Seeking Paradise: Moving to an Island

island life

My parents have always been island obsessed. My parents honeymooned in Jamaica. My parents took our family to Hilton Head Island almost every summer for vacation when I was a child. My parents talk about moving to Hawaii once they’re empty nesters. And that love and longing for island life has rubbed off on me.

I spent a weekend in the Canary Islands, specifically the island of Gran Canaria, where the weather and the scenery are both beautiful and the people as were friendly as ever. As Sunday rolled around, I thought to myself, “why don’t I just live on an island somewhere after I graduate if I love this life so much?” 

I am a daydreamer, so it’s no surprise that I planned out my life as I entertained the thought of moving to a tropical island. I loved picturing myself walking along palm tree lined streets, hiking mountains and exploring caves on the weekend, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing in the ocean in December, doing yoga on the beach, eating my weight in seafood, and learning how to surf. And after doing some digging, reality poked some holes in my idyllic dream.

island life

It is expensive to live on an island. Getting on and off the island can be expensive since you have to fly or go by boat. That being said, all of your goods come to the island that way, too. In Hawaii, prices for a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk are some of the highest in the country and take the longest to get to stores because of the shipping. Aside from goods, the cost of housing is just as expensive. An average studio apartment will cost you $800-$1200, but the utilities will cost you more than you’re used to (think about all that electricity you use for air conditioning). The cost of a visa should also be considered, if you need it.

But islands offer the chance to disengage. This could be a pro or a con, depending on the type of person you are. Islands are, most of the time, pretty secluded, which means you’ll be able to take some “you” time a lot of the time. They offer a tranquil and simple lifestyle for those seeking a slower pace of life. Some even say that living on an island has made them calmer and helped boost their creativity.

There is the possibility that there might be difficulties (financially or logistically) for family and friends to get to the island or for you to get off of it if it’s very secluded. Some islands might not have all the products and services (even medical attention) that you’re used to.

Islands offer an adventure. If you’re an outdoorsy person, what could be better than having jungles, oceans, mountains, volcanoes, valleys, and all of those other wonderful gifts from Mother Nature to explore? The weather of most islands is usually what draws people in too. Sun and warmth? Count me in.

island life
A great hike can be found on an island.

Island communities are small and tight knit. Because most islands tend to be small, it’s easy to get to know your neighbors. People don’t usually leave the island, so you’ll find yourself seeing and interacting with a lot of the same, non-tourist people. Another thing is that because islands are small, they’re easier to navigate; there usually isn’t anyone complaining about traffic or long commute times!

While island life seems like the perfect escape for everything, especially when we’re on vacation, it’s not for the faint of heart. Vacationing and living somewhere are totally different, which is why you need to take into consideration the challenges and rewards that come with island living. Ultimately, you have to decide what’s best for you, and when you do, go for it!