Home Travel My move from Berkshire to Barbados fulfilled all my fantasies of living on a sun-drenched Caribbean island (I’ve been here 20 years and will never go back)

My move from Berkshire to Barbados fulfilled all my fantasies of living on a sun-drenched Caribbean island (I’ve been here 20 years and will never go back)

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Julian Armfield, pictured here in Bottom Bay, moved to Barbados in 2003 while working for BBC World Service Radio.

Barbados is a paradise for tourists and, it turns out, also a paradise to live in.

As British expat Julian Armfield discovered when he abandoned his life in Berkshire after marrying a Barbadian woman more than 20 years ago and settling with her on the Caribbean island.

He tells MailOnline Travel that the warmth of the people is “just wonderful”, the weather is amazing, except during hurricane season, and that he feels safe “at all times”.

The story of how and why Julian moved to Barbados begins in 2003, when he was working for the BBC, reporting on horse racing.

He explains: “At the time I was single and happily travelling the world reporting on major horse racing events for BBC World Service Radio. Moving away from Berkshire was the last thing on my mind until I accepted an invitation from a friend living in Barbados to attend his birthday party.”

Julian Armfield, pictured here in Bottom Bay, moved to Barbados in 2003 while working for BBC World Service Radio.

Julian met and married his Barbadian wife, Susan, seen here on Worthing Beach, over 20 years ago.

Julian settled with Susan on the Caribbean island. Here they are together at the Barbados Yacht Club

Julian met and married his Barbadian wife, Susan, left on Worthing Beach and right at the Barbados Yacht Club, over 20 years ago and settled with her on the Caribbean island.

Although Julian never imagined he would be moving far from the “charming town” of Newbury, fate had other plans.

She recalls: ‘Three nights after the party and on the eve of my flight home, I was introduced to Susan in a beach bar. Soon after, love was in the air and we had to decide whether Susan would move to England or I would move to Barbados.

“We had a ten-second debate and my flight was booked. Within a year, we were walking down the aisle in a lovely church overlooking the Caribbean Sea. We settled into Mistletoe, Susan’s charming townhouse near Bridgetown.”

While the decision to move country was easy, the reality of expat life came with some challenges that would change Julian’s career and outlook on life.

Julian loves the

Julian loves the “many paradise beaches to choose from for (his) morning stroll and a dip,” like Shark Hole Beach, seen above.

The author says:

Julian with locals Paul, Lot and Lydia

The author says: “Researching all aspects of Barbadian culture, heritage and lifestyle would open my eyes to this new country.” Left: Brighton Beach. Right: Julian with locals Paul, Lot and Lydia

The writer says: ‘There were many (challenges), but having achieved a childhood dream of living in a tropical environment, I was unfazed by them.

‘Baja Californians are very conservative by nature and I had to make an effort to integrate into Susan’s extended family and even larger circle of friends. I also needed to learn about local customs and lifestyle.

‘I continued travelling to exotic destinations for the BBC for a while, but that lifestyle wasn’t compatible with being newly married, so I had a meeting with myself. I’d been a journalist on a British national newspaper before moving into radio, so what was stopping me from writing an e-book about my exciting lifestyle change?

‘Researching all aspects of Barbadian culture, heritage and lifestyle would open my eyes to this new country in a way that could also prove lucrative.’

1720871154 517 My move from Berkshire to Barbados fulfilled all my fantasies

“I began to feel like I was getting closer to becoming a proud member of the Barbadian community,” says the author, seen here at Calma, a “charming” beachside bistro in Holetown.

The author describes:

The author describes: “The weather is wonderful all year round.” Above: Sunset on the south coast of the tropical island

Julian published his book, ‘Absolutely Barbados: One Man’s Quest to Discover the Heart and Soul of a Caribbean Paradise’, and ‘it quickly became an Amazonian Caribbean best-seller’.

“I began to feel like I was getting closer to becoming a proud member of the Barbadian community,” the author notes. Having explored Barbados for his research, Julian shares that it wasn’t just his new wife that he fell in love with.

She comments: ‘First and foremost, I love the people. Their warmth and hospitality are simply wonderful and there is a tranquility to the lifestyle that is unique to the island.

‘For example, when I walk into my doctor’s office, every single patient in the waiting room says “good morning” to me. When I wait in my car to turn off a side street onto a main road, it’s never long before someone stops to let me out.

“If Susan or I see an elderly lady who is having difficulty walking on the sidewalk, we offer to give her a ride. Of course, as an expat, I like to know exactly what I’m going to wear (smart shorts and a short-sleeved shirt) every morning, 365 days a year.

“It’s also hard to believe that every possible service and activity is just a ten-minute drive from my door: fine dining, a drive-in movie theater, my doctor’s office, a racetrack, and so much more.”

Julian also comments that the island generally feels very safe.

He says: “There is some petty crime, but I feel safe at all times. The main danger is ‘drinking too much’ at the local rum shop!”

British expats in Barbados all have “their favourite bars or rum shops,” he adds. Small bars offer locals a space to socialise and sample the local tipple – a very tropical alternative to a pub.

Julian's wife Susan, seen here, enjoying herself outside the Carib Beach Bar in Christ Church.

Julian’s wife Susan, seen here, enjoying herself outside the Carib Beach Bar in Christ Church.

All British expats in Barbados have

Julian adds:

Every British expat in Barbados has “their favourite bars or rum shops,” says Julian, such as Tikkles Bar, pictured to the left of its owner, Winston. But he adds: “The most important thing for me personally is the outdoors.” Above right: magnificent bougainvillea and moringa, “the tree of life,” at St. Philip

He notes: “The British feel very much at home here, with the red post boxes and familiar place names like Kent, Yorkshire, Brighton and Hastings. And if you’re old enough to remember Woolworths, you can still pick and mix at their Bridgetown store.”

The climate of Barbados is another plus that increases Julian’s happiness.

The author notes: ‘The weather is wonderful all year round. It is best between December and May. June through November is hurricane season, although Barbados has fared better than some of its neighbors over the years with hurricanes and storms.

“The weather in the UK is much more volatile. When it’s good, it’s wonderful; when it’s bad, it’s horrible.”

Although the island suffered some damage during the recent Hurricane Beryl, the author comments: “Our last major hurricane was Janet in 1955.”

That’s not to say that Barbados is perfect or that the UK is a disaster. Julian explains that both countries have their advantages and disadvantages.

Julian points out:

Julian notes: “The British feel right at home here, with the red post boxes and familiar place names like Kent, Yorkshire, Brighton and Hastings.” Above: Worthing’s idyllic beach

Julian loves his life in Barbados and the nature that surrounds him. Pictured above is a stunning sunset over Carlisle Bay

Julian loves his life in Barbados and the nature that surrounds him. Pictured above is a stunning sunset over Carlisle Bay

READ MORE FROM JULIAN

1720871157 802 My move from Berkshire to Barbados fulfilled all my fantasies

Absolutely Barbados: One Man’s Mission discover The heart and Ssoul From a Caribbean Paradise, by Julian Armfield, is available as an e-book at Amazon Kindle and other leading book selling platforms.

The print edition, which is currently out of print, will be reprinted very soon. You can express your interest in purchasing a copy at Absolutely Barbados Facebook Pagewhere you can also request a link to Julian’s UK-Barbados home exchange community.

He says: ‘There are many things I miss about not living in the UK: the long summer evenings, the village pubs with their real ales, the wonderful cultural events, the stately homes and the ease of access to other European countries.

“It’s very irritating to see how many Barbadian drivers monopolize the fast lane and don’t turn on their lights until it gets completely dark, and the high cost of living (in Barbados) means less money in my pocket.”

The cost of living in the Caribbean may surprise some readers: Julian says rental homes can range from $1,200 (£948) to $6,000 (£4,740) per month, while property can be purchased for between $400,000 (£316,024) and US$38,000,000 (£30,022,280).

He adds: “This last option will allow you to secure a beachfront property on the Platinum West Coast. Barbados is booming and there couldn’t be a better time to invest in property here.”

Julian would know… his wife, Susan, is a sales and rental agent in Caribbean Land.

The author revealed that there was one “bad” aspect that struck him after moving to Barbados, and that was “the lack of care for many beautiful old buildings, which are so well maintained in the UK.”

The expat says little has changed in Barbados in the 20 years he has been living near Bridgetown and that, although the island is “becoming overdeveloped in places”, he insists that it “retains its charm”.

Julian says he will never return to Berkshire, even though he never originally planned to leave when he flew to the Caribbean that fateful day in 2003.

She says: “I’m very happy that this will always be my home. We can regularly return to the UK to spend time with my family there, so we have the best of both worlds.”

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