Retiring in the Virgin Islands
This article will take you through the main things you need to consider if you are retiring in the Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands, located in the Caribbean Sea, are a popular retirement destination for many Americans seeking a tropical and relaxed environment with access to outdoor activities, stunning beaches, and a welcoming culture. With beautiful turquoise waters, palm trees, and year-round warm climate, the Virgin Islands offer a unique retirement experience that attracts many retirees every year.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020, the Virgin Islands had a population of approximately 105,000 people, with over 16% of the population being over the age of 65, making it one of the top territories with a large retirement population.
What age can you retire in the Virgin Islands?
Like many states, the Virgin Islands have no specific retirement age that is mandated by law. This means that individuals are free to retire whenever they choose, as long as they are able to financially support themselves. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in the Virgin Islands:
Social Security benefits: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62, but if you delay taking benefits, your monthly payments will increase. Full retirement age (FRA) is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Delaying benefits until after FRA can result in even higher monthly payments.
Medicare eligibility: Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of retirement status. However, if you choose to retire before age 65, you will need to find alternative healthcare coverage until you become eligible for Medicare.
Age discrimination: It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on age.
Retirement savings: Regardless of retirement age, it is important for individuals to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement.
However, like any location, there are both pros and cons to retiring in the state.
Why do people retire to the Virgin Islands?
Tax benefits: The Virgin Islands have tax incentives for retirees, including a 90% reduction in income taxes and no estate taxes.
Tropical environment: The Virgin Islands are known for their tropical climate, with year-round warm temperatures and beautiful beaches. Retirees can enjoy living in a relaxed environment that offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and outdoor activities.
Diverse culture: The Virgin Islands have a diverse and welcoming culture, with influences from African, Caribbean, and European traditions. Retirees can enjoy a vibrant and unique culture that offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and cultural experiences.
Outdoor activities: The Virgin Islands are home to numerous beaches, coral reefs, and national parks, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, fishing, and hiking.
What puts people off retiring to the Virgin Islands?
Cost of living: The cost of living in the Virgin Islands is generally higher than the national average, which could be a concern for retirees on a fixed income. Housing and healthcare costs, in particular, are higher than in many other states.
Isolation: The Virgin Islands are a remote location, which could be a concern for retirees who value easy access to family and friends on the mainland. It can also be challenging to access certain goods and services.
Natural disasters: The Virgin Islands are prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, which could be a concern for retirees living in certain areas. However, the territory has made significant efforts to improve its infrastructure and preparedness in recent years.
Best places to retire in the Virgin Islands
If the Virgin Islands are your chosen retirement destination, here are some of the best places to retire in:
St. Croix: The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix offers a mix of historical and cultural attractions, as well as plenty of outdoor activities, including beaches, hiking trails, and golf courses. Retirees can enjoy the island's relaxed pace of life and friendly community.
St. Thomas: Another popular destination for retirees, St. Thomas offers a bustling atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, shops, and cultural events. The island is also known for its stunning beaches, including Magens Bay, which is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world.
St. John: The smallest of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John is known for its natural beauty, with two-thirds of the island protected as part of the Virgin Islands National Park. Retirees can enjoy hiking trails, beaches, and a variety of water sports, as well as a small but vibrant community.
Christiansted: A historic town on the island of St. Croix, Christiansted offers retirees a charming atmosphere with cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and a variety of shops and restaurants. The town also has a lively cultural scene, with several museums and galleries.
Cruz Bay: The main town on the island of St. John, Cruz Bay offers retirees a laid-back atmosphere with a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural events. The town is also a popular starting point for water activities, such as sailing, snorkeling, and diving.
In conclusion, the Virgin Islands offer retirees a unique and tropical retirement experience with plenty of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and a relaxed lifestyle, though people should be prepared for a higher cost of living. It's important to seek expert financial advice to weigh up all of the costs associated with retiring in the Virgin Islands, including property taxes, insurance, and living expenses, in order to make an informed decision about whether the state is the right choice for your retirement.
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.