Living on, retiring to or working on the tropical island of
Isla Margarita or Margarita Island, Venezuela
Tropical Island Living!

If you are considering living on, retiring to or moving to the tropical island of
Isla Margarita (Margarita Island), Venezuela and want information then this is the place. 

I have tried to be as realistic and straight forward as possible, 
however, remember that these are just my opinions 
after living on this tropical island of Isla Margarita for more than 26 years
and there may be others who would not agree with everything I say.
Living in the tropics can be either a relaxed way of life or it can drive you crazy
with frustration that things are not the same as you are used to.

Because of the amount of information I have broken it down into 4 separate pages:

Page One (you are here):
Climate and Weather, Property Ownership, Exchange Controls,
Starting a Business and working on Margarita Island, Venezuela

Page Two:
Supermarket Food Prices, Utilities including phone, Internet,

Electricity & Water & Cellular phones.

Page Three:
Language, Banking, House help, Nannies, Gardeners, Security Guards,

Political Situation & Security

Page Four:
Schools, Doctors, Hospitals, Medical Insurance, Buying a Car and Insurance, Driving

Climate / Weather

Isla Margarita is blessed with one of the most fantastic climates in the world. We basically have a desert climate with long periods of little or no rain and low humidity. The daytime temperature only changes about 4ºC over the whole year. Daytime temperatures at Playa El Agua on the north coast range from a high of 31ºC (87ºF) in September to low of 26ºC (80ºF) in January. Nighttime temps are about 3ºC cooler. The temperatures on the south and west side of the Island (Juan Griego) can be a few degrees warmer as they receive a land wind while the north and east side gets the sea breeze.

In addition, Margarita Island is outside the hurricane zone with
most storms going north of us.
In the 25 years I have been here we were only brushed
once by the edge of a tropical storm (1992 - tropical storm Brett).
There are also no volcanoes and the risk of earthquake is very low.
There is no fog or hail and the rain, when it comes, seldom lasts very long. 
We receive, on average, more than 340 days a year of 6 hours of sun or more.

For more information on the weather of Margarita visit our weather page.

Property Ownership

There is no problem* for foreigners to own property in Venezuela in general, or Isla Margarita in particular,
however it is essential that you have an unbiased lawyer that is not connected to the seller.
It is also helpful to hire a reliable person who can translate for you if you do not speak or read Spanish well. 
I do NOT recommend lawyers, real estate agents, translators
or types of properties or areas to buy in so please do not ask me.

Update: Sept. 2013
It has come to my attention that there are a number of new rules related to foreigners buying property & businesses in Venezuela.
My recommendation is that during your period of getting to know Margarita Island (see below)
that you talk with a lawyer well versed in property law.
Here anything is doable if you have the right person assisting you.

Properties have a wide range of prices depending on the area that you choose.
In the beach areas, like Playa El Agua, the prices will be considerably higher than in a village in the center of Margarita like Santa Ana.
The cheaper the property the more chances are that it will be in an unsuitable area for foreigners.

I strongly recommend that anyone considering a permanent move to Margarita Island
first rent from 6 months to a year to see if living here is to your liking. 
It is MUCH easier to buy a property than to sell it and many foreigners do not adjust well to life here.
If you are thinking of a property solely for investment you REALLY need to do some research.
There are a few companies actively promoting properties in the UK & Europe that may or may not be valid investments.
BEFORE making any commitments do your homework.
Update 2013 - most of these companies have disappeared leaving many uncompleted projects.

If you are communicating with people who are telling you to hurry or "buy now while prices are low"
or trying to create a sense of urgency then they are not being 100% straight with you.
Anyone who is aware of the potential long term consequences of the current political & economic situation would not be telling you this.
The government has announced that exchange controls will be with us "for life" to prevent capital flight and
new laws have been passed that will make large unofficial currency exchanges even more difficult and illegal.
Update Sept. 2013 -
There are comments coming from the government that there might be a relaxation of the currency controls
in the new year (2014) or sooner. Most experts agree that that actual implementation of these relaxed controls
will be a difficult political move by this government. Time will tell.

This does not affect tourists who change money for their vacation. It is quite possible that once you put hard currency into this market you may not be able to easily convert it back. The government has also started taking over empty private land & apartments to turn over to farmers and for housing sites and there have been apartment invasions in Caracas & Margarita. Please investigate this before investing.


You will have a much better personal view point on this
if you just spend some time here renting for awhile and get a feel for things.

You must pay cash for properties.
Interest rates at the banks for mortgages fluctuate greatly and can run as high as 30% per year or more.
It sometimes may be possible to arrange an owner take-back mortgage
however these can be tricky and you will need the help of a very good lawyer.
Contracts in Dollars, Euros or Sterling are not legal.
My experience is that most owners will not do it due to the poor court system here.

If you are being offered terms by companies selling properties here be sure that what you are signing is a proper mortgage and property deed. The only legal documents here in Venezuela are written in Bolivars / Bolivars Fuerte (which devalue rapidly) and not in dollars, Euros or pounds. If you are signing a loan agreement in foreign currencies and the sellers do not deliver on their promises you may have no legal recourses against them and the loan may not be a mortgage but a personal loan that you will be responsible for regardless of what happens here in Venezuela.

One such project, La Ensenada, here in Margarita Island appears to have been abandoned.
See some photos we took during March, 2009
at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tropical-island/sets/72157614612343122/

If you are interested in dealing directly with owners wishing to sell a good resource is the
"properties for sale" page on the IslaMagarita.com web site.

You can also see information on a
B&B (posada) / hotel / large house for sale
in Playa El Agua beach here!


These properties are primarily located in the main tourist areas of Playa El Agua & Playa Parguito.
Also the classified ad section of the local newspaper . See the upper right hand corner of the page.

If you need some time to find a rental place I can recommend my vacation property as an affordable & comfortable place to stay for a couple of weeks / months while you are looking around and getting oriented.


Margarita Tropical Villa Pool
Margarita Tropical Villa bed and breakfast (posada), Playa el Agua, Margarita Island, Venezuela
Bed & breakfast in Playa El Agua. 10 rooms with king size beds, A/C, pool, fridges, DirecTV with HBO & CineMax, free Internet & breakfast
From US$33 - See www.casatrudel.com for info!


Pool Side Room

Exchange Controls now in Effect

I have decided to add this section due to the questions we have been receiving. Please keep in mind that we must keep the information very general as the official law is that all transactions must be done through official sources at the official rate of Bs.11,8. That said, the reality is that there is a healthy secondary market to exchange US$ cash. Traveler's checks are much more difficult.

 Oct. 10, 2005 A new penalties law has now been passed by the government and will officially come into effect on Oct. 14 assessing large fines and potential jail terms for those caught violating the exchange laws. It has been reported that this new law will NOT affect those in the country for less than 180 days (tourists) and for amounts under US$10.000 in any one year.

At best it will increase the cost of living considerably as wages went up 25% on May 1, 2005, 15% on Feb. 1, 2006, 10% on Sept. 1, 2006, 20% in May 2007, 30% in May 2008, 10% in May 2009 & 10% in Sept. 2009 and prices are following along. If foreigners are no longer able to go to the parallel market to change their foreign currency then their costs will rise anywhere from 20 to 40% (combination of higher prices and lower exchange rate). We will try and update this as the situation changes however we are restricted by how much information we can publish. We will only be able to refer to the official rate which is BsF.2,15 to US$1.

Feb. 15, 2009 The black market flourishes with rates more than double the official rates.
This means that prices for those with hard currency are again very reasonable.

Aug. 25, 2009. The alternate exchange rate is now about 150% above the controlled rate.

Oct. 6, 2009. The government is trying to lower the parallel rate through
the sale of US$ denominated bonds. This has a temporary effect
and has resulted in a drop of about 15%. This last week it has been slowly rising again
and as of yesterday was about 140% above the official rate.

Jan. 8, 2010. The government announces a 100% devaluation
of the official rate to BsF.4,30 to US$1.
The parallel rate is now some 60% above the official rate (March 2010)

 May 13, 2010. The government has changed the rules again & is cracking down
on anyone who publishes an exchange rate other than the official one
& has eliminated brokerages houses as middlemen in the sale of US$ denominated bonds
which were a legal way of converting BsF. into hard currency.
Now all trades must be made through the Central Bank,
No one knows as yet how this is going to impact the non official market.
One thing is obvious, it will be much harder to convert the proceeds
of an apartment or house sale into hard currency if you receive Bolivars.

 Dec. 31, 2010. The game rules have changed again.
Much of the food & medicine in the country is imported.
It was given a special exchange rate of BsF.2,6 to US$1.
That has now been eliminated & will now be imported at the BsF.4,3 rate.
What effect this will have on an already galloping inflation remains to be seen.

July 8, 2011. Inflation for the year is running around 25%.
Exchange rates on the street are about 75% higher than the official rate.
There is now another exchange rate for companies in Venezuela that is around BsF.5.4 to US$1.
It involves the sale of government bonds which can then be sold for hard currency.
Individuals are limited to $5,000 in this market.

Sept. 18, 2012. As we approach the election on Oct. 7, 2012 the government has not increased
the official exchange rate of Bs.4,3 & street rates are now above 100% of the official rate.

Feb. 3, 2013. After the re-election of Chavez on Oct. 7, 2012 the black market rate has exploded
& is now more than 4x higher than the official rate.
The government keeps denying that there will be a devaluation in early 2013
but most economic experts are predicting that despite the denials they will have no other options.
If you want to invest now may be a good time.

Feb. 9, 2013. The long expected but denied devaluation came last night.
The Bolivar was devalued from Bs.4,3 to Bs.6,3 which many experts are saying was not enough.
They also eliminated the bond sale market (SITME) which was providing another source of hard currency for businesses.
The net effect of all this will be rising inflation & pressure on the black market
which has risen dramatically in the last 6 months due to the shortage of hard currency.

Sept. 23, 2013. Well, it's been an eventful year.
New president, Nicolas Maduro, who seems to be stumbling badly economically.
The black market rate is now 6+ times higher than the official rate of Bs.6,3 to US$1,
Inflation is running unofficially at 100%+ for 2013.
Rumours of a pending devaluation after the local elections in early December, 2013.
The SITME currency market was replaced by the SICAD currency market but there have been no new auctions for a month.
Basically the government doesn't have enough hard currency to meet the pent up demand.
Shortages of basic products are evident everywhere.
Electrical problems throughout the country.

Dec. 24, 2013. Starting in January they will be a new rate for tourists on Bs.11,3 to US$1.
That mans that you will find kiosks in larger hotels & airports where they will change your US$ for this price.
As I understand it this will also apply to Credit & Debit card transactions.

Feb.22, 2014 Tourist rate is now Bs.11,8 to US$1

July 25, 2014: Sicad 1 rate Bs.11.0 to US$1
Sicad 2 rate - Bs.49.96 to US$1

 

The problem at the moment is that residents here on Margarita with no local income either have to have a good supply of cash or traveler's checks (difficult to change) or be dependent on getting the official rate with their credit cards or ATM cards (a penalty of approximately xxx% or more). Once you have lived here for awhile you may be able to establish the trust of people here who will accept a bank transfer to a US bank or use PayPal and give you Bolivars in exchange. This is not something I would recommend to a new arrival until you build up some trusting relationships with the business sector here so the only other reasonable solution is to have a supply of money on hand.
You can NOT get US$ cash here with an ATM or credit card or by going into a local bank with Bolivars.
Moral of the story - bring US$ cash when you come to Venezuela.

Starting a Business or Working

Many of you, no doubt, would like to find work on Margarita Island. This is a very difficult proposition.
You first will need a work visa which is difficult to obtain in the present political climate.
Once you do obtain a visa then you will find that salaries are MUCH lower than you would expect.
Some 80% of the country works for the minimum wage of about US$69 per month at the unofficial rate
and as a result even management and professional salaries are not much higher.
A salary of Bs.5.000, which is at the high end,
would only be under US$100 per month at the Sicad 2 rate.

To obtain more information about visas, work permits and requirements to live in Venezuela in general, and Isla Margarita in particular, please visit or contact the nearest Venezuelan embassy or consulate in your own country. They are the only ones who have the latest info.
Don't bother e-mailing them - they won't answer. Instead make a personal visit or, if this is not feasible, then a phone call.

For a list of Venezuelan Consulates & Embassies around the world see the list at the this site

The only way to make a reasonable level of income is by having your own business and the easiest way to do this is to buy one which already has all the necessary permits and licenses to operate. Dealing with the government on any level can be a very frustrating exercise and to start fresh can be a killer. Due to the current economic slow down and the devaluation there are many businesses for sale.

We do not hire people and have no additional information
about jobs or how to get them.

Please do not send me your CV or photos. My best suggestion is to visit Margarita and investigate what might be available in your particular field. Sending e-mails is ineffective.

Getting to Margarita Island & Other FAQ's

I have created a page of FAQ's which will answer many regular tourist questions that you may have about getting here, what to do once you are here, maps of the Island and much, much more.
Please visit www.casatrudel.com/linksenglish.htm .

I hope this answers at least some of your questions. If you can think of anything that I did not cover then drop me an e-mail and I will try & add it.

Living, Working & Retiring In Margarita Island, Venezuela - Page Index
Page One
Climate, Property, Exchange, Business & Working
Page Two
Food Prices, Utilities, Phone, Internet
Page Three
Language, Banking, Help, Security, Political
Page Four
Schools, Hospitals, Doctors, Car Buying, Insurance

  

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Telephone: Please call ONLY between 8 AM & 7 PM Venezuelan Time
We do not give quotes by telephone. Please send an email.
(58) 295-249-0558 or Cel (58) 416-695-3704

NOTA IMPORTANTE: Si requiere información de disponibilidad o precios favor enviarnos un e-mail.
No damos información via telefónica.

This site was created by Dan O'Brien...your comments & suggestions are welcome.