Remember when I said that Island life was enough to make people back home seeth with jealousy? Well, by way of balance here is my list of 10 island idiosyncrasies I’ve discovered in my 4 years here to prove that Island life really isn’t EVERYTHING it’s cracked up to be.
- The traffic. For such a small island, there are an INCREDIBLE amount of vehicles on the roads here. Cayman roadways were clearly designed in a quieter (and simpler) time where there weren’t as many residents and cars were a lot harder to come by. There is also very little in the way of public transport, besides a few buses that are not that reliable unless you live near the main road in George Town.Now, with the advent of websites that ship cheap(er) and reliable cars from Japan, coupled with an enormous expat boom over the last few years, you’ll be lucky if you only spend a single hour of your day here sitting in rush hour traffic.
- The island motto is affectionately known as “Soon Come”. This is usually heard when you are waiting for something; perhaps a delivery or a workman to arrive at your house to lay some flooring. It’s basically another way of saying that nobody knows when, or even if, said person or package will ever arrive, so if it’s important you’d better not make any plans for at least the rest of the month.
- Most Caribbean islands, but Cayman in particular, are out of this world expensive. When I first moved here the island was in the top 10 most expensive places to live in the world. It is now number 1 in the world. Rent is extortionate (I pay $1500 for a small studio at the back of somebody’s house, not including bills) and food isn’t cheap either. If you are looking to live here on anything less than $50,000 a year for a single person, be prepared to make several lifestyle adjustments and forget any plans about saving money.
- Ever lived near a farm and been disturbed by the noise of the local animal residents? Yeah, I feel you. Cayman is like that except EVERYWHERE. Rumour has it that back in 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit the island and destroyed the coops of several of the island’s chickens, setting them all free. They’ve apparently been breeding ever since, leading to an enormous feral chicken population. The tourists love them but locals know that if the local rooster moves into your complex, you won’t be sleeping soundly any time soon due to their penchant for crowing as loud as possible at any time between 1am and 6am.
- You’re never far from another human here. I dreamed of island days before I moved here, sitting back on a deserted beach and enjoying the bliss that comes from being all alone. Fat chance of that. Whenever you find anywhere deserted on the island (rarely) you’d better soak in the experience for all it’s worth because you can bet your behind that any second you’ll be joined by a car full of tourists.
- “How could you ever tire of the beach life!?” Frankly, easily. I’ve reached the point where the novelty of the beach and ocean has worn thin. It’s often just too hot for the beach. The worst thing about this is that there is pretty much nothing else to do if you don’t fancy a trip to the nearest beach, unless you feel like parting with a bunch of cash to go to brunch. Or an escape room. Or the Crystal caves. But that’s it.
- My friends from home genuinely think I have the easiest life in the world out here. Shorts and T shirts and flip flops all day long. I must teach all of my lessons on the beach, right? Wrong – see point 6. And you’re not actually supposed to wear shorts and flip flops to work.
- Even though everybody WANTS to visit you and experience the Instagram-enviable island lifestyle for themselves, very few actually make the trip out to the Cayman Islands. It’s a long-ass flight and it’s cripplingly expensive just to get here, let alone once you actually get here and have to buy food and pay for activities. In the last 4 years here I’ve had a grand total of 3 visitors, and 2 of those came on the same trip.
- I’ve ranted at length about this in another post but it bears repeating; online shopping is just IMPOSSIBLE here. The result of this is thus: that car part/toy/gadget that you saw for $10 on Amazon? $60 here. Minimum.
- Everybody leaves. Whether it’s boredom, expense or simply just missing home, everybody leaves the island eventually. The friends that you’ve made here will not live here forever. It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye after goodbye. The only question is, who will go first?
So you see, it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. These things can be wearing and make even the most steadfast Island girl want to up and leave back to modern society. Will I be one of those people? More and more lately the answer is looking like “yes”.
Do you agree with my sentiments on the negatives of Island life? Are there any things I have missed out that grind your gears?