±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Expat Experiences

Cayman Islands > Expat Experiences

Cayman Islands

Gordon Barlow

Monday April 09, 2012 (00:04:12)
Gordon Barlow
Gordon Barlow

My name is Gordon Barlow, married and with grandchildren. I left Australia in 1963, as did my wife, whom I met in Greece the following year.

Looking back, it seems I became addicted to the expat life during my second year in Bahamas, after earlier experiences in England and Canada. Gradually the realisation took over that there was more to life than going home to Australia and a pleasant-but-humdrum future as a partner in an accounting firm.

So after three years in Nassau – I a trust-officer, Linda a teacher – we spent a year as expats (yes!) in Perth, Australia, before finding jobs in New Hebrides, now called Vanuatu. Though both of us were born and raised in Australia, we discovered the truth of the old saw, “you can’t go home again”. We had far more in common with foreign expats than with compatriots who had never been away. I’m sure many other expats discover the same thing.

With an infant son, we came to Cayman from England for the usual 2-3-year expat stint, and stayed. After my stint I became a house-father for five years. Linda left teaching and became an office secretary. The local Work Permit regime gradually tightened in the 1980s as expats began to outnumber the native stay-at-homes. I fell victim to the system after being recruited to open the local Chamber of Commerce’s first office. My job included mobilising public opinion to defeat a proposed Salaries Tax and Payroll Tax; success brought the wrath of the political establishment down on my head.

We hung on here by the skin of our teeth, though I became a pariah for the politicians and their cronies who had favoured the taxes. Prospective employers feared to associate with me even socially; the Work Permit authorities had – and still have – the power to destroy businesses and careers. So today I am an outspoken advocate against abuses of civic and human rights in a newspaper column and a blogsite. This gives me undeserved fame and notoriety, which is sometimes embarrassing.

One of my perennial targets is the legally tolerated exploitation, by some employers, of foreign domestic servants and other unskilled workers. They have no rights, and may be deported at the whim of their employers or indeed any other native Caymanian of influence. Work Permits are indentures that bind each foreign worker to a specified employer for twelve months at a time.

Another target is the crippling of native-born Caymanians’ self-confidence (they are a distinct ethnic group, by the way) by their politicians’ employment-protectionist policies. Intimidated by the Work Permit authorities, employers are pressured to employ and promote Caymanians beyond their capabilities. Some Caymanians happily take the big salaries and high positions, but the more discerning and capable of them resent the assumption that they didn’t get there on their personal merits. The practice leads to inefficiency and to a societal schism between natives and expats.

A third target is government’s financial mismanagement – a problem not confined to Cayman, of course. Our last audited financial statements were those of 2004, for goodness sake. Annual Public Revenues are more than enough to pay for a wickedly bloated Civil Service as well as a first-class physical infrastructure. Nevertheless, and regrettably, our politicians feel driven to borrow excessively. We risk becoming a mini-Greece, sooner or later. Our status as a British colony puts responsibility for our public finances in the hands of Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London – but that is a polite fiction, most of the time.

Many of the postings on my blogsite www.barlowscayman.blogspot.com cover these topics. I mention them here as background information.

The population of Cayman is about 50,000, divided into native Caymanians and expats in the ratio of about one-to-two. Expats include long-term immigrants (some with citizenship papers, which don’t necessarily give them full civil rights) and short-term transients. There are more than fifty nationalities, of which the main ones are Jamaican, Latin American, Filipino, Indian, Canadian and USA, UK, and other European. Divisions exist along national lines, social-class lines, and incomes to some extent, but not racial or religious lines.

Relations between natives and expats are cordial on an individual basis, but tensions arise whenever the discussion turns to politics or civil rights. Any native has the power to arrange the expulsion of any Work Permit expat, and both sides know it. The knowledge tends to inhibit the free flow of conversation, on occasion.

Our 34 years’ residence – despite all the public nastiness following the Chamber of Commerce furore – bears witness to the pleasantness of living in Cayman. I am retired; my wife does conveyancing in a law firm. There is so much to do that we are never bored. It has always been a wonderful place to bring up small children. I won’t say nobody could be bored here; spouses without jobs aren’t always happy, but that applies in most expat-havens.

Link  QR 

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. We offer direct access to over 1.2m medical providers worldwide, and we settle directly with them so you don’t have to pay up front for your treatment. We provide access to leading specialists without the need to see your family doctor first and ensure that you have the same level of cover wherever you might be, home or away.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.