Georgetown, Guyana Report of what it's like to live there - 08/28/21
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?
Lived on three other continents.
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?
From DC, the scheduled travel time is around 10 hours. However, flights into Georgetown are often delayed due to weather like fog or rain and diverted to Trinidad, back to Miami, and sometimes even Brazil.
3. How long have you lived here?
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?
Huge houses, commute times are far better than DC for most, side roads have lots of speed bumps and potholes but main roads aren't too bad if you can handle the minibus drivers (i.e., let them handle you).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Lots of produce and availability of expensive imported goods. Living here is not cheap, but there are ways to make it cheaper or more expensive depending on taste. Cost of living will only go up as oil boom continues. You can get beer (Corona/Heineken/Erdinger) and alcohol, some of it expensive but available.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Good beer is a must, and honestly almost every grocery item you can since things are available but expensive.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Good Indian food, and even several U.S. fast food chains like KFC, but also some great local spots that while pricey do offer a nice relaxing dinner out.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mosquitoes and ants, but at least you aren't on malaria meds!
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Pouch can be truly slow, taking a month for things to arrive then everything comes all at once. Can't mail out anything bigger than a large letter.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Depending on quality, a few hundred dollars a month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Bring your own gym equipment. Gyms are available but can be a pain to get there.
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?
Higher-end expat restaurants take credit cards. Tipping is between 10-15% if you want, but not required. At most places you'll need to tell them in advance that you want to leave a tip so they can add it to your bill before running the card (not like the US where you get a line to add it on the receipt). Overall it's a cash economy.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
English! And understanding some of the fun local quirks (for example greetings include good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good night, the last one doesn't actually mean "goodbye" like in the US).
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. 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?
Small or large SUV, mainly for the potholes and speed bumps in the city.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, can be spotty. Wouldn't rely on it to work from home.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Google Fi. This is the way. Get the unlimited data and just make your calls via Whatsapp.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Quite a bit of crime and narcotraffickers enjoy operating here. Basically, don't go out at night and when you go out during the day don't wear flashy things or take out your latest iPhone.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Definitely some exotic tropical experiences in the medical arena, but of course currently Covid is the top concern. Local health care facilities aren't great, almost everyone just goes to the US if something needs done.
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?
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Mold is the big one given the humidity and water. Flooding is an annual event.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Pretty temperate year-round. And wet/rainy.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Georgetown International Academy (GIA) is not a good option, in my opinion. I understand that many expats (both diplomats and private sector) have curtailed their postings because of the school. It is poorly run, and while the big oil companies and the embassy will try to improve both the quality of the facilities and education, it seems like a losing battle with few successes to show so far. Covid and current leadership has resulted in a school that seems far below standard and where teachers are constantly quitting. If you have school-age kids, I would strongly recommend reconsidering taking a posting here. This has been the worst school we have seen in many overseas postings.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Not really. Make your own fun, but even then it's very difficult to get others out.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Small. Morale is low among those who haven't yet curtailed or are planning to curtail...nowhere to go but up!
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?
Covid makes this tough anywhere, but dinners out or trips to a creek.
3. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Locals are the friendliest and most welcoming of any overseas posting. Absolutely incredible for the most part! Just be cautious of the high levels of corruption.
4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Lots of trips into the interior, and to neighboring islands, but these are hard during Covid. Go to the National Park in town for a 1-mile flat running loop.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
The school is not a good option. This reality was glossed over until we got here and realized how bad it was for us. We knew it needed improvement, and the facilities weren't great. We also knew there weren't a bunch of after school activities, but we didn't realize teacher morale was so incredibly low that teachers would be constantly quitting. In my opinion, quality of instruction is low and quality of leadership is lower, and I can't foresee that changing anytime soon.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
The work here is amazing, and the people are friendly. However, if you have older school-age kids and want to send them to school and have them learn, Georgetown is not for you right now.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Swimsuit and shorts and bug spray and bug zappers.