on or retiring to the tropical island of
Isla Margarita or Margarita Island, Venezuela
Tropical Island Living!
This is the third page of our information on
Living, retiring to
and Working on Margarita Island or Isla Margarita.
On this page you will find information about
Language, Banking, House help, Nannies,
Gardeners, Security Guards, etc. as well as the Political Situation & Security
in the country.
Because of the total amount of
information on living in Margarita Island I have broken it down
into 4 separate pages:
Climate and Weather, Property Ownership, Exchange Controls,
Starting a Business and working on Margarita Island
Supermarket Food Prices, Utilities including phone, Internet,
Electricity & Water & Cellular phones.
(you are here):
Language, Banking, House help, Nannies, Gardeners, Security guards,
Political Situation, & Security
Schools, Doctors, Hospitals, Medical Insurance, Buying a Car and Insurance,
always best to have a working knowledge of Spanish as few people who you will be
on a day to day basis speak any other language. A few may speak
English but not enough for you to get by.
There are a number of schools and
teachers on the Island who would be willing to teach you for a fee.
use the 6 months to a year renting to learn the language before jumping in
with both feet.
not recommend keeping very much in Venezuelan banks.
The banking system is
poorly controlled and with regular devaluations, and
the occasional failure, any
money in Bolivars can be quickly lost.
It is recommended that you use outside
keeping a supply of US$ cash (better) or traveler's checks as
"just in case" money is a
You can now also use your foreign credit cards here &
get the DICOM rate
which is Bs.728 / US$1 (May, 2017)
Please visit this page for information on the
currency conversion that happened on January 1, 2008
to the new Bolivar Fuerte. The
government deleted three zeroes from the currency.
I strongly recommend to
anyone planning an extended stay here that you make sure that your foreign bank
allows you to make "on-line" transfers on the Internet to other banks.
sometimes means signing documents at your bank before leaving.
Once you have
this ability you will find it much easier and faster to obtain local currency at
the best rate.
An active "verified" PayPal account is also
recommend using a large bank like Banco Provincial, Banesco, Banco Mercantil
one of the other major ones.
*Under no circumstances use one of the many smaller
banks as my experience shows
that money can be lost even with signed receipts.
One other thing is that, in my experience, the larger the bank
the more arrogant
and inattentive they get.
It's not unusual to find line-ups of 40 or 50 people
in line waiting to get to a teller
and the bank has only opened 2 of their 10
Unfortunately this is one of Banco Provincial's worst faults.
recently took me 40 minutes to withdraw some money from my own account
and I was
one of the first ones in when they opened.
Banesco & Banco Venezuela are other horror stories of long lines.
*Dec. 09, As I predicted
above the national government has now closed 8 smaller banks
associated with the government have stolen or lost all the money.
are predicated with dozens of high ranking officials now being arrested or
fleeing the country.
Banco Provincial continues as one of the stronger banks however due to the other
line-ups are longer than ever.
July 2011: There are only
a few private banks left in Venezuela.
The government has closed or absorbed a
large number of banks including
the large Banco de Venezuela & Banco
Banco Provincial & Banesco
are the 2 largest private banks that remain. Long lines continue.
April 2012: The government
continues to threaten the few remaining private banks with expropriation.
Banco Provincial is now in the process of converting their branches into ATM
All deposits & withdrawals must be made at the ATM not the
Really, really annoying especially when the ATMs are not working.
Update: March 2013 - Trying to get to a live cashier is now almost impossible.
All transactions such as deposits of cash & cheques & withdrawals of cash are
now with ATMs.
The daily limit for cash withdrawals is only Bs.1.500 or around
Sept. 2013: Banco
Provincial has now completed their changeover to ATM machines.
There are still live tellers however the lineups are lengthy & very slow.
As an example our local branch in La Loma now has only 1 cashier when there were
3 before the changes.
I will admit that when the ATMs are working they are fast & efficient for both
cash & cheque deposits.
With the huge inflation occurring in Venezuela the problem of having cash is
The largest bill in circulation is Bs.100 which currently has a value of around
That means that to have US$100 in Bs. means having 170+ bills.
The maximum daily withdrawal from the ATM's is Bs.8.000 or approx. US$47
Based on the new SIMADI exchange rate (Bs.200 to US$1) Bs.100 is now worth only
US$100 = 200 bills of Bs.100
Current black market rate would mean about 450 bills of Bs.100
Maximum ATM withdrawal of Bs.8.000 = US$40.00
The SIMADI (DICOM) rate is Bs.728 to US$1
The Bs.100 bill will be eliminated gradually.
Maximum 1 day cash withdrawal from Banco Provincial is just Bs.30.000 and ATMs
Just announced new bank notes of Bs.500, Bs.1.000, Bs.2.000 Bs.5.000, Bs.10.000 & Bs.20.000
will be issued
"soon" (Dec. 15, 2016??) They are now arriving slowly May 20, 2017
Now thought to be in full circulation by June, 2017
Help, Nannies & Gardening, Security Guards
very easy to find people who will help you out (maids, gardeners, nannies, etc.)
at very reasonable cost
(see remarks below about working here). The problem is
always to find people that you can trust.
This does not come overnight. You must
use a network of people that you will meet over time
to recommend other people
of trust that you can hire.
I have been very lucky with the people I have,
however, you won't go too far to hear some horror stories.
I guess the thing is
to not be too trusting and naive.
Just keep reminding yourself that this is not
Canada, Germany, Holland or whatever and
you must always take a step back to
check things out before making commitments.
If you are considering a
watchman or security guard for your new house
then you have to be even more
careful in your background checks.
It's an unfortunate fact of life here that
many robberies are assisted by or directly done
by the very people you are
paying to protect you.
Situation & Security
last 15 years Venezuela has had a populist president who, depending on your
view, is either hated or loved.
This has caused a decrease in foreign
investment and higher unemployment.
A referendum (Aug. 20, 2004) gave the president a new political life although
the opposition claimed
that the results were rigged by new electronic voting
Regional elections in Oct., 2004 and Aug., 2005 have further
entrenched the Chavez government
with many additional governors and mayors being
elected who support him.
Here in Margarita the incumbent Chavez governor was
defeated and replaced by
an opposition governor, Morel Rodriguez, who had
previously been governor of Margarita some years ago.
For the Dec. 4, 2005 National Assembly elections much of the opposition
refused to participate
due to alleged irregularities and confidentiality of
the voting system
& as a result the National Assembly is almost totally in
General elections were
held on Dec. 3, 2006.
The incumbent president won with a landslide of more than 60% of
He has promised to continue his current socialist revolutionary style of politics
and will no doubt
be strengthening it
now that he is in such a strong position.
It is hard to predict where that will lead.
On Dec.2, 2007 there was referendum
on changes to the existing constitution
& it would be wise for any potential
investors to investigate the implications of these changes before investing.
The changes to the reform of the constitution were defeated.
Elections for mayors &
governors were held on Nov.23, 2008.
Morel Rodriguez repeated as Margarita's Governor.
The "opposition" won 5 state
governorships including the major population areas of Venezuela.
A referendum was held on
Feb. 15, 2009 which changed the constitution to eliminate
term limits for
elected officials including President Chavez.
elections were held in September 2010.
These are the elections that the
opposition did not participate in the last time around due to alleged fraud
allowed the current government to have total control of the law making process.
The opposition won 52% of the vote but only got 40% of the assembly seats
to changes in the electoral areas which benefited the government.
also received special powers for 18 months
which effectively eliminated any power
the new assembly members would have.
It's a very complicated situation right now
The President's recent bout with cancer has only added to the uncertainty. (July 2011)
Sept. 2011 - Presidential
elections will be Oct. 7, 2012 with governors in December 2012
and mayors & councilmen in April, 2013
Feb. 2012: Henrique
Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, won
the opposition primary with more than 60% of the vote.
There were more than 3 million voters for this primary -
a much higher participation than was expected.
Capriles will now face Hugo Chavez for president of Venezuela on Oct. 7, 2012
All candidates have agreed to support Capriles in a unified effort to unseat
April, 2012 - The cancer
that showed up in the president in mid 2011 has now reappeared
denials from the government, his health problems appear to be worsening.
could have a huge effect on both the elections & the political / economic future
Oct. 8, 2012 - Hugo Chavez
won the presidential elections on Oct. 7
which gives him another 6 years in
power (if he survives his illness).
He has promised to deepen his socialist
How this will affect the country for the next few years is hard to
Dec. 28, 2012 - The
government party won most of the state elections.
Chavez has disappeared into
the medical system in Cuba & no one really knows what condition he's in.
supposed to be inaugurated on Jan. 10. From the looks of it he's not going to be
in Venezuela on that day.
Feb. 3, 2013 - No sign of
Chavez as we now have passed 55 days with no proof of life.
March 5, 2013 - Chavez
officially dies from cancer
Sept. 23, 2013 After new
presidential elections in April we now have a new president Nicolas Maduro.
The election results were disputed by the opposition candidate, Henrique
who continues to insist that he is the rightful president of Venezuela.
Mayoral & local elections will be held on Dec. 8, 2013
July, 2015: National
Assembly elections will be held later this year (Dec. 6, 2015).
Dec. 8, 2015: The
opposition coalition MUD won 111 seats in the 167 seat National Assembly.
This will change dramatically the political face of Venezuela when they take
office on Jan. 5, 2016
It will be an interesting next few months.
August 2016: We have just
finished the first of three steps to recall President Maduro.
1% of the voters signed and were verified by the Election Board to hold a Recall
The next step will be to collect 20% of the voters who want a Recall.
The CNE has announced that the earliest that it can be held will be late Oct.
If that step is completed successfully then the final step would be a general
Recall Referendum where 50% of the eligible voters would need to vote "si" to
recall the president.
The goal is to get all this done before the end of 2016.
If this happens then a new presidential national election must be called within
This now looks like the government will not allow this to happen in 2016 or 2017.
Regional elections (governors, mayors) scheduled for Nov. 2016 have now been
No new elections of any kind have been scheduled, April 2017
May 2017: Maduro announced
last night (May 1, 2017) that he would call a National Constituent Assembly.
This effectively eliminates any kind of elections in the foreseeable future.
The manner in which this Assembly will be called will no doubt be heavily rigged
in favor of the government.
Not a good sign for the immediate future.
For up to date news
stories in English have a look at
good news for foreigners is that the cost of living is very reasonable in Dollar, Euro
or Sterling terms.
Also Isla Margarita is a very peaceful island. We seldom are affected by what
goes on in the rest of Venezuela.
Safety and security for tourists here are better than in
many other vacation spots
and certainly far better than in most major cities
throughout the world.
those of you planning on buying a house or apartment here, you must consider
the security features of the property you are about to buy or be prepared to
once you buy it to avoid home entries which have become more common.
High walls and either concertina wire or electric security fencing are the order
of the day.
You can also see information
B&B (posada) / hotel /
large house for sale
in Playa El Agua beach here!
If you need some time to find a
rental place I can recommend my vacation property
as an affordable &
comfortable place to stay for a couple of weeks / months
while you are looking around
and getting oriented.
Living, Working & Retiring In Margarita Island,
Venezuela - Page Index
Climate, Property, Exchange, Business &
Food Prices, Utilities, Phone, Internet
Language, Banking, Help, Security,
Schools, Hospitals, Doctors, Car Buying,