British Expat In Cayman Islands - Interview With James

Published: 22 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Cayman Islands
When James Grandage from the UK told his wife Kim about a job opportunity in the Cayman Islands, she only had to utter two words "Do It" for him to realise the time was right to jump at it . After several painstakingly slow months, James finally got the news he'd hoped for, he'd been successful in getting the role and he, Kim his two young children Jonny and Tess – alongside their dog Duggy were moving to the Caribbean! James (and occasionally Kim) has maintained a blog (see listing here) since he got the news, using it to detail his experiences in the hope it helps other people making the same move.

Cayman Islands Blog

Here's the interview with James...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from Hale in Cheshire, United Kingdom. I pretty much spent my entire life in and around this area until recently.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm now living in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We moved here in January 2012, we have no plans to move for the foreseeable future!

Why did you move and what do you do?
In the UK, I worked as a Business Development and Technology specialist in a law firm. The company was great, but the commute was killing me and was around three hours a day, this meant that time with my two children was at a premium unfortunately. We'd always talked about the possibility of emigrating, but it always seemed a distant dream, one that would never happen to us. I was offered the opportunity via LinkedIn to apply for a very similar role in the Cayman Islands. There was very little hesitation from our end, I applied and the rest is history.

Cayman Islands BlogDid you bring family with you?
Yes, I brought my wife, my son Jonny who was three at the time and daughter Tess who was just under one. We also eventually imported our dog to the island too, which added an extra level of stress and expense!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Remarkably easy. Despite the distance and climate differences, there are a lot of similarities being that the Cayman Islands is British governed. English is the first language, driving was on the same side as the UK, and we even celebrate the Queen's birthday with a public holiday!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We made a pact before we came out that we would throw ourselves into the life here and try to make friends quickly. With two young children, it was very easy for Kim to find groups where other Mum's went to keep the kids entertained. We've both made some good friends as a result. I've also got a good group (both expats and locals) as a result of work.

Cayman Islands BlogWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Watersports! This is a tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean, the place is geared towards outdoor life. A trip to Stingray City is a must as is diving. Seven Mile Beach is beautiful - I think it's one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The North side of the island runs at an even slower pace than the rest of the country, and Rum Point/Kaibo are essential places to visit. We are looking forward to our first Pirates Week starting in November and we're all very excited at the prospect!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
As above. The climate means that we spend most of the time outside. I never thought I'd be able to get back from work (commute time less than 10 minutes) and jump in the swimming pool with the kids, this is something I will never grow tired of. The kids (and dog) are in their element, and it fills me with pride watching them develop in such a safe surrounding. Everyone is so friendly, social and relaxed too.

Cayman Islands BlogHow does the cost of living compare to home?
We got a shock, a very big shock. It's tax free out here, so we had visions of Brewster's Millions, throwing money in the air and unable to spend it all. The reality here is that it's a very expensive place to live. Food and living costs can be likened to London on a bad day. So whilst there is no direct tax, you pay it in other ways.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Hurricane season! Though this year (2012), there have only been a couple of threatening hurricanes. Touch wood it continues next year.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Reassess your budget, ship toiletries and clothes as both are very expensive here.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
We've had moments where we've really missed friends and family. Skype and Face Time have really helped. The Cayman Islands are a very popular place for tourists, so it's not been too difficult to persuade people to visit us!

Cayman Islands BlogWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Plan everything, keep a log of what you're shipping, what you're storing and what you need to do before you leave the country.
  2. Ship more than you think you'll need – you can always sell it once you're here!
  3. Get bank and insurance references before you leave, you'll need them to open a bank account and get your car insured!
  4. Be prepared for an expensive first few months, from rental deposits, cars, utilities. It can really stretch your finances.
  5. Keep a blog for the friends and family that you've left behind.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog actually started in 2010, way before we decided to move. It was detailing our house renovation and proved quite popular. It took a sudden change in direction around September 2011 when I accepted the job. I really enjoy writing, and hope that those who read it take at least some of the experiences we've had whilst out here and consider their own adventures.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via the blog, or via twitter @jamesgrandage

James blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Cayman Islands Blog has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with James, please also drop him a quick comment below.
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