Bermudians enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. Per capita income is extraordinarily high – made even more remarkable by the fact that Bermudians are not required to pay income tax. Unfortunately, the cost of living is high as well. Many Bermudians hold two or more jobs.
Almost everything – food, electronics, household goods,
clothing – is imported. Property, too, is extremely expensive;
a modest two-bedroom home can easily cost a quartermillion
dollars or more.
However, it seems that most young Bermudians with a will can and do own their own homes. For instance, during a conversation with one of my taxi drivers – great sources of local information – he explained how it is usually done. His son and daughter-in-law both spent the first several years of their marriage living in a rented apartment and working two jobs each, saving every penny they could spare. Three years later, and with some $60,000 in savings, they were able to purchase a small lot outright. This gave them collateral for a starter loan/mortgage and, still continuing to work two jobs each, they began to build. As the structure began to grow, so did the collateral and they were able to borrow a little more every several months along the way. The structure, a threebedroom home with a two bedroom apartment attached, was completed in about two years. Still working two jobs each, they were able to move into the house and rent out the apartment.
The rental money pays most of the mortgage, which will be paid off in 10 years, and they are now the proud owners of a property worth more than $600,000. Not bad for a couple still in their ’30s. And that’s the way most Bermudians grow into home ownership. Perhaps there are some lessons to be learned here.
As with most offshore vacation destinations, Bermuda has suffered from the effects of 9/11. At the time of writing this tourism was off some 30%, and that has affected the attitudes of those most concerned with the industry. No longer complacent, the service industry has taken the downtrend to heart. The once cavalier attitudes of hotel staff, waiters, bus drivers and other members of the service industries toward their guests are no more. And, even though the attitudes of a few store clerks still leave a lot to be desired, you can expect to meet friendly, helpful staff wherever you go.
With the new prosperity brought to the islands by the giants of international banking and insurance – more than 6,000 off-shore companies are now based here – and with the aftermath of 9/11 the hotel industry has had to learn to compete, and I’m happy to tell you that it has. Many of the major hotels on the islands have undergone extensive renovations and upgrades; restaurants, once more than a little complacent, are now up-to-date with the industry and, for the most part, compete on a level playing field with any of their international rivals. The cost of a hotel room has not been reduced, but value for money in those rooms has more than doubled. Yes, you’ll still find hotels that are sub-par at best, mostly the older, smaller properties, and conditions have a nasty habit of deteriorating over even a short period of time.
So, if you’re not satisfied with the service, the food that’s put before you, or the condition of your hotel room, be sure to make your feelings known, not only to the people directly concerned, but to those who can do something about it at the Bermuda Ministry.