Best Islands to Live On: Nevis

Why Nevis? Some folks really come to the Caribbean for the excitement -- the pounding kettle drums, the ebullient carnivals and the rum-soaked beach parties. If peace and quiet is your thing, take a look at Nevis, a quaint outpost about 200 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. Unlike some of its Caribbean brethren, Nevis is short on drama and long on simple pleasures. If lying on the beach somehow gets old, you might climb the island's (safely extinct) volcano, poke around the rainforest or maybe even explore the ruins of British-era plantations -- all peacefully.Life of an "Expat" "The beginning of this goes back to when Barbara and I spent our honeymoon in Nassau and we liked the temp- erature," says Ted Cox. Ted, a retired arch- itect from Connecticut, and his wife are in their fourth decade as residents of Nevis. His journey from fair-weather honeymooner to expat elder statesman wound through much of the Caribbean. View Larger Map
"We used to take vacations every year with our two children, starting in Puerto Rico, Antigua, Montserrat and St. Croix," Ted says. The couple nearly bought property in Montserrat but reconsidered at the last minute. "The following year, that would be 1970," he recalls, "we came to Nevis." On the advice of a fellow expat, the Coxes snapped up four acres -- an unusually large plot for an outsider -- with sea views stretching to the western horizon. But that was just the beginning of the couple's resettlement. "We brought in electric service," Ted says. "And in those days telephone was almost unheard of; you had to go to town to make a telephone call. But we brought the utilities in and tapped into the waterline. And then we started building a house -- slowly. The words 'schedule' and 'completion date' don't exist here. The Nevitians live to be 120, and they just can't understand why we knock ourselves out trying to do things on time. But after a while, you begin to think they have a point." The couple's two-bedroom home, designed by Ted and later supplemented by an adjacent guesthouse, was finally finished in the late '70s. In 1988, the couple moved to the island full time. Ted promptly launched a second career as a farmer. "I went seriously into pineapples," he says. "I had something like 1,400 plants." Nowadays, he raises bananas, citrus and coffee, primarily to stock the couple's kitchen. For fun, there's the beach, golf and a low-key social life. "Leaving the United States -- that's a major change whether you're retiring or not," Ted says. "But for me, everything worked out fine. I have no regrets at all." ** Your New Home** * $ Three-bedroom home has views of Mount Nevis. $300,000 * $$ Three-bedroom home has a kitchen that opens up to a veranda and swimming pool. $550,000 * $$$ Three-bedroom decorated, hillside home on 2.5 acres with pool, dining pavilion and views. $3.5 million * Find more real-estate listings at oualierealty.com.Facts of Life * Climate: Tropical * Population of island: 12,000 * Percentage expats: 5% * Population of main town: Charlestown, 2,000 * House starting price: $200s * Travel from U.S.: Nonstop flights from Miami, New York, Charlotte and Atlanta to St. Kitts; then take a 45-minute ferry ride over to Nevis. * Closest hospital: Charlestown * Price of local beer: $2 for Carib * Language spoken: English * Ease of immigration: Easy with the Economic Citizenship Program * Ease of buying a home: Easy with that program * Website: nevisisland.comExplore More * Find more islands to live or retire on at islands.com/live.