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Starting a New Life in the Caribbean: A Checklist before Moving

Jan 19, 2008
Thoughts of perpetual sunny skies, soft lulling surf and whispering palm tree breezes; it's not any wonder why someone wouldn't want to relocate to the Caribbean. But like life, there are no easy escapes. However, with some background knowledge first you should be able to arm yourself with information before making that trip.

This article is intended to spurn interest to learn more before you go, so you don't have any unwelcome surprises. This will simply go over any preliminary planning in regards to what life is like on the islands (much different than vacationing), finding a home and looking for Caribbean jobs.

Readjustments and Preparedness

First keep in mind that the Caribbean has a very different culture. Many of the islands are owned by European nations or island nations themselves. Some of the locations do not have local inhabitants who all speak English. Aruba, for instance, will predominantly rely on Dutch.

In the instances discussed further below, I will keep the information pertaining more toward U.S. owned islands like the U.S. Virgin Islands. To find quality information about other islands, such as Dutch owned Aruba or British Virgin Islands, check their embassy site or consulate information before going.

It's good to get to know the economic climate there. For all intents and purposes we can use the U.S. Virgin Islands as a test example. The Virgin Islands have about a 33 percent higher cost of living compared to the average cost in the U.S. For instance, the range of cost for a one-bedroom apartment in St. Croix is between $800 and $1,000, and in St. John that figure spikes from $1,200 to $1,800 a month.

You'll want to take into account that utilities, groceries and most consumer items will be higher. Since you will be living on an island, the costs of shipping by boat or airplane are not cheap. As an example, a carton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream will set you back over seven dollars.

The best means to do research, if you have this in your budget, is to simply go there as a tourist and make contacts and talk to the locals. Make friends and contacts. Finding a Caribbean job will be the first adventure for you, then landing a place to live and getting established may come easier.

Finding a Job

A good question to run by yourself is how long will the stay be. If you plan to stay temporarily, it may be a good idea to find a seasonal job. The biggest seasonal Caribbean job in general is working in the tourist trade. You'll see that that is where the bulk of the money comes from, so follow the money. Look to cruise liners, food service and any service sector for that matter.

If staying permanently, skilled trades are in demand. For the Virgin Islands, teachers and health professionals are sought after (nurses in particular).

It's a wise idea to go online and look for specific businesses there and contact their human resources department. For instance, if you are a nurse looking for relocation, call any of the U.S. Virgin Island's hospitals: Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, Juan F. Luis Hospital, and Myrah Keating Community Health Center.
About the Author
Art Gib is a writer for TropicJobs.com (http://www.tropicjobs.com) who, since 2000, have been making the task of finding jobs in the Caribbean easier. They have job boards and advice for those from the mainland to help them land Caribbean jobs.
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