The island of St. Maarten has a relatively high standard of living compared to the neighboring Caribbean islands. Since the 1980’s Saint Martin has had a thriving tourism-based economy, because of this many locals can obtain jobs in the tourism industry.
The cost of living on the island of St. Maarten is relatively high. The average expense for one person to live on the island of Saint Martin is $1500 per month, excluding rent. In Saint Martin, $1500 per month would cover costs such as food, shopping costs, utilities, entertainment costs, and other personal care costs. Additionally, the average cost of rent in St. Martin ranges from $900-$2200 per month. St. Maarten is not considered a third-world country.
The following paragraphs will explain more information about the necessary costs and living conditions in Saint Martin.
Table of Contents
- What is life like in St. Maarten?
- How are the market prices in St. Maarten?
- What is the average utility cost in St. Maarten?
- What is the average entertainment cost in St. Maarten?
- What is the average housing cost in St. Maarten?
- What are the average clothing costs in St. Maarten?
- How is the childcare in St. Maarten?
- How are the transportation conditions in St. Maarten?
- How is the traffic in St. Maarten?
- How is the healthcare in St. Maarten?
- How is the education system in St. Maarten?
- How is the economy of St. Maarten?
- How is the climate of St. Maarten?
- How is the geography of St. Maarten?
- How is the social culture in St. Maarten?
- How is the entertainment culture in St. Maarten?
- How is the pollution in St. Maarten?
- What is the religion in St. Maarten?
- Is St. Maarten safe to live?
- How is the architecture and city structure of St. Maarten?
What is life like in St. Maarten?
Saint Martin is an island that attracts many tourists. This leads to the island having a high standard of living with many first-world comforts being readily available such as modern and well-stocked supermarkets, quick internet speed, easy access to healthcare services, and a wide range of housing and transportation options.
In Saint Martin, finding employment is quite simple as many jobs are found within the tourism industry. Many of the locals find employment in the tourism industry and this affords many a middle-class lifestyle.
The island of Sint Maarten has seen quite a lot of development in recent years, the HDI or Human Development Index ranking for both French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten ranks high at 0.702.
Is it possible to work in St. Maarten?
Yes, St. Maarten is an island with many work opportunities available to locals and foreigners. Many of the jobs available are in the tourism industry since St. Maarten has a tourism-based economy. The influx of tourists to Saint Martin affords these workers in the tourism industry a middle-class lifestyle.
To work in Sint Maarten, all foreign residents must apply for a residence permit and work permit. To apply for the residence, permit the applicant must remain outside of the island of Saint Martin while the application is pending, otherwise, the application may be rejected. A security deposit must be submitted along with the residence permit application, the price will vary depending on the applicant’s country of origin. The security deposit will be returned to the applicant upon the applicant’s final departure from St. Maarten.
Foreign nationals looking to be employed in Saint Martin must request a work permit through the department of labor, with the support of their prospective employer. The requirements for foreigners seeking to obtain a work permit in Saint Martin are listed below.
- A passport photo that has been taken recently and that reflects your current appearance. The passport photo must have a width of 35 mm and a height of 45 mm.
- A photocopy of your entire passport.
- An off-island declaration signed by your prospective employer.
- Documents and/or other information that show your educational background. These can include copies of diplomas, reference letters, and certificates.
- Documents that prove that your labor registration is of the current year.
- Proof that the advertisement for your prospective job was placed in the local papers.
- A notification of vacancy, which is a written notice that describes the position, the qualifications, and duties that the job requires, and the range in salary.
- A copy of the labor agreement between you and your prospective employer which should include your salary, the duration of your employment, the hours you will be working, and the title of your position.
- If you own a sole proprietorship you will need a tax declaration, which is a statement made to the tax authorities stating your earnings during that year. Otherwise, you will need a summary form of your monthly taxes.
- The application form must be completed fully as well as signed and dated.
If you are in one of the following situations listed below you do not need to apply for a work permit to work in Saint Martin.
- You are currently married to a Dutch citizen.
- You have an infinite residence permit. Persons in possession of an indefinite residence permit
- You are 18 years old and have five previous and consecutive residence permits that have been guaranteed by a parent or guardian.
- You are a Dutch citizen.
What is the average wage in St. Maarten?
The average salary per year in St. Maarten is around $46,000 U.S Dollars (39,000 euros).
What is the minimum wage in St. Maarten?
The minimum hourly wage for an employee in Saint Martin is about $5 per hour. The average hourly wage is $22 (19 Euros). The average monthly salary for a person working in Saint Martin is around $3,800 (3200 Euros).
In St. Maarten, most wages are based on the amount of education and work experience the employee has. In most industries on the island, employees having experience from two to five years earn on average 32% more than entry-level and junior level employees. Most employees experience a 4% salary increase around every two years.
In St. Maarten, 25% of the population are earning less than $2,100 (1,800 Euro) per month while 75% of the population are earning more than $2,100 (1,800 Euro) per month.
How are the market prices in St. Maarten?
The market prices in Sint Maarten are generally more expensive than in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Europe because most of the foods are imported. The prices of some commonly bought items that can be bought in Saint Martin are listed below.
- Water (1.5-liter bottle): $1.75 (1.50 Euros)
- Milk (1 liter): $2.80 (2.35 Euros)
- Loaf of Bread: $2.46 (2.07 Euros)
- White Rice (1 kg): $2.75 (2.31 Euros)
- Eggs (12 pack): $3.99 (3.36 Euros)
- Beef (1 kg): $11.98 USD (9.50 Euros)
- Apples (1 kg): $7.99 USD (6.73 Euros)
- Bananas (1 kg): $4.88 (4.88 Euros)
- Oranges (1 kg): $5.99 (5.04 Euros)
- Lettuce (1 head): $2.67 (2.25 Euros)
What is the average food cost in St. Maarten?
The average cost of food in Sint Maarten is quite expensive compared to other countries because the food of Saint Martin is generally imported from other countries. The price of most meals throughout the day are listed below.
- Breakfast: $3-$9
- Lunch: $11-$16 USD
- An affordable dinner: $12-$20
- A more expensive dinner: $50-$75
- Supermarket – Slightly more expensive than most territories
Other personal care costs in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Men’s Haircut: $9 to $20 (€8 to €19)
- Salon Treatment for Women: $85
- Gym Membership: $127 per month
What is the average utility cost in St. Maarten?
The average utility cost in Sint Maarten for utilities such as water, heat, gas, garbage, and electricity cost approximately $224 US dollars in total per month. High-speed Internet access costs about $91 per month.
What is the average entertainment cost in St. Maarten?
The entertainment on the island of St. Martin consists of enjoying the nightlife at bars, eating at fine restaurants, and enjoying the beaches and fun water sports.
The average price for eating at a restaurant is around $15-$31 per person. Excursions such as visiting neighboring islands or tours on a sailboat usually cost around $120-$300 US dollars per person. Having drinks at some of the best bars in Sint Maarten costs around $8-$15 per drink.
Entering onto the beaches in Sint Maarten is usually free with the option to rent beach essentials such as beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas for around $25 for the day. Many water sports are available on the beach like snorkeling and jet skiing, these usually cost about $80 per person.
What is the average housing cost in St. Maarten?
The cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Saint Martin costs around 1000 USD per month, a three-bedroom apartment costs around $2,200 per month. These prices are common in the city center. The prices outside of the city center are significantly lower and range from $900 to $1,900 for a three-bedroom apartment.
The price of hotels in Saint Martin varies. Many affordable hotels have prices ranging from $90 per night, some of the best St. Maarten hotels start at around $250 per night.
What are the average clothing costs in St. Maarten?
The best places for shopping in Saint Martin are Maho Plaza, Front Street, Sint Rose shopping mall, Wathey Square, Le West Indies Mall, and Plaza Caraïbes. The average clothing costs in Saint Martin for some commonly bought clothing items are listed below.
- A pair of jeans: $60
- Dress: $28
- Tennis Shoes: $70
- Men’s Leather shoes: $90
How is the childcare in St. Maarten?
The average cost for childcare in Sint Maarten is around $500 per month to enroll one child in preschool. Daycare and after-school care on the island of Sint Maarten cost $100 per child who is attending day-care on a full-time basis and $50 per child for those who enroll their children on a part-time basis.
How are the transportation conditions in St. Maarten?
The transportation conditions on the island of St. Maarten are generally good. The main ways to travel about St. Maarten are by car, bus, taxi, bike, and moped. The different modes of transportation available in Sint Maarten are explained and listed below.
- Car: A used car can generally be bought on Saint Martin for around $1,500-$4,000. This is often the best option for traveling in Sint Maarten. A car provides accessibility to all parts of the island and is the safest mode of transportation. The speed limit on the island ranges from 35-50 mph.
- Bus: A bus will generally cost $1-$2 per trip. Unless you are in Phillipsburg and Marigot’s main cities, there are no set schedules for the bus. The bus is caught by waving it down and hopping on. Although the bus is a cheaper option for the island, it’s not always as reliable and may take a longer time to arrive at your destination. A monthly pass for public transportation usually costs around $40 per person.
- Taxi: The fare for most taxis must be agreed upon before entering the cab. The prices vary for most taxis throughout the island. The taxis usually only accept US dollars. Taxis are readily available on the island.
- Bike: A bike can cost around $200 to buy and $50 for extra accessories. Although they are not the most convenient or safest methods of transportation, they are cost-effective.
- Moped: A new moped costs around $700-$1,200 to buy. It might not be the most ideal mode of transportation and can be viewed as dangerous, but mopeds are quite useful to avoid traffic jams on the island.
How is the traffic in St. Maarten?
The traffic in Saint Martin is known to be higher in populated cities such as Phillipsburg, Simpson bay, and Marigot. The driving is done on the right side of the road and the incoming traffic on the right has the right-of-way. There are not many street signs on intersections because of this rule. Because this is the ‘default’ rule, there are usually no street signs on intersections.
The main road circles the island and smaller roads provide access to neighborhoods and beaches. Usually, the driving is quite stress-free in the areas outside of the tourist areas. There is a limited number of roads, this can sometimes cause traffic jams in the high tourist populated areas.
How is the healthcare in St. Maarten?
The island of Saint Martin has many options available for healthcare treatment. Saint Martin is home to the American University of the Caribbean medical school; this contributes to Sint Maarten having a very high standard of healthcare. There are many modern treatment centers, clinics, and specialists available. Pharmacies are located throughout the island and they are well stocked. And some are open 24 hours.
St. Maarten is home to two hospitals located in the cities of Marigot and Phillipsburg. There are many competent doctors and specialists in every field as well as dentists, optometrists, and physiotherapists that are working on the island.
How is the education system in St. Maarten?
Saint Maarten views education as the right of every child and schooling is required for all children between the ages of 4-18. Because of the educational standard in Saint Martin, the literacy rate of people ages 15 and above who can both read and write with understanding is 99.00%.
Saint Martin has 16 public primary schools, 9 public high schools, and one public elementary school that provides special education for students with disabilities; these schools are government-run and free for children to attend. There are 2 private primary schools in Saint Martin which cost $1,000 per month for each student. There is one vocational school as well as two universities located on the island, tuition for the universities usually amounts to $22,000 per semester.
How is the economy of St. Maarten?
The economy in Sint Maarten is based on tourism. Restaurants, hotels, and other tourism-related businesses account for around 45% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Sint Maarten had the highest per capita income among the five islands that formerly comprised the Netherlands Antilles.
In 2017, Saint Martin’s economy suffered due to the devastation caused on the island by hurricanes Irma and Maria. These hurricanes caused massive damage to both the economy and the infrastructure of the island such as homes, schools, restaurants, hospitals, and the airport terminal.
After the hurricanes, rebuilding and recovery efforts were made and caused a 5% growth in the GDP until the covid-19 pandemic hit which caused large income and job loss throughout the island. The border closure and travel restrictions have damaged the economy due to the loss of tourism. Unemployment on the island increased to 19% during this time.
Modest growth in the economy of St. Maarten is projected soon due to investments in reconstruction and recovery from the Sint Maarten Irma Trust Fund for Reconstruction, Recovery, and Resilience (SXM TF), financed by the Government of the Netherlands for up to 470 million Euros.
How is the climate of St. Maarten?
The climate of Saint Martin is tropical and sunny all year round. The average daily temperature is 77-82 F (25-28 C). This makes it possible for indoor and outdoor businesses to operate and prosper throughout the year. It also provides steady jobs for the locals that are employed in the tourism industry since tourists travel to St. Maarten at all times of the year.
How is the geography of St. Maarten?
The geography of Sint Maarten is composed of sandy beaches and turquoise waters, all situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Its highest point is paradise peak in French Saint Martin, with an elevation of 424 m (1,391 ft), making it the highest point on the island.
Saint Martin is a smaller island that has a land area of 37 miles (96 km²), 21 miles (33 km) of which is under the sovereignty of France and 16 square miles (25 km) under the sovereignty of the Netherlands.
The social culture of Sint Maarten is known throughout the Caribbean to generally be welcoming and friendly. The island is very diverse and has over 120 different nationalities. This leads the people of Sint Maarten to be very inclusive, outgoing, and helpful to tourists. The locals are also very lively and vibrant and love to celebrate life, many festivals are held on the island. Sint Maarten has a very vibrant and hospitable social culture.
How is the entertainment culture in St. Maarten?
Sint Maarten has a vast array of entertainment options for both tourists and locals. Some of the best things to do in Saint Martin is enjoying the vibrant nightlife of Phillipsburg and Simpson bay with their plethora of nightclubs, bars, fine restaurants, and casinos. At these venues, you can enjoy rich culinary cuisine as well as the live dancing and entertainment that is often featured.
The other forms of entertainment on the island are spending a day on the beach, hiking, touring museums, and enjoying the many water sports such as surfing, jet skiing, and snorkeling. Sint Maarten has a dynamic culture of entertainment that contributes to the high standard of living on the island.
How is the pollution in St. Maarten?
St. Maarten is not known to be an island with a high amount of pollution. There is not a lot recorded about the amount of pollution on the island of Saint Martin specifically. The water Saint Martin is safe to drink because of the desalination treatment it undergoes.
One form of pollution that is common to the Caribbean in general and affects the island of Sint Maarten is air pollution. This air pollution is due to dust from the Sahara Desert being carried over by the trade winds. This usually occurs in the dry season from the months of December to May.
What is the religion in St. Maarten?
The most popular religion in Saint Martin is Roman Catholicism, 33% of the people on the island claim to be of this religion. Other common religious denominations on the island are Pentecostal, Methodist, Seventh Day-Adventist, Hindu, Baptist, and Judaism.
Is there racism in St. Maarten?
No, racism is not very commonly found on the island of Sint Maarten nowadays. The island is now known for its diversity and even has the nickname “The Friendly Island”. St. Maarten is very diverse and inhabits over 120 different nationalities, the locals are known to be very accepting of all these different nationalities.
Is St. Maarten safe to live?
Yes, Saint Martin is one of the safest islands you can live on in the Caribbean. The crime rate is very low compared to the neighboring islands in the Caribbean. The most common crime committed on the island is theft and/or people breaking into cars.
Many of the locals work in the tourism industry and the popularity of the island has afforded them middle-class lifestyles. This prosperity has done a lot for the mindset of the people that live on the island and has kept the crime rate low throughout the years.
How is the architecture and city structure of St. Maarten?
The architecture of Saint Martin has many influences, some of which date back to the early 1600s and 1700s. Two of the structures built during that time are Fort Amsterdam which was built in 1631 and Fort Louis which was built in 1701. These buildings were built to protect the settlements of the Dutch and French settlers and were the tallest buildings in Sint Maarten at the time. These buildings are tourist attractions that are available for educational tours.
Some of the other buildings were built in Sint Maarten in the 1800s during the days of slavery on the island. These are the Mount Vernon Plantation and the Emilion Wilton Estate, both of which were old sugar plantations. These old plantations are now museums that are available for tours.
In Sint Maarten, both the French and the Dutch sides have a difference in architectural style. On the French side along the streets of marigot and grand case, many traditional Creole buildings are brightly colored and decorated elaborately. On the Dutch side of the island, the houses are much more American style in architecture.
St. Martin is renowned for its “Alituran” style architecture. In the late 1930s, an architect named Ali Tur introduced this architectural style to the island. His style was known to blend tradition and effective ventilation, protection from the sun, and the innovative use of concrete.