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Living in Curaçao for digital nomads: The MEGA Guide (2023)

Living in Curaçao for digital nomads: The MEGA Guide (2023)

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This guest post was written by Sabrina Maasdam, a digital nomad living in Curaçao for three months (see full bio below).

Curaçao is a sunny paradise in the Caribbean with 365 days of summer per year. 

With pristine, white sandy beaches and amazingly blue water…

What better place to live and work as a digital nomad? 

After living in Curaçao as a digital nomad for 3 months this past year, I picked up some insider tips you’ll want to know before moving here.

Let’s dive in.

Cas Abao Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Curaçao

My Curaçao digital nomad experience

Digital nomad life in Curaçao is a blast. 

I spent most of my time in an apartment just outside Willemstad, the main city in Curaçao. The apartment was part of a resort including all the perks of living in a gated community. 

Life in and around the city can best be described as vibrant

Everywhere you go there is music, fun things to do, and friendly people to meet.

For a change of pace, we also rented a house in Playa Lagun, a calmer area on the far west of the island. 

Most houses here sit on the edge of a cliff, so you have an amazing view of the ocean and the sunset. 

Overall, Curaçao digital nomads have it made. Many places offer free Wi-Fi, there is a close-knit digital nomad community in Willemstad, and there are plenty of co-working spaces (if that’s your cup of tea).

But it’s not all roses and butterflies. There’s also quite a bit of crime on the island, so you need to take precautions and avoid certain places.

That said, staying in safer, more touristic places can be a lot of fun. And with all the island has to offer — like snorkeling, beach parties, and hiking — it’s impossible to get bored.

I definitely wouldn’t describe the island as cheap. Especially if you plan to eat out and do lots of excursions. But considering how dreamy the island is, the higher cost is well worth it.

TL;DR Living in Curaçao pros and cons

Pros

✔️ Beautiful landscape. Offers many adventures to go on in your free time — from beaches to mountains to uninhabited islands.

✔️ Food and culture. The island’s colorful history and cultural influences mean tasty foods to try. 

✔️ Good infrastructure. Especially for a Caribbean Island. Things like hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets are pretty much up to Dutch standards.

✔️ Free WiFi. Easy to stay connected on most parts of the island with a local SIM card. 

✔️ Good weather. Only a couple of rainy days every year, and even then, the sun is usually back out after a few hours.

Beautiful beach and the crystal clear blue water in Curaçao

Cons

Sadly, there is a lot of crime on the island. Some of the inland areas are notorious for drug smuggling. 

That said, it’s easy to avoid these areas by staying in the more touristy parts of the island. 

We played it extra safe by only booking accommodations inside resorts or gated communities. Having someone check visitors at the gate put my worries to rest. 

It’s also cool to have the perks of a resort (pool, restaurant, etc.) while still having the comforts of your own apartment. 

By staying vigilant and not being reckless with your belongings, you should have nothing to worry about. The area in and around Willemstad is pretty safe, and there are many people out in the streets, even at night. 

Basically, just don’t wander around remote parts of the island after dark and you’ll be fine!

Another small downside of living on the island can be the weather. Yes, it’s sunny all the time. But it can also get hot and humid. You’ll probably want to stay inside for work with the AC on. 

What type of nomads will like Curaçao: 

Nomads interested in culture, adventure, and sunshine will love Curaçao, especially the area around Willemstad. The entire island is in party mood year-round, and people are very cheerful and upbeat. 

What type of nomads should avoid Curaçao: 

Nomads looking for a calm, quiet, and safe place will have a difficult time on the island. These areas do exist, but they are far off the beaten track, and you do need to pay extra for safety in these areas. Curaçao is especially unsuitable for nomads on a tight budget. 

Living in Curaçao for a month: How much does it cost?

First, let’s cover the “official” cost of living data from Numbeo. 

This data can be hit and miss depending on your lifestyle, so I’ll also share my own numbers. 

Prices are in USD and since exchange rates are constantly changing, it’s best to use Google to convert into your currency using today’s rates. The island does have its own currency, the Antillean Guilder. However, the US dollar is more commonly used so I refer to that. 

Monthly Curaçao cost of living (Numbeo)

Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center:571 USD
Basic monthly utilities (heating, cooling, etc.):190 USD
Internet:50 USD
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant:19 USD
Domestic beer (0.5 L):3 USD
Public transport ticket: 51 USD (per month)
Gym membership:54 USD

How much our life in Curaçao costs

Rent: We mostly stayed in a resort called ACOYA. They rent out apartments and small houses perfect for digital nomads. 

The monthly cost of an apartment there is around 4,000 USD. If you look at the Numbeo data above, it’s pretty clear that they are showing average prices for locals, not short-term travelers.

Firstly, staying in these areas for locals may or may not be safe. Also, it’s common for foreigners to pay more to locals. I’d say it’s realistic to spend at least 1,500 USD per month on rent for a safe, clean apartment that is not part of a resort. For apartments in a resort, you will probably pay twice as much.

Internet/data: The internet was included in our hotel plan. If you prefer relying on mobile data, you can get a 30-day tourist SIM with 35GB for ~55 USD. If you don’t want to bother buying a local SIM card, you can also use these cool internet options for travelers

Food: We mostly cooked in our apartment because eating out can be quite expensive. Breakfast was included in our hotel plan, so we did not have to account for that. 

We went to the supermarket once per week and spent around 150 USD each time. 

That covers five home-cooked meals for two people and lunch for one person for a week. Make sure to visit the more international supermarket chains if you want to avoid any sketchy experiences. Places like Carrefour, Albert Heijn, and Vreugdenhil Supermarket have international products at a fair price. 

On the weekends, we usually ate out. For two people, this ran us around 80 USD in a nice place. In cheaper places, you can eat for roughly 25 USD with one drink per person. You can also buy some street food on the beach or in Willemstad to save some money. 

Transportation: Public transportation is not great, so we had a rental car for our stay. Within Willemstad, you can reach everything important by walking. There are no beaches in Willemstad, so you need a backup plan if you want to do more adventurous things. 

To visit one of the beaches, I suggest getting a rental car because they are quite far away from each other and hard to reach. We also liked going to the international supermarkets in the car to get groceries. A rental car costs roughly 30 USD per day. 

If you use a cab, make sure to agree on the price beforehand and check how much the fare should be in advance. Sadly, we got ripped off more than once. With the 247 taxi app, you can check the prices beforehand, much like Uber. 

Health: We have visited the pharmacy a couple of times (we suffered from COVID) and it was very cheap. You can buy good medication for a couple of bucks and they have all the name brands from Europe and the US. 

Our resort had a gym included, but we would have not booked one separately. You can easily get your workout by swimming on the beautiful beaches or doing some water sports. 

As far as medical coverage goes, I recommend buying some quality digital nomad travel insurance. There are reliable plans available for as little as 1.61 USD per day.

Entertainment: We loved visiting the beaches, joining in on excursions (to remote islands or for hiking), and doing cultural activities, like visiting the local distillery, where the famous Blue Curaçao liquor is made. 

There is a cinema on the island, but we preferred spending our evenings outside. The cheapest, yet most fun hobby in Curaçao is snorkeling. There are many amazing reefs and spots to see – and if you have a mask and transportation, it’s free.

If you want even more help you planning your digital nomad budget, grab this free cheat sheet:

Best time to visit Curaçao

Luckily, the weather in Curaçao is pretty steady year-round and there is no bad time to visit. 

That said, the island can get super busy (and more expensive) around the Dutch school holidays.

If you have the option, visit in spring or fall to avoid masses of tourists. The weather is pretty much the same, but there are more rainy days in the fall. 

Rain usually only lasts an hour, and then the sky is clear again. I have visited the island during all months at least once, and I have never found the weather bothersome. 

Best places to live in Curaçao for digital nomads

We once stayed in the area outside Willemstad, which is not ideal. 

The inner city of Willemstad is a lot safer, and you can reach everything on foot. 

I suggest staying in Willemstad, in the Pietermaai district. This district is famous for being the SoHo of the city and is safe and vibrant. There are many cool restaurants, cafes and bars and the part of the city is nicely kept. 

Pietermaai District in Curaçao vibrant streets

For a quieter stay, I suggest Playa Lagun. 

This was by far our favorite place on the island, especially because of the amazing view from our house. Sadly, you need a rental car to get here (about 45 mins drive from Willemstad), and the houses are quite expensive. 

For me, it was worth the money because the view was unmatched, and you can work in peace. 

Our rental house in Playa Lagun, located on the cliff and overlooking the ocean.

If you want to live by the beach and have a great nightlife right outside your door, I suggest staying at Jan Thiel beach.

This area is famous for its beach clubs, bars, and restaurants. There are many AirBnBs and apartments for rent in Jan Thiel beach. 

How to find digital nomad accommodation in Curaçao

We found our houses via Airbnb. 

We’ve rented multiple times in the Lagun Ocean Resort and have always been happy with our choices. 

Acoya is also a great place to stay but can be quite expensive. 

We loved both options because they were safe and had great service included (room service, parking, etc).

If you are looking for cheaper options, I suggest looking on Airbnb. 

I heard about a place called Bed & Bike in Jan Thiel, which is slightly cheaper. 

There are also quite a few hostels in Willemstad that would be great options. You can easily find them on Google by searching for Hostel Willemstad. 

What I would not suggest is renting a random apartment outside the tourist areas because it can be hard to check what kind of neighborhood it will be in. 

For even more tips on finding awesome accommodation for digital nomads, check out this video:

Best places to work remotely from Curaçao

I mostly worked from our apartments or on the beach in a beach club. 

I especially loved bringing my laptop to Mambo Beach and sitting at either Cabana Beach or Madero Beach Club on a table. 

During the day, there is soft, ambient music and the view is fantastic. You can order coffee and water with your phone right to your table. 

If you love working from cafes, you will enjoy Café Reina in Willemstad. 

Best co-working spaces in Willemstad, Curaçao

There are also a couple of co-working spaces in Willemstad. I have personally not been there but heard about them from people I met. 

WorkSpot Curaçao

They offer desk rentals, co-working spaces, and offices. 

A dedicated workspace costs about 250 USD per month, and a day pass costs around 25 USD. 

They even offer to use them as a business address for about 50 USD per month. 

Curaçao Coworking

Curaçao Coworking is similar to WorkSpot. 

They offer flexible desks, dedicated desks, and offices at similar prices.

An office will cost you around 500 USD per month. You can get a free day pass and check the space out yourself. 

CoWorld Coworking

This coworking spot is located in Otrabanda, a bit further away from the other two. 

The plans are more flexible and start at 8 hours per month (25 USD) to a permanent desk (400 USD). You can access the permanent desk 24/7, and all other spots from Monday to Friday during business hours. 

Best cafes in Willemstad, Curaçao

Saint Tropez Ocean Club

Saint Tropez Ocean Club is a relaxed restaurant and beach club in the middle of Willemstad. It is located right by the water and there are nice lounges and a fabulous pool. 

This is a great place to work during the day with some ambient music while enjoying the view and a coffee.

Iguana Café 

Iguana Café is one of the best cafes in Curaçao. It is located right on the famous Handelskade in Willemstad and has an amazing view of the bay and the colorful houses. 

La Reina

La Reina is a chic café in Willemstad and is famous for its great selection of coffee and delicious lunches. You can sit outside on the terrace or inside and enjoy some nice pastries.

Willemstad digital nomad community

The easiest way to find the digital nomad community in Willemstad is by joining one of the abovementioned coworking spaces. 

You can also look for Curaçao digital nomad communities on Facebook. I didn’t join any of these because I traveled to Curaçao with a bigger group of people, so I already had my crew.

Willemstad nightlife

The best place to enjoy the nightlife in Willemstad is by heading to the Pietermaai district. The party is usually out on the streets. There are many bars and restaurants and people dancing out in the street. 

I also really enjoyed drinks at the Ochenta Cocktail bar. 

Personally, I preferred going to beach parties instead of going out in Willemstad. The best beach parties are on Jan Thiel beach and Mambo beach. 

Check out Madero Beach Club on Mambo for the best parties. 

A famous bar in Jan Thiel beach is Zanzibar — many young people head there for a party. 

Best things to do in Willemstad, Curaçao (and the rest of the island)

Willemstad and the island of Curaçao are super rich in culture with tons of things to do. Here is a quick list of the top hits, and for even more inspiration on what to do in Curaçao check out my Ultimate Curaçao Travel Guide.

Things to do in Willemstad, Curaçao:

  • Handelskade The Handelskade is a famous line of colorful houses located in the middle of Willemstad.
  • Rif Fort. A beautiful shopping center located in the middle of a historic castle.
  • Ocean Clubs. Even though there is not a beach in Willemstad, you can spend some time in an Ocean Club right by the water and jump into the pool between work sessions. I can recommend Saint Tropez Ocean Club.
  • Street Art. Willemstad is famous for its street art all over town. Go on a hunt and check it all out.
  • Floating Market in Willemstad. A super famous street market with all kinds of stands offering local products. 
The most famous line of colorful houses in Willemstad

Things to do in Curaçao outside Willemstad:

  • Klein Curaçao. This is a small island off the coast of Curaçao that you can visit on a boat trip. 
  • Landhuis Chobolobo. Landhuis Chobolobo is the official distillery of the Blue Curaçao Liquor where you can participate in a tour or workshop. 
  • Christoffelberg. The Christoffelberg is the highest mountain in Curaçao and is worth the hike. 
  • Boka Shete National Park. Visit the rocky side of Curaçao and see the waves crashing onto the high cliffs. 
  • Beach hopping, snorkeling. Check out the best beaches and snorkeling spots on the island. My favorites are Playa Lagun and Cas Abao beach. 
  • Island hopping: Curaçao is part of the ABC-island group, therefore it is super easy to visit the sister islands of Aruba and Bonaire. For more info on visiting nearby islands, check out my blog post about island hopping in the Caribbean.
Klein Curaçao a small uninhabited island off the coast of Curaçao

How to get to Curaçao

There is only one option if you want to travel to Curaçao, and that’s via airplane. 

Curaçao has one airport, called the Curaçao International Airport (AKA HATO). Some people arrive via cruise ship, but they usually only stay for a day. 

HATO is far from Willemstad (40 min drive), so make sure to arrange transportation before arrival or bring cash (USD or Guilders) for a cab. 

For tips on finding the cheapest flights to Curaçao, check out this video:

Getting around Willemstad and Curaçao

We opted for a rental car since we wanted the flexibility to visit places off the beaten track. 

If you are staying in Willemstad and do not plan to explore a lot, you can probably make do without a car. 

I would not recommend taking cabs on the island if possible, as some try to rip you off and are very expensive. 

There are public buses on the island, but I wouldn’t choose them as your main means of transportation. They tend to be a bit untrustworthy and late. 

I recommend a ridesharing app called 247taxi, which is similar to Uber. 

Other handy tips for Curaçao digital nomads

Essential words

Most people on the island speak English. However, it can be handy to speak some words in Dutch, since this is the second official language on the island. 

Hello: Hoi! 
How are you?: Hoe gaat het?
Thank you: Bedankt!
Goodbye: Doei!
Bathroom: Toilet! Waar is de toilet?
How much?: Hoe veel …?
Yes: Ja!
No: Nee! 

Yummy foods

My favorite Caribbean food I always eat in Curaçao is called plantain. 

This is a fried banana and is typically served for breakfast or as a side dish with fish and steak. 

Curaçao is famous for its fish and seafood, so make sure to try some seafood dishes on the island. I can recommend trying the barracuda fish filet. As a side dish, order some Caribbean rice (very spicy, but super yummy). 

As for drinks, I suggest the local beer, Montana. If you are craving something more fun, try out a cocktail with Blue Curaçao liquor. 

Cocktail with Blue Curaçao liquor in the cocktail bar of the Landhuis Chobolobo

Is it safe to live in Curaçao?

Sadly, the island has a terrible reputation for being a drug trafficking hub. 

As far as I know, this is true and there is a lot of drug-related crime on the island. 

On the upside, this usually does not involve tourists. Touristic areas on the island are quite safe. My tip is to not wander around alone at night and not leave the doors or windows open when you are not home. 

Lastly, make sure to follow all the safety tips in this video:

Helpful apps

  • 247taxi – order taxis without getting ripped off.
  • Dushifood – the food delivery app on the island. 

Other Curaçao tips

Curaçao is an amazingly diverse island when it comes to the locals. 

There are influences from Spain, South America, and the Netherlands on the island. 

The people are nice, but I sensed a bit of standoffishness toward tourists. This might be because Dutch visitors have a reputation for “exploiting the island”. 

This has mainly to do with their history. Overall, I got the impression that connecting with locals is easier if you are not Dutch (like me). 

I met many nice locals at guided excursions, workshops, and restaurants. They are knowledgeable about the history and the culture of the island and are usually happy to share their story. 

That said, I wouldn’t expect the locals to approach you and start a conversation. 

Driftwood painting workshop in Playa Porto Mari with a nice local called Gilmar

Living in Curaçao as an expat

The Curaçao digital nomad visa is called the Temporary Stay Permit for Digital Nomads/Remote Workers. 

To obtain this visa, you have to fill out the visa form, pay an application fee, and submit various documents to the government. 

Overall, the application process is smooth and straightforward. 

You need to have proof of a couple of things before you go there, like a return ticket, health insurance, and financial solvency. 

The visa costs roughly 300 USD per person. To find more info about the visa process, check out the official website

You can stay up to one year with the Curaçao digital nomad visa, and you are not subject to personal income tax to the island during your stay (although you may still owe taxes in your home country). 

In general, you can enter Curaçao without a special visa or permit and stay for at least 90 days. 

U.S. citizens are allowed to stay in Curaçao without a visa or permit for a maximum consecutive period of six months each calendar year. After that period, you have to apply for a work/residence permit. 

This does not apply to people traveling from the Schengen area. They are free to spend time in Curaçao without a visa. 

Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Travel Planning Resources - Everything you need to plan your trip on one convenient page.
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Skyscanner - Find cheap flights.
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Anytime Mailbox - Virtual mail service that can handle your mail while you’re away.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).

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