Now that Turks & Caicos has been banished into the abyss with Grand Cayman, we're back to contemplating our options for relocation. It's easy to get lost in the list. We've begun categorizing the possible destinations, which seems to help with the culling.
The first bucket contains the other Caribbean destinations - Aruba, St. Croix, St. John, Puerto Rico. The second bucket is really just Hawaii - Maui, Kauai, and Big Island. The third bucket is the Not Yet bucket. The destinations we have not yet visited and are not yet ready to move.
The Caribbean bucket is the easiest for me to wrap my mind around. I've never been to Hawaii. I love the Caribbean. Aruba comes with similar obstacles to housing and job opportunities as TCI and Grand Cayman. Additional annual costs for permits and challenging immigration processes. Not unmanageable, but pivoting to these locations would most likely set our time frame back significantly.
Puerto Rico presents a new challenge - the language barrier. While it is possible to find expat communities that speak primarily English and many in are bilingual, it makes employment more difficult. Instances of crime are a bit higher here than other places as well, which is a cause for pause.
The islands in USVI are both beautiful and without the immigration permit issues. English is the primary language and employment options are available. Not plentiful, but available. Our hestitation stems from the crime rate. On paper, USVI has the highest crime rate in the Caribbean, but this statistic is a bit mired in controversy. Some claim that the comparison to other islands in the area is skewed because of inconsistencies in reporting and categorization. Could this be true? Sure. Others have claimed that the crime rate is actually even higher and that reporting of incidents is skewed to prevent the USVI from being removed from the cruise ship destination list.
After chatting with a few people currently living on St. John and St. Croix, the perception seems to be that the crime exists, but only in pocketed locations on the island. Still, something to consider. Especially as USVI has emerged as the best of the Caribbean options.
The second bucket is more difficult for me to imagine as I have not visited the location. Husband has and assures me it is nothing short of paradise. All options in this bucket have some significant advantages. No permit issues. Available and affordable healthcare. Rules of law that are consistent and understood. Domestic shipping through the USPS. It also has the same disadvantage - distance from family.
Maui is, from what we can tell, the more expensive of our three options. It also has some incredible beaches and decent employment options. This one has taken the top spot based mostly on Husband's impression of the island. It was his favorite of his visit. Kauai made it to second for the same reason. He enjoyed it, but not as much as Maui. We both love the Big Island for it's interesting landscape, lower population density, and more affordable housing options. Employment opportunities seem to be a bit more difficult, however.
After much discussion, research, more research, and review of research, we've decided to focus solely on Hawaii, with emphasis on Maui. It offers all the advantages listed above with the added benefit of putting us in closer proximity to locations in bucket number three. We'd like to explore much of Southeast Asia. Moving home base to the Pacific will make this more possible.
So, the search for housing begins. Again.