Barbados Permanent Vacations
Why do white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and impossible-to-describe turquoise water sparkling in the sun always seem so far away?
They’re the stuff of postcards and dreamy tropical vacations, and even if you manage to escape for an exotic beach getaway, the few days you get to spend there seem to slip by like sand through your fingers. Then it’s back home to the daily grind, and those halcyon days in the tropical sunshine become just a distant memory.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
You could actually live in a place where the rest of the world goes to play. The island of Barbados is such a place, and if you’re considering a move there (and you really should), here are a few things to know.
The mere mention of a tropical island evokes images of endless sunshine, blue skies and utopian weather every day of the year. While Barbados’ climate isn’t quite that perfect, a large part of the world’s population could be justifiably envious. There are really just two seasons in Barbados — the wet season and the dry season.
The wet season runs from June to November, and it’s hot, humid and quite rainy. The dry season runs from December to May. Temperatures year-round range between about 70 and 90 degrees (21-32 degrees Celsius). The average daytime high is 86 degrees (30 degrees Celsius), and there is almost always a light ocean breeze blowing, making the heat and summer humidity a little easier to manage.
One of the biggest adjustments expats have to make when moving to Barbados — especially those arriving from developed countries — is learning to live by island time. It isn’t so much a matter of resetting your watch, it’s resetting your entire lifestyle. Things just move more slowly — and “things” means everything. From employees at government offices to the person who rings up your purchases at a local shop, no one in Barbados is in that much of a hurry to do anything.
Of course, that may be a major draw for some — to escape the hectic pace of the big city and settle where everything is a bit more relaxed — but many expats have felt some frustration because things seemed to be moving slower than one of the island’s main exports — molasses. In time, though, people get used to living by island time, and looking back at the rat race they left behind, wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s Not a Big Place
At just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide — a total of 167 square miles — Barbados doesn’t have a lot of real estate. And with a population of 285,000 sharing that area, it’s in the top 20 most densely populated countries in the world. So personal space and privacy can be hard-to-find commodities.
Those who have never lived on an island before can experience a phenomenon called island fever. This is a sensation not completely dissimilar to claustrophobia because of living in such a small area, combined with a feeling of isolation from the outside world. Island fever doesn’t appear immediately; it sort of creeps up on you over the course of a few months or even a year or more. The good news is that if you need a change of scenery, Barbados is quite close to several other islands. And if you’re yearning for a place where you can get more than five miles from the coast, it’s easy to catch a flight to South America, Mexico or the U.S.
Some Things to Keep in Mind
Although the cost of living in Barbados is a bit higher than in the UK, U.S. or Canada — understandable since almost everything has to be imported — it’s not nearly as high as some other Caribbean islands. There is a high level of healthcare, with a full hospital in Bridgetown and various other medical clinics scattered around. The crime rate is low. Add to all of that the tropical climate, gorgeous beaches and sparkling Caribbean Sea, and it’s not surprising why people would consider making a move to Barbados.
If the idea has occurred to you — and it would be more of a surprise if it hasn’t — here are a few tips if you’d like to make this beautiful island your next home:
Learn from those who have already done it. Moving to another country is a life-changing decision, and you’re bound to run into a few glitches along the way. It may seem that there are a couple hundred things you have to do, but there are at least a couple hundred more that you don’t even know about yet. Check social media and blogs hosted by expats living in Barbados; many have moved from the U.S., UK and Canada. They can be a great resource for suggestions and advice.
Choose a place to live. And be realistic. Maybe you had an unforgettable Barbados beach vacation with stunning oceanfront accommodations, but renting for a week is fantasyland, while moving there permanently is real life. While you’re never that far from the coast, you have to have some serious moolah to score a place with an unobstructed — or even partially obstructed — view of the ocean, and a beachfront home can easily be seven figures. It’s important to do your research, as the small island has different regions. Most expats move to Bridgetown, the capital, where they can get at least some of the amenities and comforts they were accustomed to on their native soil.
Rent for a few months before committing to buy. Sure, that vacation on Barbados was nothing short of idyllic, but life on a tropical island isn’t all blue skies, white sand and palm trees. To be sure, Barbados isn’t a developing country, but life may not be as comfortable or convenient as it was back home, and you should know about those inconveniences — which become a part of everyday life — before making a long-term commitment. Buying property in Barbados is based on UK law and there are no restrictions on foreign ownership, nil inheritance and capital gains tax. However, it is always a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you through the entire process.
Have a plan for work. The government’s official position on non-nationals moving to Barbados is that they “must provide tangible evidence that they are not likely to become a charge on the nation.” In other words, be prepared to take care of yourself and don’t look for any handouts. All non-nationals desirous of working in Barbados must register with immigration before they begin working. The employer or “sponsor” has the responsibility to make the application on behalf of the employee. Since tourism is the nation’s biggest industry, jobs in the service and hospitality sectors are a good place to start.
Once all the details have been sorted out, you’ll enjoy the relaxed, easy-going lifestyle on this splendid and beautiful island. The people are warm and friendly, the scenery is spectacular, and the food is delectable. You’ll fall in love with life in this Caribbean paradise.
Barbados is waiting for you!