Relocating to Bermuda may sound like a dream, but there are several ways that you can make it come true. Bermuda has one of the highest expat populations of any country in the world. People choose to relocate here for many reasons, including attractive work opportunities, safe living conditions, overall quality of life and, of course, the island’s incredible natural beauty. If you’re about to call Bermuda your new home, there are tips and tactics to make your transition all the sweeter.
For most people who relocate to Bermuda, it’s their employer that takes care of the work permit logistics. Non-Bermudians are required to have a government work permit to work on the island, and standard permits are usually issued for periods of up to six years (with options for renewal). Once your work permit’s been secured, you can finally start settling into island life.
Finding a Place to Live
Whilst the standard of living is very high in Bermuda, life here is quite different from what you may be used to “back home.” Only a select number of high-value properties are available for non-Bermudians to purchase, so most people who relocate here usually rent a house or apartment during their stay. Rents are very expensive, since accommodation is in high demand. Good places to see what’s out there and available are The Royal Gazette and the local website emoo.bm. Consider working with a real estate agent, too, to help narrow your search. And once you’ve found a new home, head to a consignment shop, where you can find gently used furnishings, home goods, floor coverings, lighting and anything else you might need to make it feel like home. Since people are always coming and going on Bermuda, there’s a constant flow of quality goods being exchanged.
Sometimes all it takes is watching a programme from your home country to stave off the homesickness. And that’s where One Communications comes to the rescue with packages that will have you tuning in to your favourite series and sports programmes from back home.
Bermuda is compact and well serviced by public busses and ferries, but chances are you’ll want to get around more independently if you plan to stay awhile. To minimise road traffic, only one car is allowed per household; and you must have a property assessment number to show in order to complete your purchase (proving it’s the only vehicle owned at that site). Expect to pay high annual licencing fees for the right to have a car (upwards of $600). Many expats opt for scooters instead, since they have no limitation number per household and cost about $3,000. Having a scooter eases parking hassles, too; and you can often find good bargains on secondhand rides on emoo.bm or in the local paper. If you’re relocating to Bermuda, you’ll need to get a Bermuda licence (non-Bermudian licences are only valid for rental scooters). The process is straightforward, and you can apply in person at the Transportation Control Department.
Supermarkets are spread across the island and are usually open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Most anything you eat here (apart from much of the locally caught seafood, of course) is imported, and you can expect to pay at least twice what you do for groceries in North America and most European countries.
Mind Your Water!
Water usage on the island blindsides many new arrivals. Since there’s no freshwater source in Bermuda, your roof is the catchall for whatever ends up in your water tank (and thus coming out of your shower and sinks). You’ll learn to use water more conservatively here. You can pay to fill up your tanks if you run out, of course; but if you’ve waited till the last minute to order more during a dry period, it’s quite possible you’ll have to wait.
Make Yourself at Home
If you’re looking to furnish your new home, Orange Bay Company is Bermuda’s favourite consignment shop for setting up house in Bermuda and for good reason. The multi-level city showroom boasts gently used furnishings, home goods, floor coverings, lighting and accessories. The delightfully curated selection of contemporary, modern and antique pieces can deliver for nearly every style leaning, floor plan, or budget. Their team of Treasure Hunters are a great resource for newbies relocating to the island. They can help guide you on the inventory, measure furniture for fit and, if you are patient, even hunt your dream item down and alert you when it comes in. What’s more, as you settle into Bermuda society, you’ll be pleased to know that the store incorporates “giving” into their business model and the community of consignors and shoppers at Orange Bay Company have contributed over $80,000 to local charities since 2009.
Your best bet on feeling at home here is by making new friends. Many people who’ve relocated to Bermuda pitch in on volunteer projects, a great way to meet new people and learn new skills. There are many clubs aimed at uniting expats, including American Ladies in Bermuda, L’Alliance Française des Bermudes, Caledonian Society, Association of Canadians in Bermuda, Emerald Isle Society, Circulo Hispanico and the International Women’s Club of Bermuda. And it wouldn’t be island life without some watering holes to pop into for friendly banter. Favourites include Blû Bar & Grill, Bulli.Social, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Harry’s, Port O’ Call and Swizzle Inn. All are safe bets for good times with worldly citizens and new arrivals to Bermuda. Raise a glass and say cheers to your new life!