Sipping piña coladas on a sun-soaked beach, waking up to glorious sun-beams seeping through your window and watching magical sunsets with your toes buried in the sand- lets be honest, Caribbean life doesn't sound too shabby. But in reality, moving half way across the world to a paradise island isn't quite the fairytale happy ending it's made out to be. Shoving a few skimpy swimsuits and newly purchased snorkel & mask into a suitcase, and heading for the postcard Caribbean life can actually be a tough, and at times, a painstakingly frustrating process. On the up side, there's always that piña colada...
Here's a list of a few things you'll learn when you move to the Caribbean.
1. You Aren't on Vacation All Of The Time
It's a common mistake for island newbies, and who can blame you? The sun is beating down and life is ebbing by slowly, downing an umbrella-laden margarita at 9am and throwing back patty after patty seems perfectly acceptable.
2. If You Don't Know What Soca Is...Forget It
In the Caribbean, soca is king. Become a soca junkie or an outcast. You choose.
3. Happy Hour Is No Joke
It's never just one.
4. Wicker Furniture Will Be Your New Friend
The 'tropical', 'beach chic' look is in. All of the time. Apparently. Modern furnishings can be a rarity in the Caribbean, and you'll get accustomed to starfish sculptures on your walls.
5. Lionfish Are The Enemy
They may be cute, but in the dive community they're public enemy number one.
6. Privacy Is No Longer
On smaller Caribbean islands everyone knows everyone, and in turn, 'everyting'.
7. You Will Be Bombarded With Visitors
Everyone wants to spend their summer visiting their friend who's 'living the dream in the Caribbean'. Crazy, mid-week, regrettable nights out, draining your bank account and driving your overly-excited visitors around your island over and over again and sacrificing your private space will become a part of your new life in paradise.
8. You Can't Slip Away On Vacay
Even when you think it's safe to slip away for some time off the rock, you'll undoubtedly see familiar faces at the airport and probably on the way back in the departure lounge too.
9. Whine Hard Or Go Home
Perfecting your dutty whine technique is almost an initiation. If you can't whine, Google it, there are actually how-to videos for this.
10. If You Don't Dive, You're Missing Out
The insanely good diving is a big part of why expats move to the Caribbean. With dive communities scattered throughout the region, if you're a diver, it's a catapult to social acceptance.
11. Nice Hair Does Not Exist
Nope, not going to happen. It's 80F outside so unless you're actually blessed with gorgeously silky locks, you soon learn to embrace the Chaka Khan look.
12. You Will Need 50 Pairs of FlipFlops
You never have enough.
13. Grey Is Not an Option
14. Always wear Mozzy Spray
Mosquitos can ruin even the most romantic of sunset dinners on the beach. Getting eaten alive and developing the belief you've contracted Chikungunya is again, part of the process of adapting to life in the Caribbean.
15. Online Shopping will become your new hobby
Bordering on obsession.
16. Roads Are A Battlefield
Caribbean roads are treacherous, you'll have to dodge dim-witted iguanas, dawdling chickens and bewildered tourists racing across the narrow roads to the nearest bargain T-Shirt shop.
17. You'll Be Behind On Your Game
Music, fashion, movies, it all comes one step behind.
18. Don't Take It For Granted
You'll come to eventually realise, the view never gets old, and you're incredibly lucky to be living in paradise. Despite its drawbacks, life in the Caribbean is pretty spectacular.