Friday, April 27, 2012

Expat Experiences - Gordon Barlow, Cayman Islands

My name is Gordon Barlow, married and with grandchildren. I left Australia in 1963, as did my wife, whom I met in Greece the following year.

Looking back, it seems I became addicted to the expat life during my second year in Bahamas, after earlier experiences in England and Canada. Gradually the realisation took over that there was more to life than going home to Australia and a pleasant-but-humdrum future as a partner in an accounting firm.

So after three years in Nassau – I a trust-officer, Linda a teacher – we spent a year as expats (yes!) in Perth, Australia, before finding jobs in New Hebrides, now called Vanuatu. Though both of us were born and raised in Australia, we discovered the truth of the old saw, “you can’t go home again”. We had far more in common with foreign expats than with compatriots who had never been away. I’m sure many other expats discover the same thing.

With an infant son, we came to Cayman from England for the usual 2-3-year expat stint, and stayed. After my stint I became a house-father for five years. Linda left teaching and became an office secretary. The local Work Permit regime gradually tightened in the 1980s as expats began to outnumber the native stay-at-homes. I fell victim to the system after being recruited to open the local Chamber of Commerce’s first office. My job included mobilising public opinion to defeat a proposed Salaries Tax and Payroll Tax; success brought the wrath of the political establishment down on my head...

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