Christopher Famous

First-hand appreciation for the lure of Britain

  • London calling: Big Ben, the famous landmark in the centre of the capital (Photograph by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

“Exodus”

“Movement of Jah people!”

“Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”

— Bob Marley

After spending a week in London getting to learn the Tube and the variety of culture and social activities, I can see why many Bermudians and others from the Caribbean have opted to live there.

On one hand it is a big adjustment when it comes to the constant grey skies, lack of sun and other unchangeable items such as traffic congestion, fast pace of living and the potential challenges that Brexit may bring.

However, once you get past those issues, there is tons to see or do that simply cannot be had in any Caribbean island.

The pay is not what we see in Bermuda but then again there are these places called “pound stores” where one can literally purchase items such as dishwashing liquid or a box of cereal for £1 or $1.30.

Utility costs such as electricity, gas, mobile phone are literally less than $100 per month combined. Yes, combined.

As a prime example, for as little as $20, one can get 10GB of 4G mobile service per month. By comparison, prices in Bermuda for the same level of service are roughly $200 per month.

Healthcare costs are non-existent, as that is covered by the British Government under the National Health Service. In Bermuda, you must pay in the region of $1,500 per month for health insurance.

Regarding accommodation, depending on the area, you can find three and four-bedroom apartments in Britain for £500 to £800 a month outside of central London — less than $1,000. In Bermuda, a three-bedroom generally starts at $3,000.

For less than $200, one can travel by air to almost any European city, accommodation included. Discount airlines such as easyJet have weekly specials that include a return ticket from London to Amsterdam for the equivalent of $100.

So one can see where the cost of living in Britain is drastically lower than in Bermuda.

For those of us in Bermuda, we often ask ourselves why would anyone leave our island paradise to live 3,500 miles from tons of loving friends and family? What would compel anyone to sell off their household items, have going-away parties, withdraw their children from schools and get on a plane?

There is clearly no singular answer.

Economic survival lists as one of the top reasons, with educational and career opportunities in the top three. One thing is for sure: for many reasons, more and more Bermudians will be relocating to Britain.

As a sobering statistic, based on recent island canvassing, it can be safe to say that more than 3,000 Bermudians now reside in the British Isles on a permanent basis. Considering that the number of born Bermudians is in the region of 45,000, we could be potentially looking at 10 per cent of our born population now residing overseas.

When we add in the potential for many Bermudian women to give birth to children in Britain, we can see why there will continue to be declining birthrates. This only adds to a myriad of challenges in Bermuda such as a declining worker base to feed our payroll taxes, empty rental units, less retail activity and a steady decline in the number of children in schools.

Irrespective of why these Bermudians have made their exodus out of our island to make a new home abroad, they are our brothers, sisters, mothers and our children.

Simply put, they are our family and they deserve our unwavering support.

In coming weeks, we will get to hear from various Bermudians who now reside in Britain, so they can tell their own stories in their own voices.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm