Bridgetown, Barbados Report of what it's like to live there - 02/18/10

Personal Experiences from Bridgetown, Barbados

Bridgetown, Barbados 02/18/10

Background:

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

3rd expat experience.

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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?

about 4 hours from Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months.

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

I work with U.S. Embassy.

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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 embassy employees live in single family homes, though some singles and couples w/o kids lives in townhouses. Housing is generally nice, but sometimes layouts are awkward. There is very very little storage in houses.

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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 expensive (milk is $10/gallon).This is an island, that's what you get.

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

Nothing. You can get everything locally, or by ordering online (if you have APO/DPO access).

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

The only American fast food chain is KFC, which is very popular. There is also a TGIFriday's on the island. McDonald's tried and failed here. There is rumor that a Subway will be coming soon. The local fast food place is Chefette, which is just OK.

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

Usual problems with roaches, ants, centipedes, and spiders. Nothing worse than in the U.S.

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Daily Life:

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

APO/DPO or pouch.

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

Available, but fairly expensive, compared to many parts of the world.

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

There are some gyms, but I don't know much about them. The Embassy has a nice, but small, gym.

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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?

ATMs are common. Credit cards are widely accepted. You can also cash checks at the Embassy.

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

Yes, lots of Anglican churches, and the JW's are here in force. Others too.

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

Yes. Cost depends on what cable or Direct TV package you choose.

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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?

English is the local language.

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

Not sure, but the island is not all that disability-friendly.

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Transportation:

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

There are no trains. Buses are safe and affordable. Taxis are more expensive, but safe. Almost everyone has a car.

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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?

See above about special advantages. Buying a car locally is essentially free (if you sell it back at the end of your tour).However, selection of in stock cars is very small, and importing on special order takes forever. Small cars are good, for the small roads.

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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, it is priced comparable to US rates, but the service is not as good (not as fast).

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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?

Plenty of options.

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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?

Incoming pets must come through London. If they qualify for the PETS scheme to get into the UK quarantine-exempt, then they can come to Barbados w/o quarantine. Otherwise you're looking at 6 months quarantine in London.$$$$

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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?

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

Fairly formal.

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Health & Safety:

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

No.

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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?

Medical care is pretty high.

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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?

Very good.

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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?

There is a wet season and a dry season. During the wet season, there is still plenty of sun. The weather is great all year round.

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Schools & Children:

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

No experience, though there are some good local schools

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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?

Preschool is fantastic: St. Nicholas is where many Embassy preschoolers go, including ours, and it's amazing.

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty big--the Canadians and the Brits have a lot of people here.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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

Beach picnics or entertaining in homes, mostly. Restaurants tend to be either expensive or not good, or both.

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

Good for families with young kids and anyone who loves the beach/ocean sports/cricket. Couples or singles w/o young kids may be bored. Families with older kids may have bored kids.

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

Society is pretty conservative, there does not seem to be a large or open gay or lesbian community. But there does not seem to be outright predudice against, either.

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

Not really.

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

Did I mention the beaches? And the fact that we didn't get any snow this winter?

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

Beaches. Ocean sports. Polo. Cricket.

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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.

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

beaches, beaches, beaches!The beaches here look just like the postcards. The weather is fabulous all year round. Air quality is great. Traffic is heavy during rush hour, but well-behaved. All ocean sports are available (surfing, wind surfing, snorkeling, diving, water skiing, etc).Cricket is huge, and there is also polo, soccer, rally car, etc. One big advantage has to do with cars: because of the way the import duties work, if you are a diplomat (with duty free priviledges), you can typically buy a brand new car from a dealership, and they will agree (in writing!) to buy it back from you at the end of your tour for the same price you paid.

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11. Can you save money?

Not so much. You're either spending it on groceries, island-hopping, or fun island activities (surf lessons, etc)

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, bikini, flip flops.

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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?

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