Barbados is the place that many remote workers and their families visit for the sun, but stay for the culture and way of life. Socially, there is a vibrant expat community, as well as long stay visitors who spend half the year on island, usually escaping winter. These communities blend in with island life through work, play, sport, schools. While there’s no denying the conveniences of a larger country and savoring the fast pace of urban living, Barbados is a Caribbean cultural epicenter that draws expats from all over the world and those looking for a fulfilling work life balance.
Designated as a Small Island Developing State, Barbados has one of the highest standards of living in the developing world. It boasts a low crime rate, international education for children, varied options for housing and high-speed connectivity. Barbados is overall a very safe island, but there is petty crime in most residential areas. General travel and city rules apply: don’t flash your cash, don’t leave your doors unlocked, and don’t walk in any dark areas at night.
Barbados saw an over 80% decline in the economy in 2020, driven largely by a standstill on international travel and tourism due to the pandemic. In response to this, the Barbados government launched the 12 Month Welcome Stamp program to open up the island to more long term visitors to help boost and redefine the local economy. The Welcome Stamp was the first digital nomad visa in the Caribbean offering qualified individuals and families the opportunity to live and work in Barbados for up to 12 months.
Visitors and expats often end up mingling in the same bars, restaurants, events and beaches as the locals. There are a number of remote-friendly neighborhoods and thriving communities in Barbados. Unlike many other countries, most people in Barbados do not live in the capital, Bridgetown and there are many suburbs and developed areas across the island. However, when looking for a home base, we recommend focusing on the southern and western coasts of the island, where you’ll find more busy social centers, particularly in the south, which is a big area for nightlife and boasts amore local vibe.
Restaurants and bars, ranging from luxury to low key, are dotted along the coast and inland. There is no shortage of things to do, see and eat along the south coast. The neighborhoods along this coast tend to be more established, offering a combination of traditional coral stone Barbados bungalows, as well as newly developed apartment blocks and townhouses. Transportation is easy along the south coast, with an intricate bus system and lots of private taxi options.
Rockley/Hastings—both names are often used interchangeably—is a favorite neighborhood for nomads, as it is within walking distance of supermarkets, cafes, remote work spots, banks, gyms and the beach. Rockley, Blue Waters, Marine Gardens, Fort George Heights and Navy Gardens are conveniently located and family friendly neighborhoods that are popular with nomads.
You can also walk along the south coast and you'll find lots of bars, cafes, beach bars and the famous boardwalk which is awesome for exercise and socializing and the best people-watching spots include Chill Bar and Cafe and Tapas Restaurant. This area is home to largest number of coworking spaces, with popular spots like Artsplash Cafe, Starbucks and Copacabana, as well as lesser known gems such as Sage Bistro and Senses Marche. There are a few high-end restaurants such as Champers, but far more casual spots such as a new food truck space Worthing Square. There is also the famous local fast food chain, Chefette, which is known for their fried chicken.
The easiest form of transportation in Barbados is car, as the narrow roads are not pedestrian or bike friendly. However, on the south coast there is direct access to buses and transport throughout the day, up until midnight. If you need to get to the west coast, you just hop on a bus to Bridgetown, and then switch over to another one that takes you on the second leg.
Warrens is a commercial epicentre that has rapidly developed over the past 20 years centrally located between the south and west coast, with easy access to both thanks to the highways. The surrounding neighborhoods of Millennium Heights, Edghill, Clermont and Prior Park are home to a number of digital nomads with families.
This area houses a number of corporate headquarters, so there is a certain commercial buzz during the day, with a Caribbean tilt thanks to the coconut vendors who line the highways. Warrens is a top choice because of the proximity to beaches, gyms, restaurants, supermarkets, and coworking spaces and cafes. A decent network of public transportation consisting of buses and taxis connects those in Warrens with the rest of the island, but to venture outside of the area, you’ll likely want a car.
Open Kitchen, Splurge Cake Studio and Cafe 195 are local favorites for working, eating and meeting. For a more formal coworking set-up, head over to Regus where you can rent a hot desk or a dedicated space, including printing and admin support. Bento Box and Open Kitchen are great for lunch or an after work drink. Head down University Hill to La Cabane, one of the best farm to table restaurants on the beach.
Typically, the west coast is more expensive than the rest of the island because of the calm blue beaches lined with luxury hotels, golf courses, and modern resorts. Holetown boasts a number of inviting neighborhoods, with Sunset Crest being a popular choice for families. Sunset Crest is within walking distance of a large supermarket, banks, Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, as well as a number of restaurants, bars and beaches.
It's quite a compact area so you can get everywhere quite quickly. You are also on the direct bus route so you can hop on a bus and go up and down the West Coast and into Bridgetown. Holetown caters to tourists, so you'll find a bit of everything there. The restaurants and bars are on the higher price points, and there are limited casual dining options. Overall, it is very clean and lush compared to other parts of the island.
There are fewer coworking spaces available in the Holetown area, mainly because rental costs are higher than the South Coast. Within Sunset Crest you can work from Bean ‘n’ Bagel and Coffee Bean Cafe. Limegrove Lifestyle Centre offers a few spots where you can do your work, such as Buzz Box Cafe and Always Summer. There are also a few exclusive membership clubs such as Royal Westmoreland and Sandy Lane that offer club houses where you can work.
Holetown is also the place to be on a Friday night, the bars are buzzing! Start with a drink at the Bearded Roseor West Bar in Limegrove and then walk across the street for live music at The Mews or bottle service at Zoukin 1st Street.
You can expect a slower pace of life in Speightstown. This historic town is slowly becoming gentrified, but it retains much of its charm thanks to roadside vendors and the historic buildings. Some would say it’s remote—a relative term on such a small island—compared to other areas of the island, but it’s only 15 minutes away from Holetown and those who live there absolutely love it. Some of the island’s top beaches, such as Gibbs and Mullins, are a stone’s throw away from the centre of Speightstown.
With a busy main street full of bars and restaurants, the food scene is growing quite rapidly in this area. The Local & Co. is a beautiful, beachfront farm to table restaurant, housed in a meticulously restored coral stone building serving creative dishes using local ingredients. Sea Shed, Orange Street Grocer, The Fish Pot and Pier One are some of the other popular restaurants in the area, all offering spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. If you’re looking for somewhere to work from during the day, you can park yourself in the air conditioned lounge of The Local & Co., or sit with the sand between your toes at Outpost.
You can watch live music at Little Bristol Beach Bar, or grab an ice cream and stroll along the newly refurbished pier. Locals love to hang out at Outpost (formerly One Eleven) a beach club with delicious cocktails, great DJs and a buzzing vibe on the weekends. Don’t be surprised to find families hanging out here as well, as this is a popular spot for young children to play on the beach. For more casual eats, be sure to try a fresh fish sandwich and rum punch from Caboose, a colorful eatery housed in a wooden fishing boat.