1 August 2016

Katie Law - Expat in Bermuda

Katie Law - Expat in Bermuda

We’ve had the chance to talk to Katie Law, an English expat in her fifties who moved to the island of Bermuda in the UK.

Mrs. Law followed suit when her husband went to Bermuda to join the prospering finance and insurance market. Occasionally, their child in the UK will visit them. For the past two years, she has found the locals incredibly generous and friendly. Engaging in sports and volunteering activities, Mrs. Law now documents her life in Bermuda on her blog in her free time.

“The rental market for properties has been distorted by the high number of high paying expats on island so rent is hardly less than $8000 per month for a moderately sized home. On the positive side, it is paradise - pink sandy beaches, warm sea breeze, beautiful coral reefs, good food and a gentle, relaxed pace of life,” Mrs. Law elaborated on the pros and cons of living on the island.

Read more about Mrs. Law’s experiences as an expat in Bermuda, in her full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from? What made you move out?

A: I am originally from the south of England, where I have lived in various towns over my lifetime, but this was my first venture abroad. We came to Bermuda when my husband was offered work there. Although I was working at the time, it seemed an opportunity for an adventure and a chance to experience a different lifestyle. 


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: We live on the island of Bermuda, which is pretty small, just 21 square miles in the middle of the North Atlantic. The capital is a town called Hamilton and we live about ten minutes by car from this town. Bermuda has a large financial and insurance business and my husband works in one of those companies. The choice of country was aligned with the specific job. 


Q: How long have you been living in Bermuda? What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new there?

A: We have been here for two years now. I would say it takes the first six months to get used to the changes before you can begin to enjoy life there. Once you have experienced all four seasons, it starts to feel like home and you feel comfortable doing all the everyday living activities such as shopping. 


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in Bermuda? What was your experience with these?

A: The work permit can be hard to get and take up to three months to process. Certain jobs are protected for Bermudians only. The employing company has to apply for the work permit. You are not allowed to come to the country on the off chance and look for work, entry is only permitted either with work permit or as a tourist with a return ticket. It is probably easier for British and US subjects to obtain jobs and permits – the official language is English and the countries’ regulations echo those of the two countries.

Health insurance is obtained through the employer. It has to be with a Bermudian health insurer and cannot be arranged with a company from your home country.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: My husband and I live here alone. We have adult child back in the UK, who have visited us several times.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Bermuda? How did you manage to find a social circle?

A: With a default position of friendliness, it is very easy to find people for friends. There are many volunteering opportunities for a non-working spouse. There are lots of clubs for sports and activities such as golf, sailing, walking, bridge, tennis, horse riding, badminton, dancing, local history, and craft. Churches are prominent in the country and they all have many activities through the week.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Golfing - there are nine golf courses. Water sports - snorkelling, diving, swimming, paddleboard, kayak, and sailing. Bring all your kit with you as it is very expensive on the island.


Q: How does the cost of living in Bermuda compared to your home?

A: A cup of coffee in a cafe will be around $2.15 which is less than UK prices, but although you may find Starbucks coffee you won’t find any Starbucks cafes or any other chains of shops for that matter. I would expect to pay around $60 for lunch for two without alcohol. Dinner will be around $60 per person and alcohol on top. Expensive restaurants will be double that. There are many restaurants at all levels, and eating is a common past time. A bottle of wine in the supermarket ranges from $13 to $80. In a restaurant, it goes from $30 to $150.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Friendly, laid-back, and welcoming. I haven't met anyone who didn't smile and say good day to me. I feel safe everywhere and welcomed in most places. Our landlords have been excellent and helpful.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Bermuda?

A: It is expensive to live here, and flights home are costly with only one option for the UK. US flights are more reasonable cost wise, but it is still limited in where they go. It takes around seven hours to get to the UK – add in the waiting times you will spend a whole day getting off the island. Sometimes, that is necessary to avoid “island fever” or claustrophobia. The rental market for properties has been distorted by the high number of high paying expats on island so rent is hardly less than $8000 per month for a moderately sized home. On the positive side, it is paradise - pink sandy beaches, warm sea breeze, beautiful coral reefs, good food and a gentle, relaxed pace of life.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Of course I miss my family, but we make sure that we see each other as often as we can either by us popping back home or them taking a holiday. Facetime and Skype are also essential.

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Maybe, we will blow with the wind.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: When a relative back in the home country falls ill.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Read around a lot before you commit to coming out here. Read even more after you have come over. Volunteer if you have a spare hour or two to do anything, give something back to the community. Bermudians are very generous people and it makes you want to respond in the same way.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Bermuda?

A: Check out my blog at pinkbikepinksand.wordpress.com. “Nothing to Do In Bermuda” is good for events and museums.