Georgetown, Guyana Report of what it's like to live there - 09/12/16
Personal Experiences from Georgetown, Guyana
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Fifth expat experience.
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?
USA. It is a 4.5 hour flight to Miami. There are also direct flights to New York.
3. How long have you lived here?
One and a half years.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Embassy housing, better than average. Architecture can be odd but spacious. Most kitchens are very nice. Some houses have yards.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are very expensive. Ship in as much as you can. Most items are available but at a considerable price and availability in hit or miss.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Ship everything you will want that is shelf-stable. Tires are a good idea.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Embassy pouch. DHL is available.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very available, but varies in quality. Make sure you can trust them. They ask for more pay than I expected and as usual it is more than twice the rate of working for a local family. Nannies are either very good or not good at all.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are several commercial gyms. The embassy has a small gym.
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?
Never used one here. It is a cash economy.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Plenty. This is an English-speaking country.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
It can be odd to go to the market and not understand what people are saying, but for the most part you don't need to learn much of the local creole.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
There are a couple of trusted companies for taxis, no trains, and the RSO advises against using the local mini-buses.
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 car will do. It is a right-hand drive country, but you can use either type of car here.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
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?
Importing pets is fairly easy. No quarantine.
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?
Most work in the embassy. There have been openings at the international school while we've been here. Some spouses have taught exercise classes, like zumba, or been personal trainers. There is a lot of opportunity to volunteer.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual at work. Formal dress is required when going to the ministries.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
This Post is rated high for crime but if you pay attention to your surroundings and don't take risks you will be fine.
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 what you would expect in a developing country.
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?
The air quality is good.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot with periods of rain followed by hot.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The international school is good for grades K-8. They use an American curriculum and have implemented Common Core and New Generation Science standards. Class sizes are small and teacher to student ratios are excellent.Some families have made it work for high school level. There is a real family atmosphere, all teachers, students know each other.
The down side to a small school is after school activities, which leave something to be desired, but the school does manage to get together some intra-murals with other schools in the city for soccer. Also, they cannot accommodate more than mild learning disabilities.
2. 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?
Yes there are a lot of local pre-schools and one at the international school which is expensive by comparison but more to U.S. standards.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Small expat community. Most people who come here have some idea what to expect and are therefore able to deal with the environment.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
This post is best for families with young children.
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Getting out into nature, driving to Paramaribo, and taking trips to the Caribbean islands.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, we've made good friends, it has been good for our careers, and the kids are happy at the school.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Your winter clothes and first world expectations.
3. But don't forget your:
Sunscreen, bug spray, binoculars, camera.