Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago Report of what it's like to live there - 01/06/11
Personal Experiences from Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
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?
DC, about 9-10 hours depending on connection times
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Work with the U.S. Embassy.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing in Westmoorings would be 10 mins. away were it not for the horrendous traffic, which makes it nearly an hour's commute.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
VERY expensive, probably double or triple US prices.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Food, canned items.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
KFC is everywhere, literally on every corner.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
A few organics.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
TTPost, takes about 8-12 days to the US for about 60 cents (US)
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Yes, a bit on the pricey side.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
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?
I have had no problems using ATMs.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
English is used.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Very confusing. Public transit is infrequent and uncomfortable.
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?
Small cars seem more convenient.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
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?
Yes, for several months.
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Formal per British traditions.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Crime is a real and constant threat. No one should go out alone at night, period.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
None, but physician options are very limited.
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?
In the city, quite poor
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Tropical and heavily humid
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Yes, there is a good intl school.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large, mostly US/British/Canadian but very diverse due to the construction and oil industry.
2. Morale among expats:
The place is imploding little by little; seems totally ungovernable and lawless; nothing seems to work to reduce crime and insecurity. The US Embassy is a pit of bad morale and is marked by a shockingly high rate of resignations/curtailments.
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?
Mostly private parties.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's better for married folks.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Hiking, Nature, Wildlife/Birds
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Hiking, seeing Hindu temples, beaches in Tobago.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Culture, Music, Carnival
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No, and I would warn friend and foe alike: stay away if you care for your safety or if you care about keeping up professional standards in your work.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
work ethic. Trinis are among the most lackadaisical and dishonest workers you will encounter. You cannot count on anyone to do anything on any kind of schedule.
3. But don't forget your:
calendar to mark the days until you can escape from the island.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you have any other comments?
I'm sure that 30 years ago this was a nice place. But it has slid off a cliff to the point where basic services are totally dysfunctional. Traffic is among the worst anywhere I've seen in the world, far worse than LA, NY or Wash. DC for instance. Trini culture, while friendly, is corrupt, dishonest, produces workers that are incapable, and makes it impossible to achieve or produce anything.