Expat Wisdom: 7 Tips for Adjusting to Life in the Caribbean

Adjusting to Life in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is now one of the leading destinations for wealthy mid-lifers and retirees. The paradise-like environment, the warm locals, the pace of life — these are formula variables for the life of leisure that they want. You also can’t overlook the fact that it’s now relatively straightforward to acquire Caribbean citizenship. You can do this by making a donation to the government or by purchasing from a selection of luxury Caribbean investment properties as long as you pass the diligence and government assessment.

The idea of uprooting your life from your homeland and moving to the Caribbean seems like an exciting adventure — and it is, particularly in the aspect that every adventure comes with challenges. And, when it comes to challenges, there is no doubt that life in the Caribbean will put your adaptive abilities to the test.

But, don’t let this reality deter you from launching a life here because taming the challenges of island living only requires adequate preparation, which is actually not that difficult to do. And to help you get started, listed below are seven nuggets of wisdom that you can follow from expats (professionals, business owners, and retirees) who have been living in the West Indies for quite some time.

1. Research where to buy your supplies

The Caribbean is not known for its super malls. Only country capitals usually have shopping strips or malls where imported products are available (and way pricier). Therefore, if you will be living outside the capital, better research the small specialty stores to get your supplies.

The Internet, as always, is a fantastic source of information. Join forums where you can ask expats and locals about where you can buy certain products. Many of them will even provide you with directions on how to get to these supply stores, and information on how to actually get there using public transportation, the prices of goods, and others.

Proper research on this will prevent you from wasting time on checking one store after another for the products that you need.

2. Find all the service providers you need

Naturally, you will need a bank. You also need to find an Internet service provider and get to know the utility companies. And if you need maintenance services for your home, you may want to search for a housekeeping company to provide you with household help.

The main idea here is it’s crucial to identify all the different services that you need to create an organized life and it’s best to conduct the search and hire the best providers of these services as soon as you move in, or better yet, before your arrival. You can check out the local directory, but a lot of expats recommend turning to real estate agents or lifestyle concierges because they’re well-connected and can easily recommend reliable service providers.

3. Embrace the local culture

One of the sources of frustration for a lot of expats is how different the local culture is from what they grew up with. Therefore, stop being too rigid about culture and learn to accept the new one; embrace the ways of the locals and stress less about life.

You will only be making your life difficult if you try to recreate your old life in a totally different country. For instance, in the Caribbean, people like to take their sweet time. If you’re an “on the dot” kind of person, it may become difficult for you to develop relationships if you insist on punctuality at all times.

Remember, you can’t change people’s ways that are deeply rooted in culture. You’ll have an easier time adjusting and just accepting the things that you cannot do anything about.

4. Be an active community member

The community spirit is strong in the Caribbean, and you can create more meaningful relationships by getting involved in the community. Find local groups that share your interests. For example, in Antigua and Barbuda, sailing is a favorite pastime of both locals and expats. How about joining clubs if it’s an activity you enjoy?

Or, if you are into the arts, get to know gallery owners and local artists, show your support for them by attending exhibits, and purchasing artworks once in a while. You’ll create connections this way, and these connections can develop into deep friendships that will bring joy to your life.

5. Maintain a traveler’s enthusiasm

One of the admirable traits of avid travelers is their boundless pursuit of discoveries about places. Develop this trait in yourself, as well, when you relocate to the Caribbean. Don’t stop going on adventures and meeting new people while trying to get settled.

A key to adjusting well to a new place is by staying joyful. So, create sources of joy for yourself. Continue traveling, visit famous tourist destinations, and secret escapes locals recommend, participate in festivals, and check out the highly rated accommodations of the islands.

6. Build a strong and secure abode

As the whole world knows, the Caribbean region experiences strong hurricanes every year. For your safety and peace of mind, build a house that has the best chance of withstanding extreme weather and natural disasters.

Caribbean citizenship is an expensive investment. Indeed, one of the best ways to protect yourself is by building a home that can serve as your true sanctuary.

7. Focus on its good qualities

As mentioned earlier, hurricanes and all kinds of pesky insects are very much a part of island living in the West Indies. But don’t dwell on these, instead be grateful for all the good it offers, such as how the most beautiful beaches in the world are just a short drive away. Or, how loneliness is not a national issue here because people are so friendly and helpful. Or, how the cost of living could be cheaper than in your homeland.

Make a conscious effort to grow your love for the Caribbean because, with love, the little imperfections automatically become easy to overlook.

Moving and settling into a new place is rarely a smooth ride. However, with the pieces of expat wisdom shared above meant to help you prepare for a big change in your life, you can avoid potholes and a lot of bumps along the way.