Nassau, The Bahamas Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Nassau, The Bahamas

Nassau, The Bahamas 11/22/15

Background:

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

Multiple

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

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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?

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

Groceries are crazy expensive. Gallon of regular milk is US$6.50 - $8.50. A bag of frozen chicken breasts is US$25. Fresh produce is sometimes good, sometimes not, always expensive. The COLA doesn't cover our increased expenses.

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

Artificial Christmas tree. Kayak. Stand Up Paddleboard. Tires. Desks / Bookshelves. Weight set. Scooter.

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

Fast food to high end -- it's all here. And expensive.

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

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Daily Life:

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

DPO/Pouch

Be forewarned that shipping here, while faster than many other posts, has the worst handling of any of our previous posts. I am not sure whether it is Miami, Atlanta, or Nassau which is mishandling the boxes, but rarely do we receive a shipment which hasn't been damaged. It doesn't matter the vendor -- Amazon, Walmart, Target.

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

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

Bahamians are active, and you'll see people working out at local parks every day. This is a great post for people who love water sports, boating, kayaking, running, swimming, and more. There is a beautiful, safe run/walk path near Baha Mar resort.

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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?

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

Many

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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?

Just patience to listen to the local patois, especially on the phone.

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

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are not affordable for going to the grocery, the embassy, schools, or to see friends. Neither do the local buses seem to run to/from the places we would most likely go. Some people use the local buses during daytime, but don't bid on this post expecting to have access to public transportation. Many people get scooters to help avoid traffic to get to work quickly.

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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?

Cold A/C.
New law restricts vehicles older than 10 years.
High clearance is nice for frequent flooding.
Bring an extra tire or other supplies you anticipate needing.

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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?

This is one of the few places that actually delivers the speed of internet you buy. We've been pleased.

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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?

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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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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

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Health & Safety:

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

This is a 0% differential post with critical crime. It doesn't make any sense. Murder and rape are rampant. Home invasions are increasing.

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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?

Nassau is often cleared for Med Class 2 family members, but it is because of the close proximity of care in the U.S., not because of the care available at post. Local medical care is expensive and sometimes great, sometimes not.

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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?

Beautiful sea breezes most of the time.

The dump burns and toxins are in the air for months though it isn't as bad as China.

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

While expensive locally and so better to order online, the local grocery stores actually carry a wide range of specialty products (gluten-free items, almond and soy milk, etc.)

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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?

Beautiful and temperate.

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Schools & Children:

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

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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?

Unlike many posts, Nassau has a small Department of State presence and a large number of other agencies (CBP, Coast Guard, DEA, etc.) This is often the only overseas assignment for CBP families, and they frequently stay for 3-5 years. It's a different feel than many embassy communities.

There is a large expat community outside the embassy, and the local population is very diverse -- some are welcoming to expats and others are less so.

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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?

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

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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?

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

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

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

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

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10. Can you save money?

No. The extra costs here exceed the COLA, and there is no differential in spite of the critical crime threat. No R&R and high plane ticket prices to go even to Florida (yet, sanity requires occasional trips.)

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

Yes

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

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4. But don't forget your:

Willingness to host guests!

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Nassau, The Bahamas 06/09/15

Background:

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

No. Lima, Peru.

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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?

Missouri. If connecting through Atlanta, we can get home in 5 or 6 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

Department of State Employee

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Gated communities (condos) with some stand-alone houses. The whole island is 7miles x 21 miles, so nothing is too far away. A four mile commute takes me 10 minutes by scooter, or 10-30 minutes by car, depending on traffic. Parking is difficult to find and having your own spot can cost around US$1,200/year downtown, paid upfront.

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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 just about everything here if you are willing to pay for it. Most items are 20-50% more expensive than in the U.S. A few items, like nuts or some spices, can be double or triple. Toilet paper/paper towels are very expensive, probably because it takes up a lot of room in a shipping container.

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

More toilet paper and expendables. I probably would have shipped a pallet of canned/boxed food simply due to cost of buying locally.

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

Tons of restaurants. There is McDonald's, KFC, Wendys, CarlsJr. A couple of Chinese places, sushi, Italian, etc, etc. All of it VERY expensive. Dinner for four at a decent sit-down (Applebee's style) will cost US$100-$150, about the same price as dinner for two at the nicer places like Greycliffe. We don't eat out much.

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

There are a few mosquitoes after the rains and the occasional household bug. Little ants are a problem, they are everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

We use pouch and DPO, but FedEx and DHL are also available.

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

Local help is US$10-$12/hour, for the most part the work ethic is very poor, and there is a high risk of theft.

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

There is a gym in SandyPort near Cable Beach, but I don't know what it costs.

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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?

I've never had a problem with using a credit card, most of the bigger places take them. There have been several persons who have had issues with debit card info being stolen and accounts drained. There are ATMs here but I've never used one.

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

The various flavors of Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, etc. There are also very small Jewish and Muslim communities.

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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?

English is spoken everywhere.

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

The Bahamas just passed a disabilities act which was a huge step, but most buildings are not in compliance. Someone in a wheelchair would have a really tough time getting around.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are generally safe but expensive. Fares are according to zone so nothing is metered, but the prices are fixed (probably because the cabbies fix them). Ask the cab driver before you get in. Buses are cheap (US$1.25) and I've never felt unsafe on one, although occasionally there is a disruptive person on the bus or a group of nasty men who will make female members of your party uncomfortable with their conversation.

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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 can drive pretty much anything here. Auto parts - insane - you can't get anything here without paying through the nose, and that assumes that you can even find someone who carries the parts. Recommend having family buy the parts and send them to you. There is some talk of a ban on vehicles more than 10 years old, but as of now, it hasn't passed yet. Recommend due diligence.

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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?

Cable Internet is widely available. US$55/month for the basic package, you can get faster speeds for a few $ more.

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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?

At present, there is only one cell service option, and as a monopoly, the cost is high and the service low. Pre-paid burner phones are commonplace and not too expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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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. Working here requires a permit which often takes months to get approved. Lots of fields are closed, and if you are doing a job that a Bahamian could do (in theory) then it gets denied.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

A few. There are a few senior homes and a camp for persons living with AIDS.

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

Suit-and-tie at work. Dress in public is generally conservative, unless you are a tourist, in which case it seems to be okay to just walk around nearly naked. Shorts and flip-flops are okay just about anywhere in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

Nassau is not a safe city. The annual murder rate per 100,000 persons is between 7-8x the U.S. Guns are illegal for the most part, so of course all the criminals have them. The tourist areas are fairly safe during the day, but once the sun goes down, you need to be at home with your bars locked and alarm set. Armed muggings are commonplace.

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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?

Medical care is available and it seems to be decent for Doctors' office stuff. For hospital care - have a plan for getting to Miami.

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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?

The air quality is great. There are mold/mildew issues in some of the homes, but it is sporadic.

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

Pollen is not too bad, although there are times when some strange tropical tree decides it's time to make baby trees. As for food allergies? No idea. Probably not a place to come if you were allergic to shellfish.

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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?

Warm all year. The ocean gets pretty cold from November-April, depending on your preference. There is a rainy season from May-November, but it seldom rains all day. It will rain hard for a few minutes, long enough to flood all the streets, then the sun comes out again.

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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 several private school options, more so for elementary school children. I do not recommend St. Andrews under any circumstances - we withdrew one of our children after just a few months due to an atmosphere of hostility and bullying. We left our older child there as she had already made friends, but we found the school is difficult to work with. Meridian school experience was very positive, but that only goes up to 7th grade. Windsor Prep takes over for 8th graders, and our experience with that school has also been very positive. I have nothing bad to say about either Meridian or Windsor - although Meridian is located next to the landfill (which sometimes catches on fire for weeks). So if your child has asthma or similar, you won't want to send him/her there. One additional note - if your teenager is inclined to make stupid decisions, marijuana and alcohol use is very common within that age group.

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

Very few. If you have a special needs child, I don't recommend the schools here. There is no obligation to accept, and even if they do, the needs won't be met. Schools are also resistant to the idea of a personal aide for kids with special needs (especially if that personal aide happens to be a foreigner).

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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 some options available, but we didn't use these services.

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

Gymnastics, some martial arts. It's all very expensive compared to U.S. prices.

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Expat Life:

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

Lots of opportunities to interact with non-USG expats, including Europeans and folks from all over.

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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?

The beach, the beach, and of course, the beach. There are a few clubs, but I wouldn't be caught dead in one of them, basically because I don't want to end up being dead in one of them.

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

I can't comment on the single life. For a couple I think it would be great as there are places to travel around the islands and quite a few activities to do. However, with a family, paying for four is obviously twice as expensive as a couple and that can severely limit the entertainment/dining out/travel budget.

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

LBGT is quietly tolerated. The culture here is very anti-LGBT. It isn't Tehran, but it certainly isn't as tolerant as most U.S. cities. I wouldn't recommend walking down the street holding hands with your same-sex partner unless you are okay with being yelled at and called names.

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

The Bahamas has a long history of a black-white divide. The N-word is thrown around a lot, and there definitely is some racial tension on occasion between white and black Bahamians. As a white person, I am looked at as a walking dollar sign, but I've never experienced any other prejudice. There is a huge racial tension between Bahamians and Haitians. There aren't any serious religious freedom issues here, although the society is mostly Christian and those groups are vocal about political issues. Gender equality is still a few decades behind.

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

Family island travel is fantastic, but expensive if you are a family.

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

Beaches, snorkeling, kayaking, boating - there is lots of that here. There are a few cultural/historic places but you can see all of them inside a couple of days. Island travel is where it's at, but it's expensive to fly there. Recommend Blue Lagoon (Nassau) for US$50/person you ride out by boat to this little island and can spend all day sitting on the beach, lunch is included. A day-pass to Sandals is worthwhile if you can get the local discounted rate. If hole-in-the-wall eateries are for you, there is a little dive at the top of the Queen's Staircase that has the best conch fritters and the coldest beer on the island.

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

There are local handicrafts like straw baskets, jewelry, art, wood carvings, etc. make sure it isn't made in China because they sell a lot of that stuff right along beside the local products.

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

Beautiful beaches and great weather (outside of hurricane risk). People speak English and are generally friendly.

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10. Can you save money?

It is difficult to save money here if you aren't naturally inclined to do so, especially if you want to travel around the islands and enjoy the experiences.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It's an island. That's like a prison with a few nice beaches.

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

No. It's a nice place to visit, maybe even more than once. Living here has way too many challenges.

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

Winter coats.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

Good for couples or small families. Not good for larger families or families with a bunch of teenagers.

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Nassau, The Bahamas 05/16/15

Background:

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

Have also lived in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Doha, La Paz, Majuro, and N'Djamena.

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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?

I take a direct flight from Atlanta. There are several every day. It takes a bit over two hours. Returning, you clear U.S. passport control and customs in Nassau, and the plane goes to a domestic gate back in the U.S.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

U.S. Embassy employee

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

A mixture of one story houses, two story houses and two story townhouses all about 3 to 5 miles west of the Embassy. The majority but not all are in gated communities. Pools are available with most housing. Most people are happy with the size and quality of their housing. The two usual exceptions are people with dogs who wanted a yard and people whose taste in furniture doesn't match their landlord. Typical time to/from Embassy is 30-45 minutes but that can vary greatly depending on time of day/traffic.

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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 available; mostly U.S. brands and a good selection. The typical grocery cart is about twice the price as the U.S. although individual items will vary.

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

More UPSes. They are expensive here and you can't ship them DPO or pouch. Electricity quality is worse than I expected.
One thing you can do is to make sure to save some weight from your HHE shipment and then do a supplemental shipment after you've been here about three months. Doing that allowed us to bring in a few items that we didn't realize we would be needing. Since the landlord supplies the furniture, what's in the house is less standard than most Foreign Service housing.

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

Most every fast food you see in the U.S. (McDonalds, Wendy's, Carl's, Dairy Queen, Quiznos, Burger King, Hard Rock, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Johnny Rocket's, Outback, Starbucks and probably others that I'm forgetting). Average of about twice the U.S. price.

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

A few flies, roaches, lizards, etc. but not enough to give much thought to.

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Daily Life:

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

The embassy has DPO. It takes an average of two weeks each direction.

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

Cost more than in Africa and less than in Europe. We don't use anybody but my understanding is that those who do, usually get someone for one or two days per week at about US$75/day.

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

I think the Sandyport Gym is well equipped and is somewhere around US$75/month. There are also medically supervised gyms/programs for weight loss for US$200/month at Bahamas Medical. Jogging along the beach and in parks, especially around Baha Mar is common.

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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 don't use ATMS - I cash a check at the Embassy about once per week. I've been using my SDFCU credit card a lot at restaurants and for medical/dental and never had any problems with it. Lots of places take credit cards.

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

Catholic is probably the largest group. There are lots of varieties of Christian groups. I've seen Baptist, Episcopalian, Seventh Day Adventist, Latter Day Saints and many evangelical churches.

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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?

English is standard here although sometimes it can be a bit difficult to follow two locals speaking rapidly with each other.

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

Yes, though not as bad as some places. There are handicapped parking spaces, ramps, elevators, etc. in some places; just not as many as there could be.

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Transportation:

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

My only experience with a taxi was a US$25 trip to the airport. It seemed safe and he did come at the prearranged time. I often take the #10 or #12a bus to/from the Embassy. It's US$1.25 each way and is generally regarded as safe.

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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?

Anything you like will be fine here. Roads are OK but not great. They drive on the left but since most cars come from the U.S. most of the drivers are sitting on the curb side. Things like the McDonald's drive-thru and the keypads for our gate are set up assuming the driver is sitting on the left. Many parts are available here or can be quickly obtained from Miami. Be prepared to pay twice the U.S. price for any parts or repair. Gas is currently about US$4/gallon and I buy US$50 every two weeks for my commute and occasional church/shopping trips in my Ford Explorer. From the time I shipped my vehicle from Alabama - it was 4 weeks and I was driving it here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We pay about US$100/month for basic cable plus some sports channels plus 20 mbps Internet from CableBahamas. I understand that BTC also offers an internet package with phone service.

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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?

The embassy supplies Blackberries (changing to iPhones) for many employees. Check with your supervisor or sponsor if you'll be getting one. If not - bring or order an unlocked GSM phone and get a SIM from BTC. Bring your own phone and you can be up and running for about US$15. You'll be asked if you'd like to "top-up" your prepaid minutes whenever you check out at the grocery store. My wife makes minimal use of her phone and buys about US$5 worth of minutes every month. Monthly plans with data similar to the U.S. are also available. BTC will be getting a competitor soon but details are not available yet.

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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?

I've had no experience but I don't believe a quarantine is required and others seem happy enough with the vet care.

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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?

Yes but be prepared to jump through the usual work permit hoops.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many. Church related activities seem to be the most popular.

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

Fairly casual but people who meet the public generally at least wear a tie. Meetings with government officials are suit/tie events.

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Health & Safety:

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

Robbery and murder are bad and getting worse. This is a matter of critical concern for the citizens, government and expat community. We live in a gated community, have an alarm systems and the embassy supplies roving guards. We are beginning to question if this is enough. Ask for current info before bidding on this post and make sure to get RSO briefing and follow instructions.

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

No special health concerns and medical care is fairly good although probably not quite up to U.S. standards. I've had basic dental work done here and was pleased with both the quality and price - a filling for US$95 and cleaning and x-rays for US$120. I've seen a sports medicine specialist for back issues and the lab, x-ray equipment and MRI equipment appeared to be clean, well maintained and typical of what I would expect in the U.S. There are at least two large hospitals and a fairly busy ambulance service. The embassy has a local hire nurse and a health unit that is good for basic issues and vaccinations. We seem to do a lot a medevacs but that is probably due more to caution than necessity.

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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?

Mostly good. Not much industry and the steady sea breeze blows away what few problems there are. However, there have been some fire problems at the dump which has caused a nearby school to close for a few days and residents in that area are protesting.

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

Nothing that I've noticed.

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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?

Stereotypical Caribbean island. In the winter it sometimes gets down in the 50's F and only the Canadians swim. But most of the year it gets up in the 80's or 90's F. We get some rain most weeks, more in the summer. The only place I've worn a jacket is in my office.

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Schools & Children:

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

We have no experience with the schools but understand that there are several available and their reputations are generally good.

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

They exist because I read about them in the newspaper but don't know anything about them.

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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 large. Several million visitors from the U.S. every year and many who live here. The overall morale is fairly high but the embassy morale is probably lower than one would expect given that we live in a tropical island paradise. The Embassy building is old and overcrowded and there is no parking. Many of the people attached to this embassy have little experience living outside the U.S. and don't grasp how unusually good the living situation is here for expats. Their unrealistic expectations lead to complaints that simply can't be addressed.

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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?

Shopping, boating, fishing, scuba diving, concerts & festivals. We frequently have U.S. related sporting events such a college basketball tournaments. This year saw the first U.S. college football bowl game played here. It's expected to be an annual event. If you can't find what you need here - Miami is a 45 minute flight away.

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

Except for crime, it's a good, easy life for anybody.

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

Their historical and cultural background is to be negative to the LGBT community but they are a major tourist destination and are making an effort to be more open and accepting to everyone.

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

Racial and religious - no problems. For gender - same as above - they're making progress.

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

Having good internet for a change and the great view as I drive along the beach to/from work. I also love watching the big cruise ships doing a 180 turn in their own length as they enter/exit port (a sight you can watch 3 or 4 times per day if you're so inclined).

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

Any "secret or hidden gems" were published in the tour books or made part of the cruise ship shore packages years ago. You can learn to scuba dive, swim with some dolphins, gamble at Atlantis, fish or rent a sailboat. After you finish all that you can return to the perfectly normal American life of going home after work and sitting on the couch and watching TV (we get lots of U.S. cable TV including movie channels and ESPN - Netflix also streams here).

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

The "unique local items" are more activities than goods. Mostly water related events such as diving, sailing, dolphin swims, etc.

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

This is "overseas light". Anyone who isn't comfortable getting very far from the U.S. or needs a culturally easy tour to recover after a difficult assignment would be OK here. Driving, shopping, groceries/brands, TV/radio/internet, electricity, church, currency and language are all lesser challenges here than at most other post.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes but not lot. The COLA is appropriate for the high cost of food and other goods but without any hardship or danger pay, don't expect to save a lot.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Nothing really. There is so much info available about this place, anyone who arrives here and is surprised simply hasn't bothered to do any research.

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

Yes, it's being a good "recovery tour" for me. We're enjoying it and glad we came but we're not likely to extend or come back for another tour later.

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

Belief that you're an expat. This is so much like life in the U.S. you can easily convince yourself that you're in southern Florida.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and patience. Events and people move at tropical island casual speed.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

This is the easiest overseas tour that I've ever done. Hardly any different from living in Florida. I almost didn't do a report since so little has changed from the 2011 report. You can read it and know that everything there is still relevant in 2015.

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Nassau, The Bahamas 01/11/11

Background:

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

2nd 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?

From Washington, DC, you can take a direct flight to Nassau, but most airlines transit via Miami. It is a 45 minute flight from Nassau to Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months

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

Assigned to the 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?

Housing is primarily single family homes and condos. You will either be in a gated community or in a residential neighborhood. If you're in a residential neighborhood you're more like to have a decent yard and maybe a pool, but security can be more of an issue. If you're in a gated community you'll be safer, but in more a townhome/apartment type environment. Most if not all of the homes in the Sandyport community have boat slips. Commutes to the embassy vary from 15 - 60 minutes depending on your location. Traffic is worst when school is in session and can double these times.

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

Groceries are very expensive. After a while you just get used to it and stop looking at prices. A box of Cheerios will cost about $7-8, yogurt is $2-3 a cup, apples are often $1-2 each. Anything non-food related that you may want you should buy in advance or count on ordering online. I wanted a little cooler and the cheapest I could find locally was $120. There is no sales or income tax here so all government revenue is made on customs taxes. Cars average about an 85% when they come in.

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

Probably more paper goods. We shipped quite a bit, but we've run out and are ordering more rather than pay local prices.

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

McDonald's, Wendys, KFC, Burger King, Subway, and Quiznos are all present. There are a lot of decent restaurants here, but all are expensive. I would say a nice, non-fast food lunch without drinks would be about $20 person and dinner probably more like $40-50. Even the fast food prices are higher here. When Subway was running its $5 footlong campaign in the States it was $7 footlongs here.

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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?

There is some organic food available here at a few small shops, but not much.

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

Mosquitoes can be pretty bad and the region has had recent dengue outbreaks. Sand fleas are the worse thing here. You'll never see them, but you can get terrible bites around your lower legs that itch horribly and can become infected to the point of requiring anti-biotics.

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Daily Life:

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

We have pouch and recently added a DPO. Neither is particularly quick though. Expect 2-3 weeks. Hopefully the DPO will get better with time though.

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

Available, but expensive. A full time housekeeper would cost about $200-300 a week. Make sure they already have a work permit because you don't want to go through the hassle of getting one. All housekeepers will generally be Jamaican or Haitian. All gardeners are Haitian.

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

There is one main gym that people use located at Sandyport.

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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?

You can use credit cards at major restaurants. ATMs are present and generally safe to use, but be aware of your surroundings.

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

Many, many churches.

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

2 daily newspapers plus a few others that are published twice a week. Most of the television sold by Cable Bahamas is pirated from the U.S. We have channels from Miami, New York, Seattle, and Canada.

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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?

You'll get the hang of Bahamian English pretty quickly. Haitian Creole would be helpful as 20% of the population is Haitian.

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

Sidewalks are often absent and when present are in disrepair. Many buildings are not accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Fairly safe and a seatbelt law is now in effect (it was passed in 2002, but the police just announced they're going to start enforcing it.) Buses crisscross the island and usually cost $1.25.

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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?

Anything is fine, but the roads can be rough and flooding is common so you may want something with decent ground clearance.

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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 access is pretty good and generally reliable.

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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?

The embassy issues them to direct hires. If you bring something unlocked you can use it here and buy minutes from one of the guys standing on every corner. Calls are very expensive to the U.S. due to a monopoly.

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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)?

The Palmdale Vet Clinic is good. They don't have every piece of equipment, but the vets are good and seem to care. Avoid the vets at the Humane Society unless it is an emergency. Also, never use the Humane Society as a kennel for your pet as there are far too many diseases and ticks there. There are a few petsitters on the island.

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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?

Work permits would make this challenging, but it is possible. There are quite a few EFM jobs in the Embassy.

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

Bahamians dress pretty conservatively. It may be 85F, but count on wearing a suit to all meetings.

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Health & Safety:

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

I believe Nassau is currently listed as "high" for crime, but that will probably move to "critical" soon if it hasn't already. The country has set murder records in 3 out of the last 4 years. In 2010 there were 96 murders. That may not sound like a lot, but in a country with less than 300,000 people, it is significant. Most of the murders involve the drug trade. Tourists have been targeted in the past for violent muggings and robberies. In 2009 there was a group of 9 tourists robbed at gun point in a major tourist attraction downtown. Also in 2009 there were 14 tourists robbed at once while they were on a Segway tour. In general, if you be careful about going out at night, you'll probably be okay, but day time robberies and home invasions are not unheard of.

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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 are two major hospitals. Neither is great, but Doctors Hospital is better. For anything serious, you'll have to go to Florida.

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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?

The air quality is good.

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

The summer is usually in the 90s with lows in the 70s. In the winter you can expect highs in the 70s or 80s with lows in the 50s or 60s. Occasionally a cold snap will come along and push lows in the the 40s. Hurricane season runs from June through November and The Bahamas is regularly affected. 2 hurricanes hit the islands in 2010, though neither did significant damage.

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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 believe there are two high schools, Lyford Cay and St. Andrews. Lyford Cay is on the west end of the island in a prestigious community (Sean Connery lives there), but is very small. St. Andrews is on the east side and is bigger, but traffic is awful over there. Parents with kids there will be faced with either hour commutes for their kids to get to school or having an hour commute for them to get to work.

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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?

Some employ nannies, but work permits are a serious hurdle to overcome.

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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?

It is pretty large, but many are wealthy retirees who have a second home here. There are also quite a few expats working in finance here. The diplomatic community is small and consists primarily of the Americans and the Chinese.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fairly low at the Embassy. Some of this has to do with current personalities and those will change and that might help. It also has to do with Embassy divisions between State, CBP, and DEA. CBP isn't often stationed overseas like this and many of them have unrealistic expectations as to what Embassy life is. This can also be true of a lesser extent with DEA.

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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?

The Marine House has been holding regular events. Quite a bit of entertaining in people's homes. There are also a lot of restaurants that hold events, though many of these are geared toward tourists.

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

I would say it is pretty good for all, but is mostly family focused. Singles and couples will need to find their own entertainment and balance that with how much they want to be treated like a tourist when they go out.

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

Bahamians are extremely homophobic and intolerant of anything that violates their concepts of a "good Christian." There is an underground gay community, but it stays pretty quiet.

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

Black and white Bahamians (about 80/20) appear to get along just fine. I think any religion as long as it is Christian is acceptable. As far as gender goes, I would say there is a tendency toward very traditional roles, but in fact it is often the women who are better students and achieve more.

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

The weather is nice all year around, though it does get pretty hot in the summer. The winter can be a bit too cool to get in the pool or ocean, but it still beats two feet of snow. Bahamians are friendly people (at least the ones not trying to mug and/or shoot you.)

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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 beach, visit the forts, go to the Out Islands for a more traditional Bahamian lifestyle (most Bahamians will tell you that Nassau is awful...it is the other islands you want to visit.) Go over to Paradise Island and envelope yourself in Atlantis Resort and pretend you're someplace else. Go to the U.S. for a quick getaway.

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

Straw bags, rum cake, cigars.

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

The beaches are very nice and you're never more than a 10 minute drive from one and often you can walk to one. The close proximity to the United States makes it easy to get out of here and to attend to things in the U.S. Some people do all of their doctors and dentist appointments in the U.S.

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11. Can you save money?

We managed to save quite a bit, but we don't go out all of the time. A family with several kids might have a tough go out of saving money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Winter clothes (even though you'll see Bahamians in parkas once the temps dip into the 60s), pre-conceived notions of a vacation for two years.

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3. But don't forget your:

Flip flops, sunglasses, sunscreen, checkbook to pay for everything.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Several movies were filmed here: After The Sunset, Casino Royale, Thunderball. None of these have much to do with what life is actually like here.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It is hard for people to believe that an assignment in The Bahamas might be difficult, but it is. Few are happy here. Some of this is personality conflicts. However, mostly it is the difference between staying at a resort for a week as a tourist and living the real life of a local for two years. The beaches are beautiful, but you can't spend all day on the beach for two years and they get old pretty quick. The threat of crime is always in the back of your mind and the Bahamian lack of work ethic and customer service is really draining.

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Nassau, The Bahamas 03/07/10

Background:

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

No. I've lived in Wiesbaden, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Seoul, Korea and London, England.

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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?

I live about 3 miles from post by car.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months.

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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?

Mix of single family homes and gated communities. Nicest embassy homes are on the canal in Sandy Port. Commute time is often an hour most days to go about 3 miles. There is only one road in and out of town.

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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 readily available but can cost double or triple what you're used to paying in the states.

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

Non-perishable food. Food is really expensive here so bring as much as you can with you.

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

Very few decent restaurants available, a few Sushi, Italian, Greek and Indian...no Mexican. Fast food includes KFC, Wendy's McDonald's and Burger King...no Taco Bell. Price is usually double what is costs in the states.

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

Mosquitoes and flies in the summer.

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Daily Life:

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

Through diplomatic pouch. It can take 3-4 weeks each way.

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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. Housekeeper will charge between $40 and $70 for house cleaning.

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

Yes but not at post. $35 per month at the Hilton across form the Embassy or $600 a year at Bally's which is about 6 miles from the Embassy.

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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?

Easy, some ATMs dispense US currency and some don't charge a fee.

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

Yes, every type of Religion available. The country is a Christian nation (per their Constitution) so there is no separation of church and state, religion is a part of almost every government and non-government function.

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

Cable TV from the States, about $50 per month for basic cable. Several newspapers including US papers.

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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, Bahamians speak English but there are books that will teach you the colloquialisms.

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

A lot. There are few sidewalks or ramps. There is a requirement for buildings to be handicap accessible but its not enforced.

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Transportation:

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

The local jitney (bus) is available though not necessarily safe. Bus drivers drive pretty crazy and they're not well maintained. Bus drivers also tend to drink and drive. $1.25 in most directions. Taxis are readily available but more expensive.

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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?

Any type is fine, the roads are pretty rough, lots of potholes so if you have a SUV that would be better.

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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, about $35 per 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?

Bring an unlocked cell phone

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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)?

Yes.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are job opportunities but they require a work permit and are mostly low paid.

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

Pretty formal, suits most of the time.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, crime is pretty high. 87 murders in 2009 for a population of about 330,000. The country also has the highest rate of reported rapes in the world. Some embassy staff have had cars broken into. Tourists are periodically robbed.

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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?

Decent, although for serious things most people fly back to the States.

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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?

Mostly good because of the ocean breezes and lack of smog producing industries. Pretty toxic when the garbage tip is set on fire or you're trapped in gridlock traffic. Most people don't maintain their cars very well so the traffic fumes can be pretty bad.

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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?

Usually in the 80s. Winter can get a bit chilly, down in the 50s. Bring a space heater for the winters if you feel the cold a lot.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lyford Cay and St. Andrews are the best private schools. They use the IB curriculum

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

Not many do.

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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?

Private pre schools are available

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

Yes through school, soccer, softball, dance

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Expat Life:

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

About 30,000.

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2. Morale among expats:

Some agencies/sections at post have great morale and others have very poor. Ask about the morale in your agency/section before making the decision to come here.

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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?

Not much. A couple of casinos and bars/clubs that are frequented by cruise ship passengers and tourists.

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

This is a good city for families. Not a great city for singles, very small embassy community with not much to do. Dating options for singles are not great.

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

No, the country is by and large very homophobic. Several gay men were murdered in 2007 and 2008 including famous hand bag designer Harl Taylor. Gays report living in fear, being discriminated against at work, and are unable to live openly as gay men. Rosie O'Donnell's Family Vacations cruise was picketed in 2004 by conservative religious groups. Films with gay content such as Broke Back Mountain have been banned.

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

There is a significant amount of anti-Haitian sentiment in the country. Haitian immigrants are routinely blamed for most of the country's ills. Haitians report being harassed by police. Many Bahamian born Haitians are living in a quasi stateless status because they are unable to apply for citizenship until their 18th birthday and even then it can still take years to get the paperwork.

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

Summer festivals are fun, International Cultural Festival, Bahamas International Film Festival

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

Not much besides the beach and water sports. Atlantis has the occasional concert or show. In the summer there are artsy and cultural things to do. Not much to do in the winter. Inter island travel is readily available via air and ferry.

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

Not much, straw products.

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

Travel to other Bahamian islands is easy, although not necessarily cheap. Travel to the U.S. is easy and convenient.

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11. Can you save money?

No, it is very expensive to live here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

image of The Bahamas as the land of sunshine and pina coladas. There are serious social and safety concerns here. Once you leave the tourist areas it can become pretty 3rd world-ish pretty quickly.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen and snorkel.

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

How to be a true true Bahamian

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Several good ones that were featured during the Bahamas International Film Festival.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Consider buying a scooter, the traffic is really bad. If you have a boat, definitely bring it, some great exploring to do. Most important think is to ask about the morale in the office you're considering going to.

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Nassau, The Bahamas 02/11/09

Background:

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

This is my second expat experience. I also served in Mbabane and lived in Nuevo Laredo for many years.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2007-2009.

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

Government (affiliated with the U.S. Embassy).

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

There are direct and inexpensive flights to Miami, Charlotte, DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, etc.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing varies. Many embassy families live in town houses or apartment. These are modern and U.S. style. About 25% of the houses are single-family dwellings with yards. But these units are also older and more prone to maintenance issues. The furniture is landlord provided so it ranges from ugly to great, with most being ok.

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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 find almost anything locally, although some things we also ordered from Netgrocer. But the prices are ridiculous (US$8 for a gallon of milk). You just have to stop looking at the prices and buy whatever you need.

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

More paper supplies (TP, paper plates, Bounty, etc) since these are very expensive here. But make sure you will have a place to store it before you ship it.

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

McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, Burger King, etc. There are excellent restaurants throughout the island but the prices are high. Lunch for two can easily add up to US$80 and it can be much more expensive at the fancy restaurants.

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

Ants seem to be the only common problem throughout the island. You just have to store your food properly and get used to sharing your kitchen with them.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the pouch. Even though we are next to the US it still take about 2 weeks each way. In an emergency you can FedEx an envelope to the U.S. for about US$30.

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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 pay our housekeeper US$9 per hour for two half-days per week. You can negotiate a lower rate if you hire someone for full days.

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

There is an excellent gym (Bally's) on the Cable Beach area and the price is reasonable (about US$45 per month if you pay for the whole year). Embassy staff can also access the Hilton Gym across the Embassy for US$30/month. I dont know about the options on the other side of the island.

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

Most credit cards charge a 2-3% currency conversion fee so be careful (Bahamian $ are not US$). My card does not charge this fee so I use it for everything. ATMs are common but the fees can be as high as US$5 per transaction.

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

I think all religious services are in English and there seem to be a million churches throughout the island.

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

Cable is almost the same as what you would find in Miami and the cost is just a bit higher than in the US.You can get basic cable, HBO or similar packages, Digital cable, etc. Watching TV here is just like watching TV in the US. There is a Bahamian version of USA Today but I get my news online.

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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?

You need to be 100% fluent in Bahamian. There's no way around it.

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

Most streets dont have sidewalks and if they do they are uneven and have obstructions all along the way. Buildings are also not accessible and someone in a wheelchair would have a difficult time moving around.

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Transportation:

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

Jitney buses cost US$1.25 each way and are often used by expats. These are safe and affordable.

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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 can bring just about any US vehicle, although about 25% of the vehicles you see are right-hand drives imported from Japan. Before buying, keep in mind that gas here is always much more expensive than in the US.You can find most parts here but at very high prices. Most of us ship parts through the pouch as needed.

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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?

Our high-speed internet connection is great and we pay about $40 per month. Many people use Vonage, Skype, etc.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy a phone locally or bring/ship an unlocked phone from the U.S. The local rates are about .30 cents per minute but you need one for security reasons.

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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)?

From friends, I know there are quality vets on the island but I dont know about kennels. My friends always make arrangements to leave their pets with other friends.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are not many opportunities but I know of people (architects, medical professionals) that where able to get jobs locally. It depends on your background. But there are quite a few opportunities at the Embassy.

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

In public the dress code is casual. At work it depends on the section where you work, but only the Executive Office requires a coat and tie.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate. The air quality is usually good, but too many vehicles leave behind a cloud of smoke.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

I dont know of specific immunizations that are required beyond the usual (Hep A & B, etc).

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

Crime is a problem and you need to be aware of your surroundings. You hear of tourists being robbed but it doesnt happen often. We've also had a few Embassy houses burglarized, some with people in them- yikes!

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

We found a great OB-GYN, Pediatrician and Family Doctor (one of each). We also received great service at Doctor's Hospital on 2 occassions. That said, I would go to Miami for brain or heart surgery (maybe also for an appendectomy).

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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?

The weather is very nice. In the summer its hot and humid and it rains often. But in the winter its between 50 and 80, which I like.

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Schools & Children:

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

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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?

Yes, some embassy children participate in baseball and other sports.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

It seems to range from medium to high. In the Embassy, I've noticed morale issues mostly with Americans that have not served overseas before.

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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?

See above.

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

Its great for everyone, although there might not be as much to do for teens. Singles make the best of it by going to bars/clubs and socializing with other singles. Most families and couples do well and participate in Embassy sponsored events. There are also about a dozen small social groups and its easy to find one or two to hang out with.

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

Bahamians are conservative but seem to be tolerant of alternative lifestyles. I've meet a few gay people living here and they where neither complaining nor trying to hide it.

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

I have not noticed many prejudices. However, locals are not very friendly towards Jamaican and Haitian immigrants (legal or not) as they compete for jobs.

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

This place is great if you are into water sports and enjoy the beach. There is also a lively night scene. However, there arent many, if any, opportunities to attend cultural events. But you can always catch a cheap flight to the U.S. to get your shot of ballet, theater, etc.

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

Nothing here is unique.

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9. Can you save money?

Only if you stay home and don't talk to anyone. Even then the grocery and pay-per-view bills will get to you. There is no escape.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not really. Its been a great 2 years but it was more than enough. I'm ready to move on.

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

Fur coat, expectations of paradise, plans to save money, adventurous spirit.

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3. But don't forget your:

Wallet, snorkeling gear, kayak, etc.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Its been a good tour and I've made a lot of friends. But this place is not exotic or original at all. I really enjoyed socializing with Bahamians as they are warm and friendly.

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Nassau, The Bahamas 12/22/08

Background:

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

Cordoba, Spain and Caracas, Venezuela.

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2. How long have you lived here?

5 months.

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

U.S. Government.

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

Non-stop flights from most cities on the East Coast. DC to Nassau is about 3.5 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Wide array of architectural styles and sizes. Bright colors are common outside and inside.

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

EXPENSIVE! Finding meats and produce that are not spoiled in the store can sometimes be challenging. Household supplies like paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap, shampoo, etc are 2 or 3 times their U.S. cost. Milk is currently US$9.50 PER GALLON.

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

Paper products, liquid laundry detergent, liquid fabric softener, special rice blends, Liptons Green Tea to Go (individual packets).

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

McDonald's, KFC, Wendy's, Sbarros, Subway, Burger King, Dominos, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, and Dunkin Donuts. There are hundred of restaurants all over the island with everything and anything you could ever want to eat from snacks to 5-star gourmet dining.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch. Their is local mail service but it is slow and not always reliable.

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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$50-70/day part time or US$200-$350/week full time. This is for nannies, housekeepers, and gardeners.

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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?

Can be used almost everywhere for purchases though some shops will still only accept cash.

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

There are over 200 churches on this island which is 21 X 7 miles big. You can find just about every denomination here but the majority or Christian-based faiths.

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

Yes, comparable cost to the States.

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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?

English is the national language.

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

None of the buses (jitneys) are handicap accessible and the sidewalks are narrow (and sometimes non-existent) so they could be treacherous for someone is a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

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

Left side of the road (British).

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

No trains on the island. Buses (called jitneys) are US$1.25 one way and are safe and a fun experience. Taxis are considerably more expensive but also don't stop every 50 yards or so.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

The roads here are fairly well maintained but during the storm season (June-November) the island is prone to flash flood that can leave 2+ feet of standing water on some stretches of road. As a result of the rains, there are sometimes sinkholes in the road of 8-12 inches that bring whole new meaning to the term "pothole". I brought a mid-size SUV and have been very happy. Honda, Suzuki, Chevrolet, and Mercedes most common here. Service and parts are very expensive (Oil change is average of US$80.00).The saltwater and sea air is brutal to cars here so take whatever steps you can to prep your car.

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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, at a rate of US$35.00-$100.00/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?

Bring a cell phone with an unlocked SIM card or get one locally, the prices are only slightly higher then the cost of phones in the U.S. I would not recommend using your U.S. cell phone here, the roaming charges are very high.

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

Vonage, Packet 8 or Skype.

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Pets:

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

Vets yes. Kennels are few and far between. Most people leave theire pets in the care of their maids or friends.

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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?

With the economy suffering here, jobs are hard to come by.

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

Business dress and Sunday dress.

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Health & Safety:

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

Good, though car exhaust during rush hour can sometimes feel toxic.

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

Home robbery/invasion and armed street robbery are the most common. Vigilance is key to your safety.

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

Medical care is adequate but medivac to Florida for serious conditions.

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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?

High 70's (F) in winter and high 90's (F) in the summer. It rains a lot here from August through November and hurricanes are a real concern - come prepared.

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Schools & Children:

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

Dependent on the side of island that you live on, their are two international schools here; St. Andrews (East side) and Lyford Cay (West side).It is wise to pick the school on the same side of the island as what you live for the commute can be 1+ hours each way. I enrolled my 3 year old in a wonderful Montesorri program at Tambearly School (West side).They have small student-to-teacher ratios and classes all the way up to Year 9 (British system is island wide).

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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?

There are no less than a hundred preschool/daycare facilities on this island but 95% do not come close to the programs in the States. The majority of people with children under the age of 3 have nannies. The cost range of a nanny here in Nassau is US$200-$350 PER WEEK live-in or live-out.

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Expat Life:

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

Mostly Brits with Americans, Germans and Canadians are the next biggest groups.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed bag - you either love it or you hate it here.

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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?

In-home and at pubs, clubs all over town.

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

Yes on all accounts. There is something for everyone but it is also fairly isolating. This is a tourist town and everthing here is geared towards that market. If you always have to have something to do/going on, you will not be happy here.

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

For the most part society here is fairly tolerant, there are several religious organizations here that are not and sometimes publicly protest.

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

None.

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

Boating, snorkeling, diving, jet-ski, resort activities (check Atlantis website), island day-trips, the Daq Shaq, etc.

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

Straw handbags (not the beach kind) that are considered high-end collectibles and really beautiful!

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9. Can you save money?

Yes if you don't participate in local activities or eat out much.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely!

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

Sense of urgency to get anything done, expectations of customer service, and belief that pedestrians have the right of way.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and love of the ocean and beach.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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