How to Move to St Barth

It’s the most exclusive island in the Caribbean, and one of the most beautiful, too. It’s the place where everyone wants to see and be seen. And while this French Caribbean jewel is not a big place, it does have a robust collection of real estate. So can you actually buy a home there? Can  you live there? To learn more, we talked to Zarek Honneysett, Sales Manager of Sibarth Real Estate/Christie’s International Real Estate in St Barth.

Why should I move to St. Barth?

St Barth is a luxury destination drawing visitors from all over the world. The island features some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the Caribbean, with unparalleled security, privacy, fine dining and a wide range of activities. This unpretentious, chic island is the perfect getaway, with a well deserved reputation of excellence.

Can I live there? What are the residency laws, etc.?

St Barth is a French island and anyone with a European passport can live and work on the island. U.S. and Canadian citizens can stay as tourists for up to 90 days without a visa. And US citizens can buy a home in St Barth — there are no restrictions for foreign buyers. Countries requiring French visas need the ones that specifically state COLLECTIVITE DE SAINT BARTHELEMY ET SAINT MARTIN “valid for France except CTOM” or “DFA” (French Departments in the Americas). All visas must be issued by the French Embassy before travel begins.

How much does the average home cost?

The average sale price last year, for secondary homes purchased through our agency, was around 4,5 million euros.

What are the advantages of living permanently versus part-time?

To become a resident of St Barths, you need to live on the island for over 6 months a year, for 5 years. Once you are a St Baths resident, a local tax code applies, which has a number of advantages. Notably, St Barths residents do not pay any income tax.

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How much does a beachfront condo cost?

There are no beachfront condos. There are some beachfront villas but they are rare and come at a premium.  St Barth is such a tiny island, that people are used to driving to the beach from their hilltop villa. And in case you change your mind on the way, it only takes 5 minutes to drive from Gouverneur Beach to St Jean Beach!

How much does it cost to build a home?

The construction cost for a new home is around 8, 000 euros/m2. The quality of the construction is very high. St Barth is the home of talented architects, builders and craftsmen that can assist you in your project, thanks to their local knowledge.

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What are the real estate taxes like?

The local St Barth Tax Code is the code that is applied to any property located on the island. There are no yearly property taxes. Upon purchase, the one-time transfer tax is currently 5% of the sale price, to which the buyer has to add some related minor taxes and notary fees, making up a total of about 6%.

In case of capital gain upon a resale, a capital gains tax has to be settled with the local government. While this tax rate is currently 20%, it is important to point out that a substantial discount may be obtained, increasing over time, in accordance with the number of years of ownership. As an example, there are no local capital gains taxes after 15 years of ownership for a secondary residence and after 10 years in the case of a main residence.

Depending on the residence of the seller, the social charges of CSG and CRDS might be applied on the capital gains.

What are income taxes like?

There is no income tax for St Barth residents.

What’s health care like?

There is a small hospital on the island. To receive special treatment, patients must travel overseas to either to Martinique, Guadeloupe, the US or France.

What’s it like for kids?

There are three schools to choose from, all teaching the French educational program. For playtime, there are so many activities to choose from, such as tennis, soccer, music – the list is limitless.  Let’s not forget all the watersport activities and, of course, the beaches– their favorite playground!

Can I bring my car? What’s the duty?

Yes. There is a 5% tax on everything you import to the island.