Georgetown, Guyana Report of what it's like to live there - 05/08/12

Personal Experiences from Georgetown, Guyana

Georgetown, Guyana 05/08/12

Background:

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

No.

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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?

Washington D.C.. And it takes about six hours to New York City.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, 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?

Housing varies, and mold and insects tend to be present in this tropical climate. Commute times vary depending on housing location, averaging between 10 and 15 minutes.

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

It is expensive compared to the States. Plan to pay at least 30-50 percent more than you would at a Safeway for example. Some items will be more than this, especially anything that requires refrigeration. Even products grown locally are more expensive.

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

Laundry soap, paper products.

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

There is a pizza hut and a KFC. Prices run about 30 percent higher than DC.

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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?

It is difficult to find FRESH fruit and vegetables here.

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

Mosquitoes carry dengue fever. This is a concern. Ants and cockroaches also come with the territory.

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Daily Life:

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

It takes between two to four weeks for mail to arrive. You have to use a private shipping company to mail things out of the country and there are size and weight restrictions for receiving.

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

It is available and is reasonable.

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

Yes. The most notable is Buddy's, which is also a restaurant and pool hall on the lower levels of the building

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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?

It is safer to use cash rather than ATMs or credit. The Pegasus hotel has been know to be a safer place to use the ATM if necessary.

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

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

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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?

Everyone speaks English, but with different accents.

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

Yes. There are no sidewalks and the streets are dangerous.

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Transportation:

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

Mini-buses are not recommended because they are overcrowded, the drivers are sometimes known to drive recklessly, and the possibility of petty crime is high. Taxis are used and certain drivers are often recommended by members of the expat community

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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?

Any type of car would work while traveling around the city.

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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 and it costs $50 a month.

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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?

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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?

No.

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

Extremely limited.

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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?

No.

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

Casual to business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is an issue, but using common sense and being aware of your surroundings definitely helps.

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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?

This is a concern. Medical care is extremely limited and both types of dengue fever have been an issue for some of the members of the expat community in the past. Parents of small children and pregnant women should be aware of this before coming.

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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. Many burn trash.

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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?

Two seasons, dry and rainy. Flooding is an issue and is a concern with some of the housing.

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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 is an international school, but I do not know much about the teachers or the curriculum.

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

I do not think there are any formal programs available to those with special needs.

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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 is a preschool at the international school and another preschool run by group of expat mothers and local Guyanese teachers.

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

Relatively small.

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies.

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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?

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

There is little to do around town. But for those who do not mind a low key lifestyle and who prefer creating their own entertainment, this is a city that provides this opportunity. Families with small children or couples thinking of becoming pregnant should be aware that the medical care here is extremely limited.

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

Yes, although it is technically illegal in this country.

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

It appears that racially, between the Guyanese, there seems to be some tension most noted during election years. There are a variety of religions present in the country including people of the Muslim, Hindu, and Christian faiths.

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

The sunshine and natural beauty outside the city.

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

There are a few restaurants, a coffee shop, and some people walk on the sea wall or around the national park. If you are willing to drive, there are some river and creek areas people go to enjoy swimming and a picnic.

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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 and travel to the interior.

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

Ecotourism to the falls and rain forest and rare birds for those that are avid bird watchers.

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11. Can you save money?

Both food and travel are expensive here. It can be challenging.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Winter coats and gloves.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bug repellant, sunscreen, and sense of humor.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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