10 Reasons Why Island Life Suits Me Perfectly

We all have our reasons for moving to an island, most of us sharing similar motives. Slower pace. Escaping some life situation we’ve grown tired of (insert: bad job, bad weather, bad relationship here). An undeniable attraction to the color turquoise. A propensity to consume as many rum drinks as possible sans judgement. I’m sure at least a couple of these were on your “Reasons Why I’m Moving to a Rock” list, am I right?

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But after a decade on a rock, I’ve come to realize there were other factors I wasn’t quite aware of initially that drew me to this place. Hidden benefits of island living that I’d be loathe to give up now after all these years. These are the kind of things that catch-all phrase “everything happens for a reason” is all about. The Universe (yes, I just threw down that hippy dippy Universe shit, but it just feels right, roll with it) helped pick this path for me, because it knew, in its infinite coconut-oiled wisdom, what was best for me. Me and this island were destined to be together alright…

10 Reasons Why Island Life Suits Me Perfectly (And I Can Likely Never Return to Where I Came From):

1. I am a terrible driver.

As a small child, I was known for losing focus on the road (ok, fine, the sidewalk) and repeatedly crashing my Pow-Pow-Power Wheels Jeep into bushes and trees all while giggling at the silliness of the whole driving endeavor. Not much has changed since then. Living in a place where I rarely encounter more than a car or two on the two-lane road en route to my destination and where I cannot exceed 40 MPH is truly a match made in heaven.

2. Related: I have an even worse sense of direction.

Not only are my driving skills up for debate, but my ability to find my way around unfamiliar territory is questionable, at best. The fact that my island is a mere 13 square miles and I still manage to get turned around on a couple of roads in town from time to time after 8 years here should be all that needs to be said. Better to keep me contained on this little rock rather than unleash me in a cityscape only to get lost down all the wrong sides of all the tracks.

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3. I do not like being confined within the status quo.

I love that you meet all kinds of people living on an island from all kinds of backgrounds living all different versions of this thing we call Life. In the states, if you don’t have a typical, easily explainable career and life path, people look upon you with pity or, at the very least, judgement under the guise of “concern.” On an island, I can have my own version of a long term relationship that doesn’t have to include marriage. I can forgo having children without being constantly barraged with questions as to why I’m not. I can remain a renter without people obtrusively “educating” me on the financial benefits of home ownership. Suck it, picket fences!

4. Crowds and excess noise overwhelm me.

One thing I’m reminded of the second that I step back into the stateside world I left behind is that lots of noise and lots of people make an angry nerve pinch in my neck. Where many people find it exhilarating, all the activity coursing through their veins like Red Bull spiked with Monster, so much audible chaos makes me want to shack up with Travolta in the plastic bubble. Island life – at least mine – is all about wide open spaces and days filled with blissful silence where the only noises are the birds chirping and the waves crashing when the swell is up. The quiet environs set my soul right and keep me balanced.

5. I don’t like feeling anonymous.

While there are certain types of people who like to blend into the crowd, I am not one of them. I want special treatment as a local and not to have to follow the rules set in place for every rando schmo. I want to go where everybody knows my name (and my dog’s name). I love that restaurant employees on my rock remember my specific hodge podge of preferences that I order off their menus to comprise my makeshift vegetarian meals. I love that on our small island, the bank teller often calls people up to her line by name. And as much as the feminist in me hates being referred to as “David wife,” I have to admit that it gives me privileges I would not otherwise enjoy if I was just another face in the crowd.

6. I am highly susceptible to S.A.D.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is no joking matter (even though the acronym is the cutest). Dark days depress me and a long string of them (known alias: Winter) makes me want to wail on the daily. When I used to live in the states and the clock would “fall back” each October making it so I was going to work in the dark and not coming back home until after dark Monday through Friday, my inner beach girl would despair. The only thing that would pull me through were bouquets of unseasonable flowers delivered to my office weekly, which is not sustainable for the environment or my wallet. Better to just live where it’s (almost) always sunny and the flowers flourish naturally.

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7. Pervasive technology during social time irks me.

Spending time with people who mindlessly check their phones or text with others at frequent intervals while they’re with you is a part of modern life I hope to never fully accept. This behavior seems normal in other places when I travel but, much like your 80 year old grandma, I still find it incredibly rude. Island people tend to do this much less. I find people to be more present socially down here. Perhaps it’s because we have fewer apps that work in this latitude or perhaps it’s just because we’re enjoying our time together more or perhaps we’ve learned our lessons in the dangers of drunk texting over the years. Whatever it is, it’s better.

8. I am an advanced planner by nature.

While I’ve had my impetuous moments over the years (moving to an unknown island being the most notable), in general, I like to organize my life for future success as best I can. This bodes well for living on a rock because you simply can’t get anything here in a hurry and planning ahead is a necessity if you don’t want to find yourself stuck. You know what advanced planners excel at? Hoarding. And hoarding is the sport of the islands.

9. I like having fun and being around people who like having fun.

Do you ever feel like people around you are taking life too seriously? Then move to an island! Yes, we work hard here, but we also tend to have more fun when we’re off. As someone recently said when they were visiting me, “Wow, every Sunday here is like college spring break!” Why, yes, friend – it is. Only with a bit more expendable income, slightly less svelte bodies, and better booze.

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10. I am an overbuying shopaholic who needs limits.

When you’re up in the great big world, it’s so easy to feel like you need, need, NEED all the things. Why not buy a new umbrella? A new coffee mug? A new cell phone case? A new car? It’s all right there at your fingertips, ripe for the buying. And I love stocking myself up on all the things I may potentially need in the future (see #8 above). Being in a place where the majority of your shopping takes place online and you have that extra second of reckoning when you can look at the high dollar figure in your cart and really think about what you “need” is a lifesaver for someone like me with a tendency to purchase in excess.

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So tell me, islanders – in what ways does rock livin’ suit you that you may not have initially expected? Were you also destined to be on your island?

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Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

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25 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why Island Life Suits Me Perfectly

  1. Every single one of your reasons could be all of mine – if I could only make it happen. I would love to live in the BVI and as a Canadian with a British Passport, thought it might be easier than it seems to be. And I’d need to work, so there’s that. Sigh. I love your island, have been there … love Anegada and JVD… the solitude is amazing. Oh to be 21 and starting out… I’d get a career that was useful over there!

    With envy….

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