When we think of the Maldives, we think of blue water, sandy beaches, palm trees and life in paradise. That’s why I got so excited to interview Jana from Miles and Smiles Away who has lived one year on the Maldives. Read her interview in order to get an idea about how life in the Maldives really is.
Hi Jana, tell us a bit about yourself…
Hi Sixtina, thank you for interviewing me. I’m 30 years old girl from the Czech Republic. When I was 26, I got an offer to move abroad and I haven’t returned yet. I have visited around 25 countries and I have lived in 4 different countries (the USA, the Maldives, Malaysia and Vietnam) and now I’m moving to Indonesia.
I have many hobbies like graphic design, painting, blogging, marketing, informatics and especially photography. Photography was the main reason why I started my blog three years ago even though I hate writing.
It is a funny coincident, but I didn’t want to spam my friends on Facebook. Now, I’m writing my blog in English and Czech, which is even a bigger headache.
What was the main reason for moving to the Maldives?
One day, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw my friend’s post that she is looking for someone who has experience in marketing, speaks English, and who wants to work in the Maldives.
So I decided to message her. I got all the information and sent an email with my CV to my future boss. Two weeks later, he asked me to meet me in Vienna, so I took a train to Vienna where we met. We discussed all details and the next day he called me and asked me when I can start.
Was it easy to find a job right away or are you a digital nomad?
I got the job before moving to the Maldives. That’s how I usually move around. When in the Maldives, my boyfriend and I applied for a job in Malaysia and when we got it, we moved.
After two years of working in Malaysia, we applied for a few jobs and decided to go with the one in Vietnam. Now, we quit our jobs and in two weeks we are moving to Indonesia.
How about the cost of living?
Each country is different. The Maldives can be pretty expensive as there is not enough space to build houses and so the cost of living can be really expensive. Luckily, the companies usually provide accommodation to expats. Food can be also expensive as many things are imported.
Is it easy to connect with locals or are there any language barriers?
There are not really language barriers in the Maldives. Many people speak English as tourism is their main source of income.
However, the culture is pretty different and it can be difficult to make real friends. After one year of my life there, I can probably count them on my one hand.
Tell me about your favourite thing to do in the Maldives?
We had an amazing group of expats and we loved to go on boat trips and diving trips. Sometimes we went to the nearby island to spend some time on the beach or to go wakeboarding. The capital doesn’t have many options and it doesn’t have a beach (except the artificial beach for locals), so we were always happy to escape the city.
What is your favourite local food from the Maldives?
They have delicious breakfast – shredded coconut mixed with shredded tuna! Loved that dish! Also, they have deep fried snacks called Hedhikaa which can be filled with chilli or tuna or both.
What was the biggest challenge for you once you moved to the Maldives?
It was a huge cultural shock. I remember I cried the first day. It was so hot, many people and bikes everywhere, no greenery. The biggest challenge was not to get lost in the small streets and to be able to find things I wanted to buy.
What don’t you like about the Maldives?
The tourism. It has a huge impact on their environment as they are not capable to recycle so much trash and they are usually burning it on an island without any protection. Many resorts are trying to help with this problem and they are recycling their own waste.
Also, all islands are on coral reefs and since they don’t have space to expand their cities they are reclaiming land by dumping sand on the reefs and killing them. I wrote more about the dark side of the Maldives in my article.
What is/are a fun fact(s) about the Maldives most people don’t know about?
The Maldives has around 1200 islands and only around 200 islands are inhabited. It is a 100% Muslim nation – so there are no pubs or pork in the cities (only at the resorts). You can get arrested for being drunk.
It happened to my friend when we had a party at a nearby resort and came back to the capital. Someone from the resort called the police in the capital, so they were waiting for our boat full of drunk expats to arrive. Luckily, my friend was at the police station only for a few hours.
Another crazy fact is, that if a man says “I divorce you” three times in a row, the marriage is over. That is also why the Maldives has the highest divorce rate in the world. The main reason is that a premarriage sex is illegal. So it is easier for them to get married, enjoy sex and get divorced after some time.
Lastly, the most expensive villa to stay at costs 20.000 dollars a night. Crazy!
What would be your top advice for people who are thinking to move to the Maldives?
It is a great experience. But not many people will stay longer than a year or two. Also, you have to find your job before going there as the tourist visa is only for a month.
What is the biggest difference between your home country Czech Republic and the Maldives?
I would say that everything was really different and that is why I experienced such a big culture shock. Weather, culture, housing, shopping, food.
It was difficult to adjust, however, I don’t regret it at all! I was able to visit many luxurious resorts as a part of my job, I met many amazing friends, and above all, I met my fiance there with whom I’m travelling the world!