From the Editor:   Your editor first came to St. Barths in 1968, and has been a permanent resident for more than twenty years. He lives with his Franco-American family on a hillside overlooking Lorient from which he gazes fascinated by the unfolding panorama of a halcyon and unique way of life.
  February 1999
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  Recently, there has been a good deal of attention given to St. Barths by various media on both sides of the Atlantic.
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  This is not the first time this has happened, and it is likely to happen again, but this year it has prompted an unusual response: there have been an unprecedented number of enquiries, especially from France, about the likelihood of a new arrival finding a job.
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  In the past, outsiders relocated to St. Barths as a refuge. They valued privacy and detachment, and found differences of culture a welcome barrier to unwanted familiarity.
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  Today, most newcomers arrive in search of opportunity, lured by sensational descriptions of a tax-free tropical paradise where well-heeled vacationing fools shower money upon every uplifted palm.
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  Most of these new hopefuls are doomed to disappointment.
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  Living in St. Barths is easy in many ways, but making a living is not, especially for the non-native. Housing is very hard to find, and, when found, the price is breathtaking. Manual laborers of all kinds are in currently in constant demand, but jobs with any potential for permanence or advancement are scarce.
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  New entrepreneurs quickly discover that the customer base is small and fickle, that they have twelve months of expenses that must be paid for by six months of income, and that the established merchants have a keen and ruthless competitive sense.
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  In recent years, the supply of predators has stayed well in advance of the quantity of prey, and there is no reason to believe that this circumstance will change soon.
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  It's easy to sympathize with those, stranded in the grey cold, who imagine themselves lying in a hammock, sipping a piña collada, as they listen to the rhythmic sound of breaking surf and gaze at the half-clad beauties scampering on the beach.
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  But, making a permanent place for yourself in Paradise has always been more difficult than the tourist brochures would lead you to believe.

  More to come,

  Peter O'Keefe


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