Best Islands to Live On: Meet the Expats

We say it every year: “I will move to an island.” Need an extra push? We asked these expats for their advice on moving to paradise and how to make it happen.

Read more in our Ultimate Best Islands to Live On Guide.

Expats, Move to an Island: Nate Marr

Nate Marr, Vieques

Moved From: Boston, Massachusetts Current Job: Captain, Marauder Sailing Charters Why He Moved: It was supposed to be a vacation from his nine-to-five in financial planning. A happenstance joke about buying the sailboat he’d taken for a snorkel tour led him to owning the boat within the week. Best Advice: On a remote island you can get everything you need, but not everything you want. Bye-bye brand loyalty, hello care packages. Zach Stovall

Eric Anderson, Roatan

Current Job: Raising his son, Axel, looking after property purchased on the island more than 40 years ago, volunteering in the community Moved From: California Why He Moved: Dad was the first expat on Roatan back in the 1960s, when it was hard to locate on a map. Eric eventually moved to live full-time for the year-round climate, diving, and daily pace. Best Advice: Don’t expect to move here and veg out and do nothing. It might be slow, but we rarely turn on the TV or get bored. Reaching out to help others and providing jobs for local people (even basic yard work) are great ways to be accepted. Jon Whittle
Expats, Move to an Island: Jamison Witbeck

Jamison Witbeck, St. John (USVI)

Moved From: Charleston, South Carolina Current Job: Charter boat owner and captain Why He Moved: Living a simpler lifestyle. Our kids are learning a lot about how to do more with less. Best Advice: Figuring out what to do with your stuff is often the hardest part of making a big move. I say give it all away. It’s freeing.
Expats, Move to an Island: Heather Evans

Heather Evans, Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

Moved From: Brooklyn, New York Current Job: Owns the Sugar Reef Inn Why She Moved: To downshift, simplify her life and read books. Went from working at a Wall Street investment firm to running the inn. Best Advice: The restaurant part of operating an inn is far more challenging than the inn itself.
Expats, Move to an Island: Marc DeLucia

Marc DeLucia, Vieques (Puerto Rico)

Moved From: Austin, Texas Current Job: Runs a paddle-board tour company Why He Moved: A friend invited him to visit the island after college. He came with $3,000 to his name. The natural and tropical surroundings persuaded him to make the move permanent. Best Advice: Give it time. It takes about a year to get acclimated to a small island. Resist the urge to go back home for at least that long. Zach Stovall
Expats, Move to an Island: Tania and Arnaud

Arnaud and Tania Erhart, Vieques

Current Jobs: Owners of Isla Nena Scuba Moved From: New York Why They Moved: The grueling pace of work and life in The City. They were envious of expats they’d met on an around-the-world dive adventure, but they needed to keep their US Green Cards (he being French and her German). Partnering with local conch and lobster fishermen who know the waters better than anyone, they now bring divers to the island’s most secret spots. Best Advice: Don’t come expecting a vacation. You’ll work harder than you ever have. And practice patience above all. Everything you try to achieve will take much longer than you expect. Zach Stovall
Expats, Move to an Island: Didier Zanette

Didier Zanette, New Caledonia (South Pacific)

Moved From: France Current Job: Artifact collecting and trading Why He Moved: A former banker, he wanted to be closer to his ultimate adventures. For example, trekking through swampland in Papua to reach the Kombai and Korowai people. He ran out of food and had to eat grubs. He was the first white man the Korowai had seen. Best Advice: Don’t make the move for money. For me it’s the adventure. If it were all about money, I would have stayed in banking.

Jennie Green, St. Thomas

Current Job: Founder of a beachwear company, Tryad. Moved From: New York Why Her Family Moved: They’d bottomed out financially in New York and were living on a sailboat in New York Harbor. So they followed a friend to St. Thomas and helped run a marina store. Best Advice: An island can be very limited, especially after living in a major U.S. city. Entertainment is sparse, and you might not find the food you want at the store (especially vegetables). Many transplants leave after a short time, so being less needy with low expectations can go a long way.
Expats, Move to an Island: Andy Deuchars

Andy Deuchars, New Zealand

Moved From: Northern California Current Job: Co-owner of Renaissance Brewing Company Why He Moved: To get a fresh start. He’d been laid off from his winemaking job in California and his sister had moved to New Zealand five years earlier. Best Advice: It helps to have work experience and knowing people on the island where you move. Connections are important.
Expats, Move to an Island: Buddy and Casie Stone, Vieques

Buddy and Casie Stone, Vieques

Current Jobs: Chef and owners of Next Course Restaurant Moved From: Arizona Why They Moved: The expense of home ownership in St. John would be high. The cost of living and the expense of real estate in Vieques were far more attractive. Best Advice: Come down and find a job that gives you enough to get by at first. Then figure out what the island needs and work your butt off to provide it through a business. Zach Stovall

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