Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago Report of what it's like to live there - 05/26/10

Personal Experiences from Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago

Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 05/26/10

Background:

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

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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?

Los Angeles, California.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

My boyfriend is an expat on assignment here, and I am originally from Trinidad. I own and operate an expat-relocation business in Trinidad.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most expats live in the West, in luxury high-rises and gated communities. Most work in or around the POS area. The commute time from the west is 30 minutes.

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

Expensive.

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

Organic salad dressing.

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

Lots of fast food: Pizza Boy, Domino Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King. $8 to $20 US.

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

Mosquitoes in the rainy season.

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Daily Life:

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

By post and FedEx, DHL.

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

Lots of domestic help is here. It costs about 50 US for a great worker for a day.

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

Many.

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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?

Most credit cards are accepted, except Diners' Club and American Express. There are lots of ATM machines.

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

English, Muslim, Hindu.

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

A newspaper costs about 75cents. To get US TV you have to pay for cable -- around 40 US a month.

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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?

English.

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

There are not too many services for people with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Buses and taxis are affordable, but are advised only for the expats.

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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?

Do not ship a car. The taxes are too high. Sell your car and buy one here.

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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, access is available for about $40 US 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?

Get a cell phone when you arrive. They are very cheap, but roaming is expensive.

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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?

Yes, from various countries.

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

Excellent.

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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?

Not many.

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

Very conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime in Trinidad and Tobago is rampant and no one seems to have the upper hand to stop this, not the government, not the police, and not the people. The government already has this "don't care" attitude and spends millions on unnecessary projects that will not benefit anyone. Trinidad and Tobago has the worst health care system, the worst roads in the world, high food prices, everything. What is the government doing? Simply nothing, just spending taxpayers' hard-earned money. And because of this, a lot of people have turned to crime. Also, the music today has plagued a lot of the young minds in the country: everything is about money, cars, and guns. In a lot of music videos today they portray half-naked women, making them look like sex toys, and men can do anything to them. Hence the reason why there are a lot of rapes in the country.

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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?

No serious concerns. Healthcare is not very good. There are two great private hospitals: St Clair Medical Center and West Shore Medical Center.

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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?

A rainy season and a dry season.

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Schools & Children:

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

We have two International Schools, and they are both excellent! The International School and Maple Leaf School.

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

Not very good accommodations for special-needs kids.

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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?

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

Yes! Tennis, golf, sailing, cricket, and many more things are available.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a large expat community. Lots of oil and gas expats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Many have trouble fitting in and getting used to the culture.

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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?

Lots of social life.

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

This is not a good city for singles. It is a good city for families and couples open to learning the culture.

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

It is not a good city for gays. The country is very close minded. Gays are advised not be open in the city.

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

Trinidad is a very class-conscious country.

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

Starting my own business, called Expat Housing and Relocation Services, providing relocation services to the expat community moving to Trinidad and Tobago.

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

Lovely beaches, hiking, golf, tennis, sailing.

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

Great dining.

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

The culture, the food, the people, the weather, my boy friend being in my country with me, meeting the expat community.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES!

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

Guns...LOL

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3. But don't forget your:

IPod.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you are new to the country, get connected with a relocation company to help you get settled in.

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