Just bought a house on Roatan - some questions

Hi future friends,

My wife and I are in the process of purchasing a house on Roatan and have a few questions. We fell in love with Roatan several years ago during a cruise ship stop-over, then an extended vacation there a few years ago cemented the deal. We found a reasonably priced house near Sandy Bay and are set to close on it in about 6 weeks!

So, we are looking to tap the experience of you good people who have gone before us to help make our transition a little less nerve-wracking. We are in our late 40’s, early 50’s and eventually hope to retire to Roatan. For now, our plan is to rent the house - perhaps longer-term now, then daily/weekly when tourism returns in full force.

So, I hope you’ll pardon our many questions now, and probably to come, but we’d like to get things situated over the 1-2 weeks when we are there in person in early June, so we have things in place for when we have to return home.

Things like:

  • Homeowner’s insurance. Do you all recommend? I know everyone has their opinions, but looking for people’s opinions and experiences.

  • WiFi: How do we get an appointment for service hook-up, and how “good” is it these days on the island? What’s the average cost? My wife and I both work from home (thanks to COVID) and could easily spend weeks on the island “working” remotely, as long as we have good WiFi. I hear that there are now plans that allow you to “switch on and off” or “pay-as-you-go” for times when you are away? This is amazing, if true.

  • Contractors: This is a longer topic. The house will need some remodeling at some point. A couple of bathrooms, some kitchen counters, maybe even a pool. Is it necessary to be at the house while work is being done? What are others’ experiences? Perhaps we have someone manage the property while we are away - will they supervise? Perhaps even allowing someone to stay there in exchange for work? (A lot to consider here.) Any personal experience or recommendation is welcome.

  • Management companies: This isn’t a luxury villa, by any means. But, it’s a nice house which we think might be an enticing family home rental for long-term, or even as a weekly rental, as it’s close to Sandy Bay, between Carambola Gardens and Gibson Bight. Who can give us an assessment? Do they do grounds keeping and list your property? What’s the “going rate?”

  • Shopping: As in home goods. Where do we buy bedding? A refrigerator?

That’s it for now. I know that’s a lot, but we sincerely appreciate any insights to any one of these questions. Thank you in advance.

Hope to meet some of you nice folks in the coming months and years.



Hi…Id be happy to give you some pointers; we built a home here and have had lots of experience with builders, contractors, etc. and some of the other issues you mentioned. From our experience, if you are doing major remodeling or building, you MUST be here or have someone who REALLY knows what to look for supervising. My husband is a contractor with decades of experience and even though we lived here while our home was being built and visited 2-3 times EVERY day, there were still things done when we weren’t here that 3 years later are coming to light and need to be repaired. There are good and bad and very bad management companies. Talk to a lot of folks and get good solid references before choosing one. Take photos of everything in the home so that you know if things are missing. Buy cleaning supplies ahead of time, and know what you have in inventory. Some management companies will nickel and dime you to death over cleaning supplies, repairs, etc. Talk to several folks on face book regarding internet providers and how reliable they are.

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Homeowners insurance is a farce down here…covers nothing except fire. Theft? not happening… dont need it. btw: move in, meet people, then decide on contractors or management companies.

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Thank you, @Trish ! This is very helpful advice.

Thank you very much for your candor, @Carol_Luber. This is good to know. The home has bars on all windows and doors that are reachable from the ground. Are there problems with vandalism, or is it relative? We plan to have motion-detecting flood lights on all 4 corners of the house, too.

Truly opportunistic theft and mayhem does occur. Also there is no justice system that works here. You may have video of an intruder and report such but even if they find the perpetrator the law here is he’s freed in 24 hours. A home that is newly bought and moved in is a target Don’t let anyone try to tell you differently. Also there is no civil laws here. What you are explaining about bars in windows and motion detection lights is very wise.

Make friends cautiously with the locals. They are gonna case you.

The night I moved in I suffered a home invasion. Knifed and spent a week in the hospital. After that I endured 3 more thefts just not home at the time. Since I installed bars and motion detectors it stopped.

Don’t wear jewelry around town. Don’t flash your first world belongings

Odd crimes here and always because they are poor, hungry, deranged or whatever. I lived in Philadelphia. I knew center city was okay to walk around. Would not do that in north philly. So it’s a matter of common sense and awareness of your surroundings

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@Carol_Luber These are very good tidbits of advice. You were stabbed? When was this? Were they locals? Did they break into your house, or follow you home? If you don’t mind me asking, why did you not immediately put your place up for sale and leave? In your experience, is it worse now than, say, 3-4 years ago?

Sorry for all the questions. I am truly sorry to hear that you had to endure that. I am glad you are o.k.!

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Thank you, @Trish. In your experience, what is the average cost of a management company? I know it depends on whether they are just “looking after the place;” cleaning, fixing a few things, landscaping, etc., vs. having them secure rentals for you as well, but we don’t know where to start, or what’s a fair price for management for a home vs., say a condo. Again, I realize prices can be all over the place, but I’d like a couple of options to explore.

I also appreciate the advice on taking inventory of cleaning supplies and home goods. :wink:

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We haven’t rented our place for a while, as we sold our condo…so the best bet is to contact several property managers, get references, talk to them (preferably face to face), and ask a lot of questions. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but just want you to be able to get the most current information available. Things to watch for are how much they mark everything up that is repaired or to purchase things, and how many products they go through during a month, etc.

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Call me a tough Philadelphia gal and I’d be damned if one asshat was going to change my decision. Was I wrong? I don’t think so even knowing all that has transpired in my last 13 years here.

It was a set up from the disgruntled realtor who tried to scam me. One young man came in through the second floor bathroom window and crept up on me. He’s dead now. As is that realtor assistant who arranged it.

Notice there was no lawsuits. No revenge taken. Just karma.

As for living here now. Be aware; don’t share personal or home location and don’t flash jewelry or electronic devices. We live on an island with abject poverty. Unbelievable how much you look very rich to the locals here.

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Thank you, @trish. I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to provide their input and tell us about their own experiences.

Hope to meet someday!

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My wife and I have lived here for two years as retirees. We now wish we never bought here. Roatan wears you down. There is a of of theft. I personally know of four people in the last 8 months. There are some nice locals here. The education system is poor. A lot of the locals you deal with for doing various work is like dealing with a 12 year old. It doesn’t matter if they are in their 20, 30 or 40’s their intelligence has been limited to poor education and life experience. They only know the way they have been told to do things and cannot grasp anything outside of that.

We have been robbed. We have a shed made of plywood and was screwed together. One night someone came and unscrewed one of the 4’ x 8’ plywood sheets and robbed us. We had laundry hanging out and someone stole our towels. You cannot leave anything outside because it will be stolen.

We are putting our place up for sale in the next month. We are looking at moving to Portugal which is a first world country, costs less to live and health care is very affordable and after 5 years living their it is free.

I would not recommend to anyone to live here full time.


Thank you, @Good_Day for sharing your experiences. Can I ask, has the situation grown worse since COVID, perhaps? Is it dependent on the part of the island you live on? Are there “neighborhoods” that are more prone to this? I am sorry to hear this has happened to you, and many others. It is certainly very sage advice to not leave anything outside, or accessible. Do you know, do security lights and/or cameras act as a deterrent?

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Yes, the situation has grown worse with COVID. I believe all parts of the island are affected. Yes, security lights and cameras help. Good luck.

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Sad to hear this, I just read your post about the builder and how enthusiastic you were. What part of the island did you build? I"m trying to get a read on if the eastern part, past Punta Gorda, is less prone to violent and petty crime. I’m wondering if it makes sense to build a (semi-retirement) home, not full time and what types of steps we could take to secure belongings that we wish to keep on island. Do we need to build a full concrete basement with steel doors, have cameras and lights, and hire a caretaker to live on property? Sounds like you have decided it is not worth the hassle. Yet others love living on island and have raised families on island.

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