people the nicest. Plus, the calypso is great!

At you can purchase an e-book by Jen Miller about retiring to Dominica. We found it somewhat useful, but because we’d done careful research ourselves, it didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

Jen and Roger Miller only lived in Dominica for about a year renting a place. They never succeeded in building a house. In fact, their land was too steep and suffered landslides after a hurricane and was condemned for building by the government. They bought a used car in Dominica that never ran. They ended up returning to the US, and as far as I know are still trying to obtain compensation from the government for having condemned their land.

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Comment by Sheryl Rood
2009-09-16 09:02:22

Hi Dan,
My husband Mark & Myself have done alot of research on Dominica, and feel we would like to retire there. The one obstacle seems to be obtaining flights from Tampa Fl to Dominica – the very few airlines that fly to Dominica charge alot more than flights to any of the other neighboring islands. What do you recommend? Do people typically fly in to a neighboring island and then boat over/or fly in a small plain over to Dominica – if so what island do you fly into?

If we were to retire there, we would need to be able to fly back fairly regularly to visit our children & grandchildren so this is a very real concern. I hope you can help us find a financially viable way to travel to & from Dominica.
Thanks you,
Sheryl Rood

Comment by Steve Foerster
2009-09-17 00:31:15

Wait a second. If the Millers didn’t succeed in moving to Dominica, and aren’t even there any longer, then how can they write a how-to book on the subject?

Comment by Steve Foerster
2009-09-17 07:44:33

Hi Sheryl, Dominica simply doesn’t attract the number of travelers required to become a discount destination. I’ve lived there and traveled to and from there frequently, and have yet to find an inexpensive way to do so. LIAT isn’t a cheaper way to get to the region, and they’re shamefully unreliable; last time I tried them I got stuck overnight in Antigua. Flying to one of the French islands and taking a ferry to Dominica might work, except that ferries are infrequent and themselves are expensive. Ultimately, one returns to the approach of taking American Airlines through San Juan when going to the States.

Comment by Dan
2009-09-17 09:10:48

Sheryl, what Steve wrote about LIAT is true. We always simply come on AA via San Juan. We used to live near Boston, and the very last time we came, because AA moved Boston departure up by 5 minutes we had to overnight in San Juan (what a dump!).

We’ve never taken a ferry from Martinique or Guadeloupe. Mostly they go to Roseau, which is a one and a half hour drive from our house, while Melville Hall airport is only 20 minutes drive away.

Someday we ma take a ferry to one of those islands to look around. The ferries now sometimes stop in Portsmouth, one half hour from our home. But they’re not cheap.

Steve, the Millers wrote the book at a time when they thought they were making it here. But they hadn’t built yet, or even started. They first tried to buy more land than permitted (over 10 acres requires a Dominican co-owner). They were renting a rather luxurious house. They had not integrated themselves into any villages’ fabric. They were kidding themselves. Very nice people; too bad.

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