Irish Expat Living in Bahamas - Interview with Catherine

Published: 3 Aug at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Bahamas
Originally from Northern Ireland, Catherine always wanted to wander. She tried out a few places before settling down in the Caribbean where she makes her living as a writer and blogs on the side to share travelling tips, an insight into the tropical expat life and the unique struggle of never being able to find a decent Guinness. Catherine's expat blog is called The Expat Essays - at home with not being at home (see listing here)

in travelling mode
in travelling mode

Here's the interview with Catherine...

Where are you originally from?
Northern Ireland

In which country and city are you living now?
Nassau, The Bahamas

How long have you lived in Bahamas and how long are you planning to stay?
It's hard to tell because seasons don't mean much here - it's just Hot and Less Hot - but I've lived in The Bahamas for 8 years. As for the future, I'm not really a planner. I take each sunny day as it comes.

every day is a beach day
every day is a beach day
Why did you move to Bahamas and what do you do?
I moved here for a job and then ended up getting married. That old story. At the moment I'm a full-time writer so that keeps me in rum money.

Did you bring family with you?
I arrived in The Bahamas on a bright January morning, jetlagged, disoriented and alone. Although that day was also the day I met my husband for the first time, so I wasn't alone for long!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The Bahamas wasn't my first move, so I was somewhat prepared for the transition. Having said that, it was the furtherest I'd been from home and every move is tough. With a bit of experience you get to understand that the initial 'Oh no, what have I done?' phase is totally normal and passes. Just after graduating I spent 3 months in South Africa and that was great preparation for The Bahamas. The two countries have a lot of the same issues so I avoided the worst of the culture shock.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Working here makes that side of things much easier. You get a ready-made social group from the people you work with and chat to on a daily basis. It kind of spirals from there. I'd say my friends are a healthy mix of expats and locals. This is a very small island so you get to know people quickly.

our island dog
our island dog
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The Bahamas has the best waters on earth. The colour and visibility of the sea is amazing so I'd recommend anything that involves hitting the water - diving, sailing, boating, kite-surfing, snorkelling, swimming with sharks and stingrays. This is a such a beautiful environment and there are so many options when it comes to enjoying it.

What do you enjoy most about living in Bahamas?
The sunshine! We get 300 days of sun a year and weather that I used to dream about in Northern Ireland. I also love the relaxed pace of life on the island, being five minutes from the beach and the beautiful views.

How does the cost of living in Bahamas compare to home?
I find it quite expensive. One of the perils of living on a small island is the reliance on imports, and unfortunately there are duties and taxes that go with that.

this is what winter looks like
this is what winter looks like
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Bahamas?
Being a guest in this country, I always hesitate to point out the negatives. I'm just so grateful to be here!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Bahamas, what would it be?
Remain grateful. It's easy to complain about the heat, the bugs, the claustrophobia of being on a small island etc but don't forget why you moved here…and why you're still here.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Without a doubt, being so far from my family. My father died a few years ago and making that long, frantic journey home (and then having to leave again), was the hardest thing I've ever done. Family and friends do visit, but it's never enough. That's the big sacrifice of being an expat - your heart is always in two places at once.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Who says I will? My travelling/expat days aren't over yet and I intend to keep it going as long as possible!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Research and read the country's local media online before you go. Pick two of the main news providers in your destination and subscribe to them. This gives you a deeper insight to the place than you'll get from a travel guide and makes you familiar with the kind of things only locals know.
  2. Lower your expectations. If you're moving to a small island, you have to expect things to move at a slower pace. Government bureaucracy can drive even the most serene people insane (I speak from experience).
  3. Say 'yes' to everything. When you first arrive, people will want to help you settle in by suggesting things or inviting you to events. Eventually, as the novelty wears off, those offers peter out so it's essential that you accept every invitation - building a support network and social circle is key to helping you feel at home.
  4. Don't be afraid to ask. Ask the locals or other expats about everything whether it's just directions or the best place to get a burger. They'll know the shortcuts, out-of-the-way-spots and tricks, and are usually eager to share that knowledge.
  5. Be adventurous. Moving to a new environment gives you the opportunity to learn new skills so make the most of it. Particularly in a place like The Bahamas where those amazing waters provide the perfect setting to learn how to dive, paddleboard, kite surf and more.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
The Expat Essays began as a way of keeping people back home up to date on my adventures and it grew from there. Being an expat is such a unique and specific experience that it can feel like only other expats really 'get it'. I wanted to be an active part of that community, the wanderers who are at home with not being at home. Sometimes it feels like an addiction…and every addiction needs a support group!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Drop by the blog and say hi:

About the author

Expat Blog ListingCatherine is an Irish expat living in Bahamas. Blog description: Irish redhead stranded on a tropical island blogs about expat life, travelling and making a home halfway across the world.
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