Kolonia, Federated States Of Micronesia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kolonia, Federated States Of Micronesia

Kolonia, Federated States Of Micronesia 03/10/20

Background:

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

Not a first experience, I have also lived in Europe, Dubai, India, Pakistan, Suriname, Chile, and Malta.

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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, DC. It's a very long trip to get to Pohnpei. Travel takes about two days, maybe longer. Flights and connections are sporadic and expensive.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Six months.

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

Work

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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. The locals live fairly simply, expats a bit more high-end, but the infrastructure is so spotty that no housing is free of problems--electricity, plumbing, vermin (rats), rust, termites.

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

Most groceries that are not locally grown or procured, like the local tuna, are shipped in and are expensive. Availability of fresh fruit and vegetables is sporadic.

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

Staples like olive oil that are available but are incredibly expensive.

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

There are about six decent restaurants that serve sushi, fish, burgers, pasta. Arnold's has take-out. Stick to local specialties. Pizza is not very good.

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

Biting ants, rats, mosquitoes, termites

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Daily Life:

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

The FSM utilizes the American postal system. Shipments from Amazon take a few weeks, sometimes longer.

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

I had good household help, but she came with a recommendation and is known among the Embassy community. The availability of quality household help is limited.

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

There are some gyms, and regular zumba classes. Gyms are not air conditioned. Outdoor swimming pool is nice enough, but not always open when it says it is, and it's next to a piggery, so sometimes it smells bad.

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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?

Credit cards can be used at the Ace stores (Ace Office is likely where you'll go to buy groceries), restaurants, hotels.

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

There are lots of churches with English-language services: Catholic, 7th Day Adventist, etc.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You don't need any. English is widely spoken. It would be difficult to find tutors.

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

Very much. Even able-bodied people have trouble. There are few curbs and buildings do not have accommodations for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

No. My understanding is that taxis are connected to local prostitution rings.

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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?

SUV is handy, especially when it rains. Don't bring anything you value highly. Your car will get dinged, or bottom out on bad roads, or rust away with the constant rain.

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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. Installation can happen within a week but the service is spotty, not consistent.

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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?

Use a SIM card from FSM Telecom.

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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. Don't bring pets. You can't get them certified rabies-free unless you pay the vet in Guam to come. (He comes every six months, I think.) There are packs of stray dogs who have a lot of skin ailments, coughs, wounds. There are wild chickens. Sometimes pigs. Not a healthy environment for animals.

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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?

There are few jobs available for spouses, if any. Local salaries are astonishingly low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

That would depend upon your interest. You would have to make your own opportunities.

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

Island casual. Leave behind jackets, dress shotes.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's a fairly safe environment, although I have heard among locals there are high rates of alcohol-related violence and accidents, and domestic abuse.

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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?

There is very little quality medical care. There is a state hospital where someone I know had a gall bladder removed. And there is Dr. Isaac, who has the Pohnpei Family Clinic. He is very good (went to med school in Hawaii), but he's not always on the island.

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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?

Pristine air, really beautiful.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

I think people feel isolated, since the closest get-away point (Guam) is an expensive, albeit not-too-far, flight.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Every day hot (high 80s) and humid. Same all year. It rains a lot. This is supposedly the 3rd wettest locale on the planet.

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Schools & Children:

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

No international schools.

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

None.

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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?

Nothing. Everything is family-based, if at all. Education system is poor.

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

Swimming, martial arts, school plays.

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Expat Life:

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

Maybe about 100 people, working at the Tuna Commission, embassies, NGOs. Families seem to do better than singles, for whom there are few opportunities.

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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?

People really need to create their own fun.

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

Families seem to do okay, but singles seem to get depressed.

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

No. Very little acceptance.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Locals are very bound to their family and tribal constellations. There are lots of obligations within those units, and even if they befriend you, you're not really part of that society.

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

Some of the islands are matriarchal, in terms of land ownership, but the society overall, especially in Chuuk, is very patriarchal.

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

Snorkeling, diving, going out in boats, having sushi at Mangrove.

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

Nan Madol (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is worth a visit. It's not a tourist-friendly place. The town of Kolonia is really basically a slum.

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

There are some wood items, hand-carved, and some lovely trinkets made with shells and weaving. And they sell homegrown pepper, which is good. And their kava, called sacau, which is not to everyone's taste.

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

The commute to anywhere is short. Life is simple.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Travel to and from is quite arduous.

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

No.

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

Dressy clothing, any furniture or clothing you value (mold is a problem, due to humidity).

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4. But don't forget your:

Diving or snorkeling gear, swimsuit, bug spray.

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

The Edge of Paradise gives a good, well researched, and sweeping view of the area and its political and cultural history. The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which is about Kribati, will give you a taste of life on a Pacific island.

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Kolonia, Federated States Of Micronesia 02/07/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

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

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3. 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?

It takes at least 30 hours to get to DC and sometimes upwards of 40 to 50 hours, depending on connections. From Pohnpei, the only way to get out is west to Chuuk and then north to Guam, or east through Kosrae, Kwajelein, Majuro and Honolulu. Flying times in the Pacific should be measured in days rather than hours.

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4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor is affiliated with eht US Government and is still living in Kolonia, a third expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. Embassy housing is okay on a global standard, but the cream of the crop vis-a-vis living standards is to be found here on Pohnpei. Most people in Pohnpei don't have electricty and running water, so our houses are extremely nice. No dishwashers though.

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

Very hit or miss. We buy almost everything on Amazon. The cost of some groceries is very high ($15 for a bag of chips), while other things are remarkably cheap ($2.50 per pound for lobster). The bottom line is that availability is the problem - one day there may be eggs and the next not. There may not be any butter for a month. Better stock up when you can.

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

A Jeep.

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

There are no real fast food restaurants on any of the four main islands of the FSM. Pohnpei has a few good-to-very-good restaurants. Lots of fish, sushi, crustaceans, some decent steaks, burgers, pizza. Cost can vary wildly from a few dollars for a sushi meal to $70 for lamb.

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

Almost non-existent. A few flies, very few mosquitos, if any.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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

Unavailable. The Micronesians are not known for their domestic attentiveness or work ethic. A few people have found Philippinas to help at home, but I wouldn't bother here. There have been reports of thefts and break-ins blamed on the hired help.

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

There are no gyms in the country.

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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?

There are only a handful of ATMs in the country. Only two or three on Pohnpei, one each (maybe) on the other three islands. Almost no one accepts credit cards in the FSM.

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

Not sure. There are lots of missionaries and religious organizations in the FSM vying for the hearts and minds of the natives.

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

Pohnpei has one newspaper that comes out twice a month. The other islands have no media whatsoever.

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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?

Nothing at all really. Almost everyone speaks English natively or as second-language.

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

Extreme difficulty. Even able-bodied people struggle to get around in Micronesia. There is no consideration for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

There is no public transportation in the FSM. Taxis are not safe, and they do not take customers directly to their destination but, rather, pick up additional passengers during the fare.

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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?

Bring something that you don't mind pushing off a cliff when you leave. Your car will get ruined here. 4-wheel drive and good clearance would be beneficial if you plan on exploring much.

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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?

Internet is expensive and bad to mediocre here, though it is much less expensive than it was in years past. A bad connection runs about US$70 a month. The good package is US$200.

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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?

Buy a card from FSM Telecom. Calling here is not very 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. For up to 6 months.

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

A roving Pacific vet comes here once every 4-6 months.

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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?

Basically nothing if you don't work for an embassy. The average per capita income in the FSM is about the same as Mauritania.

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

Island casual - short-sleeved shirts and jeans passes here.

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Health & Safety:

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

The FSM is safe from major crime; though there have been occasional assaults, home invasions, rapes, these mostly have occurred on Chuuk. Home thefts are about as serious as it gets on Pohnpei.

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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?

There is basically no medical care here. The local populace is riddled with health problems, mostly non-communicable, but occasionally there is a dengue outbreak.

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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?

Generally pristine, though the junky vehicles on Pohnpei are doing their best to destroy that.

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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?

The weather literally never changes here. It's about 82 degrees F and pretty humid every day throughout the year. There are no seasons and no variations in the weather. Lows are in the high 70s and highs are in the mid-80s. It is the rainiest inhabited place in the world, so be prepared for 200 to 400 inches of rain a year.

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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 are none.

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

I don't have kids but I am sure there are no accommodations at the local schools. There are no international schools here.

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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?

None.

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

Very unlikely.

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Expat Life:

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

Perhaps 100 on Pohnpei.

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies wildly. If you like adventures and you recognize (but don't mind) the electricity going out all the time (we have backup generators at home), the water going out all the time (we have backup water catchment systems), and terrible roads, the very unsophisticated cultural atmosphere, total remoteness, lack of good restaurants, stores, and media, then it's alright. If you are a high- (or middle, or even low-middle) maintenance person look elsewhere.

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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?

Very little unless you make your own fun.

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

It's okay for couples and very bad for singles - there is little to do on the island, and unless a single person is either extremely outgoing or extremely comfortable in solitude, this would be difficult. For families with school-aged kids, forget it. The schools here are horrendously bad.are horrendously bad.

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

It's probably terrible.

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

The islands are not very used to diversity. I would think it might be hard for some types of people here.

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

The underwater world is incredible - snorkeling, diving, fishing, surfing is all world class in the FSM.

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

Hiking, snorkeling, diving, fishing, surfing, watching the sunset, boating, etc.

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

Generally uninspired wooden crafts. Grass hats. Skirts. Sakau (Kava).

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

The remote islands of the Pacific are like nowhere else in the world. It's an adventure.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely. Despite what you read in other people's posts here, Micronesia is very inexpensive if you aren't travelling on your own dime all the time or eating imported lamb several times a week. There's nothing to spend your money on here, so one could save as much as one wanted. Now, if you have pouch access you can shop online, and then... well, that's not related to living in Micronesia. Life here is cheap - the Micronesians live on a few thousand dollars a year.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. It's not a paradise and it has a plethora of problems, but Micronesia was meant to be an adventure. Don't come with unreasonable expectations.

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

idea that all Pacific islands as paradises. The FSM is naturally beautiful and can be interesting, but you should not expect Bora Bora.

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3. But don't forget your:

Snorkel and fins and reef fish and creature ID books. The best thing about Micronesia is the nature.

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

A Guide to Pohnpei: An Island Argosy
(Gene Ashby), The Island of the Colorblind
(Sacks), Ethnobotany of Pohnpei: Plants, People, and Island Culture, Reef Creature Identification Tropical Pacific, Micronesian Reef Fishes: A Practical Guide to the Identification of the Coral Reef Fishes of the Tropical Central and Western Pacific, The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific
(Theroux - though not about Micronesia, the book will set you in the mode of expectations for the Pacific)

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Wild Pacific

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kolonia, Federated States Of Micronesia 04/01/08

Background:

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

This is my tenth expat experience. Previous assignments were in Europe and the Pacific region.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

I work for the U.S. Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

You have only two choices - Continental Micronesia from Guam (via Chuuk) or Continental Micronesia from Honolulu (via Majuro, Kwajelein, Kosrae). PNI is the code for Pohnpei Airport [Kolonia is located on Pohnpei].

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The longest commute is 15 minutes. Traffic only backs up along the main road during brief rush hours and holiday shopping periods. Usually, it's easy to drive around Kolonia and the island, if you mind the pigs, chickens, dogs, people in the road and the other vehicles traveling at 5 miles/hour up a winding road (can't pass them!).

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

Availability is the main problem. Fresh fruits and vegetables are in limited, inconsistent supply. What is available, besides local root crops and bananas, is often rotting, yet still overpriced. If you get a consumables shipment, use it!! Cleaning products and paper products are available, but they are 2 to 3 times the price of what you'd pay at home. Markups on canned goods are lower. In general, the selection is really limited here. There's plenty of canned food however. And UHT milk has been consistently available during my year here. Checks dates on cereals carefully before buying, especially at Palm Terrace - what's on the shelf is often well past its sell-by date. Ace Commercial has better prices, though Palm Terrace is the biggest supermarket. Neime's imports items in bulk from Hawaii (Costco items), but you really pay for it!! Still, I pay the US$9.95 for that bottle of Tropicana OJ just to get it.

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

More spices and sauces to flavor my food.

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

There are no fast food chains here. There are no American or other international restaurants here. The local restaurants mainly serve local seafood and white rice.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy U.S. direct-hires receive incoming diplomatic pouch once a week and have outgoing pouch once a month.

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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's very hard to find someone who wants to work, will show up and won't steal from you. Really, none of my colleagues have domestic staff here now based on previous bad experiences.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There is one ATM machine on the island - Bank of Guam. It's safe to use. Credit cards are only accepted at a few hotels and hotel restaurants and a handful of stores.

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

Yes. SDA, LDS, Catholic, other evangelical.

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

If you live in Kolonia, you can subscribe to Island Cable. If you live out of town, you need a DVD player - there is no broadcast television in the FSM. Embassy homes have AFN (3 channels). There are no daily newspapers in the FSM. At best, there is the Kaselehlie Press once every two weeks.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. English is the official language of the FSM as each state has its own language (as do some of the outer islands within the four states).

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

Many. There are few sidewalks, and the roads are not well-maintained. There is no public transportation system.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

There are no trains or buses. Taxis are cheap but not recommended if alone or at night (for a foreigner).

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3. 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?

I'd recommend a small SUV. Gas is now US$5.07/gallon. You won't drive much here (the drive around the island takes just under 2 hours), but the roads are in bad condition. A sedan with low clearance will take a beating 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?

It is available, but so expensive (US$1000/month) that only large organizations can afford it.

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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?

Again, FSM Telecom has a monopoly. You need to buy a SIM card from them, which won't work when you leave the FSM (no roaming).

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

FSM Telecom has a monopoly and is at capacity. Call quality is low, and on average my calls to the U.S. or Asia get cut off 2-3 times per call. Some people who live in town say they have used Skype successfully. Do not direct dial - using prepaid scratch-off phone cards from FSM Telecom will save you up to 60% off direct dial rates. These same phone cards can be used for dialup and wireless (where available) Internet access.

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Pets:

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

None. A private vet does visit the island periodically.

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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?

If you are a lawyer, there must be, given the number of American lawyers here.

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

Island casual. No shorts though at work in an office. And local women wear long dresses/skirts.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good. There is no industry here. The air is incredibly clean.

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

Petty theft from your yard or unlocked car. Assaults against expats seem rare here (or maybe are rarely reported). Be careful after dark however, especially in Kolonia. You are most likely to encounter trouble if you run into a group of drunken local teens.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is available but of low quality. Make sure you have sufficient medevac insurance.

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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?

Mixed. Kolonia gets about 200 inches of rain per year; the mountainous interior of the island gets up to 400 inches/year. You learn to not let the rain dictate your outdoor plans. It is sunnier here than I was told previously, though November 2007 was non-stop downpours!

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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 are no international schools. Embassy families currently send their children to the Seventh Day Adventist School, which tries its best given very limited resources and teaching staff credentials. The religious overtones of the instruction is not for everyone.

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

None.

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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?

Yes. UCCP offers a decent pre-chool run by a German woman with local staff support.

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Expat Life:

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

For a town of 5,000 people, large. There are many American missionaries, American lawyers working for the FSM government, Filipino clerical staff, medical personnel,laborers and small business owners.

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2. Morale among expats:

It really depends on what you were expecting. Fair overall.

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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?

Make your own fun! There is one movie theater with 3 screens.

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

This is hard to answer. Singles will be lonely here unless they drink a lot and fall into the exapt bar crowd (proceed with caution!) or are very religious and belong to a church. If you like diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, you'll have a better time (and if you don't mind the rain). Families seem unhappy here due to the limited employment opportunities for spouses and poor schooling options for children. There is no cultural life here, and entertainment options are few. You need to make your own fun here, yes, just like your mom told you! If you can do that, you'll be moderately happy here. It's a rather safe place in this day and age, just much less developed and poorer and economically depressed than I had expected.

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

Probably not. No one here seems to talk about gays and lesbians. It's a very small, incestuous, overtly religious place - there are no secrets here. So I've not noticed any hostility, nor have I noticed acceptance.

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

Yes. Women are treated as second-class citizens and expected to serve the men.

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

Hike up Sokehs Ridge (moderate). Climb Sokehs Rock (tough). Visit Nan Madol ruins. Dive, snorkel, fish, kayak. Visit Ant Atoll (where there are beaches).

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

None.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you do not travel at your own expense off the island and have brought most of what you need in with a consumables shipment. Otherwise, it is expensive here to try to maintain the lifestyle you may want. Food in local restaurants is rather cheap compared to the U.S., though the quality is not great (edible fare, but bland).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. It's not a bad place, but once was enough. The feeling of isolation and lack of diversity (from people to food to everything!) is severe.

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

Need for a cultural life and tasty cuisine. Need for perfection.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, self-reliance, ability to entertain yourself. Books to read!

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

This is a country without any broadcast television, any book stores, and any daily media.

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