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3 Great English-Speaking Islands—

October 24, 2018 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

According to recent studies, the net number of Australians that say “lack of time” is detracting from their personal well-being has trebled since 2015. But a report from the editors at serves up the ideal remedy to escape the rat race—three laid-back, English-speaking islands.


Living on an island conjures up images of white sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and no rush hour traffic—a place to get away from it all.

And the dream of retiring to a tropical paradise can become a reality more easily and affordably than you may think.

There are low-cost, tropical destinations around the world where expats can live by the beach, sip cocktails while swinging in a hammock and generally lead a laid-back and stress-free lifestyle.

All three International Living Australia English-speaking island picks offer Australians looking for a laidback beach escape the chance to make that dream a reality.


A cityscape of cream-coloured buildings and a marina bursting with masts will greet you in Malta. It has the Mediterranean Sea, a warm climate and two official languages: Maltese and English.

The warm summers and mild winters attract visitors and foreign residents to its shores.

For travellers with a love of culture, history and excellent weather, this island is full of charm and identity. For a prospective resident, Malta offers a tranquil way of life and year-round Mediterranean sunshine.

Malta also offers the benefit of not having to learn another language. Everybody speaks English on the island due to its numerous rulers over the years. Thanks to its long history of cultural exchange, Malta features a mix of traditions in its food, art, literature, music and architecture, so there is something for everyone.

Made up of five islands, Malta and Gozo are the only two with substantial populations. Warm and welcoming, the Maltese are clearly proud of their country and have a regard for traditional Mediterranean values, food, family and relationships.

The capital city of Valletta offers concerts, films, open-air exhibitions, fine dining and more. Built by the Knights in the late 16th century, it has mostly a baroque and neo-classical style with its buildings of creamy limestone.

It is impossible to get lost in Valletta and you can walk from end to end in about 20 minutes. If an active nightlife is what you are looking for, St. Julians and Paceville, about half an hour away, is the prime location for nightclubs, bars, students and tourists.

Inland is beautifully preserved city of Mdina. “The Silent City” is complete with soaring facades, romantic windowed balconies and narrow cobblestone lanes.

Penang, Malaysia

Penang, an island off the west coast of mainland Malaysia, is a former British colony and as a result, most people speak English.

The cost of living is low, the locals are friendly and it’s a tourism hotspot filled with bars, restaurants and historic mansions.

It’s a small island with a tropical year-round climate. There are breath-taking jungle trails leading up to Penang Hill, where wildlife such as butterflies and monkeys are common sights.

White sandy beaches are plentiful and with 18 official public holidays, there are copious amounts of cultural events taking place throughout the year.

Penang has many modern amenities such as shopping centres and movie theatres. There is also a large and active expat community.

The island is famous for its medical tourism. Penang is a medical centre of excellence and a trip to the doctor can cost as little as $20.

Its capital, George Town, is a walkable, vibrant city, with cool cafés and great street food. It is also a UNESCO-listed historic site–the city has numerous temples, museums and art galleries.

Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Belize is the only country in Central America with English as its main language and that goes for its islands, too. This is quintessential Caribbean living.

More tourists and expats flock to Ambergris than any other region of Belize. Beyond its natural beauty and outdoor activities, this island offers Belize’s most sophisticated lifestyle. Combining a casual beach life with upscale amenities, it’s no wonder Ambergris has become so popular.

Ambergris and the small nearby islands are not overly developed, which means they’ve maintained a laidback vibe. San Pedro is the main population centre on Ambergris, a town of roughly 18,000 part- and full-time residents.

A growing number of retired expats on the Caye are becoming focused on their health. They spend time biking, beach walking or running, swimming or meeting friends at a local fitness centre to work out or take a yoga class.

Many residents have boats in their backyards or moored on the lagoon. Tour-guide operators also offer diving trips to the barrier reef or the Blue Hole or snorkelling in Hol Chan.

The kick-back and low-key pace of life is what draws people to this island. A simple lifestyle, stunning views and affordable are all waiting for you on English-speaking Ambergris Caye.

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