Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, there are a number of factors that draw expats to the beautiful Central American destination of Honduras. The country’s expat population may be relatively small, but is growing steadily with people from Germany, France, Norway and the US, in particular, looking to Honduras to find a piece of Caribbean paradise where they can enjoy a better quality of life without breaking the bank.
Living in Honduras as an expat
People move to Honduras for a number of reasons. Many of the foreign residents living in the country have taken advantage of the favourable property prices and low cost of living and have chosen it as their retirement destination. Others move to the country to work for an NGO, a missionary organisation or in the medical field. Due to the fact that many of the wealthier locals choose to leave the country in search of job opportunities overseas, there is a huge demand for professionals with skills in sectors such as IT, administration and hospitality.
Expats relocating to Honduras should prepare themselves for a slower pace of life and general bureaucratic backlogs. Spanish is the official language of Honduras and taking a basic language course before relocating is advisable. Those who take the time to learn the local language will find their experience far richer, thanks to their ability to interact with the locals. Crime is a social concern in Honduras with armed robberies and violence being major concerns. Generally, the most dangerous areas are parts of urban centres and the areas close to the borders with El Salvador and Guatemala. It is important to bear in mind, though, that most crimes committed against foreigners are opportunistic and expats can avoid being targeted by taking basic safety measures.
The quality of healthcare in Honduras varies across regions. Public hospitals aren't really up to the standard that most Western expats would be used to. These facilities are sub-par due to poor funding and lack of staff. There are a few private hospitals in the urban centres but it is wise to invest in a fully comprehensive health insurance plan that covers the cost of evacuation to the US for emergency medical treatment.
Cost of living in Honduras
One of the reasons why so many expats are choosing to settle in Honduras is the country's low cost of living. Housing, food, schools, healthcare, and just about everything else, are very affordable. Those expats who earn a foreign currency, especially, can afford the finer things in life in Honduras.
Families and children
Honduras may not be at the top of the list when it comes to family-friendly destinations, but many expat families make it work here, and enjoy a peaceful, affordable, lifestyle. It's also a great base for families to travel the Americas and the Caribbean.
Although education is highly valued in Honduran society, demonstrated quite clearly by the fact that the country has consistently had a literacy rate of over 90 percent, the sad reality is that, due to economic constraints, many people don't complete their studies. Public schools in Honduras aren't a viable option for foreigners as they are often underfunded and also because the language of instruction is Spanish. There are only a handful of international schools in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, and it's best that expat parents start the application process early to secure a spot for their child well before they move to Honduras.
Climate in Honduras
Honduras has a tropical climate and experiences hot and humid conditions almost year round, though the mountainous area is slightly cooler than the rest of the country. Expats should note that the dry season runs from November to April and the wet season from May to October. The north coast receives rain throughout the year and the Caribbean coast experiences heavy downfall from September to February.
While expats relocating to Honduras may be shocked by the high levels of poverty, those who choose to settle down in this country will be rewarded with a relaxed and peaceful lifestyle, a great climate and the opportunity to contribute to the development of the country. Whether expats choose Honduras as a long-term option or only stay for a short stint, there is no doubt that the experience will be an unforgettable one.
Population: About 9.5 million
Capital city: Tegucigalpa
Neighbouring countries: Honduras is bordered in the southwest by El Salvador, the west by Guatemala and the southeast by Nicaragua. The country is also bordered by coastlines to the north and south.
Geography: The terrain of Honduras is mainly mountainous with some plains on the coast. There are a handful of islands scattered around the coast of Honduras.
Political system: Presidential republic
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: Spanish
Money: The Honduran lempira (HNL) is subdivided into 100 centavos. Foreigners should be able to open a bank account fairly easily, and ATMs are available throughout the country, although they may sometimes run out of cash.
Tipping: A service charge of 10 percent is usually added to bills at restaurants in Honduras, but anything extra is for good service. It is customary to tip hotel bellboys and cleaning staff for good service.
Electricity: 110V, 60Hz. Plugs in Honduras have two flat blades.
Internet domain: .hn