By: Kristyn Sakelaris
In order to provide some insight into getting a job in Bermuda and making the transition to island life, DW Simpson talked with Justin Levine, an actuary who more recently moved to Bermuda. When Justin started interviewing for an on-island position he was living in the Northeast and was a new FCAS with three years of work experience that included reinsurance pricing.
Q: Describe the interview process when you were considering roles in Bermuda.
A: I was targeting reinsurance companies specifically, but my company actually writes a fair amount of insurance as well. I had one phone interview with this reinsurance company in July. Two months later (September), they flew me to Bermuda for the inperson interviews. Still two months later (November), I began my first day of work in Bermuda. The reason for the four month delay between the phone interview and the first day was mostly related to the immigration process. It just so happened that I only interviewed with one company which ended up being a good fit.
Q: How did you go about finding housing? Where there any hurdles that you
encountered with the move?
A: My company provided a relocation specialist to work with me. The initial contact with this person began before even moving to the island. We discussed what type of places I was looking for. So before I even got to the island she knew how many bedrooms, what price range, how close to town, etc. My first day of work involved leaving the office early to be driven around the island looking at houses that met my criteria. There were no hurdles per se. Just make sure you have a firm understanding of whether or not your housing allowance is “spend it or lose it,” or “keep what you don’t spend.” A lot of companies are changing it from the latter to the former. Also, make sure you have a clause in your lease that forces the landlord to pay for: (i) Your water tank if it gets empty. (ii) Hurricane preparation (boarding up the house, providing a generator, etc.) (iii) Hotel accommodations (or pro-ration of your rent if your house is unlivable during a hurricane)
Q: What documentation did you have to provide in order to work there? How did you find the immigration process?
A: Passport, birth certificate, police record and drug test. The process of coming to the island is really controlled by immigration rather than your specific company. As mentioned before, the process lasted about 4 months.
Q: Did you have a spouse and/or children join you? If you did not, are you aware of others who have come to the island with a family? What was their experience?
A: I came here when I was single, in my mid-twenties and with no children. I do not know any of the details of those who came with children.
Q: What were some surprises you encountered (positive or negative)?
A: As a guy in my mid-twenties when I made the move, reading some literature online made me a bit hesitant about the social ramifications of being stuck on a 22 squaremile island in the middle of the Atlantic. The average expat who works in insurance is probably closer to the mid-thirties. I have found it is a lot easier to make friends and participate socially than the online reading made it seem. You just have to be a little proactive. I have found the tension between local Bermudians and expats to be a lot less of an issue that I initially feared. In fact, I haven’t had any negative experiences (due to expat/local issues) with any Bermudians in the three years I have been here.
Q: Would you make the move again? Why or why not?
A: I do not regret my decision to come here. It made sense professionally, financially and was an adventurous move. That being said, it is critical that your compensation is adequate enough to enjoy life here. It is a very expensive island to live on. Being a single guy, I felt comfortable with my compensation. It would have taken a lot more thought to move a wife and kids here. Schools are expensive. I have heard of some nursery schools that charge $18K USD a year. A nice 3 bedroom close to town and on the water might cost over $6K USD/month. Unless your significant other also is able to get a job here, you might be saving a lot
less than you think.