I’m James, 33 years old and I’m currently living in the Caribbean with my wife and two young children.
We moved to the Cayman Islands in January 2012. Whilst we’d considered emigrating many times before, it had always felt like an unrealistic dream. An opportunity came up to apply for a position at a large law firm out here, we didn’t hesitate and the rest is history!
The move was stressful, we had our own challenges with trying to sell or rent our property in the UK, with the market being so bad we were getting very little interest. We opted to rent the property in the end which meant that we unfortunately left the UK still with debt, not ideal, but we’re getting there slowly.The run up to the big move was extremely challenging, what do we put in storage? What do we ship? What do we put in our suitcases and take with us? We had to manage the whole process as a project basically.
We also had the dog to think about, we were desperate to bring her with us, but this proved extremely expensive – bringing her on the British Airways flight was around the same price as a first class ticket!
How did you find somewhere to live?
The firm I work for were extremely supportive and put us in accommodation for a number of weeks until we’d managed to sort ourselves out. Whilst we were proactive before the move in looking for properties, it was a bit pointless as many of the houses had gone by the time we’d got out. We enlisted the help of a couple of real estate agencies and constantly checked the main property website out here to help find our home.
We had to readjust our budget somewhat as living out here is extremely expensive (more about that later) and had the added complication of wanting three bedrooms and a pet friendly property. Most of the places out here are two beds and don’t allow dogs, so we had quite a small choice. We found a great place in the end though!
Are there many other expats in your area?
There are a great number of expats out here, I’d say at least a 1/3 of the population in fact. Lawyers, Accountants and Financial are the main industries that expats tend to have careers in.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
We have made an effort to integrate ourselves into the community and in the most part there is mutual respect between locals and expats.
What do you like about life where you are?
Life is good! It’s relaxed, easy going, the weather is warm, the sea is crystal clear and the sands powder white. The island has a great family focus and the kids absolutely love it out here. We go to the beach every weekend, are able to spend most of the day outside in the sun, honestly it’s a great place to live.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I guess the only slightly stressful thing is hurricane season, we were lucky in 2012 with only a couple of storms forming near us. The island and government are well prepared and ensure that all residents know what to do in the event of a hurricane.
How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?
Expensive! Whilst there is no direct tax in this country, you do end up paying for it in other ways. There is obviously less variety as it’s an island in the Caribbean, but I was very pleased to see they stock my favourite tea here!
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
The food here is great, there’s a strong American influence so that means big portions of wings, burgers, pizza etc. The local delicacy is Conch Fritters which is lovely. They have a great fish and meat selection and their local produce are normally coconuts, limes, bananas and plantain.
We have a real focus on good quality food here and have an annual festival to celebrate it!
I have a bit of an obsession with food, and have many posts dedicated to the subject on my blog!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
If an opportunity comes up and you’re unsure whether to take it or not, take it. It’s better to regret something you’ve done than something you’ve not.
What are your plans for the future?
We are probably the happiest we’ve ever been right now, and are in no rush to change that. As we’ve emotionally made the cut from the UK, I guess the world is our oyster!