If you haven’t heard, I branched out into vlogging with my new Ask An Island Girl Q&A series. It took me some time to get past my (a) fear of being in front of the camera and (b) fear of being in front of the camera, but I finally did it. And while I’m still not totally comfortable in front of the lens (I’ve always been a more behind-the-scenes person), I’m getting there.
So, if you haven’t yet checked out these videos, go hit up my YouTube channel. That’s where you’ll find the full collection (ok…all two videos I’ve done so far…masterpieces take time, people!). Added bonus…sometimes you can even see me with make-up on. A rarer sighting than the Loch Ness Monster. Or unicorns.
In a recent vlog, I answered a fairly common question that I often get. It comes in various permutations, but the essence is “What factors should I consider when choosing an island?” I understand why people who don’t know my story ask me this. After all, I did jettison my old life and move to an island. Presumably after developing a well thought out and reasoned plan.
Unfortunately, no. I’m far too impulsive for such a methodical approach. I just got off a plane one day, fell in love with an unknown island and the rest was, as they say, history. (If you’d like to hear the whole, sordid tale of my move to the islands, hit up this podcast I recently did with Chapin Carpenter of Misfits & Rejects.)
But…(there’s always a but, right?)…if I had to do it again, I would do things differently. Or at least I’d ask myself a few questions about my potential new island destination before booking a one-way flight to paradise. Or maybe not. I mean, if I fell head-over-heels in love with a new tropical destination once, it’s possible I’d do it again, right? I’m afraid so.
But if you’re more of a planner than I am and you like to weigh all your options before jumping into something, then read on. These are the top factors I would consider before choosing another Caribbean island.
Flight Availability & Price
Let’s be honest. Getting to and from most islands is expensive. But within the broad category of “drain your bank account” plane tickets, there is variation among islands. As I found out after the fact. My chosen rock of Bonaire tends to have airfare on the very high side – to everywhere, which is something that may not bother you if you’re only visiting this rock once in a while. However, you’ll be singing a different tune about those sky-high prices if you choose to move here full-time.
Unless, of course, you’re so wealthy as to not be concerned about the price of things (or you own your own airplane…in which case, let’s be friends). For all others, carefully study the flight schedules and number of carriers servicing any island that makes your short list. The more flights and more carriers, the less expensive tickets will be. Or at least that’s the theory. Also, if low price carriers like Jet Blue service the island, then consider it your lucky damn day. No jealousy here. Nope, none at all.
Are you outdoorsy and sporty? More of a make-up and Michelin-star dinner kind of gal? A barefoot, boating woman? Or one who prefers to dress up and spend time browsing the shelves of luxury boutiques? It’s all good, whatever floats your boat. Heck, I used to be the Louis Vuitton toting, lady who lunches, too (long, long ago). My point is…choose an island based on what you like to do.
For example, these days I am a sans make-up, hair in a messy bun, kiteboarder. So living on Bonaire is perfect for me. Likewise, this is total paradise for scuba divers and windsurfers, too. But you know who tends to find it frustrating to live here? Ladies who prefer to be perfectly coiffed while enjoying some serious retail therapy with similarly attired ladies. I mean, we do have boutiques here, but nothing in the way of Dior or Chanel. So if “see and be seen” or “dress to impress” is your motto, there are other Caribbean islands where you’ll likely find more fulfillment. Old Liz would have been miserable here. I know this for a fact. Thankfully, she’s long gone.
For your own future happiness, please make sure whichever island you choose offers an abundance of the things you like to do. Or be.
This one seems quite obvious, doesn’t it? But it is often the most ignored factor. After all, with Google translate and other apps at your fingertips, how hard can it be to understand a foreign language? You’ll get by no problemo, yes? Don’t be naive.
Google translate will only take you so far. You will still be at a disadvantage when it comes to daily communication outside your immediate social circle, nevermind in any government office or the bank. And if you don’t know (or learn) the official language, you will find yourself the odd woman out in many situations. Trust me. While people will speak English to you if they have to, they much prefer to speak their mother tongue whenever possible. And they often will, even if you are right there among them.
Bottom line, while the official language may not be a make-or-break factor in your decision, it is still one to think about. At least if you plan to immerse yourself in the island culture beyond the expat community from your own country. And I certainly hope you do. After all, what’s the point of moving to a foreign land if you want things just like they were back home? Including surrounding yourself with people just like you?
Anyway, I hope you find these tips helpful. If you’d like to hear my expanded take on the three (and other random musings), head over to YouTube and check out the full video. You’ll find it under Episode 2. Cheers.
Got questions? Want to know more about island life? Thinking about making a big life change (whether that includes an island or not)? I’d love to hear from you. Check out this post or send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.