Paramaribo, Suriname Report of what it's like to live there - 04/25/22

Personal Experiences from Paramaribo, Suriname

Paramaribo, Suriname 04/25/22

Background:

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

This is not my first overseas experience. I have also lived in Brazil, Pakistan and Tanzania.

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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?

Miami, Florida. There are direct flights between Miami and Paramaribo several times per week thanks to American Airlines. The travel time is approximately four hours.

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3. What years did you live here?

2020-2022.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic Mission

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is typically large. Singles are assigned three bedroom residences, families have been assigned three to six bedroom homes.

Most housing is on the northside of Paramaribo; within a 15 minute drive to the new embassy compound.

Grocery shopping is an overall adventure. CHOIS, Best Mart and Tulip tend to be more expensive and carry a large variety of American and international brands. Smaller groceries tend to have cheaper prices but lack quality and freshness.

The Northside of Paramaribo is up-and-coming! There is a new international school (QSI), international shopping mall, and other business/shopping varieties opening throughout the area.

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

Overall, prices are affordable on American standards, but have noticeably increased since the 2020 COVID pandemic hit Suriname. If you can shop like a local then you are sure to save lots of money!

Embassy/diplomatic shipments typically arrive between one to two weeks.

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

I wish that i would have shipped more canned goods, diapers, and clothes (for the growing boys).

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

There are international eating options, but you have to explore and discover them on your own.

Food delivery is hit-or-miss; there is not a universal service such as Uber Eats. Some restaurants will send staff to deliver food, others are only provide dine/in and carry/out options.

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

There is an abundance of annoying tropical pests and mosquitos BUT most are controllable with regular cleaning and sanitation.

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Daily Life:

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

I mail items through the embassy and diplomatic pouch.
DHL and international package delivery services are available in Suriname.

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

A full time nanny will cost about $200 per week
A maid will cost about 50 per day - its your option to hire full or part time.

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

There are lots of affordable gyms throughout the city, however the moisture seems to rust most of the equipment.

The embassy, hotels, and social clubs tend to have better quality fitness equipment. The local gyms are cheap but much of the equipment is deteriorating.

There are a few public parks that have workout facilities but they are not up to US standards.

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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?

Suriname is largely a cash-based system; US dollars are welcomed at most venues!

Major hotels and the CHOIS grocery stores accept US currency and credit/debit cards.

Depending on the location, local ATMS are considered safe. Most will reject international debit/credit cards.

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

Catholic, Protestant Islam, Hindu, and Jehovah's Witness. I am pretty sure that there are other English-based religious services throughout Suriname.

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

No local language is required within the major cities of Suriname.

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

Yes, if they require sidewalks or steady roadways.

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Transportation:

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

There have been no recent security issues dealing with public or private transportation.

Several taxi services are used by the diplomatic community. Busses are available but do not appear to meet US standards!

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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?

I recommend a sturdy SUV; however plenty of diplomats have small sedans and seem to travel without any issues.

Bring spare parts for American-made vehicles.

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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?

High speed internet is available depending on your location. It is typically available in new neighborhoods, especially those on the northside of Paramaribo.

Installation are usually made within one week; they are faster when you are paying with U.S. currency!

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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?

There are numerous local cell/internet providers in Suriname. I recommend arriving to Post with an unlocked phone then adding a chip from a local provider.

Several U.S. cell carriers work in Suriname, however the international fees can become expensive.

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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?

There are several jobs available for Americans at the US Embassy, international schools, and non-government organizations. I am unaware of any spouses that are employed in the Suriname private sector.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes. I am aware that opportunities are available.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Most security issues tourists and diplomats are based on crime of the opportunity.

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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?

The health care system in Suriname is not great.

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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?

Moderate

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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?

The weather is bearable compared to U.S. standards.

Most evenings have cool temperatures , the weather can reach 80s/90s during the day.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two major international schools in Paramaribo:

QSI: located on the northside and about 15 minutes from the U.S. embassy . The new compound was completed in 2021. Great staff, nice facilities, afterschool activities available. It is adjacent to a new international mall - watch those teenagers!
IAS: located on the south side of Paramaribo. Quite a few diplomatic dependents attend; I have not heard any complaints. https://suriname.qsi.org/

Both schools provide elementary, middle and high-school level education (pre-K to 12th grade).

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

Special needs services exist however it is important to work with the international schools to get the best quality services.

Behavioral, occupational, speech and physical therapists are open to providing services at residences and schools.

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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?

There are two international schools that have daycare, pre-k and afterschool services. Small business offer the services throughout Suriname but might not reach U.S. standards.

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

QSI international school and social clubs are expanding recreation programs for kids.

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Expat Life:

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

The size is small.

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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?

Abundance of clubs, bars and restaurants - take your pick!
Most stores close around 8pm, and clubs and bars close around midnight.
Families will have tough times finding things to do with toddlers. However, the QSI international school and social clubs are expanding recreation programs for kids.

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

Yes for both.
Abundance of clubs, bars and restaurants- take your pick!
Most stores close around 8pm, and clubs and bars close around midnight.
Families will have tough times finding things to do with toddlers. However, the QSI international school and social clubs are expanding recreation programs for kids.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Easy to make friends. Prejudices exist, but tend not to effect tourists or the diplomatic community.

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

Yes. Prejudices exist, but tend not to effect tourists or the diplomatic community.

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

Tensions exist, but tend not to effect tourists or the diplomatic community.

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

Travel to the interiors of Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana. Bird watching, hiking, trekking, making new friends.

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

Well, you have to discover them!

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

No...

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

Great job, great people... and thanks to American Airlines it is relatively easy to travel to the United States!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

All of the abundant exploration, educational and travel options available.

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

Yes, especially after the negative affects of the COVID pandemic (2020-2022).

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

Standards of US customer service!

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4. But don't forget your:

Bug spray, US currency and suntan lotion!

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana are definitely up and coming! Arrive optimistic, explore the beautiful scenery, and make some new friends!

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