Katie in Bermuda: "not sure anyone would want to go home"

  • Katie in Bermuda
Published 2014-02-27 00:00
Katie is a British retired doctor. Last year, her husband was offered a job in Bermuda and they decided to move to the country for new adventures...

Why did you decide to move to Bermuda?

My husband was offered a job in Bermuda and we decided it was a good time in our lives for an adventure of sorts. We had done nothing like this ever before, being fairly conservative with regard to family holidays and trips overseas so moving here for two years was a shock to our family - our adult children realised that even though they weren't leaving home, we were!

How was the moving process?

We came with just clothes, two bikes, and laptops. We stayed in a hotel for two weeks until we had found somewhere to rent. The hotel was so nice it was tempting to live there for two years.
So moving was easy. It was made easier by the fact that we have kept our home in UK and did not bring furniture out here and knowing we could go back for visits made it emotionally easier.

How did you get your residence permit?

There are LOTS of formalities to get through for work and residence permits. This process cannot be done when you get here and has to be done through your employer. In order to pre-serve jobs for Bermudians then the job you are coming to do must either be so specialized that you are the only one who could do it, or at least no Bermudian can, or it must be advertised on three separate occasions in Bermudian newspapers and any Bermudian applicants if suitable will take presidence over you. This process can take up to three months but for us it went through in four weeks. My residence permit allows me to accompany and live with my husband only - if we separated I would have to leave the island and it does not permit me to search for work while I am here.
That means it is likely for people moving here that only one of a couple will be working. There are however lots of voluntary opportunities. Therefore when considering the decision to move you have to look very closely at finances.

Did you face some difficulties to adapt to your host country (language, culture, do's and don'ts)?

Language is no problem - they speak English. Culture is colonial and laws are fairly antiquated eg men cannot be seen with bare chests other than on the beach (whilst I agree with the decency of this it is odd to have it written in law).
Bermuda does not recognize other country driving licenses so you have to take a test for a Bermuda Licence - they drive on the left and signs are of English style barring some strange junctions and a speed limit of 22 mph. You cannot rent a car in Bermuda: you can rent a moped.
It is a small island, just 21square miles, with a population of 65,000 so crowded and at times the roads are busy - rush hour happens here just as in London!

What surprised you the most in Bermuda?

Humidity - some days outside is like a steam sauna. So the recorded temperature may be in the range of 20-30centigrade, but with the humidity it feels closer to 34 degrees at its hottest.

Could you please share with us something you like about about Bermuda and something you don't like?

I both like and dislike the pace of life - everything is slower and life relaxed, but at times it will frustrate you in that people will be late for appointments, take ages to fill in forms, and sometimes restaurants are a bit slow; then the Internet.... Hmmm don't expect too much.
However the colors and smells of sub-tropical plants and the sea - those are wonderful. The warm clear blue sea, the sun, the people - not sure anyone would want to go "home".

What do you miss the most from the UK, your home country?

Cadbury's chocolate - not that we cannot get it, but at three or four times the UK cost we have to ration it. Also it melts quickly in the sun!

What are the main differences between UK and Bermuda?

Cost of living is much higher in Bermuda. But income tax is much lower (for UK people as long as you comply with rules).
Weather generally more pleasant and predictable.
Limited further education in Bermuda so most students go overseas for college or university.
Healthcare is private, insurance through workplace.
Expectation in Bermuda of courtesy and politeness.
Shops do not have any high street familiars - all businesses have to be at least 60% Bermudian owned, which means, no McDonalds, no Starbucks, no Boots, Smiths or Next. We do however have a very small M&S franchise, no idea how they got round the laws for that but it is welcome even if it does cost a lot more than UK M&S.

Any local habit you would like to share with us?

The rubbish collections are twice a week - yes, two days each week, none of this every other week as in UK.

How do you keep in touch with friends and family back home?

Skype mainly, though I have also reverted to using Facebook at times.
My blog informs them what I have been doing and I get emails most days so am in touch regularly - it is essential, otherwise it would feel scary and lonely to be on such a small island in the middle of the Atlantic.

Is it easy to make friends in Bermuda?

Yes - volunteering brings loads of contacts and then if you go to the beach strangers will talk to you. There are various associations and clubs that expats can join.

Why did you start your blog, Pinkbikepinksand?

I like writing and researching, learning about new things. When I was looking for information on Bermuda before we came out here there were a few blogs but most were several years old and there was a dearth of recent information. It is also a way of keeping in touch with family and friends.
I am a doctor and worked in medical education before coming out here so some of my blog has a medical slant to it to inform and challenge any students reading it.

Which advice would you give to people wishing to settle in Bermuda?

Research and more research, then come out for a week or so before deciding.

What are your plans for the next few years?

It is an unfinished book...