Barbados – A Good Choice for Nomads
Thinking about relocating to somewhere warm and sunny? You could do worse than consider Barbados. The most easterly of the Caribbean islands, Barbados was once one of the jewels in the British crown, until achieving independence in 1966. Known affectionately as Little England, it successfully combines aspects of British heritage with Caribbean verve.
So why is Barbados a good choice for a nomad- and is it really possible? If you are a British or Commonwealth citizen, then you can visit the island for up to 6 months without a visa. For US citizens, the period is shorter, and you can visit for three months at a time. For a nomad, this is long enough to ride out the winter before moving to another location.
No Weather Woes
One of the main reasons why Barbados is popular as a winter getaway is the balmy winter temperatures, around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). Along with the North East Trades that cool the island even on the hottest days, this makes Barbados a very pleasant place indeed. Add to that the plethora of beautiful beaches and it truly is a winter paradise. The rich and famous tend to stay in the Sandy Lane area on the west coast of the island, dipping their toes in the clear water and strolling along the fine, white sand. But you can enjoy the same amenities in many parts of the island, such as Browne’s Beach near the capital Bridgetown (arguably one of the best beaches on the island) or Miami Beach (the local name for a nice stretch of beach in Oistins) on the south coast.
An early entrant into the tourist trade, Barbados welcomes visitors, who will find Barbadians (or Bajans as they are also called) ready to assist or just shoot the breeze. US visitors may get a shock; they drive on the left (not a surprise considering the island’s English roots) and, with a couple of exceptions, the roads are narrow and bumpy. Navigating the potholes is a real experience. However, to compensate for the state of the roads, Bajans are courteous drivers, happy to cause a tailback in order to let you pass.
As a nomad, you will probably want to do some work and you have lots of options. There are a few ISPs on the island, of which the biggest is LIME, so you won’t have any trouble getting on the net. While you’re waiting for your connection to be installed, you can work from a range of internet cafes and coffee shops all over the island, many offering free Wi-Fi for the price of a cup of coffee. There is currently an initiative to create a free Wi-Fi network island-wide, so that people can connect with their smartphones wherever they happen to be.
If you want to stay longer and buy a piece of real estate, it’s not so difficult – and with a sluggish market since the recession, the realtors will probably be all over you. Real estate pricing varies widely, with multimillion dollar mansions available on the west coast (there’s a reason why it’s called the Gold Coast) in Sandy Lane, Westmoreland and Apes Hill. Property is more reasonable on the south coast and if you are prepared to go east or north, it’s cheaper still. That’s not necessarily a good option logistically as for a small island; the traffic can be horrendous at rush hour.
Local life is similar to life anywhere. Even on a paradise island people have to go out to work. However, Bajans spend more time outdoors than their metropolitan neighbors and are always ready to have a beach picnic or sit on the patio hanging out with friends. Most restaurants (you can find practically any cuisine you want on the island – some of it at reasonable prices) have outdoor seating areas and there’s no greater pleasure than sipping a glass of wine while you look at the sparkling blue Caribbean Sea.
Things to see? There are many, though on a small scale. If you’re doing a whistle-stop tour to check out the island, visit one of the rum factories (the island is the spirit’s birthplace) and spend some time at the Barbados Museum to dip into the island’s history. If you have more time, include visits to the Wildlife Reserve or go underwater in the Atlantis Submarine to get close to the tropical fish. And when you’ve exhausted the attractions, there’s still the beach!
Isabella “Izzy” Woods is a freelance writer who relocated to Barbados from the UK 7 years ago. Today she writes on behalf of a truck rental company, but she intends to satisfy her wanderlust in later life.