Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you lived on a remote tropical island
where your daily activities were accompanied by visions like this
This the life of my sister-in-law, mLb, who has resided with her husband and two sons for 10 years in Bermuda. Last week LDB and I had the pleasure of staying with them and experiencing first-hand the realities of living in paradise: the good, the bad and the gracious.
If you haven’t visited Bermuda, put it on your Bucket List. On our first visit I suffered from permanent jaw-drop, gawking at the spectacular beauty that surrounded us.
Tourists staying in the lush resorts normally miss the lifestyle enjoyed by natives and expats. Among the uniquely-Bermudian experiences, mLb’s family has adopted the island tradition of gathering with friends at Elbow Beach on Christmas Day.
Her book club has met aboard a boat puttering around the harbour.
One son attended a swim-with-the-dolphins birthday party, the likes of which any kid would compare to a Sea World adventure.
The family attended a Halloween party at Bloomfield on the Gosling estate where the kids received tricks while the adults were treated to this spectacular home.
When her boys get fidgety, she takes them around the corner to snorkel.
Like many on the island, they have embraced the sailing life in Bermuda. Her boys learned to sail at a tender age,
and as members of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club,
which is only 10 minutes from their home and 15 minutes from school, attending daily practices is manageable. Her eldest is now such a skilled sailor that he competes in races abroad.
These are just a sampling of the benefits of living the island lifestyle so long as you have the right Bermudattitude.
Okay, it’s not that bad, but you need a certain mindset and a resiliency to the quirks of living on The Rock, as the locals call the island. Several factors significantly affect the lives of residents, especially the expats.
Bermudian law states that a non-Bermudian may not displace a local from a job. If a family moves to Bermuda, both of the spouses may work, but both must obtain a work permit, an arduous task. In addition, none of their children may hold part-time jobs, even if they are entrepreneurial in nature, like cutting grass, cleaning pools or babysitting.
If you move to the island and want to purchase a home, be prepared to pay more than 43% tax on your property (average price $2,800,000) upon purchase.
Bermuda wants to keep the land in the hands of Bermudians and makes it mighty difficult for expats to become home owners. Most companies that employ non-Bermudians offer generous housing allowances for rental homes, but that means living in rental property, possibly for a very long time.
If you can’t bear the thought of life without Starbucks, Target and Pottery Barn, this is not the place for you. Bermuda does not permit chain stores to operate on the island. Procuring household goods is challenging due to lack of selection locally and the time and cost to ship from Amazon, et al. Grocery chains fall into the prohibited category. A few local grocery markets are sprinkled around the island.
Lindo’s (pictured above) has two locations. This one is so popular
it features one of the island’s few parking decks.
Only one car (at a time) is permitted for each family. At a time means one must sell a car before purchasing another…kinda tricky and inconvenient! Car sizes are limited to very small (see parking deck above), so you’d have to leave behind your favorite sport-utility vehicle. Anyone else wishing motorized transportation must travel by scooter,
even the 16-to-18-year-olds. One must pass a scooter driving test, which isn’t a gimme. Public transportation is available,
(even the bus stops are charming),
and many use the ferry system to get to work
(ferry crossing Hamilton Harbour).
Walking and biking are options, but the hills and narrow, winding roads are deterrents to those modes for commuting on an on-going basis.
Cost of Living
As you might have surmised, Bermuda has a sky-high cost of living. The government regulates the price of gasoline, now at $8.10 per gallon (without regulation it could be higher). Clothing, food, home accessories ~everything~ costs more, but the upside is retail sales are not taxed, and without scads of stores full of goodies, it’s difficult to shop-til-you-drop.
Water affects the Bermudian lifestyle every day, for better and for worse. Did you know there is a purpose to the white roofs on homes in Bermuda other than to look positively gorgeous?
The island has no source of fresh water, so rainwater is collected from the roofs which are covered with a chemically-treated white paint to sanitize the rainwater as it runs off the houses (when the roof get grungy-looking ~easy to see on a white roof~ it’s time to repaint). Collected in cisterns, the water is used for daily needs like drinking, bathing and laundry. Water conservation is ingrained,
but it is possible to run out of water (this happened to mLb on Christmas Eve!), thus the need for emergency water trucks to refill cisterns.
Because Bermuda is surrounded by water, a claustrophobic-like feeling can creep into one’s psyche. It’s called Rock Fever, and keeping it at bay requires periodic trips off-island.
mLb welcomes company with open arms. She keeps a pitcher of
Bermuda Pink Slushy in her freezer for pool-side refreshment. You’ll want to get the super-easy recipe at the end of this post!
She outdid herself with gracious hospitality, including a visit to The Bermuda Perfumery
for tea. Lili Bermuda perfume is made on the premises, and tea is served on the courtyard’s patio.
Given the heat and humidity, we appreciated the iced Harney tea option.
Tourist on her own Island
mLb is quite the tour guide and has learned much about Bermuda by taking friends and family all over the island. When I asked if she grew weary of visitors, she replied she was thankful to be a tourist in her own city. Otherwise she wouldn’t have learned so much about her island paradise. Whether we live in Shangri-La or not, we can take a page from her playbook and enjoy our own hometown through the eyes of a tourist.
July 30, 2014
- 2 litres of 7-Up
- 12 ounces (1 can) frozen lemonade concentrate
- 20 ounces vodka
- Mix together and freeze for a few hours before serving. Remove from freezer a few minutes before serving to allow the contents to become slushy.