Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago

Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 03/08/19

Background:

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

No. I have served around the world and have been with the State Department for almost 20 years.

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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?

It's about a 3+ hour flight from Trinidad and Tobago to Miami; multiple airlines make that route. It's five plus hours to just to Houston, and there are also flights to Fort Lauderdale and NYC.
It can be expensive to fly out, but honestly it's even more expensive on the short flights within Caribbean (a real bummer).

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost three years.

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

Work at the 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?

Good-size single family homes. Most Embassy staff live in an area along with other expats, though we didn't. There are other areas like St. Clair, Maraval, and Federation Park that have good single family housing. Commute times can run from 10 minutes to 30+ depending on traffic

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

Food for the most part is expensive. Most items are imported. T and T could do a LOT more in terms of growing own products, but they don't. We supplement via Amazon and other online groceries,
but food is NOT cheap here.

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

Depends on how particular you are about items.

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

Almost all USA chains are here, but service seems slow. There are some decent places to eat both high and medium end. There are also local establishments with good food.

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

Not really. It's tropical so there are bugs ,etc. Some beaches have nasty sand flies.

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Daily Life:

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

We are pouch only. Mail can take up to a month to get to post and it seems slower during the holidays. Our stuff seems to get banged around all the time.

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

It is very hard to find a nanny and/or housekeeper here. Quality of the work (housekeeping) seems to be hit or miss. One must follow both local and State Department regulations when hiring (both may seem strict).

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

Gyms are decent. Not super fancy but American like quality. Not inexpensive, but not super cheap either. Weather is good here, so an outside workout is easy. You can find private trainers here.

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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 always use my credit card except on rare occasions, but I have never used an ATM here. I try to cash checks for local currency at the Embassy. ATMs seem generally safe but you just need to use the same precautions that one would use in the USA. There are some ATM scams but again, general awareness is key.

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

All types.

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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-speaking country although the accent and slang can be tough for some who are not use to it. It does sound almost like sing-song version of English.

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

Yes and no. There are parking spots for those with handicaps and other basic attempts to accommodate, but a lot of the infrastructure is not ADA complaint.

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Transportation:

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

Nope. There is one taxi company that is approved for our use. The Embassy contracts with one private contractor for most driving needs.

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

Do not try and buy a car locally; bring left or right and drive. An SUV will be best but all types work here. Don't forget tires and parts.

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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?

Not super high speed but not bad and it can take a while to get installed. There are different companies to chose from.

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

There are options, but I don't have specific recommendation. Some folks keep home country plan but that's kind of expensive. T and T does have area code (868) so it's not hard to dial in and out to USA.

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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 do not have a pet, but have heard they can be difficult to import and may limit housing options.

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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?

The Embassy seems to try to employ as many EFMs as possible. The biggest hurdle is the security clearance process. FT and PT jobs are available. Local employment is possible but not many choose that route. You can telecommute/the connection is good enough.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Some but limited.

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

Normal business but be aware it's hot so evening events folks will remove ties/etc. Formal dress is rarely required.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is rated a critical crime post. Diplomats not targeted per se but I've heard have been victims of home invasion, robberies, etc. I've heard a high murder rate, but general awareness like in USA is usually enough to ensure safety. Residences don't require (at this time) armed guards although there is the embassy patrol.

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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?

Emergency care can be hit and miss. Specialist care can be quite good. Pediatricians are good but you have to make effort to know doctors. Don't show up and think they will just fit you in or take an emergency because you are a diplomat or other expat.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good. Some bush fires and Sahara dust.

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

We have no winter in T and T and folks seem to get a little crazy at Carnival time. Some folks get island fever.

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

Hot but not Dubai hot or Malaysia humid.

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Schools & Children:

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

This is a really important issue: for many years there was one option that embassy children and most expats attended, which is the International School of Port of Spain (ISPS). In 2016-2017 things changed a lot. Many embassy parents were not going to send their children there anymore, but a number were also very happy with ISPS. The embassy worked hard with Main State to create another option and brought in a QSI school. It is small but the vast majority of parents and kids like it. The embassy parents and kids at ISPS also seem happy.

It's VERY important that a parent and child be aware that there are other options than ISPS but still be very aware that ISPS is a good option for many parents and children.
Parents should investigate all options and support multiple options. It might be "easy" to just assume ISPS is only option (or even QSI) but that can not be the case in Port of Spain

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

I think QSI can probably take on special needs easier but it's important to ask both main schools. There are very good therapists here for all major areas. This should be a post that can accommodate special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, a broad range, but price depends on the school (some seem expensive). The kids attend a wide range of schools and newcomers should check with the Community Liaison Office (CLO).

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

Yes, tennis, horseback riding, swimming, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

No idea on size, it's shrinking as economy downsizes and oil and gas sector changes. Morale is overall ok but the crime issue is starting to weigh on people, but this is can be very/very decent place to live

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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?

T and T is a party nation.

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

All of the above, you just have to be willing to accept T and T for what it is or is not.

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

Yes, although it's not going to 100% progressive but it's better than a lot of places in the region.

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

Yes. This is a VERY multi cultural nation. One of the most in the world There are some underlying tensions but honestly they are much further along than most countries in that regard.
Folks do seem to like America here (maybe not all policies), but like America and do have deep ties to America.

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

See above

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

My children are happy here.

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

Chuck E. Cheese is really nice here, and the weather is awesome.

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

No.

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

Weather, kids happy, you can get a nice tan, people are generally nice, it's a bit of America lite, really like how multi ethnic and multi cultural it is.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

More about the school situations.

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

Of course.

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

Worries.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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

Nope.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you have kids, please really explore all the options for schools. Do NOT allow yourself or our child(ren) to be shoehorned into a school b/c it is "expected". I only listed two options that are the main ones for the USA Embassy but there are others

T and T is very different than the rest of the Caribbean. Not a tourism center, has a lot of things going on here (good and not so good) and has very interesting people and very close ties culturally, economically and more with USA but is also very independent from USA. Something to consider for all of those factors.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 04/13/17

Background:

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

Nope. I’ve lived on other Caribbean islands as well as in the UK and South Africa.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

East Coast. Travel time is usually between eight and 12 hours. American flies direct to Miami, JetBlue to Ft. Lauderdale and JFK, United to Houston, and Caribbean to Orlando, JFK, and Ft. Lauderdale.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Nine months.

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

Work (researching and teaching).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I have a three-bedroom apartment in the East. Most expats live in gated communities, which are very reminiscent of south Florida, or in apartments in the West. Dip corps homes tend to be in Westmoorings and Maraval, which are affluent suburbs of Port of Spain. Without traffic, the commute from Westmoorings and Maraval to the city center is 10-15 minutes.

All things considered, I’ve been pleased with my apartment here. Most expats can afford nicer housing, which ranges from as little as 900 USD/month to as much as 5,000 USD/month depending on location and size. (As a rule, the closer to Port of Spain, the more you pay. Single-family homes and apartments are most expensive in Westmoorings, Maraval, and the surrounding areas.)



One note of caution: If you are planning to move to T&T, make sure to secure an apartment or home that (1) is in a gated community and (2) has a secondary water supply.

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

The cost of groceries is slightly higher than that found in the U.S. Vegetables and fruits are best purchased at markets, where prices and quality are typically superior. Cleaning supplies are widely available, but U.S. brands are more expensive.

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

I’d recommend bringing fabric softener. If you have any special shaving creams, shampoos, colognes, etc., you should pack them as well. Some products are readily available while others are nearly impossible to find.

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

Trinidad has a little bit of everything—Italian, French, Thai, Hakka, Chinese, Korean, and, of course, Creole. Buzo, an upscale pizzeria, is the highest-rated restaurant in POS. G Spot, a gourmet food truck on Maraval Road, is a must visit and will be featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown: Trinidad and Tobago.”



For bake and shark, go to Richard’s in Maracas. Poutine lovers should visit Poutineois in Curepe. In Tobago, a trip to Ciao!, which serves up the best pizza and gelato on either island, is obligatory. Jemma’s Treehouse Kitchen is another Tobagonian restaurant that’s popular with expats. Just make sure to reserve a table before going.



Most of the fast food and pizza chains here—including Papa John’s and KFC—deliver. McDonald’s and Subway are on island as well, as are Domino’s, Church’s, and Popeye’s. There is a TGI Friday’s on the Savannah and at least one Ruby Tuesdays. Haagen-Dazs has a full-scale operation in POS and Dairy Queen has several locations.

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

You encounter the usual suspects in equatorial locations—cockroaches, mosquitoes, etc. I haven’t run into any problems, but I know some people who have had cockroach infestations.

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Daily Life:

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

The local postal system isn’t bad, but for anything of import I’d use DHL or FedEx. Letters from/to the U.S. can go with TT Post. Delivery time is about two weeks to/from the East Coast.

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

Not sure, but since Trinis are known for "liming" more than anything else I would be surprised if many expats had reliable nannies or housekeepers.

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

Most gyms tend to be on the expensive side. A lot of expats walk the Savannah, which has a perimeter of 2.2 miles.

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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?

Visa is widely accepted in POS, Mastercard to a lesser extent. Nowhere I’ve visited takes American Express or Discover. Outside POS, at local establishments, and in Tobago, expect to use cash. ATMs are fairly common but sometimes dispense fake bills (particularly 50s), which banks will NOT swap out for you. I recommend using the machines at RBC on Sweet Briar and at the Scotiabank that’s adjacent to Independence Square. I’d caution against taking out money at night.

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

Because Trinidad is English-speaking, a wide selection is available. There are a lot of Catholic, (Shouter) Baptist, Anglican, Seventh Day Adventist, and Methodist churches. There are also mosques and Hindu temples scattered throughout Trinidad. From what I can tell, the Jewish population is negligible.

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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?

Trinidad and Tobago is English-speaking, but most expats have a problem understanding Trinis, at least at first. The problem is a mix of the accent and the fact that many locals, particularly those in food service, speak softly or mumble.

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

T&T is a really bad place for people with physical impairments. Sidewalks are crumbling if they even exist and many places outside POS don’t have elevators.

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Transportation:

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

Maxis, which are small buses, are the easiest way to commute to/from POS. The fare into the city ranges from four to seven TTD while the return rate is fixed at seven TTD. Contrary to what many expats think, I consider maxis to be safe. In all my time here, I’ve never experienced any problems or been concerned for my safety.



In addition to maxis, people use "p taxis," which are illegal cabs operated by private citizens. They are convenient and cheap (the fare is typically 5 TTD) but can be dangerous. I only use them when I’m with at least one other person.

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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?

If you don’t plan to take any excursions, you can have whatever car you want because the major roads are in good shape. However, flooding is a constant problem because of a lack of drainage, so you may want to consider bringing a vehicle with clearance. A lot of expats have Santa Fes, CRVs, Prados, RAV4s, or Pilots. Trucks are less common, and some Trinis have BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes. In general, bring something with a little height that can withstand the potential nicks and dents that come with traffic here.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. The options are bmobile and Digicel. I recommend Digicel—the quality is superior and the customer service is slightly better.

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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?

I have Digicel, but most of my expat friends have bmobile. I recommend Digicel because it’s more user-friendly and has better coverage on both Trinidad and Tobago. You could bring a U.S. phone and have it unlocked, but it’s not advisable to walk around with an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy in plain sight.

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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?

Not sure, but a lot of people have dogs as pets (mainly for security).

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Not sure, but most significant others that I know of stay at home. I don’t know if there’s a bilateral work agreement for U.S. embassy spouses.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of functioning nonprofits here. If you have kids, I’d look at the International School and Maple Leaf, which is an Ontario-accredited school in Diego Martin.

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

Business casual for the most part. Some restaurants have a dress code—which usually means no sleeveless shirts or flip flops for men—but the establishments that do enforce said codes spottily. Young women tend to dress more provocatively than their American counterparts. During Carnival, everything goes.

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Health & Safety:

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

For only having 1.4 million people, Trinidad has a high murder rate. The good news is that, for the most part, the killings are gang-related and concentrated in certain areas (Laventille, Morvant, and Beetham, for example). Kidnapping and rape aren’t nearly as much of a concern. Robbery is a crime of opportunity that plagues the whole country. You shouldn’t walk around with any flashy jewelry or have your smartphone out for all to see.

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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 ranges from subpar to crudely on par with the U.S. Mt. Hope offers free medical services but the wait is often long and the wards operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Most expats use West Shore Medical Center or St. Clair. It’s possible to find American- or British-trained doctors. Dentists and some specialists tend to be well qualified and able to perform minor procedures. For anything major, I’d go back to the U.S.



In terms of health issues, polluted water is a concern. A 2016 report found high levels of lead and other chemicals in the drinking water, but the Water and Safety Authority has assured us (and independent testing has confirmed) that everything is filtered out prior to consumption.

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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?

Although Trinidad is more industrialized than most people expect, the air quality is fine overall.

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

Most food items are available here. You may just have to go to several markets and grocery stores to find what you need.

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

Not that I know of, but fatigue is a problem during the hottest days of the year. Mild depression tends to affect those who arrive expecting to live in an island paradise.

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

Given its location, Trinidad has a dry (January to July-ish) and a rainy season (August-ish to December). Even in the dry season, though, expect rain, including the occasional downpour.

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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 don’t have any experience with the K-12 international schools but know of families that like both the International School and Maple Leaf.

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Expat Life:

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

For such a small country, the expat community is sizeable. Morale is mixed, largely because customer service is nonexistent and Trinidad isn’t the island paradise that most people are expecting. Based on my interactions and anecdotal information, it seems that the oil company folks have a better experience than do members of the diplomatic corps.

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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?

I don’t really socialize with the expat crowd, but I understand that evening and weekend get-togethers are common. There are several hiking/birding/general nature groups to join, but you’ll have to ask around to see which ones are in operation. (I recommend that people look into Road Trip TT.)

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

Singles: This is a difficult question to answer. T&T is deceptively good for men, who have to be careful because a lot of young women act and dress much older than they actually are. (This is very true during Carnival.) If I were a woman, I wouldn’t try my luck here, but there are several French expats I’ve heard of who married Trini men and moved here.



Couples/Families: I think T&T is best for childless couples and/or empty-nesters who like the outdoors. The country is devoid of parks (and general activities for children) but has beautiful forest trails and waterfalls.

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

Another hard question to answer. T&T isn’t gay-friendly like Cuba, but it’s not utterly homophobic like Jamaica. There is an LGBTI scene here, but I’m not sure if any expats are involved in it.

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

Contrary to what many people believe, T&T is divided. Although it’s common to see mixed marriages, particularly among the middle- and upper-class Indo-Trinis and Afro-Trinis, the political landscape is starkly bifurcated (PNM = Afro and UNC = Indo). Similarly, T&T has a decided lack of gender equality. Women should expect to be cat-called and honked at with regularity.

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

Carnival: It goes without saying that Jouvert and Carnival are unique cultural experiences in which every expat should participate. Just make sure to ask around for information about mas bands. (A lot of expats play with Flirt, but in any given year there are two dozen from which to choose.)



Music: I’m not a big fan of soca—although it’s hard not to develop an affinity for some of the more popular songs during Carnival—but I could listen to calypso for hours. Calypso Rose is the going artist, particularly since she just won a French Grammy, but Mighty Sparrow, Mighty Shadow, Lord Invader, Roaring Lion, and Brother Valentino are some of the more classic artists. Chalkdust is in vogue at the moment, mainly because he won the 2017 Calypso monarch competition with “Learn from Arithmetic,” a song that takes up the issue of child marriage in T&T.



Hiking: There are a lot of great hikes. Rio Seco, Paria, and Maracas Waterfalls are popular day trips, as is Aripo Cottage. I believe that the rainforest in Tobago has several trails as well.



Birding: Caroni Swamp, which has perhaps the largest concentration of Scarlet Ibises, is a must. Nariva Swamp and Asa Wright Nature Center are also good.



Beaches: Objectively speaking, T&T is probably the worst island in the region when it comes to beaches. Maracas is the most popular but tends to be crowded from Thursday to Sunday. Manzanilla is a trek from POS but is picturesque (it’s lined with coconut trees) and typically has less people. There’s also at least one spot in Macqueripe, but I’ve never been. In Tobago, I like Buccoo, but most people stick to Store Bay and Crown Point.



Tobago: It’s obligatory to do the Nylon Pool and Buccoo Reef tour. (Most people leave from Pidgeon Point, but I recommend getting a 2:00p departure from Buccoo. It’s less expensive and you get to spend more time in the water.) You should plan to visit Store Bay to try Miss Trim’s famous crab and dumplings. You should also consider going to Argyle Falls, which is about an hour’s drive from Scarborough. (It’s best to tackle Argyle and Jemma’s in one fell swoop.) Hikers or people with time on their hands can visit the rainforest, which is located north central Tobago. Finally, most expats partake in Sunday School, which is a sizable block party in Buccoo.

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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?

Chocolate: Believe it or not, T&T has the most varieties of cocoa in the world. The chocolate here has a distinct earthy, fruity flavor. If you love all things chocolate—rum balls, candy bars, cold drinks, and even tea and alcohol—visit the Cocoa Pod on Gordon Street in Port of Spain.



Peppers: The hottest peppers in the world can be found on island. Pepper sauce and chadon beni (pronounced “shadow bennie”) are ubiquitous, with Mother in Law being the hottest of them all.



Artwork/Handicrafts: You may find a couple of cool things in Tobago, but T&T as a whole isn’t known for its curios.

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

The chocolate, the food, and an affordable Carnival experience (living here, you will save a lot of money that visitors will be forced to spend on flights and hotel rooms). For those who are adventurous, it's easy to get to Suriname and Guyana from here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The extent of the customer service problem. I had a good idea coming in but quickly learned that T&T is unique in this regard. (If you talk with Trinis in the diaspora, they will tell you the same thing.)

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

Honestly not sure. I prefer cultural activities to sitting on the beach, so I’d live here before going back to Barbados or to some other places in the region—Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, and Dominica, for example. Having said that, I find The Bahamas, the D.R., St. Lucia, and even Haiti to be more attractive options. I guess it all depends on what you want.

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

Expectation of living like a beach bum and need/desire for excellent customer service

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent

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

Books: Earl Lovelace’s "The Dragon Can’t Dance" and Michael Anthony’s "A Year in San Fernando" are required reading. Naipaul’s "Miguel Street" and "A House for Mr. Biswas" are indispensable, too.



Mid-20th century novels to buy include anything by Sam Selvon. For a more recent depiction of life in T&T—at least from the point of view of the (upper) middle class—read Liz Walcott-Hackshaw’s "Mrs. B." If you want history, have a look at anything by Bridget Brereton. You should also leaf through Eric Williams’s "Capitalism and Slavery." Last but not least, "Sugar Barons" by Matthew Parker is an engaging read that gives information about the region’s once-prosperous sugar industry.



Movies: The only film I can recommend is “Bazodee,” which came out last year. It stars Michel Montano, T&T’s most famous soca artist, and provides insight into a certain subset of the Trini population.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Life in T&T is what you make of it. There are much more harsh environments in which to live, but that doesn’t mean everything here is easy (or easy with which to deal). As is generally the case, the more money you earn, the more fun you can have.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 08/20/16

Background:

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

Yes, first post.

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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?

South Carolina. From there, to Miami and onto POS. It's an easy day trip. Flight from MIA to POS is just under 4 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

13 months.

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

Spouse of US 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?

We live in a single family house in Westmoorings, a popular area near the international school and West Falls Mall about 15-20 minutes (more if rush hour) to Embassy. Most expats live in this area, in various neighborhoods. We have a "roving patrol" for neighborhood security, and enclosed/gated homes. Some singles/couples, small families live in the apartments nearby. Apartments are nice (2-3 bedrooms) all overlooking the ocean. Great views and breeze with community swimming pool. Not all houses have a pool.

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

Groceries in Trinidad are mostly imported which mean they cost a great deal more than what you would pay in the U.S. A small container of blueberries for example (imported from the U.S.) is about $7, strawberries are around $9. We spend nearly double in Trinidad than we do in the U.S.



Sometimes things can be very hard to find and the selection will vary from week to week. It is always good to stock up on a favorite item when you find it because it won't be available when you "need" it.



We shop at 2 speciality import meat stores and everything is frozen (and expensive). There is a price mart (similar to Sams/Costco) that has fresh milk and coffee creamer and other items for less than the grocery store chains. We also buy all of our water (drinking and cooking) in the 5 gallon size. Oh, and don't expect to find any low- or fat-free items. They don't exist. The only milk we can get that isn't shelf-stable is imported from the US and whole/vitamin D milk. It costs about $17 a gallon.

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

Port of Spain isn't a consumable post for us and we can order in somethings through our mail services. I can get what I need that way, rather than buy locally.

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

The service is Trinidad is beyond slow so fast food doesn't actually exist. They do have KFC, McDonalds and some other chain restaurants but 45 minutes for a 10-piece nugget meal isn't exactly fast. The takeout options are also limited as there is really no delivery beyond pizza. We eat out occasionally and it is always expensive. The local food/street food is quite good and less expensive. In the evenings there is "The Avenue.' They have street vendors from about 7 p.m. onward and they have gyros, taco stands, local Trini cuisine for very reasonable prices.

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

There are ants and mosquitoes. The ants never go away. The mosquitoes are better in the dry season.

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Daily Life:

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

We get mail through the diplomatic pouch.

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

Household help is available and easy to obtain. The work ethic isn't quite the same as in the Latin American countries and often times it takes a whole day for 1/2 days worth of work. On average a housekeeper is about U.S. $35 per visit.

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

The embassy doesn't have a gym on site. There are other local gyms that are similar in price to the US. There are also classes to be found (and the instructor will come to your house) such as Pilates, TRX, etc. A lot of expats hike trails, walk in groups and work out together.

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

Credit cards are used with all major business. Cash only for local vendors, extracurricular activities (kids clubs/sports instructors, etc).

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

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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?

They speak English but it can be very hard to understand.

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

It is not handicapped accessible.

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Transportation:

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

There is not much in the way of public transportation, and none that is recommended by the Embassy. The Maxi-Taxi are a locally used bus service and random cars stop to pick up people. No idea on the cost of that as we are prohibited from using it. Everyone I know has at least one vehicle.

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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?

Small cars/SUVs are preferred. The roads are a mess with potholes and broken pavement. The parking spots are small, if they exist at all. We have a large American truck--driving and parking it can be very frustrating.

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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?

Several different companies. They all have their issues. Install depends on the company, but will probably take all day and they will be several hours late arriving.

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

There are two companies. BMobile and Digicel. Both have comparable plans/rates. You can do pre-paid or pay for a data plan. Averages about same as in the U.S.

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Pets:

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

There are several vets around but we have no first-hand knowledge.

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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?

Some work at the schools, some at the embassy. Not familiar with the pay scales on either.

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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?

Dress at the embassy is business casual. It's an island so a little more casual than other places. Formal attire would only be for certain meetings or evening events.

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Health & Safety:

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

I feel comfortable walking in our neighborhood with my children, even at night. There are areas and hiking paths where a group is required. Overall we feel safe here.

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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?

Mosquito born illnesses are a problem here, most recently Zika. There are a couple of hospitals and they are below U.S. standards. We've been for childhood illnesses (ear infections) and it was an issue to be seen as there was no pediatrician working. There are a lot of doctors available with various educational backgrounds (some from the US, UK, Trini, etc).



Dental care seems to be fairly good here.

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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. We have both wet and dry seasons. In the dry season there is some smoke from the fires. Overall the biggest issue with air would be the air conditioners that are common here. They create a lot of dust and need to be cleaned often.

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

There is a vast supply of over-the-counter medicines here.

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

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

It's hot and humid all year. Lots of sun all year (even in the wet season). The dry season is from January-June/July. The wet season is from July-December. Periods of rain everyday. Usually not long and not too bad. Just enough to spike up the humidity.

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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 is the International School Port of Spain (IB/MYP program), The Montessori school, St. Andrews (British/Trini school). They all have issues. We enrolled in 1st grade upon arrival at the International School and I wish we'd chosen differently.

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

None that I am aware of.

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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 a lot of in-home daycare and nursery schools. These are a lot less expensive than daycares in the US. Most people have found one they are happy with.

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

Through the schools there are some. Locally there are a couple different swim clubs, karate centers and such. There is not a lot for kids to do here. There are soccer clubs but they just practice, they don't play against other teams. Between the ages of 0-4 there is no organized anything for children.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is very large due to the oil companies that also reside here. The embassy community is small and everyone kind of does their own thing.

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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?

DDI (down the islands), house BBQs, the beach. There is the American League and a couple of other clubs.

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

I'd say its good for both singles and families. Its a very Caribbean feel in that there is no sense of urgency regarding anything. There is very little to do here so if you don't like the beach/sand, boating, outdoor hikes, etc then there wouldn't be much for you. This country has the most public holidays so there are lots of opportunities for long weekends, trips to Tobago, etc.

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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?

We leave soon and for us the best parts have been days on the water. We did go to Tobago but with 3 small kids it is hard to experience all of the great outdoor experiences they have to offer.

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

DDI trips for sure. Maracas beach, and any local community festival you can find. Diwali lights festival in the fall is a great trip too.

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

Not really. Everything is expensive/imported.

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

The weather, if you like summertime, is nice.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How much it would cost to leave the island. Travel to South America is expensive. Island hopping is still a couple hundred dollars per plane ticket.

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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:

Winter clothes, need for speed.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bug spray, sun block, beach towels and patience.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 05/06/16

Background:

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

no, other countries in Europe, Africa, and Latin America

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. three hours to Miami and then another 2.5 to DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

over 2 years

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

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 mixed. Some is ok, many houses are substandard.

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

expensive. COLA does not cover the expenses.

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

a ticket home

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

there are but remove the term "fast" as this is not a reality here.

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

mosquitoes and gnats

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Daily Life:

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

embassy pouch which takes 2-3 weeks

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

no work ethic here so good luck. Also expensive. On both accounts, good luck.

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

A small gym which is small and smelly and expensive

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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?

critical crime so be careful

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

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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?

they speak English although it can be difficult to understand at times.

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

I have not seen any accomodations.

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Transportation:

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

no, public transportation is not safe. The private taxis are 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?

anything with a little bit of clearance as the roads are not good outside of the city

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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 US$120 for cable and internet.

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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?

It's available and inexpensive.

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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

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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?

very formal

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, it's rated critical for crime. Also, there is a growing concern with the number of extremist muslims going to fight in Syria that has been covered in the news.

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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?

poor medical services.

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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?

OK, no issues

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

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

Hot, mostly rainy with some four months of dry season.

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Schools & Children:

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

One school, many parents have issues with the school.

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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?

Everything is expensive and COLA is not enough to cover costs.

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

Not really

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Expat Life:

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

small expat size, poor morale.

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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?

bars

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

for young families with babies or young children it would be nice, as there is nothing to do so you can have all the quality family life you want.

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

I don't think so. I think they can get around as long as they don't declare their lifestyle.

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

Yes, much attitude between the races, in every direction. Again, it grinds you down.

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

The work was good and I enjoyed working with my colleagues. The staff at the embassy was a mixed group, some fantastic, and others absolutely worthless.

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

Not much. There is a list of some five things to do, after than you can start over.

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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; they don't make anything here

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

Not many. There is a limited amount of things to do. If you love birds, I suppose this might be ideal for you. Customer service is deplorable and the attitude is horrible. It grinds you down.

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10. Can you save money?

it depends. Things are so expensive that it's hard to go out so in that regard you can save lots. On the other hand, if you insist on going out, you will not save anything.

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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?

absolutely not.

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

expectation that anything will be done well or quickly. get over it and focus on the positive

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4. But don't forget your:

ticket home every six months

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 06/02/15

Background:

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

no

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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?

Northeast. Daily direct flights to JFK on JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines. Flight time is approximately 4.5 hours and tickets are usually US$350 round trip. There are also daily flights to Miami, Houston and Panama City. Inter-island travel is very expensive.

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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.)?

U.S. Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most expats and diplomats live in the Northwest area of Trinidad. Neighborhoods include Westmoorings, Goodwood Park, Federation Park, St. Clair and Maraval. Most live in spacious single family homes or waterfront apartment buildings. Overall everyone seems to be happy with their housing. Commuting times are usually about 20-40 minutes, depending on where you live. If there are heavy rains or police operations, traffic can be a disaster.

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

Most items are imported, therefore they are very expensive. Milk and imported fruits/vegetables are triple the price in the U.S. There is a Pricesmart here, which is similar to Costco, where you can get everything you need for cleaning and household supplies.

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

Kids bikes, pool furniture, a boat!

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

KFC (everywhere), Subway, McDonald's, Burger King are all here. There are quite a few nice restuarants in town. There seems to be something for everyone, regardless of your budget.

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

Mosquitoes and ants.

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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, which takes about 3 weeks for delivery.

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

Domestic help is very affordable, rates for the expat/dip community is around US$4 per hour. Minimum wage in TT is 15 TTD (US$2.36). Reliability and professionalism vary widely. It is not uncommon to go through multiple workers until you find the right one. Trinis aren't known for their work ethic.

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

There are several modern gyms located throughout the city, to include Crossfit. Prices are around US$50-100 per month.

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

Credit cards and ATMS are widely accepted. I only used legitimate bank ATMS (RBC, Scotia Bank) and luckily haven't experienced any problems.

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

English is the official language.

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

Yes. The roads and sidewalks are a disaster.

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Transportation:

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

Local transportation is prohibited for U.S. Embassy personnel. Taxis and Maxi's (small vans) are robbed all the time. There have been numerous reports of sexual assaults perpetrated against females riding in private taxis. There are several affordable, reliable, and vetted car services available.

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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?

A mid-sized SUV would be ideal since the roads are in horrible condition. If you can import a right hand drive vehicle it would make driving easier.

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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?

Flow is the local service provider, which charges about US$100 per month for cable / high speed internet. We stream NetFlix and Apple TV and have had no issues.

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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, there are multiple service providers to choose from.

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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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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 are required to work on the local economy. I am not familiar with how many opportunities there are, however there are several financial service firms and global brands located in TT.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Orphanages and church-based groups.

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

Business or business casual in most work settings. Casual outside of work, however many establishments require pants/shoes.

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Health & Safety:

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

Trinidad and Tobago has a very serious crime problem. Unfortunately it has the 12th highest homicide rate in the world, however the majority of violent crimes is gang related and centralized in certain high crime areas. If you follow RSO guidance and practice good personal security you should not encounter any problems. Ensure you use your entire residential security system since burglaries occur in every neighborhood.

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

Dengue and Chikungunya are very common. Public hospitals are horrible and there have been numerous press reports of fatalities during child birth and common surgeries. Although there is an emergency medical service, the response times are unacceptable. If you are injured in any way, your best course of action is to self medevac to the closest hospital. Private medical care is good, make sure you have your credit card since payment is required prior to services!

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good. During the dry season there are brush fires. Often the city landfill catches on fire and engulfs the metropolitan area in smoke.

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

Allergy season seems to spike during the dry season.

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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?

There are 2 seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season is usually from June-January, dry season from January-June. Daily temperatures are from 80-90F. There is a very nice breeze during the dry season, which is refreshing.

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Schools & Children:

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

The International School of Port of Spain is the primary school for expats, diplomats and wealthy Trinis. There are several other private schools that have good reputations.

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2. 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?

Preschools are usually located within someone's home. Prices are very affordable compared to the U.S.

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

Soccer is huge here. Most parks are filled with people of all ages playing soccer. The international school has a very robust sports program.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a rather large expat community here for such a small island. People associated with the oil industry and the diplomatic corps make up the majority of the expat community. Overall I would say morale is positive. It is all what you make of it here.

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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?

Liming. Liming is the national past time of Trinidad & Tobago. Trinis love to drink, party and have a good time. Most limes involve pot luck food and copious amounts of rum, whiskey and beer!

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

Families with older children and singles will enjoy Trinidad. It is not conducive to families with small children. The limited number of parks are in disrepair. There isn't a lot to do with young kids besides the beach and zoo. Families with older children can enjoy boating, hiking, golfing and sports associated with the school. There is a decent nightlife here, most singles and childless couples have a very robust social life.

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

Technically homosexuality is illegal, however there seems to be a tolerance towards gays/lesbians.

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

Most of the country is divided along racial lines, however there doesn't appear to be any open prejudices. Gender prejudices against women seem to be socially acceptible.

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

Exploring the diverse rain forests through hiking and mountain biking. Maracas beach, leatherback turtles, Caroni Swamp, Emperor Valley Zoo and liming.

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

Biking, birding, hiking, golfing, beaches, boating, tennis, cricket, rugby, hashing. If you are active and like the outdoors then you will enjoy Trinidad. If you look hard enough you will find a group that does something.

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

Rum, beer, doubles, bake and shark, snow cones.

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

Trinidad and Tobago is a very unique country in every aspect. It is not your typical Caribbean island beach paradise. However the lack of accesible beaches is made up for by the plethora of outdoor and eco-centric activities that you can participate in. If you are motivated, there is golfing, boating, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, hashing, birding and a vibrant restuarant scene. Overall Trinidadians are very friendly people and take great pride in their homeland.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you never leave the island.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That it is very expensive to travel to other Caribbean islands. That the West Indian culture is VERY relaxed and inefficient.

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

Probably not with young kids. It has been a struggle to keep them occupied. Overall I have enjoyed my tour here and met many incredible Trinidadians and expats, however after 2 years it is time to move on.

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

Expectations of a beach paradise.

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4. But don't forget your:

Beach gear, hiking gear, BBQ, and good beer. Patience, bring tons of it. If you don't let the madness of Trini inefficiency bother you then you will survive!

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

"A Little Book of Hangover Cures"

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Like anywhere in the world, your attitude and experiences will depend on how proactive you are. If you are a hermit or nervous about the crime situation, you won't last long. If you are adventurous and active you will find some type of activity to keep you busy. Trinidad is blessed with tremendous natural resources, however it is very disappointing to see the decaying infrastructure and overall disregard for improving the country. When the oil and gas run out, this country will be in trouble.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 05/25/15

Background:

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

This was our first expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is the northeast. A trip home to NY is direct and takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes. I found tickets under US$400 and one time under US$300.

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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.)?

My husband worked for 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?

Our house was a large 4 bedroom and had a pool. All of the houses are gated and have bars on the windows and doors. Some live in one of the 3 high rise towers that are on the water. Those apartments are spacious but not very updated. An average commute time without traffic to the Embassy can take 20 minutes but if there in an accident, it will back everything up and it could take an hour. During summer time there is significantly less traffic.

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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. A carton of strawberries is US$8, milk is US$14, a box of cereal is no less than US$5 and a yogurt is US$1.25. I spend a fortune! However, some things are cheap like bread and certain veggies. You can get a lot of familiar brands at the grocery store but you will pay a lot. Most people buy their meat from a store called Blooms where everything is frozen and shipped in from the U.S. It is not too pricey and the quality is ok. I would say shopping in general is terrible. Everything is double or triple the price and the quality stinks. You don't get inspired to cook anything when you food shop-you just get your things and get out!

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

more rugs-everything is tile floor.

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

Wendys, McDonald's, Subway, PizzaHut, Dominos, Coldstone, and KFC are all here. The menus are slightly different and it's a bit more expensive. There are also plenty of other nice restaurants to choose from. A nice dinner can cost about US$200 if you are drinking. Cocktails are expensive but local beer is really cheep. There are options for all budgets.

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

Mosquitoes are bad and there are many ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy pouch.

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

housekeeper is US$30/day and a nanny is about US$35-40.

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

Yes-there are a few traditional gym options. There is also a Crossfit and a Yoga studio. The gyms cost about US$65/mth and are comparable to a small U.S. gyms. Gyms do not offer child care.

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

We use both. I have USAA so the ATM fees get reimbursed.

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

Catholic

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

none

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

Not really although the sidewalks are cracked and in bad shape

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Transportation:

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

There are maxi taxis which are vans that drive people around but we are advised not to use them especially at night.

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

We have a large SUV. It has been challenging for me ( not my husband) to drive because of the roads and parking spaces being very narrow. The parking lots are not designed for large cars. You drive on the opposite side here and it takes some getting used to. It is very hilly and there are tons of annoying speed bumps. Gas is also super cheap-US$1.25/gallon.

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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 US$90/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 phone and buy minutes-it's cheap.

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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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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.

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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?

Some nice restaurants require men to wear pants and shoes, no flip flops.

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Health & Safety:

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

yes-Trinidad is a dangerous place but the violence is mostly gang-related. The are where most of the expats live is very safe. There are places that are not recommended to visit after dark.

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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 ok at best. It's hard to get a doctor's appointment and most practices consist of just one doctor. The pediatrician I use had terrible hours and you generally have to wait at least an hour to get in. The hospitals are not close to U.S. standards. There are not a lot of ambulances and if you ever were seriously hurt and had to go to the public hospital, you would be in trouble!

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

good

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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?

Weather is typically in the 80's F, peaking to low 90's F for a couple hours mid day. The nights are comfortable. There is usually a light breeze. There are 2 season; rainy and dry

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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. 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?

My kids were in preschool and there were a few to choose from. Most of the preschools are in a private home and kids ages 2-5 are all in the same room. It is very different from American preschools. Most kids start at age 2 in Trinidad. It was significantly cheaper than preschools in the States.

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

Yes-soccer is very popular here. Kids can also take tennis, swim, gymnastics and karate lessons. The International School offers lots of after-school 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?

The size is small but morale is good.

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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?

Bars, restaurants, embassy outings.

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

For couples without kids, it would be great. There are lots of hikes, outdoor activities, bars, Carnival and quick flights to other places. For families with older kids, it would be nice too. We have young kids and it can be very boring. It is typically too hot to go to the parks during the day and the parks are run down. The beach is also 45 minutes away. We were often stuck trying to figure out ways to entertain our kids!

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

Sure

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

No

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

We enjoyed Carnival, visiting the turtles, visiting Tobago, hiking and of course, the beach.

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

Ziplining for adults and kids, the Bamboo Cathedral is scenic and nice to hike, the Green Market on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

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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

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

The special advantages are the weather and the nice locals. It is a simple life but it can get boring at times

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10. Can you save money?

yes because you don't pay living expenses. The low gas price offsets the high grocery bill. There is also very limited shopping and entertainment so you can save lots.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

that it is boring and although it is a "Caribbean island," you wouldn't know it. The closest beach is 45 min away.

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

no-It's not terrible but island fever sets in a few months after arriving.

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

high expectations and thinking you are in the Caribbean. The water is not aqua-colored and there are no white sandy beaches here.

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4. But don't forget your:

patience-It is a very slow pace here.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 08/31/14

Background:

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

No, we've lived overseas before.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. Flights via Miami or NYC. You can find flights for about US$500.

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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.)?

U.S. Embassy affiliated.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

It's all over the place. Some are in apartments, others in houses. None have storage. Some houses have pools. Not to U.S. standards but housing is not your major concern here. It's fighting boredom.

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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 about 30% more expensive. Forget about eating strawberries and cherries. Apples run about US$1 each apple. You'll spend most of your money on food. Gas is cheap but there are not many places to drive on such a small island.

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

As much as you can as everything here is expensive. You can find most everything, just be prepared to pay.

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

KFC, Church's chicken, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and a Wendy's. Be patient as the wait for fast food is much longer than you'd expect.

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

Dengue fever, ants everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy mail.

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

About US$30 per day.

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

Some but they are small and expensive.

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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?

No problems. Just security concerns when you withdraw from the ATM.

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

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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?

Trinidad can be difficult to understand. Asking them politely to repeat themselves may result in some attitude.

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

Yes. Sidewalks as we know them do not exist.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are off limits due to security concerns. Some private car services which will drive you around at premium rates.

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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 car will do. A small jeep is probably best for the bad roads.

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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 US$130.

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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?

Any unblocked phone. Buy a prepaid card.

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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.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not many, if any.

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

More formal than you might expect for such a hot and humid place.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, it's rated critical, the highest rating possible. Assaults and murders are common. Just google the local papers. That said, with the exception of car break ins and a couple of assaults, it really has not affected the diplomatic community.

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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?

Everyone goes to the U.S. for serious health concerns.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

It's ok, sometimes, the smoke from the fires at the city dumps keeps everyone indoors. Hot and humid. If that's a problem for you, don't come here.

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

Hot and humid. Rainy some eight months a year.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most use ISPS. Most families seem content with the school although they have few international teachers.

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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?

Yes, several small daycare options.

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

At ISPS, some basic programs for kids.

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Expat Life:

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

Small expat community. Morale varies from very poor to moderate, depending on one's ability to keep occupied.

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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?

Drinking and hanging out on street corners, something the locals call liming.

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

It's not a good city for any group if you compare it to any other city in Central or South America, Europe, or Asia. It might be a step up from Guyana.

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

They seem to be able to find establishments which are gay friendly but it's kept quiet.

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

Discrimination is a big deal here. Afro-trini against Indo-trini and vice versa. Resentment against whites exists and is manifested in a very passive aggressive manner.

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

I'm at a loss here. Sorry.

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

Going to Maracas, Tobago, seeing the turtles. You run out of things to do quickly.

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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.

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

Not much. Other than the occassional trip to the beach, a one time trip to see the turtles, there is simply not much to do. Dining out is prohibitively expensive. The cinema is at the U.S. standard. Most people spend their time searching for something to do. In the end, most look forward to their departure. I haven't met anyone who has ever looked back. No repeat tours here. In 2012 about a third of the officers departed prematurely.

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10. Can you save money?

No, everything is expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How little to do there is here. It's not an island paradise.

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

No.

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

Desire to get anything done quickly.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, sense of humor, bug spray!

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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?

You can survive two years in Port of Spain, but it will take everything you have. In the end, everyone is happy to move on.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 12/01/13

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Virginia Beach, VA. From VA to MIA to POS, approximately 6 hours total travel time including a 45-min layover in MIA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2011 to 2013.

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

Government employee in Foreign Ministry.

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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 great either apartment or single family.

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

Expensive and there's nowhere else to go. I travel outside of Port of Spain for food because it's slightly cheaper, but only slightly and I like the fresh air drive.

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

Nothing really, everything is available here but can be expensive.

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

KFC is big here (I think the KFC in South Quay grossed more revenue in 2010 than any other in the world), a few McDonald's (great chicken), Wendy's, Church's Chicken (local), etc. At night there's plenty of Syrian gyro spots along the avenue. Restaurants include Jaffa ($300 TT), Buzo's ($600 TT), Prime ($800 TT), Texas Brazil ($350 TT pp) and all are good.

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

No major insect problems other than the usual suspects. Mosquitoes can be a pain but not often.

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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 Government facility.

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

Domestic help is available but make sure they are vetted (for security concerns). Cost is very cheap, our maid came twice a week for the entire day at US$30 per day (no cooking just cleaning).

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

Gyms are pretty much all over and cost range from a few hundred a month to more. They also have quite a few Yoga spots around.

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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 think it's safe for the most part but make sure your card is insured. Withdraw cash when you can and be safe at ATMs and banks.

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

You can find all religious services available here, especially Hindu.

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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 here but in the south it's hard to understand the dialect.

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

Not really but the sidewalks and streets can be riddled with potholes and can be very narrow just to walk/drive.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable yes, safe not really; here anyone can stop and pick you up. People will just stand on the street and anyone wanting to charge a fair can stop and pick you up. Women have gotten raped and worse just getting into a strange car posing as a taxi. Public buses are 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?

Bring a small SUV or something you don't mind getting dinged. It floods here so think height; roads are small so think compact, parking marks and street lanes are smaller than in Canada or the U.S. so think compact, lots of mountains so think good tranny and brakes. Motorcycles are a no go; bad streets and drivers. Scooters are doable but be very careful. Cycling is popular but...I wouldn't do it.

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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?

Flow and TSTT at around US$130 for 100 Mbps.

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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?

Any unlocked phone will do.

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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?

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Not really, good jobs are hard to find.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Some but most are poorly organized.

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

Casual dress mostly aka dress shirt and tie unless you're in the public eye then a suit for men. Women typically wear a professional suit or dress. Trini women tend to wear tight clothing and revealing wear, it's a very sexually-oriented culture (IMHO).

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Health & Safety:

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

There are security concerns everywhere so be on guard. We lived in one of the best developments (Westmoorings) and they were break-ins, robberies, and rape, and that's with 2-3 private security teams patrolling the streets. Seriously, every weekend there are at least 2-5 driving-related deaths, every month at least 1-2 child murders or rape, every week at least 3-5 homicides, and the list goes on. Check the local newspaper(s) online editions for the stats or articles (The Guardian, NewsDay, The Express, The Mirror, The Bomb). Trinidad averages 1.5 deaths per day. Think about this, EVERY home, apartment, business, school, anything has a wall or fence around it with something sharp at the top for wall climbers.

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

Dengue fever is a concern and the medical care is suspect. Everyone I know either travels to the States or Canada for specialized treatment.

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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?

Overall pretty good except for the occasional trash burning party in Sea Lots.

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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?

If you get housing in the west, the ocean breeze is nice. Oh let's not forget about EARTHQUAKES! They are frequent if you pay attention and ranges from 4.0 to 6 on the Richter scale. If you're not used to them then be prepared, buildings do sway and you will never forget how you felt afterwards.

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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's one International School for Dip Kids and the wealthy.

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Small community with very low morale, most U.S. expats want to leave and most Canadians are not far behind.

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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?

"Liming" or sitting around drinking is popular. Every now and again there's a Soca concert. Carnival time (Feb) is when the city lights up. Going to the movies is pretty much the standard.

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

Great for families and couples, singles may have a challenge if they don't get out and about and make friends. Families tend to hang together which is good for outings and support, couples do the same with other couples and get by pretty well. Singles have to be self-starters and not afraid to mingles with the locals, the only problem is that you don't know who to trust. I heard a story recently (9/2013) where a guy met a girl at a local club and took her home, needless to say he woke up with most of his home empty (robbed with a date rape drug). Also Trini's tend to be self motivated so they will try to use you for some particular reason or another unless you are very perceptive with people.

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

Yes, lots of gays and lesbians around. It is not uncommon to see gays and lesbians at a club or the movies.

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

There is a lot of racism amongst Trini's. The East Indian or Indo-Trini vs. people of African descent or just darker colored folk. You see it in the streets all the time that's not to say it develops into violence but it's apparent to me. If you pay attention to who works certain jobs then that's a first step, most Indo-Trini's believe crime is caused by the Afro-Trini.

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

Carnival of course but that gets old quickly. Asa Wright Nature Center, Pitch Lake, Tobago (US$50 round trip), mountain hikes, Manzanilla, turtle watching, Maracas Beach/Bay, Bake and Shark, etc And lots of party time here - Trini's love a good party but wait till midnight to go that's when things start here!

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

Most hikes are great including a waterfall or two. They now have Zip Lines which fun. The beaches are fairly nice in the north and south. Diwali is great and highly recommended.

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

Pan instruments.

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

The weather is the biggest advantage in Port of Spain. Dry season runs Jan-May and rainy season from Jun-Dec. Temperatures run 85-95F all year, the only difference is whether it rains or not. There's no touring here, you can do every tourist destination in a full weekend. The culture is problematic coming from a first world country, be prepared for lousy customer service with a touch of attitude. In fairness, it's not everyone but in honesty you'll have poor customer service in about 80% of anywhere you spend your money. You will not save money here, the prices are equal if not more than in Canada or the U.S. If you but street food like "Doubles," you can save or when you buy street market fruits then maybe. Keep in mind once a Trini hears your non-Trini accent, the price goes up.

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10. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I knew how little people regarded things like consideration, courteousness, niceness, empathy, etc.

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

Maybe but only if crime was reduced and the country had an attitude adjust; so basically no.

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

Idea of a friendly time-oriented culture.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and religion.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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?

If you decide to travel to Trinidad and Tobago you will enjoy it for the first few months but after the newness wears off, find your happiness. It's an island where you can drive from one end to the other in 3 hours. Everyone wants to island hop but it's not that easy, flights can be expensive and few. The simplest things here are the hardest and the things that you think are difficult end up being easy. There's lots of oil money here so people have abandoned their farming roots. It's a developing country but 'into what' is the question.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 10/13/12

Background:

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

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Chicago - about 7 hours.

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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.)?

(The contributor is associated with the U.S. Embassy and lived in Port of Spain for two years, leaving in 2012, a first expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Great housing. Though traffic can be tight, the longest commute was about 30 minutes.

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

Groceries were more expensive than in the U.S., as everything is imported.

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

Boogie boards, beach towels, fishing pole.

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

Just about every American fast food franchise is there, but KFC dominated the scene. The best food is purchased on the street from doubles vendors. However, Ariapita Avenue "The Avenue" is seeing a boom in new restaurants, including excellent Indian and Haaka-style food.

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

Ants are always out and about. Mosquitos can be a problem since they carry dengue fever.

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Daily Life:

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

Via Embassy. TT Post Office was very well run, though. We routinely used TT's post office to send items to the US.

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

Cheap. About $40 per visit.

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

Yes.

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

ATMs are readily available. Credit cards are accepted everywhere.

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

yes. All denominations, I believe.

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

Yes, all TV is beamed from the U.S., mostly Miami.

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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, TT is an English-speaking country.

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

Infrastructure is NOT accommodating to individuals with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

We didn't take them much, as we were not supposed to take them. I had visitors who took them with no problem (private taxis).

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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?

Just about any type. The roads for the most part are pretty good. I had some issues when visiting Tamana caves to see hundreds of thousands of bats that come out in the evening, the roads were very potholed.

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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 $40 a month, excellent quality.

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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?

Cell phones are ubiquitous and cheap.

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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?

The quarantine is bad for incoming pets. There was pending legislation to do away with the quarantine.

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

Good quality vet care is available.

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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?

Some, teaching (university) and possibly medical (doctor).

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

Business attire at work, casual in public, dressed up again when going out in the evening.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is an issue, but it's mostly gang violence (small gangs). There are a couple of areas to stay out of, where most of the violence is located. Those areas have nothing to visit anyway.

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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?

You can drink the water out of the tap; street vendors are very clean. Dengue fever will be your biggest threat (I suffered from it).

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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?

Excellent.

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

A dry season and a wet season.

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Schools & Children:

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

International school was great; all of our kids excelled there and loved it. There is a Canadian school and a British school, too. The local schools are quite good as well and are based on the British school system (standard 1-5; form 1-6).

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

Not sure.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

I do not recall there being a preschool.

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

Yes, I can think of a volleyball club (Moribunta).

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large, due to the booming oil industry.

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2. Morale among expats:

I believe it was relatively good, however, we made so many Trini friends we never hung out with many expats. Some people went from work to home and never got out. I think they were unhappy.

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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?

Tons.

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

Very good city for all groups. I took my kids (all girls) to every corner of the country.

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

Though "being gay" is technically illegal, there were gay bars in the city. Overall, Trini's are very tolerant of just about everything.

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

Hiking through the jungle to see Amer-Indian carvings and encampments; hiking to remote beaches; diving; food; spelunking; Divali and the Ramleela plays; Hosay. Carnival is an absolute MUST!

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

Beaches, hiking, Carnival, street food on the Savannah (every night of the week), picking fruit in the jungles, visiting cocoa estates, scuba diving, fishing, camping, visiting offshore islands.

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

Carnival costumes. There isn't really an art scene in TT with the exception of Carnival, so spend your $$ on a great carnival costume/band.

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

Trini culture is amazing. It's an amalgamation of so many different cultures. Visit 5,000-year-old Amer-Indian sites, underwater archaeological sites, world class bird watching (over 400 species visit TT).

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't travel to nearby islands, as the flight costs are insanely high.

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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:

Winter clothes!!!!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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

The Caribbean by James Michener; The Rough Guide to Trinidad & Tobago (a must); trinioutdoors.com.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Go hiking with Caribbean Hiking Adventures. They are a fantastic group of people. It's cheap, you'll meet tons of Trini's and see some great areas of the country you wouldn't otherwise see. Above all, enjoy your time in TT!

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 02/23/11

Background:

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

Second city with Foreign Service

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC - 9 hours. There are direct flights to Houston, Miami, Ft Lauderdale, New York and Newark - all 4-5 hours.

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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.)?

Government - foreign service

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single and couples are mostly in Miami-style high rise apartments with pools, tennis courts and water views. Homes are in Westmoorings neighborhood.

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

Groceries cost more than in the States - maybe +50%Local produce is very good and a good value.

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

Small appliances and household goods can be expensive with heavy duties. We inexplicably paid a small fortune for an ironing board. You should come with a mostly-ready household.

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

Fast food: Burger King, Church's, KFC, Wendy's just opened, Haagen Daazs, Cold Stone CreameryRestaurants: plenty of modestly priced Caribbean restaurants + Indian and Chinese. Other cuisines are less common or more expensive - decent pizza, okay Thai, expensive steaks.

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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?

Limited organic but local produce means it was grown less than 50 miles away (size of island).There are also local eggs, chicken, fish, goat.

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

We've had some ants in our place.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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

We pay a part-time housekeeper about $5 per hour. Many people have struggled to find someone they like/trust.

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

Yes.

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

Available. West Mall has ATM which also dispenses US dollars.

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

Everything is here.

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

3 local daily papers are available, each 2TT or $.33USA "Today" is also printed locally.

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

English is the language.

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

Yes. Few facilities are accessible. Handicapped-accesible buses are few and far between.

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Transportation:

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

The embassy doesn't condone their use. Private drivers are 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?

The largest SUVs would stand out. There are lots of Japanese right-hand drive imports here. High clearance is nice when the roads flood during rainy season but most cars here are sedans.

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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 $50 monthly.

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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?

ubiquitous and cheap.

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Pets:

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

Yes. People with pets have been horrified by the facility.

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Some - in teaching and medicine (but you need to get certified).

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

People dress up to "lime" (party). Business attire at work

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a large problems with Trinidadians impacted by high murder rates and drug-related gang crime. Embassy staff are mostly insulated but should keep their guard up and use their city street smarts.

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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 only okay. Anything serious should be handled in Miami (many daily flights just 4 hours away)

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good. Strong tradewinds keep the air clear.

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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?

There is a rainy season and a dry season. The weather is high 88 low 72 most days. Trinidad is thankfully far enough south that it avoids hurricane paths.

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Schools & Children:

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

People really like the International School. There is a small French school. I've heard mixed things about Maple Leaf.

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

I know the International School tries.

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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?

People hire nannies, and there are some preschool programs, including montesouri.

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

Yes. Kids take scuba, dance and are learning cricket, steel pan, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty big considering it's a small island - more oil company families than diplomats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Some people have been rendered catatonic by crime fears and never leave their apartments before curtailing. Others see a pretty place with great beaches that is an easy flight back to States if family issues necessitate. Like all places, it is what you make it.

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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?

Carnival events; private parties.

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

I think pretty good for all. Great for none.

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

Trinidad and Tobago has unenforced laws, which ban the entry of homosexuals and ban homosexual sex acts. The culture is widely homophobic. GLBT people are most accepted among the more educated classes.

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

T&T prides itself on its racial and religious diversity.

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

Playing mas in Carnival, having a beach to ourselves on Tobago, Trini street food - doubles, corn soup, coconut water

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

Beaches, bird watching, leatherback turtle watching, visiting Hindu temples, hiking, great movie theatre, Carnival - and associated calypso, steel pan and costumes

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

Some art, some batik - this is not really a shopping post. Local coffee and cocoa.

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

This is an easy place to live - not so very different from southern Florida. The weather is fabulous. Trinis are fun-loving. Carnival, beaches, music. Tobago is just a 15 minute and $50 roundtrip flight away.

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11. Can you save money?

We've spent a lot of money on flights to nearby islands which are short but expensive (often $300 for a 45-minute flights)

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Maybe.

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

Winter clothes - it hasn't been below 68 degrees

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3. But don't forget your:

Swim suit.

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

Lime Tree Don't Bear Orange

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Mystic Masseur - based on the book by VS Naipaul

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 01/06/11

Background:

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

No

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC, about 9-10 hours depending on connection times

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years

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

Work with 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 in Westmoorings would be 10 mins. away were it not for the horrendous traffic, which makes it nearly an hour's commute.

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

VERY expensive, probably double or triple US prices.

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

Food, canned items.

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

KFC is everywhere, literally on every corner.

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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?

A few organics.

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6. 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?

TTPost, takes about 8-12 days to the US for about 60 cents (US)

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

Yes, a bit on the pricey side.

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

Yes.

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

I have had no problems using ATMs.

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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

English is used.

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8. 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?

Very confusing. Public transit is infrequent and uncomfortable.

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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?

Small cars seem more convenient.

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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.

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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?

Yes, for several months.

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Fair.

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

Formal per British traditions.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a real and constant threat. No one should go out alone at night, period.

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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?

None, but physician options are very limited.

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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?

In the city, quite poor

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

Tropical and heavily humid

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Schools & Children:

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

Yes, there is a good intl school.

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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?

n/a

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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?

Large, mostly US/British/Canadian but very diverse due to the construction and oil industry.

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2. Morale among expats:

The place is imploding little by little; seems totally ungovernable and lawless; nothing seems to work to reduce crime and insecurity. The US Embassy is a pit of bad morale and is marked by a shockingly high rate of resignations/curtailments.

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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?

Mostly private parties.

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

It's better for married folks.

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

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

not known

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

Hiking, Nature, Wildlife/Birds

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

Hiking, seeing Hindu temples, beaches in Tobago.

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

Rum.

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

Culture, Music, Carnival

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, and I would warn friend and foe alike: stay away if you care for your safety or if you care about keeping up professional standards in your work.

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

work ethic. Trinis are among the most lackadaisical and dishonest workers you will encounter. You cannot count on anyone to do anything on any kind of schedule.

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3. But don't forget your:

calendar to mark the days until you can escape from the island.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I'm sure that 30 years ago this was a nice place. But it has slid off a cliff to the point where basic services are totally dysfunctional. Traffic is among the worst anywhere I've seen in the world, far worse than LA, NY or Wash. DC for instance. Trini culture, while friendly, is corrupt, dishonest, produces workers that are incapable, and makes it impossible to achieve or produce anything.

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

Background:

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

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Los Angeles, California.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

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

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

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

Expensive.

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

Organic salad dressing.

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

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

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

Mosquitoes in the rainy season.

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Daily Life:

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

By post and FedEx, DHL.

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

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

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

Many.

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

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

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

English, Muslim, Hindu.

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

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

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

English.

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

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

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Transportation:

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

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

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

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

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, access is available for about $40 US a month.

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

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

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Pets:

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

Yes, from various countries.

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

Excellent.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Not many.

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

Very conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

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

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

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

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate.

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

A rainy season and a dry season.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

Not very good accommodations for special-needs kids.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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

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

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Expat Life:

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

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

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2. Morale among expats:

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

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of social life.

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

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

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

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

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

Trinidad is a very class-conscious country.

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

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

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

Lovely beaches, hiking, golf, tennis, sailing.

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

Great dining.

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

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

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES!

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

Guns...LOL

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3. But don't forget your:

IPod.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 11/08/09

Background:

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

This is my fourth expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Travel time is 5 1/2 hours from Houston, TX on Continental Airlines. You can also travel to Trinidad via Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A few months.

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

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?

Apartments /homes for embassy staff, all in nice areas. Commute time is 30-45 minutes in traffic, 15 minutes on a weekend.

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

Most expats use Hi-Lo Grocery or PriceSmart (just like Costco). Food here is more expensive than in the U.S., as everything is imported.

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

Any tolietries, clothing or favorite foods you ship here will save you money. Most items are available for purchase locally but are more expensive.

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

KFC is popular here, but there is also Subway, Dominoes Pizza, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday and several quality restaurants. There is no problem finding good places to eat. It's just a matter of finding good service at many of the restaurants

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

I don't have insect issues in my home. I have heard there are sand mosquitoes at the beach, but I've never had a problem.

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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 receives mail via diplomatic pouch. You must use DHL or Fedex to get packages out of here, and it is expensive. Forget about shipping packages --just stock up on gifts and take them with you the next time you go to the states. If you use trini mail, your item will be stolen.

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

Domestic help is about the same cost as in the states. You can get someone to clean your house for about $50 U.S. for 8 hours of work, sometimes cheaper if you negotiate.

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

Yes, there are a few gyms. The expat crowd uses a gym at the mall in Westmooring or one downtown, close to the embassy / Queens Park Savannah.

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

Credit cards / ATMS can be used at major restaurants, hotels and ATMs with no problem. Just be sure to warn your bank where you are going, so your card isn't blocked.

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

Yes, there is a non-denominational service weekly at the international school, and there are churches in the various cities in Trinidad.

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

Yes, although the local papers are like the National Enquirer. Your best bet is NY Times 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?

English is the official language, although Hindi is spoken in some areas amongst the residents, and trini-slang is spoken frequently amongst the locals. Ask them to speak slowly if you don't understand them and they usually do, with no problems. Depending upon the person's background, they can be easy or difficult to understand.

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

Many..this city is not built for folks with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

NO! Do not use maxi-taxis or buses. You can find a driver for hire through your work place, but if you use public transportation and are not trini, you will be mugged. Most locals are reckless drivers, especially the maxi taxi drivers. Vehicles, maintenance and gasoline are all expensive here.

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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?

Vehicles here should be righthand drive, although expats sometimes ship American-style vehicles and drive them on the left side of the road with no problem. Small SUVs are good (RAV 4, Honda, etc). The roads in Port of Spain are narrow, so you don't want to drive a large vehicle. Smaller American vehicles are also driven here. There are dealerships to repair the vehicles (Honda / Toyota), but they are expensive. Shipping windshield wipers, oil filters and other minor parts will save you money. Embassy staff can ship vehicles duty free. If someone wants to steal your car badly enough, they will find a way to do it.

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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, there are a few local cable/internet companies with reliable service. High speed internet is available and fairly 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?

I believe cell phones here are readily available and reliable.

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Pets:

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

Yes.

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

I belive there is a 6 month quarantine here, but I'm sure it can be lessened or waived if you pay the right 'fee'. I'm not familiar with vet services.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

I heard it is possible for spouses to work, but the cultural differences make it difficult for spouses to want to keep working. I believe a work permit is required.

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

In public, trinis often wear jeans, even in the heat; shorts are not common for women, but skirts, capris, casual dresses and tropical weight pants are a good idea. The dress code at work is business casual -- wear a suit if you attend meetings, but one is not necessary otherwise. There are occasions for cocktail dresses and formal wear if you attend events at the Hilton or formal business receptions.

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Health & Safety:

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

I have no problems with pollution or allergies, but I've heard that others do.

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

There are many security issues. Some German/Brit expats were killed in the last few weeks on Tobago and it is no longer safe to stay in villas there. On Trinidad it's not safe for gals to drive alone at night unless you are going to/from a specific expat restaurant, hotel, or movie theater. Home/vehicle break-ins are sometimes 'inside jobs' by the security companies working here. The police are corrupt and often kill criminals suspected of murder instead of taking them to trial. You can go to the movie theater, malls, shops in town and main stream restaurants during the day with little/no hassle.

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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?

If you go to the local General Hospital you might not survive. Expats / Embassy staff use two private hospitals and receive quality care. Embassy staff cannot deliver babies here due to lack of prenatal care. Going to the doctor for colds and minor ailments should not be a problem.

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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?

It is warm year 'round. In the mornings and evenings, it is quite pleasant but can be very humid in the afternoons, especially after the lunch-time rain shower during rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

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

I've heard the international school is very good but don't have experience with this.

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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?

Difficult to say. Not all embassies are represented here. There is also a large oil community. Spouses meet each other through classes and events.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good among oil wives who get to know each other through yoga, language lessons, American wives groups, etc. Morale at the embassy is bad if you are not here for the partying.

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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?

It's always possible to entertain at home. Just like in the states, you can go to the movies, gym, mall and restaurants. If you are in a senior ranking position at the embassy or local company, there are organized social events. If you are into clubbing, you'll have a good time here. If you are not into clubbing, this is not a fun place.

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

This is a better assignment for families/couples than for single folks. Due to the security situation, singles cannot go to all the places if they wnat to go alone. It is also easier for males vs. females.

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

I don't belive gays or lesbians are as open here as in the states, but I've heard there are certain clubs, etc. that gays/lesbians can go to. You definitely should research this before going, as you might wander into the wrong part of town and have trouble.

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

Trinis generally segregate amongst the races. Afro-trinis, Indian-Trinis, and White-trinis usually don't cross racial lines, although it sometimes happens. If you are a white American or European, you will stand out here.

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

Go out to eat, go to movie towne, go to another island for a long weekend, go clubbing if you are in a younger crowd.

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

Vacations away from Trinidad.

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9. Can you save money?

NO - everything is imported, and the salary does not cover the expenses here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO - run the other direction unless you are a rich oil barron/spouse or young person who wants to party.

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

idea this is a tropical island where you will find fresh tropical produce -- everything is imported. Don't bring coats and winter clothes unless you travel back home for Christmas.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor; it's the only thing that will get you through this assignment.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This can be a good assigment if you are high ranking, have a family and lots of money to spend on sightseeing and other excursions. If you are a single male who parties, this is also a good assignment. Single females do NOT want to come here, and white males/females have a different experience than black males/females.

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Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago 03/05/08

Background:

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

No. We have also lived 2 years in Barbados.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Since September 2007.

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

My husband is on a 12-15-month corporate assignment to this island.

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

Via Houston on Continental it's 6 hours. Also there are direct flights from the New York area and there's a direct flight to Tobago from the U.K.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are houses, apartments, and townhomes. Try to find one with a pool or pool in the complex as the beaches are an hour away over the mountains, or you must fly to the companion island of Tobago. Rents are US$4000 to $6000/month for something safe and decent. Most expats live in either the valley communities of Maraval, Moka, St. Ann's or Cascade to the north of the Savannah and the city, OR more likely, to the west in the communities of Columbus Circle, Westmoorings, Bay Shore, Regent's Park, Regent's Point, Goodwood, Glencoe.

Commute is fierce, avoid living in the Diego Martin valley (Four Roads, Petit Valley) unless you want to learn back roads or spend a lot of time in the car. Most times, kids have to be driven to schools, although a few companies provide buses for the children of their employees.

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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 relatively expensive, simply because Trinidad hardly grows anything any more; everything is imported. The stores are full of California fruits and veggies!! The supermarket selection is sporadic and not as consistently good as on some other islands: however, smaller markets such as Malabar Farms, Adam's Bagels, Peppercorns, and De Freitas Meats can make up the deficiences. There are several branches of the international discount store Price Smart and they have good prices on their typical jumbo sizes. There are very limited gas stations, surprising in an oil nation, and long lines. Household help is hard to find, but not expensive if you can find someone to do it.

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

Not much. Books are not too expensive here. We We were allowed one air container, not large, and brought some kitchen items, some linen and decor items, lots of sports stuff, a boom box, etc.

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

Any fast food except McDonalds. Also, there's Benihana, TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, Tony Roma's, etc.

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Daily Life:

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

Corporate pouch on Fridays.

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

Hard to find, but not expensive if you can. People tend to cling to anyone good that they find!

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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?

No problem with either. There is Scotia Bank, RBTT, First Citizens, and many ATMs. If you are coming from North America, get a Capital One card before you come; they don't charge currency conversion fees.

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

Yes. Mostly Roman Catholic, some Anglican, Baptist, pentecostal. The island is 40% East Indian, and 25% Hindu, with a large Muslim population, and many small denominations as well.

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

You can get Newspaper Direct. There are three local dailies, of the tabloid type. Cable TV and Direct TV (go with the Direct TV, the cable is unreliable). BBC Caribbean as well as at least a dozen local stations. One Indian broadcast network is aimed at the Hindu community.

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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 language, but Trini can be hard to understand, harder than the other English-based Creole on some of the other islands.

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

A lot. Broken or non-existent sidewalks, lack of elevators, no such thing as lift-buses.

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Transportation:

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

Left, like the U.K.

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

No. Get a private driver and use him, if you aren't driving. The cost is low: it is a security issue. Only take taxis from reputed hotels or use private, vouched for drivers.

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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?

Nissan Almeras are the most stolen car on the island, accounting for 47% of thefts. Most roads are at least passable, and some are quite good, but the traffic on them is another story: this is the land of very crazy drivers. Most brands are sold here. The driver is on the right; driving is on the left. You would only need 4W drive if you were going into certain parts of the mountains, which you probably shouldn't be going alone into anyway!!

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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, either through the same cable company as TV or through Green Dot. Go with Green Dot: it's reliable, they're efficient, and they ALWAYS answer the phone. US$45 a month.

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

Digicel for local purposes only.

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

People say Vonage phones. We use a BlackBerry and email.

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Pets:

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

I don't know. Work permits are hard to get.

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

Not as formal as some islands. It's neat and tidy. Local women go for rather bare tops often, but expats not so much. (Of course, this does not refer to Carnival.)

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Health & Safety:

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

Dirty air. My husband has to take Claritin every day. Inside it is clean because everything is closed and heavily air-conditioned (cheap oil = cheap electricity = lots of AC), but our balconies and patio are constantly covered with a film of dark grit.

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

You have to be really careful here. We live well in the west of Port of Spain in an area called Goodwood Park; there are gated neighborhoods here and also gated housing complexes and communities. There is a lot of crime, but mostly not directed at ex-pats. It's not as safe as most other Caribbean islands. Gang warfare is going on in East Port of Spain (drug related) and there is very ineffective police. Most gang killings are Afro-Trini on Afro-Trini. Most kidnappings occur in East Indian neighborhoods and are Indo-Trini on Indo-Trini. The island is 40% Indian, 39% Afro, 15% mixed, 5% Chinese/Near Eastern/Spanish/European.

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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?

On Trinidad it's fine with two good private hospitals and some good doctors; lots of good dentists. On Tobago there is none for practical purposes. Get back to Trinidad. Don't get sick on Tobago.

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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?

Supposedly we are now in the dry season but it is still awful rainy, although never long or all day. 8 months of the year there is rain or it's rainy, but overall there is generally sun, and it's sunny for 4 months, but with some rain. It's about 85F during the day and 70-75F at night with a good breeze.

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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 is the standard American-curriculum based ISTT near Westmoorings. There is also the Canadian curriculum based Maple Leaf International School in Petit Valley. There is also a British Academy. There are numerous public, private (church affiliated) and quasi-public schools, mostly based on the British curriculum. Our children are adults. We know people who have children at both ISTT and Maple Leaf and both are happy with these schools.

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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 some, including Montessori.

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Expat Life:

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

Sizable, but a lot of them are oil workers. There are a dozen women's clubs for expats of all types, and a huge hurricane-season yacht community that rides out the season down here for insurance reasons.

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2. Morale among expats:

Corporate, good, but they tend to hang with their corporate circles. Parents of ISTT or MLIS kids good, but they tend to hang with their school. I've heard that the embassies are sort of up and down in morale as there is a lot of turnover. The local government is very entrenched and good at lining their own pockets so the expat community tends to get rather cynical.

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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?

Eating out, sailing, golf, tennis, running, movies, going to Tobago, club events, shopping, travelling to other islands, kids sports and school related events for the parent set, hiking, driving around the island in certain areas.

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

Families with school-age kids, couples. I would think college kids wouldn't be here anyway. For singles it is hard to say; there is some night club life, but due to security issues, there isn't the free and easy atmosphere of other islands.

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

I doubt it.

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

No. This is way to diverse an island. This might be the most diverse population in the world. Trinis are white, black, Chinese, East Indian, West Indian, Syrian, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, etc. and every mixture of the above you can imagine. There are 15-16 legal holidays a year in Trinidad and a lot are related to some group's religion and/or ethnicity.

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

Go to Tobago!!! Drive the north shore (but be careful stopping at the beaches with bandits!) and stay a night at one of the small inns. Visit the Asa Wright center, stay over, see hundreds of birds, enjoy fine food. Dine out on Ariapita Avenue (AKA Restaurant Row) or at unique hotel restaurants, enjoy a half dozen marina restaurants with romantic ambiance, sail on Sundays, walk through the Zoo and the Botanic Gardens, shop at West Mall, visit East Indian temples and ashrams in Central Trinidad and enjoy an authentic Indian meal, visit the beautiful Montserrat Hills, drive to the far northeast coast for beauty and empty beaches, or for surfing, or to see turtles laying eggs in spring, visit Mayaro and the Cocal, take a pirogue tour of Caroni Swamp and see hundreds of scarlet ibis, enjoy first run movies at Movie Towne, golf at St. Andrew's, Millenium, Chaguaramas National Park, Brechin Castle or on Tobago at Mt. Irvine or Plantations, sail or motor down the islands.

On Tobago, take a day sail or a jeep safari, snorkel or dive, dine out, or just visit lovely Pigeon Point, Store Bay or other beautiful beaches. Enjoy rainforest and waterfalls on both islands.

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

Not much. This is not a crafts island. Calabash items, some carvings. Copper and brass jewelry are beautiful. Baskets. Some pottery. Textiles, nice quilted and batiked items. Batiked silk scarves. Rasta leather goods. Paintings.

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9. Can you save money?

We are trying. It's not Trinidad --it's our booking trips to other islands that costs.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. The mountains, birds and rainforest are great! And we can go to Tobago for the beach.

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

Winter clothes, bicycles (the only place you can safely ride them it is cheaper to rent them -- but do bring little kids' bikes if you will be living in a gated area), air conditioners (everywhere here will already have them!), pets (find 'em a home with family while you are gone, unless you are willing for them to endure long quarantine).

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3. But don't forget your:

Cameras, golf clubs, tennis gear, snorkel stuff, holiday things, and laptops.

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

A House for Mr. Biswas, VS Naipul; the new November 2007 edition of the RoughGuide to T and T; Insight Guide (but it is out of date); Cote Ci-Cote La, a Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary (also shows folk customs and photos): Trinidad and Tobago, Tranquil and Terrific; Naparima Girls' School Cookbook, Second Edition

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

A House for Mr. Biswas, VS Naipul; the new November 2007 edition of the RoughGuide to T and T; Insight Guide (but it is out of date); Cote Ci-Cote La, a Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary (also shows folk customs and photos): Trinidad and Tobago, Tranquil and Terrific; Naparima Girls' School Cookbook, Second Edition

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Films of Carnival from various years.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

This is an amazing island, but just don't expect the usual Caribbean place. It is very third world. And expect a lot of litter!!

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