Bridgetown, Barbados Report of what it's like to live there - 06/15/11

Personal Experiences from Bridgetown, Barbados

Bridgetown, Barbados 06/15/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

U.S. Flight usually takes all day. Connecting flights through Dallas and Miami. Approx 8 hours of flying time, depending on connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most people live in single-family houses or townhouses. Usually takes about 30 minutes to get to work. Traffic can really slow during peak hours.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are almost double US prices. There are several supermarkets and a couple of membership markets (like Sam's Club) here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Most items are available (but not reliably)Don't expect to buy clothing here. Cheaply made but VERY expensive. Even the locals order their clothing over the Internet.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC and one Subway. The locally owned Chefette is ok and located throughout the island. However in Barbados, Fast Food is NOT fast. I've given up standing in line at the KFC due to the poor service. I've heard the food isn't up to American standards and it is quite expensive. Most fast food is at least US$15 per person. Regular restaurants are US$50 per person!There are some good restaurants but they are rare (and expensive)

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There is surprisingly quite a bit of gluten-free products available at Super Centre markets. But they come and go. Vegetarian and organic seem to be pretty easy to find as well. But of course, they cost much more!

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes! There was a Dengue Fever outbreak in Barbados, so take precautions.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere. ATMS throughout.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

yes - all seem to be available.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are 2 local newspapers. There are two main providers of cable television services in Barbados. The state-owned Multi-Choice Television (MCTV) service is perhaps the most widely used service, as it features a wide range of channels that include major news networks like CNN, Fox News, BBC World, and all of the top United States networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) can be contacted for installation of this service. The other local cable provider is a South American based Direct-TV service and it also offers similar channels.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

They speak English, but they also speak "Bajan" - the local dialect which can be hard to understand.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot!Some of the larger supermarkets have handicapped parking, but it is very difficult to get around. Narrow, rough roads, no sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses are crowded and in my view, a little scary. Taxis seem safe, moderately expensive, but not easy to find except at the airport.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Roads are rough. Cars are a necessary to get around Barbados. Bring a car that you don't care about getting banged up. Many co-workers have had at least one accident. Gas is expensive too so you may want to consider a more fuel-efficient car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about $69.00 per month. But it can be slow and goes out frequently.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can choose from Limenet or Digicel. Easily available at supermarkets.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes. Very strict UK quarantine policy.6 months in the UKbefore being allowed into Barbados.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

not really

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Professional dress code at work.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Be careful in the touristy areas. There have been reports of muggings while walking on the beach at night.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Quality of health care seems spotty. There are a few 24 hour clinics that seem ok. They do have hospitals here and many UK or American trained doctors. For any serious health issues, I'd expect to fly out to Miami.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is very good. It can be a little bothersome when they burn the sugar cane fields, but not too bad.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Tropical. There is usually a dry season in the winter (but not this year!)and hurricane season starts around May through November. Summers can be hot. Winter may have a low in the upper 70's at night.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?


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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?


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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?


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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I think so, but not certain

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Lots of expats.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

St. Lawrence Gap has a number of nightclubs and bars.

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3. Morale among expats:

Fair to good. Depends on your outlook.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great place for families and couples. From what I've heard, it's good for single men and (as usual) more difficult for single women.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that I'm aware of.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visiting the different beaches - each completely different. There are some tourist attractions that are worth a visit - Harrison's Cave, St. Nicholas Abbey, and Animal Flower Cave to name a few.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Going to the beach, snorkeling, catamaran sailing , hiking, dining at nice (but expensive) restaurants, visiting tourist sites.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Rum, brown sugar, pottery, art

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather is lovely. Temperatures in the 80's. Blue skies. Gorgeous beaches. Nice Caribbean island.

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11. Can you save money?

NO WAY!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably, but not any time soon.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Pets, winter clothes, boots, expectations of good customer service.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen, swimsuits,

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

One thing many expats complain about is the lack of friendly customer service. Service is slow and can be rude.

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