Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It Ain't Easy Here

Gentle Readers,
In case you missed this reoccurring theme, let me once again mention that life is tough on Dominica. Tough enough to make people flee, leaving behind everything they own.

Let me explain.

I got a call this morning shortly after 6 AM (!) from an expat woman I have never met, who was having a panic attack. She sold her house in the US, bought land in Dominica, ordered a car from Japan, and brought down a shipping container of her belongings. She has lived here just 2 months, and is ready to walk away from everything in order to return to the states. She hates it here. It is not at all like an island vacation.

I have read that 40% of people expatriating to any country will return home within the first 2 years. I believe this number is probably larger on Dominica since most everything here is a trial fraught with difficulties, delays, and shortages. (Good friends of ours have had their construction project halted due to there being no cement on the island!)

This panicy woman phoning at the crack of dawn is not the first person I have met walking away from their Dominican dream in despair. So let me state again for those of you dazzled by the dream of island living:

  • Do not invest more than you can walk away from.
  • Rent first to make sure Dominica is for you.
  • Try an experimental mini-move if you can, without dismantling your life completely.
  • Proceed with caution in all matters, using an attorney for all transactions.
  • Build a support systems of other expats, so you have people with similar experiences with whom to problem solve. Your Dominican friends just will not understand the Culture Shock you will inevitably experience.
  • Do not move here anticipating that you will easily generate income to support yourself.
  • Please call me only during regular Living Dominica office hours of 1:00 PM to 1:15 PM. (Someone else called us recently at 11:30 PM because they were experiencing their first Swarm)

Most likely I would have run back to the states already if Mr. Wizard did not have the tenacity (read stubbornness) born of his Germanic heritage. I would probably be up there shoveling snow and wishing I were down island again. Nowhere is perfect, but the grass does always appear greener where ever I am not located. So I perfectly understand the impulse to run away from island life.

livingdominica: I recently had business cards printed which gives all my various contact information and clearly states in bold:

You have to be a little crazy.


msbee said...

Good morning
I hear you.
Any of us have to be a little bit crazy to move to the Caribbean.
We have to basically be non conformists.
Everyone can envy our life style ..until they try it themselves....
it sure ain't for everyone and it sure ain't easy! LOL
Most days I wouldn't trade it for anything, but other days..well.....
you get the picture! LOL

Jen said...

Yes Barbara, it is not the fantasy life we envisioned when thinking about living a simple island life. Things in general are harder than in the Big World, and operating as a stranger in a strange land is more difficult than most expect.

Good Life Dominica said...

This is great! I'm sitting here laughing. It's true, you MUST be a little crazy (in a good way) to live here.In fact, it should be a requirement. It is definitely a challenge, especially "projects" getting your materials. No "one stop shopping" here. I can't imagine any one calling so early or so late. Sounds like the lady is crazy... maybe not crazy enough for our little island.
No, it is not all vacation here. We "vacation" when visitors come.

Jen said...

Good Life, I think you are right. She may not be crazy enough.

Good Life Dominica said...

BTW... I miss your rainbow, like your hammock and love reading your blog.

Jen said...

OH G.L.D. I have been struggling to figure out how to restore the rainbow to the blog. However, all attempts to diddle the html have failed. As soon as the Wiz is not running like a crazed man, I will entrap him and force him to fix it.

I am basically computer illiterate. It is only because Blogger is mostly designed for idiots that I manage to have a blog.

Good Life Dominica said...

Wish I could help, but I am a fellow idiot.

Minerva said...

I am always amazed at the confidence of newbie expats who spent a week or two at a place (without spending considerable time in other places dissimilar to their home in one way or another), or even just HEARD about it and are so sure the place is for them, they sell their houses, ship cars and belongings only to discover they have been mistaken and the place ( or the life in it) isn't at all like what they imagined.
I have worked on longer or shorter assignments in over 40 countries, vacationed in many more and would NEVER decide that anywhere is the ONE place I want to live forever - I ain't that crazy: there are pluses and minuses to every place.

Saratica said...

Es lo mismo en Costa Rica! People come here for a week, go home, buy property from afar, sell everything, move here... then are completely surprised when life in a completely foreign land is completely foreign.

Thank God circumstances led us gently down this garden path!

I recently added a bit about consulting fees $25/hour, whether people email me separately or want to talk on the phone. I urge them to comment, any questions on comments get answered for free and at my leisure. But if they need an answer and need it now, I have to charge for it. I've gotten no more long emails with every question under the sun, most of which are answered on the blog anyway...

Love your blog - you'll get the header fixed! Been too long since I was on blogger to have any ideas! Pura vida, amiga!