Paramaribo, Suriname Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Paramaribo, Suriname

Paramaribo, Suriname 02/27/20

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.

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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?

Travel nearly anywhere is generally lengthy and expensive. Most flights are on Surinam Airways, which is professional and safe, but doesn't have the best on-time track record and doesn't partner with any other airlines, which makes connections difficult. Miami is relatively accessible: it's about a 5-6 hour non-stop or one-stop flight that operates on most days of the week. Copa Airlines recently started flying twice a week to Paramaribo from Panama (and they codeshare with United!) which makes connections to the rest of the region a little easier than before. You can go for a long weekend to Trinidad, Aruba, or Curaçao, but it's expensive. In general, plan a few long vacations, rather than multiple short ones.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Nearly two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing consists of suburban homes throughout the city. Commute times to the Embassy vary from 5 minutes from the north part of the city to up to 45 from the south. Houses are generally large, with yards, patios, and barbecues.

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

I've been very pleasantly surprised by the availability of groceries here. Choi's and Tulip have pretty much every imported good we could want. For fresh meat, we prefer to go to Rossignol butchers, and for fruits and veggies we go to local markets. Suriname has some of the most amazing tropical fruit. I love being able to stop for fresh coconuts, papaya, mangoes and pineapple on the way home from work.

The cost for locally grown items is extremely cheap. Imported goods are reasonable, but it's generally much cheaper if you're willing to buy Dutch brands over American brands.

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

Most things are available here, and for the rest there's Amazon.

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

There are several nice restaurants, considering this is a really small town. Indian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Thai food are all popular. Choices range from a quick $4 bite to eat to a $50 three course meal with wine. Some places deliver, like pizza, but wait times can be long, so I prefer to order ahead and pick up on the way home.

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

There are many bugs. The weather can be really nice and cool in the evenings, but we unfortunately keep the windows closed at night due to mosquitoes, which can carry dengue and several other diseases. Spiders, ants, geckos and little frogs appear in the house pretty frequently. We're glad to have a housekeeper who helps keep them away.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO takes about two weeks.

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

We have a wonderful English-speaking housekeeper. Cost is about USD 5/hour.

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

The Embassy has a very nice gym and pool. There are tons of local gyms that offer classes like CrossFit or yoga at very cheap rates. They'll usually teach in English if they know you don't speak Dutch.

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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?

This is a cash economy. USD is currently accepted at favorable rates at many locations. I do not recommend using local ATMs due to the risk of muggings. We get cash from the Embassy. You can use credit cards only in a very limited number of places, like a few fancy restaurants, hotels, and one grocery store.

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

Most people in Paramaribo speak English. You can generally get around fine in stores and restaurants with just English. That being said, not everyone's English level is high enough for complicated situations. We've had experiences with mechanics, law enforcement, and medical staff where knowing Dutch was extremely helpful.

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

There are no sidewalks. Roads are not very well-maintained. Most buildings are probably not very accessible.

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Transportation:

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

You need a car here. There are a few reputable taxi companies we use, but you generally need to reserve in advance and it's not particularly cheap. There's an app you can use to call a taxi on short notice (sort of like a local version of Uber) but I wouldn't want to rely on that on a daily basis, since drivers are not always reliable or available depending on time of day or weather conditions.

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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?

We bought an SUV locally, but many people seem to get around just fine in the city in small cars. The roads in the city flood pretty severely maybe five to ten times per year, which is when I'm really happy to have high clearance. There are lots of speed bumps. Japanese brands are popular and most cars are used Japanese imports.

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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 was already installed for us when we arrived. It costs about $50/month. It's not the fastest, but it's enough to stream Netflix and make video calls, so I'm happy enough.

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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?

Some people use their U.S. GoogleFi here and it works fine. I have a local provider with data plan for about $20/month. It was super easy to set up on arrival.

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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?

There's a very nice vet here, and we've been pleased with veterinary care so far. I think resources are limited though, so complicated issues might not be easy to treat. Travel was ok - you need to be strategic about flight routes if bringing a pet. Don't go via Caribbean Airlines due to the difficulty of transiting pets in Trinidad. We went with Surinam Airways direct from Miami which was fine, but nearly all pets - even small ones that go under the seat on every other airline - must go in the baggage hold. Now that Copa Airlines flies here, some people have been successful in bringing pets in cabin with them, so that seems like an improvement. No quarantine was required, but work with the Embassy several weeks prior to arrival so you can be sure to have all the paperwork in order.

Be very, very careful if letting pets outdoors. This is not a country with a pet culture, and there are recent cases of neighbors poisoning or killing pets. There are also venomous frogs and snakes. There are many stray dogs on the streets. Keep your pets indoors where they'll be safe, or keep a close eye on them when they're outside.

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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?

Most EFMs who want to work seem to have been able to do so. There are usually more EFM job vacancies than there are applicants.

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

In the Embassy, the dress code is fairly formal. Outside, dress for the tropics.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Robberies are the most common issue. We have 24-hour guards at all our homes, so we still feel safe here. Don't walk around at night, keep your car doors locked, be aware of your surroundings. While the security situation is deteriorating here, I still have the feeling that it's safer than many regional cities, and it hasn't prevented us from really getting out and enjoying the city.

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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?

Local medical care is extremely limited. Pharmacies sometimes run out of very common medicines and if a specialist you need is out of the country on vacation, you might be out of luck. The Embassy has a wonderful nurse and doctor on staff that provide excellent primary care. Medevacs to Miami are common for even basic issues.

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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?

I love the blue skies, sunny days and sunsets we have here almost every day. A few times a year burning trash or fields negatively affects air quality.

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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)?

This post can be very isolating. It's hard to travel to and from here, and the city can be pretty quiet if you don't make your own fun.

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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?

Tropical rainforest. Hot and humid year round. Some months are drier than others but it can rain at any time.

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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's a small but rather tight-knit expat community. If you get out regularly to events, you'll start running into the same people over and over. Morale varies greatly. Some people love it and some people are counting the days to leave.

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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?

Events in the diplomatic community have been a great way for us to meet people. National days, film festivals, movie nights.

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

It seems to be pretty good for couples. I think the schools have been hit or miss for some families. It could be isolating as a single person unless you really make an effort to make friends.

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

This is a surprisingly open and welcoming place for LGBT people. There's a large Pride festival in October, during which you'll find rainbow flags all over the city. While discrimination and other problems certainly exist in Suriname, LGBT diplomats can generally expect a warm welcome. There isn't much gay nightlife to speak of, but there's a small local LGBT community where everyone knows each other. There have been several gay and lesbian couples at post over the past few years.

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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?

The Surinamese are extremely friendly and laid back. We've made friends here, and it's made our time here much more fun. Suriname is a very diverse society, and they're proud of how many people from different ethnic, religious, and national backgrounds get along here.

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

Seeing monkeys and sloths in their natural habitat. Spending the day at old plantations that have been converted into nice resorts with walking paths and bike trails. Day trips to French Guiana for great French food. Making local and diplomatic friends and entertaining at home.

While travel is fairly difficult, with some effort and planning you can make it happen. Brazil and the Caribbean are relatively accessible. Being relatively close to the U.S. has also been nice for us here.

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

Dolphin spotting on the river. Monkey spotting at Peperpot Plantation. Sunday morning markets around town. Going out to eat.

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

Not really. It seems to be easier to save money than shop here.

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

Slow pace of life. Good work life balance. Friendly people. Good availability of restaurants and groceries. Cheap and high quality household help. Tropical sunny weather year round. Spending weekends by the pool or spending hours reading in a swaying hammock.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

There's very little walkable space. Paramaribo looks pretty run down and the infrastructure is lacking upkeep in most areas. It's tropical and coastal, but there are no beaches. There's a reason not many people come here as tourists.

There isn't much information about things to do in Suriname on the internet. Just searching "Chinese food" or "barber" in Google maps or Trip Advisor won't necessarily get you quality results. We hear about almost everything that's worthwhile by word of mouth.

This is a small place where everyone knows everyone. The sitting president has been convicted of drug trafficking and murder. Sometimes it feels a bit like you're on the edge of the world.

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

Yes. It's been a great - and very different - experience, but I'll be ready to go back to a larger city afterwards.

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

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunblock and 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 Cost of Sugar by Cynthia McLeod
Willoughbyland by Matthew Parker

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Like most places, you definitely need to come with the right expectations. Suriname is not necessarily a great tourist destination, but we've found it to be a reasonably pleasant place to live. Paramaribo is small, quiet, and isolated, but it's also friendly, affordable, tropical, and not that far from home.

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Paramaribo, Suriname 06/12/17

Background:

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

No, this was our fourth post. We have also lived in EUR and WHA.

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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?

East coast - door to door can take close to 24 hours with layovers.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Our house is nice. A good size for our family. Located in the south, we are close to the schools, but a 7.5 mile commute to the Embassy in the north has taken 45 minutes at times.

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

You can get some American products. The general rule is 'if you see something you like, get it all!' The stores don't consistently stock the same items. Produce is hit or miss in availability and quality. You can get US toilet paper at a high cost or cheaper (quality/price) local toilet paper. US products are much more expensive, but some are available here.

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

Peanut butter, almond butter, nuts - there are available, but a jar of almond butter is $20 here.

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

There is a wide variety in restaurant options - food wise and price wise. Some restaurants are not worth the price. There are McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Popeye's, and Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut will deliver. Some take-away restaurants will hang up if you speak English to them.

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

Outside of the house we have red ants, bats, mosquitoes, and lizards of various sizes. Inside we have ants, mice, roaches, spiders, geckos, and mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

Local postal facilities are practically non-existent. FedEx and DHL are here, but outrageously expensive. We have pouch and recently started using DPO. People here have had trouble with the DPO (because it's new?), but packages are routinely rejected or end up at some other DPO location and 'eventually' arrive. We had one family depart post before an order shipped via DPO arrived.

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

Household help is used by most, if not all, families. Housekeepers and/or nannies. We pay $100/week for part-time housekeeping. Our housekeeper does a good job.

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

There are traditional gyms and CrossFit gyms. There are a few sports clubs which have tennis and swimming. The Embassy has a nice gym and pool. There is a golf course here as well. I've heard the sports clubs are expensive. We tried one gym and it was no more expensive than the US. The Embassy facilities are free - and new.

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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?

Some places take credit cards and I've seen ATMs around town. I'm not sure how safe they are though. We just cash checks at the Embassy and use cash.

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

Some churches will translate the service for you through earphones.

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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?

A lot of people speak rudimentary English so with that, and some hand signals, you can get by. Some menus are only in Dutch so you can guess and hope for the best. Not sure about local language classes, but the US embassy is putting together a language program so there's hope.

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

Absolutely. There are few sidewalks, little if any handicap parking, few accessible buildings.

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Transportation:

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

Buses - no. Taxis - maybe, if you use one that is vetted through RSO. No trams or trains.

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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?

Something that has high clearance and you don't mind getting dinged. Don't bring any low riders. Potholes are abundant. Lots of dirt roads. Flooding is common. Lots of speed bumps of varying sizes.

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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?

Well they say high-speed home internet is available, but the reality is NO. We have the highest (aka most expensive) plan and our upload/download speeds are 5/1. Ours was available the day we moved in, but our house was not new to the housing pool. Even the internet at the Embassy is less than stable (or fast).

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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?

We brought unlocked iPhones and got SIM cards here. We use a local provider here and just swap SIM cards when we go back to the US.

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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?

There are no kennel services available. None. When you go on vacation you either bring your pets with you, or find someone local to watch them. No quarantine was necessary for our dog. f you're a summer transfer and you have a dog that is not going in the cabin with you, drive down to Miami and fly your dog cargo. You will do this if you love your dog. Either that or find someone you trust in the US to keep your dog for you. There are vets here, but it is less for preventative and more for your pet being sick.

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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?

Well, until the hiring freeze there were opportunities at the Embassy. Working on the economy here isn't really an option. There is only a de facto work agreement, but not sure what hoops you have to jump through. If you're able to get a job, the wages are extremely low. For example, a full-time ER doctor is paid $1000 USD/month. That includes on-call hours.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Elderly housing, orphanage, sloth rescue, dog shelter.

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

Business and business casual at work. Casual in public places. I am hard pressed to recall a formal dress event.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. If you're a woman, you're not walking/running/biking alone. Catcalls are common, but there's also an increase in assaults (muggings, sexual). If you're walking your dog, you have to watch out for street dogs. Many are aggressive and usually unvaccinated. Driving is iffy as well.

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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?

The advice we received upon arriving at post was 'don't get sick'. The hospitals here are not like the US. There may or may not be the specialist you need. You're not drinking water from the tap. The mosquitoes are everywhere, including the house. Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are big risks. If you go into the interior, you're taking anti-malarials. If you hike, be sure to conduct a thorough tick-check. You HAVE to receive the yellow fever vaccine. A lot of countries in this area require proof of this vaccine if you're traveling.

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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?

It is hot and humid so the air just feels like a wet blanket. People burn trash here - side of the road, in their yards, anywhere. Lots of mercury used in the gold mining industry here, so there are issues with mercury in the air, soil, and water.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If you have severe food allergies, I'm not sure you'd want to eat out. The idea of keeping food separate is a foreign concept here. Regarding environmental allergies, bring an air filter(s) for your home.

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

No winter blues here, but Suriname is 'death by 1000 paper cuts'. It just gets to you. Some more quickly than others. Getting out isn't easy either and that just adds to the general blahs.

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

We are six degrees up from the equator. That makes it hot, humid, and wet. The seasons run from rainy season to little rainy season to heavy rainy season to not-so-rainy 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?

There are four English speaking schools here. Two of the schools are primarily used by the Embassy - International Academy of Suriname and Suriname International School. If you have kids from grades 8 and above, do NOT bring them unless they are extremely religious (IAS) and mediocre students.

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

There aren't any. 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?

Two of the schools have preschools which I've heard are expensive. Some families use local daycare/preschools which are Dutch-language and some have waiting lists.

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

Basketball and volleyball are local favorites. The sports clubs have tennis and/or swim teams. There are gymnastics and dancing classes that some families use. The feedback on the swim team though, was that the non-locals were an afterthought since they don't live here and will leave.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. The Embassy is under 25 direct hires. As the gold mining industry declines, the size the English speaking expat community decreases also. The size of the diplomatic corps here is also small with 13 embassies/consulates located in Paramaribo.

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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?

If you have children in the schools, you can meet people outside of the Embassy. The same can be said if you join a gym or sports club. Otherwise you're socializing and working with the same people. This could be good or bad depending on how well you get along with your co-workers. Some people go hiking, biking, and fishing. There is dolphin watching you can also do. Otherwise you're entertaining at home.

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

Suriname might be easiest for families with school-aged children as the kids make friends at school and the parents can meet adults outside the embassy community. As for couples and singles, I'm not sure.

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

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

Suriname is very ethnically and religiously diverse and I've not seen/heard about problems. As for gender equality, it is a chauvinistic society. We had a female spouse who ran over a random piece of rebar and it tore up some of her bumper. While she was figuring out what to do, a guy stopped, pulled out a knife, and hacked off her bumper. All the while she was yelling at him to stop and then he was mad that she wasn't grateful.

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

When I've gone on vacation out of Suriname.

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

Dolphin watches, volunteering at the sloth rescue.

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

You can get some great wood furniture and artworks.

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

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How bad the schools were. Both our kids are in boarding schools now.

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

Not a chance.

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

Teenagers. Winter clothes. Ideas of easily traveling through South America/Central America/Caribbean.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bug spray, dehumidifiers, umbrellas, rain boots, baby powder, deodorant.

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Paramaribo, Suriname 05/19/16

Background:

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

Two years at another posting.

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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?

Midwest. 24 hours with no fewer than two connections, usually a 6 AM departure from the airport. Possible to fly to New York or Miami in 7 hours and 1 connection via Curacao.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2014-2016.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy folks have fairly spacious homes with slipshod construction standards. South side homes are closer to international schools, while north side homes are closer to tourist area and most embassies, including the new U.S. Embassy building.

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

The customs mark up is 50% so groceries can be quite expensive depending on what you buy. Currently you can buy just about anything an average American household might want

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

Dehumidifier, area lamps, movie projector.

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

Popeyes, Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonalds, and Burger King.

There are some good restaurants and a variety of cuisine- service is all over the place.

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

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, ants and fire ants, cockroaches, and silverfish.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy diplomatic 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?

Full-time help is very hard to find. We pay $5 USD per hour for part-time once a week. Service standards are pretty low.

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

There are gyms and pool/tennis clubs.

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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?

Mastercard is accepted quite a lot of places and there are ATMs.

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

None.

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

Yes. Poor accessibility in all buildings downtown.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fine. Buses are crowded: I don't know any expat that uses them.

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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?

High-clearance, preferably with some scratches and dents already.

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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?

5 down/ 1 up. You can stream... kind of. Different plans but probably average around $100 USD 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?

Our US T-Mobile plan has worked fine.

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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?

Vets are pretty good.

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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?

Sort of. Low pay, low professional standards. Be a forceful advocate to get paid if you are going to freelance.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, Suriname Green Heritage Fund. There is a not a huge volunteer spirit in Suriname.

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

Outside the Embassy it is very casual. Within the Embassy people still walk in with dark navy suits like we're in a temperate zone.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime might be an issue as the current economic situation continues to worsen. Many female officers do not feel safe in public alone.

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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?

Don't get sick here. Medical care is hit or miss. Public health is strained pretty thin and is barely managing the current Zika 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?

Moderate to unhealthy. No smog, but it's what you can't see that is worrisome. The illegal gold sector uses huge amounts of mercury which is processed in town, mostly downtown but some gold shops are on the same lots as produce markets.

Trash burning is the norm as well.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

You won't be alone. Several people report mystery symptoms, everything from digestion to chest tightness, to fatigue and headaches. Stuff just grows here, especially on the microscopic level.

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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?

Rainy season and not so rainy season. In town it is nice when there is a breeze, but that is very seldom. High humidity and temperatures year 'round. It's best to get out of town as often as possible.

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Schools & Children:

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

Two international English-language schools. If your child is in high school you owe it to them to consider going somewhere else or explore boarding school options.

For junior high you can send them to the International Academy of Suriname (IAS) if you are alright with a school that has a serious religious slant.

Both schools, IAS and Suriname International School, are fine up through probably 5th grade. Both Serious issues with professionalism of staff and standardization of curriculum, in my experience. Both are now accredited but have had accreditation issues in the past.

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

I would not come to this post with a special needs child.

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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, but I have no experience with them.

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

Swimming and other lessons at the clubs.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. Dogged.

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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?

Cookouts, game nights, movie nights, dinners, road races. Dancing at hotel bars. Decent jazz.

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

Paramaribo is great for the kind of person who gets very excited by not having a whole lot of social obligations once the weekend comes. I wouldn't call Paramaribo a good city for anyone, to be frank.

The rest of Suriname is good for people who have a sense of adventure, and appreciate nature. Especially those who are very proactive on outdoor and interior trips (fishing, hiking, biking) and have a higher tolerance for risk when it comes to travel.

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

I haven't heard of any particular issues, but Suriname is probably within the average norms for tolerance and cultural acceptance of LGBT persons.

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

Gender prejudices are several decades behind. Racial and religious issues don't often come up as the country is a real melting pot- but they are certainly there under the surface.

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

Turtle nesting, sloth refuge, river dolphin tour. Largest Holi Phagwa festival in the Caribbean.

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

Trips out of town to nature parks (Peperpot across the river and Berg en Dal in the south), there is also an "eco resort" in the interior. Trips to the ABC islands are fairly easy and well worth it. There is an excellent Thai restaurant.

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

Hardwood furniture and artisan items. Good local art.

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

Unique opportunities for nature viewing. You can save money to an extent. Multicultural society exposes you to several different holiday festivals and cuisines (for better/worse sometimes).

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10. Can you save money?

If you are working with an embassy or multinational. Local wages are low.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The difficulty of traveling to the anywhere outside the Caribbean. It takes a full day just to get to Bogota or Santiago or Lima. The traffic is low volume but maddening. There are very few traffic controls, and a high volume of accidents.

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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:

High school age children. South America travel guides

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4. But don't forget your:

Dri-Fit clothes, coolers, shorts, outdoor gear, dehumidifier, hammocks,

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

None. Google "Paramaribo" by Kenny B.

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

Wild Coast, Robert Gillette (take with a grain of salt). The Cost of Sugar, Cynthia McLeod.

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Paramaribo, Suriname 12/08/14

Background:

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

Prior experience living in Asia (Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong).

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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?

DC and SLC. 14 hours to DC, 20+ hours to SLC. No direct flights from U.S. to Paramaribo so you have to transit Curacao, Aruba, Port of Spain, Georgetown Guyana, Schipol, or Cayenne. Most of these then only connect to Miami and New York directly. The airlines running these connections are Surinam Airways (Georgetown, POS, Aruba) Insel (Curacao) Carribbean Airlines (POS) KLM (Schippol) and Delta used to fly out of Georgetown, and a few other American airlines can get you from the islands to the U.S., but the local airlines seem to purposefully time their schedules to make the layover for a U.S. flight in the 8-20 hour range. You can only fly into Paramaribo at 12-1am in the night, and only fly out from 6-7am in the morning. Usually 1 or 2 airlines per day fly either in/out as nobody does service 7 days a week. There are a few other time options that get you in at 10pm on a Sunday I beleive. Flights in/out are difficult, prone to delay, subject to stolen items from baggage they will not account for since you changed planes, and other typical frustrations. Airport is about 1 hour from the city. Difficult to get away for a long weekend because of difficulty of getting a flight to get you back in time to make it worth it.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2012-2014.

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

Government, U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large homes, with usually small rooms. Personal pools are not common. Local style is to ventilate with the windows open, but many Americans didn't like the idea of letting bugs in so end up running A/Cs all day. Entire city is only about 7 miles across so you are never too far from anything but it can take about an hour to traverse during certain times of day (such as all the times you want to go anywhere). Sundays are very relaxed because most stores are closed.

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

Very little is produced in Suriname so almost everything is imported. Shipping can be inconsistant so one week there is lots of a product and then you may not see it for a few weeks. Even local milk did this. I'm not sure if they switch and do 1% all one week then produce whole for a week and switch or what but there were weeks when there just wasn't any local 1% that we bought all the time at any of the stores. Most imported goods run 2-3x the cost of the namebrand item in the U.S. No real discount brands available, although many will sell the soon-to-expire items at a discount. I frequently bought stuff about to expire and froze it, although I can tell you cereal does get stale and expire and it's not worth it :) but frozen cookies on the other hand are a gold mine!

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

Water toys, kids' birthday presents for last minute parties.

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

U.S. chains include Subway, McD's, Burger King, Popeyes, and Smoothie King for usual prices. A few good local fast-food for similar prices. I highly recommend the Leckie burger from Leckie's. Strangely flavored patty with egg, cucumber, lots of mayo and kethup and it tastes way better than I just described it. Also Nas Kip has an amazing 1/2 fried chicken served over greasy fries that is slightly spicy and really great. A few local curry places are good. There seems to be about 1 of each of every kind of food you can imagine, and they're all pretty decent, usually in the US$10 range for lunch and US$20-30 range for dinner. Nicer places can be US$50 pretty easily and surprisingly.

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

Lots of mosquitoes. The interior has some other biting insects and flies that I couldn't feel biting and then the next day I almost couldn't concentrate becasue the pain was so intense. They subsided in about another day. My son and a few friends had really bad reactions to the mosquitoes, would swell up the size of a silver dollar, so he slept with a mosquito net and wore DEET spray outdoors, and would still get bits sometimes. Lots of ants! Be careful if you mow your lawn and upset them. Loved to bite my daughter, but son who the mosquitoes loved never got bit by ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Very rare to find anyone willing to work full time (8 hours). Most help will only watch the kids or do the cleaning/cooking, rarely agree to do both. Rate was around US$5/hour I think.

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

2 main ones, The Dolphin and Oase. I think you need a referral and they might be around US$50-75/month. I may be way off on that estimate.

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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?

Never used them. Stuck with cash the whole 2 years.

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

Very few. We attended in Dutch and it was one of the hardest parts about being in the country for our family.

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

Wife didn't know any Dutch or Sranan Tango and got around fine. It defintiely helps though.

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

Nearly impossible. Very few sidewalks, let along ramps or any sort of accessibility considerations.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. Buses probably ok but nobody I knew took them. Weren't timely as they might wait for the bus to fill up (just small ones). Taxis were frequently used and people could arrange for a driver to regularly take them to/from work. Then sometimes it seemed they'd made enough money for a while and disappear. We used one who lived nearby on occasion when I had the car and my wife needed to meet me. We found it from a placard stapled to a phone pole that said "Johnny" and a phone number. Luckily it was for taxi service as we suspected and nothing else.

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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?

Hondas and Toyotas are most common and easier to get parts. There was a Ford service center that just opened as we left. If you want to drive out of the city or are afraid of water getting in your car, bring something with high clearance. If you're going to stay in the city and are ok with possibly finding a different route home occasionally almost anything will do.

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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?

High speed being a debatable term. I think we paid US$75/month for about 1-2MB.

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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 really. Schools and a few NGO's

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a concern. Some pretty violent stories in the paper that were alarming. We weren't out much at night and had a secure home so we grew accostomed to it.

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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?

With 4 kids we went to the Dr. a lot, and we had some pretty frustrating and scary moments. One child had an ear infection and instead of prescribing antibiotics they wanted to just pop the 1 year old's eardrum with a needle. OB/GYN visits usually went like this. Dr: "So what do we need to do today?" Us:"You're the Dr., you tell us" Dr: "Well I don't have anything to check, do you want to do another ultrasound then?"

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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. Very little industry within hundred of miles, frequent rain and wind blow anything else away.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Peanuts are in everything! Super delicious for me, near deadly for my son.

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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?

Hot and humid most of the year. Kind of chilly in the mornings as the sun is coming up if it's windy. Rains in the morning and afternoon most days with the sky clearing in-between storms rolling through. Lots of flooding and the canals don't always drain so they can stink pretty bad at times.

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Schools & Children:

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

Suriname International School - New school that's small and growing while we were there. Consider it pretty liberal. Our kindergartner got sex-ed for Easter without notice, 3/4 grade had ethical issues hour where they discussed gay marriage, and you got notes sent home if the school didn't consider your kids' lunch to be healthy enough. Mostly growing pains and things were tightening up as we left.

Fogot the name of the other school just now - much larger and more established, better facilities, but the exact opposite in being too conservative and religous for our liking.

By the time were left, I think both had come back to a middle ground somewhat and we knew parents happy with both schools, but nobody was super thrilled with them. At one point they both lacked accredidation and several families with teenage kids decided that was the last straw and left at that point. Both are accredited now I believe.

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

Not equipped for this. All the schools are too small.

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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, not many. Usually in Dutch, unsure of the cost.

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

Lots of the sports programs for kids to run through these 2 gyms so I wish we would have signed up for them because we missed out on a lot by not joining one. Pick-up games are very rare. I spent a whole Saturday morning driving to 7 different soccer fields and found a single person jogging at one of them. Sunday and evenings is when people play, and it's usually organized because they are lighting it (gets dark at 6 usually) so it's tough to get involved in pick-up games like I have other places. No pick-up basketball outdoors (rains too much) so likewise only really attached to gyms and schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Very small. Maybe a few hundred in the whole country. Morale fluctuates widely depending on who is at post.

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

Probably best for families with small kids who spend most of their time entertaining themselves. Most the singles I knew were miserable, and people with older kids either disliked the schools or didn't bring their kids or spouses with them. Couples without kids seemed to do ok, but also got bored or later had kids and then dealt with the lack of good medical care.

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

Ok and improving. Suriname is quite open and accepting, but still harbors some predjudices in this area.

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

Some tensions between different groups, but mostly accepting and it's more the quips and comments you'll hear people mutter anywhere about other races, religions, etc.

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

Cultural fairs, swimming and playing outside year round, trips to the jungle and coast, kindness of local friends.

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

Someone I met said it best once when he told me he brought his kids to the area for an adventure, not a vacation. If you have this perspective you can have a lot of adventures such as turtle viewing on the coast, ziplining in the jungle, black water creeks (I wish I'd found out about Kola Creek sooner because we would have gone once a month with the kids) there is also a fun water park and bike riding area for kids under about 10 in the middle of town that is a really nice place to relax. Most of the playgrounds are metal and rusting and falling apart so they are hot and varying degrees of dangerous depending on your kids ages. If you can get up the river, there are nice resorts to visit. Think of backpacker camping in huts as opposed to the Hilton in Hawaii however. The movie theater shows recently released films from the U.S. and India at around US$5 and has 3D and is really nice inside (coldest location in town)

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

Culturally it is the most diverse place I've ever encountered. Large population of Hindustanis, Indonesians, Africans, and Chinese, and some indegenious peoples and some Europeans. Long history for each of these groups and lots of people share heritage from several groups and they all get along relatively nicely. They are very proud of the fact there is a Jewish synagouge next to a Mosque and there are lots of national holiday celebrations for each of the different cultures and religions. The interior is relatively untouched and if you can get into it is among the most pristine jungle you'll find. Which makes it really expensive to get to because you're forging your own trail via small airplane or riverboat and taking everything with you. It rains a lot, but is warm and my kids loved playing outside in the yard when it was raining.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes if our youngest was older than 2 when we arrived and our oldest was younger than 10 when we departed.

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

Idea that living in the Jungle is going to be like "Dora the Explorer" and you'll be lounging on the beach drinking mojitos. Unfortunately the wildlife all want to bite you and the shoreline is mangrove swap or sand fly infested gravel and the rivers have piranhas. Remember, this is an adventure, not a vacation in any sense of the word other than being cut off from everyone back home. I saw lots of people show up convinced they would be miserable and they were. Lots of people were optimistic about enjoying it and still struggled to find things to enjoy. It's a totally different place in a lot of ways that are difficult and it can be hard to find things you're familiar with to enjoy there, but it's definitely doable if you try and are creative.

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

Wild Coast: Travels on South America's Untamed Edge (Vintage Departures), "Time is short and the water is rising," and "Hoe Duur was the Suizer" (movie in Dutch).

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Paramaribo, Suriname 07/12/14

Background:

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

Yes. This was my first expat experience.

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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?

Salt Lake City. Travel time was around 24 hours with connections in Trinidad and Tobago and Miami or Aruba and Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2011-2013, 2 years

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

Government

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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 really varies depending on what part of the city you live in. Houses on the south are closer to the international schools and the American Embassy, but aren't as nice. Houses on the north are typically larger and nicer but also tend to have more mosquito problems. Our commute was only about 10-15 minutes to both the Embassy and the school, but others had commute times of closer to 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?

We spent about 2-3x as much on these items as we spent in America. For a family of four with young children, I found we were spending around $800 USD/month on groceries. It was a consumables post when we arrived so we used a lot of our storage and tried to order things online when possible.

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

There are McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway restaurants. Their cost is more than in the US, but not as bad as some places. You can also get delicious local food at several places, but it gets kind of same-y after a while. It's really good, but just not much variety. There are a few nicer restaurants with different types of food, but they are more expensive.

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

Lots of mosquitos day and night. The daytime mosquitos can carry Dengue Fever which is a prevalent concern. Malaria is only an issue when traveling to the interior. All of the ants bite, so expect to have itchy, sore bites all over your toes is you venture outside without closed shoes.

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Daily Life:

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

We were able to use the Pouch at the American Embassy. On average it took 4-6 weeks to receive packages.

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

Readily available, questionable quality, pretty reasonable prices. It was about 70SRD for one day or a few hours of cleaning or gardening.

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

There are a couple different facilities with gyms and pools, but they weren't cheap so we didn't do it. Many others did and while not the same as American gyms, they still seemed nice.

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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?

Suriname is a cash-based economy. There are some places you can use a VISA card, but you will pay a higher exchange rate. We tried to withdraw money at the embassy whenever possible.

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

I'm not sure. I know some people went to an English service, but we attended a Dutch service.

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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 really NEED to have it, but it's definitely helpful. By the end of our two-year tour I'd picked up a decent amount of Dutch.

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

Yes. There are no sidewalks, no wheelchair accessible parking, bathrooms, etc. It would be very difficult to get around with limited mobility.

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Transportation:

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

It's not safe to use the local buses. Taxis are pretty affordable and easy to use.

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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?

The embassy had a guy who did a great job working on our car when we had minor issues. We had a 4WD vehicle and were very grateful to have it on some of the unpaved roads. It was especially helpful during rainy season when many of the roads were flooded.

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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 depends on what part of town you live in. Our friends on the north side were able to stream movies for around $60USD/month. On the south our internet was not that fast despite paying the same amount. There were faster speeds available on the south but they cost well over $100USD and we weren't willing to pay that much.

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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?

There are a couple different companies and they were fine. I wasn't able to get a data plan on my iphone but basic calls and texting worked fine.

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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?

Many pets are quarantined in Trinidad and Tobago, so getting your pet to Suriname could be a challenge. I know there was at least one good local vet.

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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 on the local economy. Some spouses were able to work in the embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I suspect you could find plenty of opportunities to volunteer if interested.

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

Business casual at work and very casual in public: shorts and a t-shirt most days.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are frequent home robberies, but using a security system is a good deterrent. I never felt unsafe.

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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?

Dengue Fever is the biggest local concern. Medical care isn't great in general so that was pretty scary with little kids. Going to the hospital and/or doctor was always a bit of an adventure. We waited to do vision/dental care until we were in the US.

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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?

Air quality is fine.

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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?

Very hot and humid. There is the rainy season where it rains A LOT and the dry season where it rains sometimes. It's always hot.

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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 two international schools, neither of which are currently accredited. AIS was much bigger and more established, but had a heavy emphasis on religion and some issues with disciplinary action. SIS was much smaller and more personal, but much less established as well. We knew people who were happy with both schools, but no one really loved either one. My child was only in kindergarten so I wasn't overly concerned. He really enjoyed the school.

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

I'm not sure.

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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?

There are several very affordable day care options (around US$100/month for full-time care), but the quality is questionable. Most teachers don't speak much English and the teaching/overseeing style is quite different than in the USA. Both of the international schools offer preschool, but at much higher cost. There are also local preschools, but they are in Dutch.

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

I had a hard time finding any. I wanted to put my kids in swimming lessons, but I was never able to find any.

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Expat Life:

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

It's a small community and morale varied a lot depending on who was currently at post. It was pretty bad when we first arrived, but by the end of our tour people had really come together and morale was quite high.

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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?

Entertaining at one another's houses was the biggest. We'd often have dinner/game nights which was really fun. Some people would go to the bars/clubs late a night but that wasn't really our scene.

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

Paramaribo is a pretty sleepy town. If you are a homebody and don't require a lot of excitement, you could really love it here. Or if you have a lot of extra money for traveling, you could see a lot of the interior and surrounding islands. There aren't many safe playgrounds available and the medical care isn't great, so I worried about my kids a lot. Also, the worry about Dengue Fever made it hard to want to spend much time outside during the day.

If there is a good group of people at post who are interested in taking turns hosting get-togethers it can be really nice no matter what your situation. There just really isn't a lot to do outside of socializing with each other, so it can get boring. Oh, there's also a lot of late night clubbing/dancing available if that's your thing.

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

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

There is some racism among the locals, but it didn't seem to affect outsiders.

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

Seeing nesting sea turtles, Suriname River dolphins, and helping feed homeless sloths.

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

Going to the Suriname River is a refreshing day trip. All the resorts have swimming and some have extras like zip-lining, volleyball, trampolines, etc. Definitely see the sea turtles nesting in the spring and take a tour to see the river dolphins. The zoo is tiny, but fun for kids. The Butterfly Garden is really nice.

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

Wood-carved decorations and chairs.

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

The opportunity to see some of the last surviving rainforest, nesting sea turtles, friendly people, laid back culture.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't plan to travel much and are better at eating local foods than we were. Imported goods are quite expensive, but if you eat a lot of the local produce it would help. Travel is really expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Maybe. I'm glad we went and I have a lot of great memories, but it was also really hard at times. So much depends on the other people who happen to be at post that it's hard to anticipate what it will be like. If you can make local friends you'll definitely enjoy it more. We miss a lot of friends, but I'm not anxious to go back anytime soon.

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

Desire for a quick paced life and expectations for quick, competent customer service. Don't expect things to happen quickly because they won't, but they will get done eventually.

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3. But don't forget your:

Insect repellent, smile, and sun hat. People really are friendly and helpful especially if you are friendly first.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

Suriname is a unique and interesting place to live. It's one of those places that many people have never even heard of. I cherish some of the experiences we were able to have while living there but that doesn't mean it was an easy place to live. If you are a homebody and don't need much social interaction you'd probably love it. If you are looking for a crazy, exciting place to go this probably isn't it.

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Paramaribo, Suriname 09/03/13

Background:

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

Several places previously.

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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?

USA (about 15 hours from DC with stops in Miami and Trinidad).

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3. How long have you lived here?

2010 - 2012.

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

Foreign government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Great housing. I loved our house. Most houses were great. Some were bigger than others. My son and I really loved it. We had a great time there and I often think fondly about that place.

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

A bit more than in the U.S.

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

Nothing. I had everything I needed.

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

Foreign: McDonald's, Subway, Pizza places; all at regular prices or a bit more.

Great local places too. Definitely don't just go to the fast food places. So much variety and great food. Lots of Indonesian-type cuisine.

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

Mosquitoes. There is Dengue feaver in Suriname. It was never a huge problem while we were there, although you need to take some precautions. No malaria in Paramaribo, although there are pockets of it in the country. Ask the local nurse at the Embassy for medicine if you're heading out into the interior.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch for U.S. Embassy personnel.

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

US$150-200 per month for part-time help.

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

Yes. One place called the Torarrica has a very nice club and i think it's about US$75 per month for membership for 2. Also the Golf club and several other places.

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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 some, but safer to use Embassy casheering, if that's an option.

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

Yes, I think. I know they had some stuff going on at the Internatioal school, but i never went to any religious services so I am not really sure.

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

TV was dish. i think it was about US$40 per month, and included internet too which was good enough for me, but I didn't ever try to download movies. Busy enough with parties.

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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?

Not much. I don't really know much and I got along fine.

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

Some. The city really isn't designed for persons with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are not exactly what I would call safe, but not really awful either. We used them a bit and got along ok. However, most of the time I would drive myself and it was better. I wouldn't use public transport very much if at all.

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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. Lots of flooding at certain times in the year.

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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, see above.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone with you to post .

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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?

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

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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?

I think so.

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

Work - business casual.
Public - casual.

Suriname is the largest Muslim country in South America. Having said that, again, the country only has a total population of 500,000 people or so. The people of Suriname are incredibly tolerant, and they get along with one another quite well, as well as with foreigners.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Crimes of opportunity here and there. Best to read about crime issues on google for the most up to date issues.

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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?

Dengue is in the city of Paramaribo; Malaria in the interior.

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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?

Pretty decent.

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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?

Wet and muggy during some months and then sunny and hot during others.

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Schools & Children:

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

The main largest school is good, albeit a Christian school. It's called International American School - Paramaribo. It was ok for me, though. I am not a huge Christian guy or anything, but I think they set a good tone for most of their instructions and were not too pushy with their ideologies. My boy really loved the school and he and I both found the teaching to be more about kindness and caring than about the regimented ideals of religious teachings.

There is also (at least there was when I was there) an alternate school called the Suriname International School. From all accounts it was also a very good school, but I would check into it a bit more because my boy didn't attend that one, so I don't really know too much about it. It was newly formed when we got there and so it was going through the regular growing pains that a new school goes through. However, I think it was generally considered to be a good school and wasn't a religious school. So, for those not wanting a religious school, it's a good alternative. I may have gotten more on its feet since we left, so check on that as well.

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

Not sure. I don't think there is much if anything.

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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?

There was one place called the Rainbow school where some people brought their kids. Otherwise, International American School had a preschool that was good. I think Suriname International School also had a pre-K program but i'm not sure.

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

Yes, soccer in school, volleyball, and some other stuff.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty decent. Former Dutch colony and so there are Dutch tourists around. It's a small place (500,000 people in total in the country) so pretty big of course is relative, but I never had any problems finding people to hang out with and have fun with.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty decent among some and not good at all among others (generally singles didn't like it as much, vs. families who tended to get along in Suriname much better).

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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?

Parties at houses; Movies at the newer movie theater (very nice theater by the way). We saw some first run movies there, although a few weeks later than in the U.S.; Some nightclubs, but watch out for some because some were dangerous with some thugs in them.

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

I think so (for families anyway). I loved it there. We had a great group of friends and were always having parties with them. I think if you're going to enjoy it it's all dependent upon that. I knew several people who absolutely hated it, but i loved it.

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

No, from what I've heard it's not good.

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

No, not that I ever noticed.

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

Spending time with friends and having parties at our houses. We also did a lot of touring in the area, including boat trips to see the dolphins in the rivers, where we would also bring picknic baskets, wine, and all the fun stuff to make trips awesome.

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

Go to the beaches along the coast and seeing the Leatherback turtles; Going into the interior and seeing the people of Suriname (very varied groups throughout the country); Going on dolphin cruises; bicycling in the country; parties at friends' homes; sports for the kids; health clubs; golf club.

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

Arts and crafts.

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

Touring all over the country is available. Also, French Guyana and British Guyana are a few hours away by car (in opposite directions). You can take small planes into the interior, although it can get a bit dangerous sometimes. They are small planes and they are sometimes not very well maintained. Some have crashed and killed passengers. The main international flights into Suriname are reliable.

Also, we played Golf, tennis, and had a lot of fun there with friends.

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11. Can you save money?

Yeah, for sure. It's not really that expensive there and more home parties than anything else.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, absolutely. I really enjoyed our time there. If we didn't meet the right people there, though, i think we would've had a much worse time there. I know several singles who really didn't like it there at all, and a few families who weren't that pleased with it as well. Overall, though, I thought it was fantastic. I would say, "Paramaribo??? I call that Paramaribo-tastic." - a la Conan O' Brien.

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

Skis; winter jackets; igloos; sled dogs; ice fishing gear.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure.

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

Riverbones.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

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Paramaribo, Suriname 11/26/10

Background:

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

5

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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?

DC/NYC - it is very hard to get back to the US.DC requires layovers in Aruba or Trinidad and Miami. There is a direct to JFK from Trinidad. Travel takes about 12 hours to reach the east coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

~8 months

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

FSO at US Embassy

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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 20 minutes, with bad traffic. It is a small city and gets congested at times. Housing is spread around. I like the houses but some others do not. They are small for a 25% diff post but that is the way they are built in this area. They are well maintained by the staff.

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

Everything is now available, but you will pay for some items from the US.Some Dutch brands are available at fair prices. Produce is hit or miss.

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

Food processor, nuts, bulk olive oil, flat screen TV. All are available, but expensive.

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

There are several fast food places. There are cheap local places with great Indonesian and Chinese, as well as Maroon foods. And there are high end restaurants catering to expats.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

At restaurants, I am not sure, but in super markets you can get anything. I have vegetarian friends and they do fine.

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

Mosquitoes, creepy things, mosquitos, need to watch for ants and take care not to leave food around.

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Daily Life:

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

Thru the 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?

Yes, and cheap. 50 SRD ($15) per visit of about four hours of cleaning is norm.

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

Yes.

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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?

They work but I use the embassy cashier.

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

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

Direct TV is available. Local TV is in Dutch and Spanish.

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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?

None, usually, but it is much appreciated.

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

This is not a handicap friendly city. One street will have sidewalks, and the next will not. Very few businesses can accommodate a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, and yes. No trains, buses are crowded and hot, but taxis are all over and cheap.

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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. Something with high clearance because it floods all of the time (although it doesn't last long). Also, you need 4WD for the interior!

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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. Affordable.

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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?

They have them here.

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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.

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

There is one new kennel open but I don't know about it. There are several decent vets.

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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?

No, but there are 3-4 EFM positions.

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

Casual due to the heat (linen and collared-shirts).

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Health & Safety:

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

No, this place is safe as long as you follow the usual rules.

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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 some dengue in the city now and again, weird bugs in the jungle, heat. The medical care is less than stellar and evacs are not unheard of for major work.

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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?

Good. It is humid so that isn't great.

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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?

Hot, hot, and hot. In the 90's year round. Humid. You get used to it. The short rainy season is the best (Nov-Feb) with temps a bit cooler at night.

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Schools & Children:

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

I cannot comment personnaly but there are several options. There is a Christian school as well as a new one that recently opened as an alternative.

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2. What accommodations do schools make 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?

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Expat Life:

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

Small, but lots of Dutch tourists and stagieres (interns).

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2. Morale among expats:

Medium-High. It seems to depend on the personalities at the embassy and how well people are able to adapt and meet new people.

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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?

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

This is fast becoming a "family post" for those with young kids. That said, there are plenty of clubs/bars/restaurants open all night for those seeking entertainment outside the house. It is a small Embassy so you have to seek friends and opportunties outside the small community, but it is there to be found.

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

The people in Parbo are relatively liberal, but they do have the Caribbean attitude against homosexuals and it can be overheard once you get to know them. On the other hand, I have several gay friends and they do alright. I think they just have to know where they are and who they are with.

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

No. Very diverse and harmonious.

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

So far, travel to Devil's Island off French Guyana, five days in the interior, quick hops to the islands.

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

See the interior, learn about the history, take river tours, hit the islands, visit the bars, do some day trips out of the city.

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

Tours of the interior and bush plane flights to hard-to-reach areas.

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

It is 80% rain forest and there are opportunities to make it the Amazon; living in a place that few have ever heard of and experiencing a place that is often overlooked. There are two rainy seasons and it is tropical weather. The diversity of the culture(s) is amazing.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but I think two years is long enough.

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

Long-sleeved shirts and desire for sushi.

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3. But don't forget your:

Jeep and sunglasses.

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

The River Bones and The Shaman's Apprentice.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Paramaribo, Suriname 02/04/10

Background:

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

3rd tour overseas

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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?

Pacific NW, it's a two day trip with an overnight in MiamiThe travel in and out of Paramaribo has been one of the most frustrating aspects. I originally thought it would be nice to be so close to the US but it often takes longer to get home from here than it did from Africa. Flights are fairly expensive also.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 1/2 years

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

US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice sized houses most with small yards, I don't know anyone in apartments. Commutes are fairly short if you leave at odd times, if you leave around 730 and 1700 you'll be sitting in traffic for awhile. Around holidays the traffic is bad at all times.

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

Stuff imported from the states is pretty expensive, but there is really nothing you can't buy here.

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

Toys for the kids (imported ones are ridiculously expensive)

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

McDonald's, Burger King (although they often run out of burgers), KFC, Pizza Hut, Popeye’s and several good local roti shops. Prices are the same or cheaper than in the states.

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

Mosquitoes abound especially in the rainy season. Ants, ants and more ants

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy 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?

About $200 a month

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

The embassy has a nice gym and there are several gyms and clubs in the city that you can join to gain access to their pools and gyms.

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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?

We use RBTT ATM's all the time and have had little to no problems (they do often run out of money and it can be frustrating)

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

yes

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

No on the newspapers. Directv from Venezuela is $50 a month and you get all the networks from the states. AFN is also available through the Embassy.

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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?

None, although some Dutch is helpful.

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

No sidewalks, no ramps and very few (terrifying) elevators.

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Transportation:

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

If you use a reputable taxi company you'll have no problem.

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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?

You're going to want high clearance for the flooding that takes place in rainy season.

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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?

DSL is $50 a month. It's reliable but not very fast. Just ran a speed test and the download rate is .11 mbs and upload is .10 mbs. I don't watch a lot of videos on youtube but for regular use it's fine. We've also had no problems playing WII online, it's slow but works.

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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?

Bring an unlocked GSM phone and buy a local sim card either Digicel or Telesur. You'll have no problems. You can buy phone's here, they're just pricier than ebay.

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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

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

I've had good experience with the vets. They can do minor surgery (spay & neuter) and are fairly helpful. I wouldn't leave an animal in a kennel here.

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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?

Through some NGO's but don't expect much money.

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

I've seen people go into the nicest restaurant in town in shorts and a t-shirt. Work is business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Just your typical stuff, watch your bag when in the markets, drive with your windows up and doors locked, lock your doors at home. We have embassy provided guards at the residences.

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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?

Dengue, malaria (if you leave the city) and various stomach bugs. The local medical care is sub par to say the least. If you have major medical issues than you don't want to come here. And always make sure it really is an emergency before you consider going to the ER. You'll likely leave worse than you went in, otherwise. On a positive note, I hear that the dentists are very clean and do good work.

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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?

Healthy except around the holidays when all the fireworks are being lit off.

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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?

Tropical, there is a big and little rainy season and a big and little dry season but it rains a little even in the dry season. The roads do tend to flood after some of the longer rains. There is also a pretty consistent breeze making the heat tolerable.

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Schools & Children:

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

The international school is a Christian school. They seem more interested in spreading the word of God rather than education. If that's your thing you'll be happy, if not than prepare to home school. That being said I have my 4 year old in Pre-K there and he enjoys it. Of course there's not a lot of education in pre-k, it's more about the interaction and there was the one slaughtered lambs coloring sheet, but we managed to laugh that off. There is one other English speaking school in town that a few Americans use.

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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?

The international school has a pre-k class. There is also the Rainbow School which is more of a daycare than school but is English speaking.

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

There is soccer for boys and dance classes for girls.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty small

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2. Morale among expats:

It has its ups and downs.

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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?

There are a few dance clubs, karaoke, a couple of bars with pool tables, several nice restaurants and a few nice casinos

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

There's not a lot of night life. I imagine it would be challenging being single here. It's a good city for families.

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

I haven't heard much but I imagine it would be fine. It's a very tolerant culture.

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

No, one of the things Surinamers are very proud of is the fact that there is a Mosque and a Synagogue built right next to each other downtown.

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

Trips to the jungle, boat trips through the swamps and rivers, getting to see leatherback sea turtles nesting and hatching. The fireworks for New Years are incredible.

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

There several nice beaches on the river a short drive from town. Hiking in the jungle at Brownsburg, boat trips on the river to see dolphins, in the spring the sea turtles come to the coast to nest. There's a nice ocean beach at Matapica. Fishing on the lake for peacock bass and piranha. Day trips to French Guiana for good cheese and wine. The accommodations at 95% of the places out of town are rustic to say the least. There is one really nice resort that has opened in the past year that has very nice accommodations along with zip lines and kayaking. If you stay anywhere else be prepared to bring your own food, bedding or hammocks and mosquito nets. If you're the outdoorsy type you'll love it, if you're looking for museums, concerts or spas you'll be miserable.

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

trips to the rain forest

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

The Amazon rainforest is in pristine condition here and you should take advantage of it before it's gone.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes

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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:

High expectations and try to adjust to life in the Caribbean

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3. But don't forget your:

pool items, sunscreen, camping and fishing gear, bring life jackets for the kids as most stuff out of the city involves a boat ride

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

Time is Short and the Water Rises, John Walsh The Riverbones, Andrew Westoll Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice, Mark Plotkin

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Things can be frustrating here like they are in any developing country, but all in all it's a pretty easy tour.

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