From ever since I can remember, visiting Trinidad was always one of the fondest memories of mine. I was born here and left after a few weeks with my momma, to go live in Canada. I remember visiting and whenever those doors of the airplane opened and the stairs were rolled up…we would get hit by that Caribbean Warmth. It always stuck with me! So when people ask about the transition from Toronto to Trinidad, yall have to understand that this was something I have wanted to do for a long time.
It was back in 2009 that I first hit my aunt and grandmother up and expressed serious interest in moving back. Both of them told me that my room was already set aside and just tell us when you are in the airport lol. The problem for me was, I was still unsure about actually doing it. I had a pretty good job, made good money and I just really wasn’t sure if I was ready to pick up my whole self and move.
For me, I really started to give it some real serious thought in 2011 when I was going through a really rough patch in my personal life. Family drama, relationship drama, unhappiness, I started getting anxiety and it really took a toll. I went through a 3-year stretch where I felt like a couldn’t make a good decision to save my life. I just kept jumping from one situation to the next. I knew that I needed to make a big change and in 2013, I was deciding between moving to Alberta and working the oil fields or moving to Trinidad and seeing what I could do out here.
I chose to come to Trinidad because well…most of my family is out here and it’s the Caribbean. I just remembered all the times I would come visit and thought it would be amazing to live where people vacation at.
So in October of 2013…I jumped on a plane and made the move.
So now that I am going on my 6th year since that move…I get asked quite a lot about the transition from my friends back in Toronto and people here in T&T looking to move…and here are probably the top 5 things that stick out to me about the move to Trini.
- Timing is a hell of a thing
- Colonialism & Slavery have hit our communities hard
- Cost of living is crazy high in Toronto
- The brain drain is a real thing
- More Millenials of the Diaspora should move back
I couldn’t have picked better timing to have made the move. The technology is here for us to create opportunities never seen in the Caribbean before. I feel like I learned so much in Canada and spending the majority of my life there has given me the right mindset to really grow, not only in Trinidad but also in the Caribbean.
I have felt like all of my passions are meshing very well and I am able to be apart of a growing movement in the Caribbean. I am energized and it has me feeling extremely fulfilled and grateful. I am creating my own opportunities and building my own doors. I believe that if I had moved here in 2012 or earlier, my skillset may not have been relevant or I wouldn’t have had what I needed to build. Chances are I would have probably moved back to Canada.
Colonialism & Slavery Effects Have Hit Us Hard
I think that being in two countries and seeing how the black communities are, it’s like two extremes. In Toronto, it’s really almost a sin to support our brothers and sisters. We are more focused on stunting on each other by any means necessary, we spend no money within our communities and refuse to patronize black businesses or build our communities. We believe in a lot of fake friendship to simply have access to people when we need them. Toronto is really a city of fake love within our communities and we still continue to define success by what material items we can purchase. Imagine someone can go out and spend a grand EASY on a new bag but won’t spend $50 to support your friends business.
In Trinidad, the black community really wants that hand-out and refuses to create our own opportunities but then complain when we aren’t making the money we want and that there are no jobs. It’s crazy because you are seeing every other ethnicity move to T&T and just start businesses. There is so much opportunity to build and yet we don’t see it.
For me…I have learned the mindset and work ethic of what it takes to survive in Canada…I tell all of my friends that, they are so gifted and creative and if they were to move back to their respective Caribbean countries, they would be able to identify the gaps and be apart of the change needed to build our homes and live fulfilling lives.
The hardest part for people back in Toronto is that they look at the Caribbean as a step down because they aren’t able to live the luxury life they would like. So getting more of them to see the Caribbean as a gateway to something bigger is a task. Many Trinis still think that there are no opportunities locally and need to move abroad to get a job.
We just need to double down on looking at our skills, finding the gaps and creating our opportunities in the Caribbean.
Cost of Living Is Crazy High In Toronto
I believe one of the biggest advantages I have had in being able to find my passion and pursue it here in Trinidad, is that the cost of living is much cheaper than back in Toronto. We have much more expenses and higher taxes in Toronto, you might earn more money but you keep a whole lot less of it.
The margin for error is slim and it’s hard to talk about passions with my friends back in Toronto when they are usually only concerned about finding a job that makes enough money to cover their bills and getting a little extra for the leisures. Taking a gamble like starting a business is just not something most are even interested in doing.
For me, I have more wiggle room as my expenses are greatly reduced. Also, learning how to earn USD from an online business, allows you to benefit from that exchange rate.
In the end, I am just able to have a peace of mind, knowing that I can experiment and try things without to much worry of going broke or homeless in the process.
If you are a dual citizen and you are learning how to build an e-commerce business, you will greatly benefit from living in the Caribbean and earning another currency. You will earn more and have more room to experiment to get things right.
The Brain Drain Is Real
Since everyone is obsessed with going to school and looking for a job, many are disappointed when they cannot get the job they want locally. So they pack their bags and take their talents to another country, where they proceed to be a key cog in another system.
The reality is…the best Trini’s (Caribbean people by extension), do not live in their respective homes.
What is annoying about this dynamic is that too many of the diaspora will claim they will never move back home because it is to “backwards” and want the people & government to “fix it” before they would consider moving back home.
If you have all of the necessary experience, worked in some of the biggest organizations and have the required skill set needed to make the biggest impact, why do you think people who have grown up in the island and never been exposed to as much as you have, will be able to build a system that you are accustomed to and would feel comfortable moving back to?
If you aren’t willing to come home and be apart of the change & creation of a better life, just like how you have been doing for many years in Canada/UK/USA, then you are better off right where you are and don’t critique from the outside.
We know that there are MANY gaps in the market here, nothing is perfect…but what we need is more of our diaspora, moving back to help build the Caribbean region.
One of the biggest adjustments for me has been having to work with people who simply haven’t seen what I have seen coming from Canada. While I can identify areas of my skills and passions, to teach them to the community, you realize time and time again that we have so much work to do on our mindset, to get people to open up to the type of things we can create.
Things that are already happening around the world, that will allow us to be more self-sufficient and build the kind of lives we want to live.
More Millenials of The Diaspora Should Move To The Caribbean. The timing couldn’t be better for us to come back and make significant changes to improve our way life.
Rather than being busy trying to fit in or be accepted into a society who spits in our face at every opportunity, it’s about time we come back home where we can build and be amongst people who we can learn from and teach but also be apart of something much bigger.
The growth of our regions that have been depleted by first world countries for so long of our resources and human capital.
Due to my own self-growth, the transition to Trinidad & Tobago has been such an eye-opening experience, that happened at the perfect time in my life. I’ve been so eager to get myself established in T&T so that I can begin spending time in the other worlds for work & play.
Sure nothing is perfect but I just can’t help but feel a great sense of joy that whenever people abroad get stressed out…they need to come and take a few weeks to rejuvenate themselves in our region. We have everything we need right here to do meaningful work and rejuvenate ourselves.
I just hope more people realize that the days for moving abroad were back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Many of you are completing degrees in fields that may be new in the Caribbean and established abroad. Start looking at what you can create for yourself, right here in the Caribbean.