Thursday, August 13, 2015

Relocation Part1: Moving to Exuma

I was asked recently by a few different people for some information on moving to Exuma. It seems like a fairly popular topic of discussion lately, so to make it a little easier to digest, I'm breaking it down into 3 posts. If you're not looking to move here, I'll be back soon with something else that might interest you. And if you're really wealthy and buying your own beachfront villa on Hoopers Bay...then this post won't really help you. We're working on small budgets around here :) The post will be broken down like this:

I moved a lot as an army brat, but I've only ever lived on one island (Great Exuma). I definitely don't have all the answers, and I know that my way may not necessarily be the best way... but it worked for us ;) Or maybe it didn't... I'll let you know that too!

The first step in this move, or any move, is deciding that you want to go. For some this decision is quite easy, and others may struggle a little more. As a seasoned mover, from the army upbringing, the moving part didn't scare me. After all it was what came after living in a place more than 2 years.. right!?!?! I'll be totally honest with you here, the first time we discussed moving here, I (Tamara) said "No way, not gonna happen!" We were about to get married at the end of our final semester in college, and I said "I'll still marry you, but if you want to live in Exuma, you'll have to go without me!" Great start, huh??? :/
Faith in the Lord is a big part of who we are, and if you're making a big move you will need faith in something for sure. Faith in the place you're going to, faith in the new job, faith in your spouse, faith in your independence, faith in... get the picture? A few heart-to-hearts with my mom, lots of prayer, a trip down the aisle to the man I love, and a quick honeymoon later and we were in the truck hauling most of our possessions down to South Florida for the next mailboat heading for Exuma.
{Talk about a whirlwind of a final semester in college!}

We've made two moves to Exuma and one from Exuma. Our first move to Exuma was right after we were married. It was just the two of us and our sweet fat cats. We weren't moving on a company's dime so we tried to do things as affordable as possible. Another decision you have to make is how much of your stuff you are going to move. Are you going to carry everything with you on the plane when you come down? Or do you plan to bring more items, bulkier items such as a car, furniture, boat, tools, etc?
If you plan to bring everything with you in your suitcases, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Check with the airlines to see what their weight and baggage fees are and keep in mind whether or not your bags are checked all the way through to your final stop or whether you'll have multiple bag fees. Grab your scale and pack them to the max! I wish for a Hermoine Granger Bag all the time when we travel :) 

2) As a visitor to the Bahamas you are entitled to $100 worth of items that you can bring in duty-free. As a Bahamian Resident, you are allowed $300 worth of items twice a year (have receipts ready for the forms at the airport). Believe it or not, we had a friend of ours who just found this out last year and he's 21 and has lived here his whole life, so I'm throwing that out there for anyone that might need to hear that! **Non Residents can stay in the country for up to 6 months before they have to leave and then can come back in again. 

3) Friends Good Friends are usually more than willing to bring items with them when they come to visit. Take advantage of this as much as you can because it is a life saver. I'll pay for checked bags all day if folks will just do the physical part of hauling things here for us. It is so helpful! My mom & sister never come to visit without checking as many bags as they are allowed and bringing down things for us. Sometimes it is the most random stuff too. This season, we had some return guests coming from Canada (shout-out to Dermot & Denise) and they brought us waxed dental floss and an alarm clock for the boys room, that needed BIG numbers. Shoes, clothes, specific beauty items, special candy, etc. You never know what you may be in need of or craving, and ordering online makes it so easy. 

For our guests, family and friends that bring loads of things down for us when you come, we THANK YOU so very much! You may never fully know how much it means.

4) Lastly for the air travel, it's okay to come down with a little at the start then figure things out. For instance, how long you'll be here, what housing setup you'll have, what you need, what you can or can't get on the island, etc. Though most of this would be helpful to know before you decide to MOVE here, you still may be surprised at the 'filter' you see things through once you actually get here and start living daily life on the island. I WISH I had done this our first time around... would have saved a ton of money and made things so much easier on us.
If you plan to ship something down, the only boat that comes straight to Exuma from the US leaves from Port Everglades in South Florida called SEACOR Island Lines. Although anyone that has been on the island a while will still call this G & G Shipping... so don't get too confused! You have other options if you go through Nassau (the BIG City), but then you still have to get it from Nassau to Exuma using the Fast Ferries (said as I fling up big air quotes). Each boat charges their own fee for transporting things so it can add up either way. Plus you have to get your shipment or items to South Florida, which is another cost in itself. I highly recommend ABF for this. We've used them twice and were very pleased both times.

As I mentioned in our post on experience recently, every item brought into the Bahamas gets a duty tax applied to it. Even our cats, which were free, still had to have a value applied to them in order to pay duty. Oh, and speaking of pets... you have to have proper travel documents and vet records when traveling with pets too, so be sure to check out the necessary information so your furry friends don't get held up in quarantine. 

For the items brought into the country, it basically breaks down like this: 

"the cost of the item + shipping to the boat (in FL)+ shipping on the boat (or plane) + a brokerage fee + a customs fee + a duty tax= the big fat total"

And lots of running around to get paperwork from this place, to take it to the next place, to take care of the payment, then you take it to another place, pay them, take it here, there.... needless to say, it's a bit of pain. However, it's the only way to get some items, and you gotta do what you gotta to do live where you live! For a local broker that can help you navigate this tricky field that is constantly changing, we recommend Saeed Morley, he's a great contact to have.
I can give you a few more tips on actually shipping items down here if you are interested, but I won't go too much into that right now because that could be a post all by itself :P

In order to work in the Bahamas you have to be a resident, have a work permit or own property valued at $500,000 or more. There are multiple ways to go about getting these obviously, but many of them are very costly, and it is very hard for a foreigner to come down and just work a regular job down here. Which is good for the Bahamian people, so don't get too bummed over that fact. It's hard to find a lot of information online about some of this stuff, but they are slowly getting better at adding more information online so just do a little digging. Just make sure you are looking at an official government page before you 'bank on' the info being accurate (and even then... it's best to pick up the phone and call someone). Here's a good start place for this topic though!
This is most definitely not a complete list of things involved in MOVING TO EXUMA, but hopefully it is a good starting point. Next, I'll be discussing what it's like actually living where stores close at 5:30pm and you can't run to the nearest Starbucks for your favorite drink, or to a {Insert Your Favorite Big Name Store} or {Insert Your Favorite Chain Restaurant Here}. Go ahead... insert either of those, and I can promise you it isn't here, because we don't have anything like that. But that's not why we live here, and I'm guessing that if you're considering a move to Exuma, that won't be among your top reasons of wanting to come here either!

Stay Tuned...


Anonymous said...

Your information is very helpful. I am moving to Exuma in November.

Anonymous said...

Nice article and excellent photos! Here is another interesting article, but about relication:

Anonymous said...

looking forward for more info. mentally ready for the move. what is the suggestion for renting a place versus buying a house. you did mention a name earlier is this still a goood person to help with that?.
if you have ANYTHING to offer as a helpful tip please feel free to do so. or email me. my move should take place by sept/october 2017.
email to use is Thanks so much.

Out-Island Explorers said...

Renting vs buying really depends on who you rent from and or what you can afford to buy. There's lots of properties available for both option down here. I would definitely plan to rent until you learn the lay of the land and get used to the different parts of the island.