A Place In The Sun: Moving On From Pandemic Fears-The Barbados Welcome Stamp

Hong Kong resident Andrea Lo arrived in Barbados in December 2020 on the Welome Stamp Visa. She fancied a place in the Sun from where she could work remotely. In February 2021 CNN got an update on her trip and the experience there up to that time: CNN travel

YouTube Video: A Place In The Sun, song by Stevie Wonder

Barbados’s Welcome Stamp Visa

Barbados’ Welcome Stamp Visa is proving a catalyst for moving on. It has proved there can be hope for a restless heart or wandering feet. It is a golden opportunity to relocate to a place in the Sun.

The Pandemic made a great many of us feel like Stevie Wonder’s ‘old dusty road, tired from the load’ and we are all just aching to stretch out the feet sit back and really chill while working to the rhythms of the Earth in idyllic scenery. It is time we moved on from Pandemic fears and grasp Life by the balls again.

Financial structures and electronic mediums seem destined to take us “where no man has gone before” so we need to decide where our place is to be. Even as global travel markets are opening up again we know that it is to a New World. Order from the Pandemic near-chaos of another recession will appear to be a matter of ethic vs economic constraints. This is why we MUST find our place in the Sun.

Our habits or regular routine changed, leaving us with a new social landscape and world view based on a shift in our perceptions. Should we revisit old familiar places and countries it will be with new eyes and fresh vision, a new awakening, and those places and countries will be showing the scars bruises and patchwork paint of an altered life(style).

Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate ourselves. What are our needs? How far will we go to satisfy them? Dare we throw caution to the wind, and seize the moment? Are we able to think only of ourselves and our future? Perhaps the global nature of the coronavirus episode has produced in us a more individual stance. We discovered that though connected in the world or national sense, we can keep our distance and still live. We, as individuals, can stand alone.

We can work from anywhere. We can work in solitary mode and like it. We are not dependent on an office atmosphere for the physical interaction we thought we needed to survive the ‘stress of work’. In fact some of that interaction may have been the cause of such stress. We don’t need that routine. Socialising has come to mean staying in OUR bubble, without the guilt-trip.

A Very Welcome Stamp

The Welcome Stamp which Barbados initiated is a point in fact. It allows a person to work remote from office and country yet gather like-minded sorts to create that bubble of humanity and physical social interaction if so desired. It is saying: You are welcome to be you. To find your Place in The Sun.

One such Barbados Remote Work Visa professional who has been enjoying this move to a Place in the Sun is 40 year old Juliet Fallowfield. Below is some of what she had to say on her decision to use the Barbados Welcome Stamp Visa.

Her article appeared on 20th February Telegraph

*ALL RIGHTS RESERVED*:

For me, 2020 had one huge positive: it afforded me a newfound freedom. Following redundancy in early April, I left 20 years of PAYE behind to start my own PR consultancy, joining the 3.5% year-on-year increase in registrations at Companies House.

I soon realised that wherever the internet worked, so could I. Unfortunately, my beloved Battersea failed in this regard and when Barbados’s so-called Welcome Stamp visa started coming up in conversation with fellow entrepreneurial types, I noted that the island’s key selling point wasn’t its turquoise seas or expertly cheffed cuisines, but that its internet connection ranked above that of the UK.

The first of six Caribbean islands to create a new tax-free annual working visa, Barbados’s Welcome Stamp launched in June 2020 to incentivise a newly housebound working population typically accustomed to frequent travel, to relocate. It offers the chance to explore a new area of the world while working, and Brits relished the opportunity, with application numbers double that of the rest of Europe.

Being an entrepreneurial nation (the UK’s total SME turnover was estimated at £2.2 trillion in 2019), I hoped that the move could provide a new client base, given that my business focuses on supporting start-up founders.

To qualify for the visa, candidates must earn a base salary of £39,760 per annum, pay a fee of £1,590 per person or £2,385 per family, and r the strict guidelines regarding Covid testing and quarantining on arrival. Following the government’s step by step guidance of when to test, where to quarantine and what to expect, from food deliveries to test results, I was in safe and organised hands.

I did a private PCR test three days before arrival, uploaded the negative result to the Visit Barbados portal and had it screened again on touchdown. I was fortunate enough to arrive in December, when the quarantine timelines were shorter, so after three days of strict isolation at a hotel, my fellow escapees and I received a joyous call from reception with an email confirming that we were allowed to remove our wristbands, dunk ourselves in the warmest of waters and celebrate with a rum punch.

My initial few days of in-room quarantine were ideal to get ahead with work, as well as working on my balcony base tan. Having not packed a case for nearly a year, I was grateful I’d included a skipping rope for in-room workouts (mind the ceiling fan).

Taking the advice of a recent interviewee on my podcast (another Covid venture) to spend at least an hour in nature before opening any screen, my mornings now consist of a 20-minute meditation sitting by a palm tree listening to the waves break, followed by a couple of hours of surfing on Freights Bay, providing me with safe access to a sociable new hobby. It’s easy to make new friends when you’re all lined up waiting for the next wave. I am certainly still more seal than surfer, however being out there at dawn, with turtles as talismans, I have a head start on my day, no matter how many waves I’m more under than on.

There are numerous other outdoor activities available to early risers, too. The stunning self-guided two-hour hike north from Bath Beach to Bathsheba is a favourite. Inner-island mountain biking trails are open, as are the options to kite or windsurf. Another highlight is a simple snorkel around the wrecks at Carlisle Bay, followed by paddling with the island’s race horses as they enjoy their dawn salt baths at Pebbles Beach.

Having joined various entrepreneurial island WhatsApp groups, it’s easy to learn where to avoid the odd jellyfish, and which spots offer convenient co-working options; although they can also fan the island myth flame. My favourite was the one about the famed internet connection going down temporarily, due to a boat’s anchor dredging up the cable.

We’re all aware of how lucky we are, but that doesn’t stop us from sharing our hit-lists of where we’ll venture first when the island’s restaurants reopen. La Cabene’s farm-to-(beach)table ribeye or roast dinner is high on many lists, as is Oistins Fish Market, which comes alive on a Friday night.

To belatedly celebrate birthdays, we’ll order fish ‘cutters’ for delivery to Crane Beach from nearby Cutter’s Deli, accompanied by its famed rum punch and a game of beach cricket. Lone Star in the exclusive St James area will be an excuse to wear heels, followed by a recovery brunch and pool day at The Colony Club. Biodynamic PEG Farm’s Bajan eggs benedict followed by an afternoon snooze in the tropically fresh gully of Hunte’s Gardens is another favourite.

Newly opened Cala Roca’s international menu brings a piece of the Mediterranean to the island thanks to Vito Oliva Font’s tapas. And Sunday brunch at Sea Shed followed by Jae Johansen’s stunning live acoustic session on the deck of Surfer’s Bar at Sunset is a great way to finish off any weekend.

Until then, supermarkets remain open between 8am-4pm and with the island’s best restaurants sharing their recipes via social media, the Waitrose-stocked aisles cater for anything you could want to cook at home. One treat that hasn’t escaped me is that bakeries are also deemed essential, so remain open. At the Cliff Bakery, you can pre-order every artisan bread you can dream of. Its almond croissants are worth their Mayfair prices.

Between planning….[sic]….we are all learning to adopt the island’s natural posture. Instead of the head-down, shoulders up, battle to the tube during rush hour, we are looking up to the sky at sunrise, opening our shoulders and embracing the steady pace of island life.

As the sun set over a (pre-national pause) long lobster lunch at the delicious Fish Pot on my 40th birthday last month, I was acutely aware that taking a leap of faith to get here has paid very real dividends: not only to my business, but to my sense of self. I’m grateful for having met a myriad of talented people from all walks of life, who have fuelled my enthusiasm for work and life beyond the nine to five.

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