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Living on Bonaire

When Visiting is No Longer Enough – making the transition from visitor to a resident.

Bonaire’s visitors have been known to return year after year.  Some of our visitors have arrived each year for over 40 years!  That is love. In fact, a high percentage of Bonaire’s tourists are repeat visitors. It is no surprise that some people decide that living on Bonaire is the best decision for them.

When people fall in love with Bonaire, eventually, they make the decision to move to Bonaire to live.  But exactly what is the process, and what must be done to live your dream on Bonaire?

Benefits of living on Bonaire.

These probably do not need to be enumerated for those who have visited the island, but here are some of the wonderful reasons why we choose to live on this small rock in the southern Caribbean Sea.

It’s always summer.

We don’t have to worry about snow, ice, or driving in slush. Yes, we get a few days a year with heavy rains, and yes, a seasonal tropical storm, or even a hurricane, can brush by us, usually to the north. However, most days, the weather is just glorious. After a year or two of pretty much non-stop 85ºF or 30ºC, one acclimates and even stops breaking a sweat.  Residents learn to find shade early on, even if it means crossing the street to walk on the shady side.  And, winter evenings can become quite chilly for us residents.  Temperatures can get as low as 72ºF or 24ºC.  Don’t laugh at us when you see us bundled up in a sweatshirt!

It’s all about nature on Bonaire.

No matter where on the island you choose to live, you’ll be just minutes away from a great nature spot!  Or, if you’re lucky, you’ll be living in concert with nature already. Enjoying your favorite sport in Bonaire’s waters, or relaxing at the shoreline, or in the kunuku (farming area), is a great way to spend one’s days. Life becomes simple and good.

Living on Bonaire offers a small and friendly community.

Bonaire’s population has steadily grown in recent years and now hovers around 24,000 inhabitants from 75 nationalities as of September 2023. Of course, the friendly, smiling faces of the people who live here haven’t changed a bit.  When asked why visitors keep returning, invariably, their response is, “Because of the friendly people here on Bonaire.”  Once someone relocates to live permanently on Bonaire, they become one of those perpetually smiling faces.  Why wouldn’t they, when they live in paradise!

The water is always warm.

Many people wishing to relocate to Bonaire are users of the Bonaire National Marine Park.  They might be SCUBA diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, or kiting.  What they all have in common is that they are all spending lots of time in the waters around Bonaire.  Having a nice warm water temperature allows one to spend even more leisure time in pursuit of one of these activities.  The water temperature is warm from about July through December (82 to 84ºF or 27.5 to 29ºC).  Starting in December and January, the water temperature can dip a bit colder (76 to 80ºF or 24.5 to 26.5ºC).

Free health care when living on Bonaire.

Once you become an official resident on Bonaire, you will receive your island identification card, called a sedula. Once you have your sedula in hand, you are eligible for the Dutch health care system provided at no cost to residents of Bonaire.  You don’t have to worry about co-payments or deductibles. You simply present your sedula, and services are given.  An added benefit is that, since Bonaire became a special municipality of The Netherlands in 2010, Bonaire’s health care system has been upgraded, and now the island offers excellent health care. Of course, don’t forget to take care of yourself and stay healthy by engaging in a fitness activitiy or enjoying a spa treatment.

Plenty of events and activities when living on Bonaire.

Many people, when they first move here, wish to see and do everything.  For those, there’s no lack of activities which one can enjoy when living on Bonaire.  Along with the steady population growth, clubs, events, and activities have expanded as well.  For those who wish, there are concerts, lots of nightlife, special interest groups, such as the chess club, as well as a variety of cultural, educational, or historical events.

For others, a simple life is enough, and one is free to pursue that.  Some choose to live in the kunuku (farm area), while others choose a  local neighborhood in which to live, while yet others choose a condo or villa on the shore. Whatever lifestyle you wish to have, it can be enjoyed on Bonaire!

If you like to keep busy and wish to enjoy Bonaire’s myriad activities, visit the Bonaire Calendar of Events to see the latest happenings.

Finding or building a home.

Once you make the decision to relocate to Bonaire, you’ll need to start thinking about either finding a home or building your home. In many cases, there are excellent turnkey properties, many with furnishings included, just waiting for the right person to say, “this is my new home!”

Bonaire’s realtors are all experienced in buying or selling homes or property on Bonaire, and they can ably assist you with all aspects of becoming a homeowner.  Should you decide to build your own dream house, they can also assist with finding and purchasing the proper lot.

Should you decide to build instead of purchasing an existing home, you will need to find an architect to draw up your blueprints and then find the right builder to make the home a reality.

Establishing a banking relationship.

Establishing a banking relationship for those who are not local citizens can be a lengthy process.  It is recommended that you begin the process immediately upon making the decision to move to Bonaire.  Bonaire’s banks are excellent, offering all the services of larger international banks, but you might have to wait several weeks to a month or more to get your initial appointment for an interview. 

Choose your bank and request an appointment along with the list of documents you may need to provide.

Religious services.

For an island with a small population, Bonaire has diversity in religious services and every denomination (or non-denomination) will welcome you into their community.  Services are held in a variety of languages, including Papiamentu, Dutch, and English.  Many new arrivals on Bonaire will attend the services of different churches before finding the one which they feel is best suited to their needs.

Recycling.

With the burgeoning population comes additional trash.  All new residents are encouraged to recycle as much as possible.  The recycling center at Selibon is located on Kaya Industria, just next to Warehouse Bonaire Supermarket.  Be sure to separate your cardboard boxes, batteries, plastic, and glass, and visit the recycling center to deposit them in the appropriately marked bins.

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