10 Things You'll Learn Living in the BVI

Living in an exotic place is an invaluable experience where one can learn lessons not usually acquired elsewhere. After a short time as a resident in the British Virgin Islands, you’ll start to notice a few of the idiosyncratic aspects that give the territory its unique character.


1.     It’s not uncommon to NOT have an address

In fact, it’s probably more common that your “address” is a colour, flower or the name of the hill you live on and an available synonym for ‘house’. Instead of streets, you’ll learn to give directions with landmarks such a pack of wild goats, a broken down safari bus, and “up an even steeper hill”.

Living in the British Virgin Islands


2. You CAN live without electricity.

Living in the BVI, you'll probably experience semi-regular power-outs. You'll realise It’s not that hard to get by without electricity. But, most houses use cisterns as their primary source of water, so no electricity, no water. You’ll get pretty handy at learning how to bathe using a gallon of water and a saucepan- or taking a dip in the ocean.


3. Happy hours are a great way to experience the sunset.

It's always happy hour in the BVI, which conveniently coincides with the time the sun sets. You’ll learn which place has the best deal on your drink of choice and you'll get to enjoy the huge bonus of enjoying the sunset with an unobstructed view of the horizon.

Living in the British Virgin Islands_Sunset

4. Cars weren’t meant to last.

Ever heard of the term “island car”? Steep hills, unpaved roads, pot holes, and the occasional dings from other drivers take their toll. You’ll learn that a car which is durable enough make the hills, but inexpensive enough to get replacement parts is the best option for those with a modest salary.

5. Waiting becomes a natural routine.

The BVI lives by the “island time” rule. Typical wait times can vary from ten minutes in an empty supermarket, an hour at the bank on a Friday to a full day at a government office. You’ll learn the BVI is a chatty community, so waiting in-line can become more of a social affair if you’re the talkative type.

British Virgin Islands Lifestyle


6. How to properly spend your weekends.

Friday nights in town are usually a pretty big hit, you'll learn most people tire after the Friday blow out and on Saturdays after a long day spent snorkeling or sailing in the sun, the social scene on a is far less vibrant. Many enjoy a peaceful dinner at one of island’s best restaurants or for those who can handle it, the party is on the beach at Cane Garden Bay.


7. It’s all about brunch on a Sunday.

When you’ve lived in the BVI for a while, you’ll learn that on a Sunday, brunch is a ritual in itself. Belgian waffles, breakfast nachos, and BOTTOMLESS mimosas are hard to pass up. After the mid-day gorge, the “Sunday Funday” continues. It's fair to say Mondays are always a drag.

Brunch in the British Virgin Islands


8. To live without fast food, (for a while at least)

In the British Virgin Islands, there are NO fast food franchises. You’ll learn to get by just fine without fast food, but occasionally you’ll need to give in to cravings. It’s not unknown for residents to splurge the $75 ferry ride to St. Thomas just to get a cheeseburger from Maccy D’s.


9. Get used to the unnecessary honking of car horns.

In most places car horns are used as a warning or as in infuriated reflex. In the BVI, cars honk at each other if they’re angry, happy, warning a brave herds of goats or just simply saying hello. After a while, you’ll learn the difference between a pleasant “hello honk” and one that is actually an angry warning.

10. Making friends from all over the world.

Perhaps the best part of living in the BVI is what you can learn about such a vast amount of cultures. The BVI expat community tends to be quite transient and your friends will eventually return to their home countries. What this means for you… free accommodations and a personal tour guide when you decide to globetrot around the world.

Living in the BVI



Lauren Charley

Lauren Charley is a professional writer and editor, with a passion for travel and a love for the Caribbean culture. Born a tropical baby at heart, she sought employment in the British Virgin Islands after graduating university and landed a position as the Editorial Coordinator for a luxury lifestyle magazine. Currently, Lauren resides at her home in Niagara-on-the-Lake working as a freelance copywriter for North American and Caribbean publications and companies.