Husband took the trip to TCI to secure housing this week. It did not go well. Our real estate agent proved to be completely unprepared, despite a month's notice of the visit. Husband did not see one unit. She repeatedly forgot that we are traveling with dogs, despite repeated conversations and emails reiterating this fact. She also forgot our move dates. Listening did not seem to be her forte. She used the phrase, "I don't use the Google". I understand and actually like the idea of trading in some technology for a bit of island life. Seems fair. It also makes me feel a bit uncomfortable when I can find multiple housing options from my desk in Indiana that are completely unknown to my real estate agent in TCI.
Husband also found himself in some concerning conversations with local business people. It seems as if the island is in the middle of a major identity crisis. There is a lot of concern about not wanting to be the next Miami. I'm not sure if they've been to Miami, but there is no danger of that in the near future that I can see. The next Grand Cayman is more likely - and they are decades away from that. I personally don't see that as a negative either. We got married in Grand Cayman and I absolutely love it.
There are also some problems with the agreement the government made with the Ritz that make us very nervous. Apparently the previous administration gave the go-ahead for the plans for a new resort. The Ritz broke ground and started the project. Now the new administration is trying to put the kibash on the deal because they don't want a 13-story building. I get it, but that was the deal. It's frightening that there is such a lack of importance placed on these legal arrangements after a deal is finalized. On top of that, there was a lot of complaining from these individuals about the lack of opportunities for locals in the job market.
Now, if a company like the Ritz - which holds the epitome of quality standards, provides great wages and benefits, and has proven success - can get booted that easily, what is stopping them from telling me to take a hike on a whim? The Ritz attracts not only high end clientele that will spend some real coin on the island while on vacation, but people in a position to invest in business and property as well. Not to mention the buku jobs the company will provide for belongers. The instability is very disconcerting. Granted, my countless stays at the Ritz have probably given me some rose-colored glasses when it comes to my perception of the organization. I think they are incredible. But, that aside, you can't be angry that you don't have the benefits of what development can bring and be opposed to any form of development. You have to be willing to compromise. I definitely don't want TCI to resemble any form of Miami. I also don't want to live in a place where the basic rules are a moving target.
Last, but not least, there was a real fear that if the island gave the boot to the British, the United States would swoop in and take over the islands. This was mind-boggling. Not only have I never heard of any inkling about this, I could see no real logic. The islands are gorgeous, no doubt, but they would also clearly be a financial drain on any developed country that would step in. There is very little infrastructure. There may be revenue opportunities for business, but very little in the way of revenue that would benefit a developed nation. At least not in the near future. I personally just don't see the benefit to the US jumping into the business of governing these islands. Plus, majority of the country either doesn't know TCI even exists or think of it as anything but a quaint vacation destination. I could be going out on a limb here, but I think the fear of a US government takeover is pretty silly. Again, the disconnect is pretty scary.
Rather than being the trip in which we believed we would be writing a substantial check for a housing deposit, we were left holding a big question mark. If TCI isn't going to work, now what? We're looking at USVI, but aren't incredibly taken with the idea. Maui is another option. I've never personally been to the destination, but Husband has. Bottom line, we're back to looking at destination options and I'm having a hard time with it.
Since Husband returned, I've found myself somewhat frozen. I'm having a hard time continuing the forward momentum I had before the trip. Even attacking the smallest tasks seems daunting. I went from ready to go, operating full speed ahead, counting down the days to the new life we imagine to stuck in tar. I need an end point - a place on which I can focus to achieve this goal. I feel like the rug has been ripped out from under us and I'm comically scrambling cartoon-style for my footing.
There is good news, despite all this uncertainty. We've made progress and that is not all lost. Downsizing can continue and the house can go on the market in the near future. My freelancing is going well and I can continue to grow my portfolio. The dogs have excellent titer tests in their records which will apply to any location we go. None of this was true when we made the decision to move to TCI. Changing locations is not a deal breaker. We can still be on the beach and living a different life in the matter of months.
Maui is quickly emerging as our preferred second choice location. We've always wanted to explore Southeast Asia and Maui would be an ideal base location to do this. Being a US state, many of the most difficult roadblocks are removed from our path. It could be a good compromise that gets us out of our comfort zone and a safe way to test the waters of our chosen direction. It is all this and more. But it's not TCI. It's not the island that captured my heart and animated the idea that we could live different kind of life as expats. No, Maui isn't TCI.
But it could be better.