“You will discover a simpler life.”

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A wise friend attempted to reassure and calm me as I frantically packed our lives into 8 giant suitcases. I heard the words but didn’t fully understand what they meant. Life was far from “simple” at the moment. We were moving our lives to an island that we had just recently identified on a map. Our pets had yet to receive their “import registration” (aka 4 months of paperwork and vet appointments), I still had no idea what the job I had accepted actually entailed (I even wondered if it might be a scam), my husband Evan was taking a huge chance in agreeing to run his business remotely, and… do people wear pants on the island? What the hell was I supposed to pack?!

Life was NOT simple. It was a freaking shit show!

Yet here we are, 2 years later, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that those words, “You will discover a simpler life” couldn’t ring more true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not living off of coconuts and building my own thatch-roof hut. However, little things that I previously viewed as priorities – things that I fretted about – are no longer priorities. Poof. They’ve disappeared. I just don’t think about them anymore. In retrospect, it’s difficult now for me to comprehend why these insignificant things ever consumed my thoughts.

BEHOLD: The Top 4 Things That I No Longer Care About

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1. SQUARE FOOTAGE

When we lived in Canada, we built and sold a few houses with the intention of making some moolah. It worked out well for us, but when we built our last house, I broke the cardinal rule of “flipping” houses: I became attached. My husband argued that it was time to put the house up for sale, as it was much too large and expensive to maintain. I dug in my heels, attempting to convince him that we NEEDED to remain in this big house. It was over 3,000 square feet and had 5 bedrooms. 5 bedrooms! We are not the Duggers. Evan and I have no children. We have a small dog and a cat. We basically used 1 out of 5 bedrooms. We labeled the other 4 bedrooms in the house things like “the suitcase room” (it contained our suitcases) and “the broken stool room” (care to guess what it contained?). Looking back, I can see now just how ridiculous it was. It was apparent that the stress of carrying a large mortgage and paying exorbitant bills for 2 people was weighing heavily on Evan, yet I convinced myself that it was a necessity.

Fast forward to 2 years of rock living: 

We live in a 1,300 square foot condo. This condo, big for island standards, is only slightly larger than the garage in our last house! And you know what? I am not suffering. It’s okay that I can see Evan in his “office” (our bedroom) from the couch. I don’t develop a horrible rash as I enter my laundry room aka the hallway. It’s fine. I don’t miss the space, as we spend most of our free time outside now. And most importantly, “Budget Talks” with my husband are virtually non-existent. You can’t put a price on that!

2. MY HAIR

For 35 years I took pride in ensuring that my hair was always styled prior to any public appearances. I regularly highlighted my blonde locks, the ends were neatly trimmed, and I used a large barreled iron to create bouncy, vivacious curls. I took pleasure in styling my hair and enjoyed the compliments: Your hair always looks so nice! 

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Fast forward to 2 years of rock living:

After my first week on island and multiple attempts to maintain my hair routine, I completely gave up. I tried every product under the sun: “beach waves”, “smooth and straight”, “beach serum” – nothing worked. Nothing. And you know what? I just don’t care one ounce anymore. The DNA that comprises my thick, heavy blond hair was never meant for Caribbean humidity. I have Canadian white girl hair. I’ve accepted it. My hair is constantly frizzy, greasy, and limp. My go-to: pile my wet hair into a knot on the top of my head, secure with an elastic, and call it a day. I had to laugh as I watched last season of The Bachelor with my friend. One of the contestants sported a beautiful head of blonde curls. As the episode took the contestants to Jamaica, my friend and I giggled as we predicted,”She’s in for a shock when she experiences 80% humidity!” As expected, this beautiful girl’s bouncy curls became a limp, greasy mess. “Yes! It’s not just me!” I exclaimed as I watched her accept defeat and throw her hair into a knot on the top of her head. Shockingly, this was the only thing that I could relate to with any of the contestants on The Bachelor.

3. PAYING BILLS ON TIME

Living in Canada, Evan had created an intricate spreadsheet of our finances. Money In, Money Out. (The goal, I was told, was more money IN than out. Genius.) Each monthly bill was then auto-debited from our bank account on specific days given the date we were paid, the date the mortgage was due, etc. Our bills were always paid on time – to the hour! There was never a question of, “Did anyone pay the cable bill this month?”

Fast forward to 2 years of rock living:

As the fans come to a halt and the hum of the AC stops, Evan and I look at each other and question, “Did you pay the power bill this month?” Oops. Thankfully, the CUC has never actually shut down our power due to a late bill. Power outages are just a fact of living on the island. But… I’m not going to lie, some of our bills have been months overdue. Although our bank assured us that we could do automatic banking here, it has been less than consistent, so we opt to pay our bills the old fashioned way – in (gasp!) person. When we “slipped” the first time, I apologized profusely to the internet man as I assured him that I would pay the 2 months worths of bills ASAP. Did he care? Nope. Didn’t seem to. No big deal. It’s a slippery slope and we have now morphed into these irresponsible adults who don’t pay monthly bills on time. EEK!

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4. FANCY CARS

We’ve never been ones to purchase incredibly expensive vehicles; however, as we both brought in higher salaries and climbed up our career ladders, owning a respectable vehicle was something that was important to me. I wanted leather. I wanted heated seats (you would too when it’s -30 degrees Celsius). I wanted a vehicle that I could be proud of… and I wanted my own. So for as long as I can remember, Evan and I both owned our own respectable vehicles. We ensured our registration was always paid on time (spreadsheet!) and that our vehicles received regular maintenance and washings. But I always longed for something better. I suffered from car envy. I would see a new silver Audi and wish it belonged to me. I tried to convince Evan that he should upgrade to a new SUV. I think a lot of people suffer from the misconception that a pricey vehicle is a symbol of “winning” at life.

Fast forward to 2 years of rock living:

Evan and I share a 2009 Mitsubishi Colt. Why did we choose a Mitsubishi Colt? We had 3 days to purchase a car and the Colt was the only car that didn’t make terrible noises. Sold! The Colt is something else! There is enough sand in that vehicle to create a large sandbox for a preschool. The car was originally imported to the island from Japan, so all the dials and buttons in the car are labeled in Japanese. There is a GPS system that indicates that we are presently floating in the ocean somewhere off the coast of Tokyo. In fact, every so often, the angry GPS lady yells at us in Japanese (I imagine she’s saying something like, “Idiot! Drive out of the ocean. I repeat, exit the ocean!”) I’m not certain whether or not the oil has been changed since we purchased it 2 years ago and I am forced to create my own CDs (Yes, you can still burn CDs!), as the radio does not tune into non-Japanese channels (but the 12 CD changer is fab.u.lous). No, it’s not my dream car. Do I give a care? Not really, no. Okkkaaay… every so often I long for a topless jeep to cruise the island in, but I do not have name-brand car envy. It’s just not important anymore. The car gets me to the beach, and even transports all the sand home! Now that’s winning.

 –   –   –

I often wonder if these now insignificant concerns of my island lifestyle would become a priority again if we moved back to Canada. I’d like to think that I’ve changed my mindset fundamentally, however, I really think that you are the product of your environment and the people with whom you associate. What do you think?

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How has island life changed you? And do you think it would “stick” if you ever returned to where you came from?

Written By:

Kirstie Lindsay

Current Rock of Residence:

Grand Cayman

Island Girl Since:

August 2014

Originally Hails From:

Saskatchewan, Canada

After applying for a job on a whim, Kirstie found herself in a predicament. She texted her husband, “Damn! I got the job! Now what?” and he replied, “What island is it again?”

Three months later, Kirstie and her husband, along with an angry orange cat and an oblivious little white dog, had taken the plunge, sold it all, and were making the move from Canada to Grand Cayman – sight unseen!

With frostbite a distant memory, Kirstie now spends her days sweating profusely as she provides speech therapy to children who ask, “Miss, do you actually have a job?” She waits for prescriptions in 4 hour “lines” (why doesn’t anyone form a line here?), enjoys blissful happy hour(s) on the beach, SCUBA dives, and avoids the iguanas that regularly fall out of trees. You can also check out her personal blog, Making Waves.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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