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Robert Hof has written a fascinating top-10 list about being a Canadian expatriate in Bermuda. I think nationality has nothing to do with it, as a lot of what he’s written speaks to the experiences some Americans have felt on the island. Here are some cribbed highlights:

Bermuda is not a singles haven for expat men, though women will have a significantly better time. Most of the professional expat jobs here are in accounting and IT, traditionally male-dominated jobs. Since most of us expats stick together, it makes for many frustrating evenings for my single friends.

Outside of romance, there’s the always dangerous transportation issue:

Call them scooters, auxiliary cycles, or mopeds, you will probably be using one of these as your primary transportation. Selling for $2000-$4000 new, and as little as $500 used, these Vespa-like scooters are ubiquitous across the island. Why? Because only one car is allowed per home by law. To get around the gridlock, the adventurous, young, and stupid among us have discovered a hidden “middle lane” along every road. Sometimes yellow, sometimes white, it’s always there if you search hard enough. It’s kind of narrow, though. They say everyone falls off (or gets knocked off) their bikes at least once.

I personally remember, in 1984-6, a can of coke costing a dollar in a hotel vending machine. On the Naval Air Station, the price, if I remember correctly, was more around 35-45cents. Simply put, Bermuda is epensive, and that hasn’t changed:

Groceries cost $50 per bag. Apart from housing, your biggest expense is likely to be groceries. For some reason Chicken is inexpensive. But forget about just about everything else. Bread for $4.00 a loaf. Basic shampoo (Pantene) is $9.00 a bottle. Everything except milk, carrots, and onions, is imported. Usually it’s brought in by boat. Fresh fruit is a real luxury – a pint of strawberries can fetch over $5. In season.

Of course, back when the Air Station was operational, Americans hardly ever shopped on the local economy, since groceries at the comersary were affordable. And this last bit speaks to something very vivid in my memory 20 years later:

Roaches! They’re everywhere. And they’re not tiny. Like the crabs crawling along almost every street in Belize, these suckers are everywhere. In springtime, they even fly a bit. This is yet another reason to keep your house cleaner than clean.

This is not the all of Hof’s article. There’s much more pertinent information, and it seems that somethings just haven’t changed.


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