Photo Credit: Janet Williams
The Black Expat: 'I Love The Freedom I Feel In St. Lucia'
When 45-year-old Janet Williams first visited St. Lucia as a young teen, she never imagined the island would one day become her home. Born in East London to a Jamaican mother and St. Lucian father, the Caribbean has always run through her veins. She began visiting St. Lucia more frequently after her parents relocated to the country in 2001.
“I would come yearly, either around Christmas or in February, since that’s their shared birth month. When my mother suddenly passed in 2012, I returned to spend time with my dad. We needed to heal wounds and discuss important matters.”
Janet ended up staying in St. Lucia for a year. During that time, she was able to really get to know the country and how things worked there. More importantly, she had the opportunity to spend a great deal of quality time with her father while they both coped with the loss of her mother.
She returned home to the UK and continued on with her everyday life and career until 2020, when the media company she’d been working at for 17 years announced that her department was moving. The new location was too far for her to commute to, so Janet suddenly found herself out of a job. With her position no longer tying her to the UK, Janet knew that the time was right to return to her father in St. Lucia, this time for good.
“Dad was older and slowing down, so I decided it was time to go and start caring for him. Him going into a home was never going to be an option. Plus, it had always been my desire to reside somewhere sunny later in my life. England will always be home, but I didn’t want to grow old there.”
“After selling up, I made the move in August 2020. Due to COVID, there was a mandatory two-week quarantine, which wasn’t so bad. A year later, I’m still here living the dream! I love the freedom I feel in St. Lucia; the fresh air, the greenery, the friendly people, and the relaxed island vibe. Also, driving is a better experience, as I get to enjoy my vehicle with less road signs and bumps.”
Being raised by parents from the Caribbean, it didn’t take long at all for Janet to settle into her new life. Having had many of the regional values instilled in her from an early age, she already possessed a great deal of cultural awareness. She was familiar with many aspects of the culture, such as the cuisine and the religious occasions.
“The main cultural hurdle for me has always been the language. My parents were from different islands so Patois was never spoken in the house between us. My dad hadn’t taught it to me, so now being here as an adult, that’s the main issue. When conversations take place in front of me, my understanding is very limited. Also politics are very strong here, which can be overwhelming at times.”
As far as the quality of life St. Lucia offers, Janet says she is very pleased. The island has all the modern amenities one could want, including internet, digital TV, and reliable electricity, gas, and water supplies. In fact, the pleasant weather and access to affordable fresh food are things that allow her to have an ever better quality of life than she had before in the UK.
“St. Lucia and England are two completely different countries which operate in different ways. England has a more fast pace with day-to-day living, whereas here is a lot more laid back. In St. Lucia, the cost of living is lower. The food is more organic and richer and taste so much better. Things are done with a more relaxed approach. England is a more advanced place, however the weather can be a letdown as it’s usually cold. I definitely don’t have to worry about that here!”
So far, Janet has been able to experience much of the beauty the island to offer. From the beaches to the mountains, she loves St. Lucia’s breathtaking terrain and the many species of flowers and plant life growing there.
“I enjoy just driving my SUV around the island and taking in the views. There is so much more to experience on the island, which I will in time, but unfortunately, with COVID we have to be patient and prioritize remaining safe for now.”
But the best part about living in St. Lucia for Janet, is without a doubt having the opportunity to be close to and care for her father.
“It’s an honor to be living on my father’s island with him. It feels good to be able to support him and keep a closer eye on him with ease. It’s a comfort knowing that during COVID we are together and have one another. After losing my mother, I have appreciated my dad even more. We have worked together this past year putting things right in all forms. The family home needed some TLC and personal matters were updated and put in place.”
You can follow Janet on Instagram at @aroundthewurl_with_jj.