You've arrived in Barbados and are ready to set up your new island home. Once you've unpacked and of course had a trip to the beach, you'll probably be wondering - where do I go from here? And, where do I even start?
Well, look no further, we have all the information you need, right here at Totally Barbados.
This guide to living in Barbados contains all the important information you need to know about settling in and adjusting to your new home on the island of Barbados.
You'll find 'how-to' tips and advice relating to the settling in process including how to find domestic help, open a bank account, and where to leave your pets if you travel overseas.
Where to Live in Barbados?
You might have already organized your accommodation prior to arriving on the island however if you're a little more spontaneous, temporary and last minute accommodation is easily found.
You shouldn't have difficulties getting somewhere comfortable to hold you over for the short term until you find something more permanent to settle in at home in Barbados.
Where do I start?
Firstly, make a list of the essentials you're looking for in your new home. Then, make another list of things you might compromise on. It's also worthwhile to get out and explore the island to figure out which parish might be most compatible with your desired lifestyle.
For example, Christ Church is great for a lot of action and nightlife, whereas St. Joseph is a better option for those seeking a more low key, quiet way of life.
What you'll find is the parishes of Barbados each have different things to offer you and each have unique characteristics to suit a variety of lifestyles.
Consider: public transport access, ambiance and safety of the neighborhood, amenities like shopping centers/convenience stores, restaurants, bars etc., cost of living, and climate (some parishes are cooler or more breezy than others, some have closer beach access, and others are more remote and tropical).
Your best bet is to then go through a local real estate agent to help you to find exactly what you're looking for in your new home in Barbados.
In fact, it's wise to list yourself with several local real estate agents (although most properties are listed with multiple agents) as well as scan the local newspapers for accommodation listings.
Or, simply take a drive in the countryside and ask the locals firsthand for any rooms or houses which might be available to rent.
You'll be surprised by how many properties are not listed with real estate agents and are simply rented out by the infamous Bajan word of mouth and local 'grapevine'.
What are my options?
We have a vibrant rental and property market in Barbados, and finding a suitable home to rent or to buy shouldn't be too difficult. There are options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Rental properties come either unfurnished or fully-furnished. Most commonly, you'll find partially furnished properties including all major appliances, closets and curtains, at a minimum. A list of important questions to ask when investigating rental properties in Barbados can be found here.
Instead of renting a home or room, you might decide to invest and buy a property, or maybe even take the plunge and build your own dream house here on the island. There are numerous new, as well as existing, developments island-wide so you won't find it difficult.
Buying property or building a house are certainly very viable options for your new island home, so we've included valuable information on what it takes to find the right mortgage in Barbados and all the 'need to know' tips with associated costs within our Living in Barbados guide.
Note: It pays to approach the task of finding your new place with patience as finding the perfect home here in Barbados may be more time consuming than you'd first imagine.
Firstly, the concept of 'island time' is real - things tend to work at a slightly slower pace in Barbados than you might be used to - and secondly, you also need to take time to get to know the island in order to work out the most suitable location for your desired lifestyle.
Utilities - what you need to know
Electricity in Barbados is reliable and among the cheapest in the Caribbean. The electricity supply is 110 volts/50 cycles but if you have international electrical appliances, you'll need an adapter or converter so you can use them on the island.
Note: We recommended you don't bring these items with you and instead purchase them locally. There are many stores island wide selling good quality appliances and offer various repair and warranty services.
The telecommunications market in Barbados is now quite competitive and as a result, the main players LIME (Cable & Wireless) and Digicel offer great mobile/cell phone deals with various billing options.
They both operate on a GSM network and offer international roaming options. The recent introduction of FLOW (Columbus Communications) has made the market additionally more competitive, much to the benefit of consumers.
Domestic telephone lines in Barbados are reliable and customers have access to a wide range of products, from basic to comprehensive telephone services to internet access, including high-speed fiber optic communications.
The water supply in Barbados is also very safe and reliable, and great for drinking. In fact, the water in Barbados is of a naturally very high quality due to the island's limestone geology which acts as a natural filtering system.
How can I keep my home in order?
Having a housekeeper is a very common and affordable way to keep your house clean and in order in Barbados.
The best place to start is by seeking recommendations from other housekeepers who work for people you know or by asking friends, hotels or guesthouses for their recommendations.
If you decide to live where there is a reasonable amount of garden space, it is also very common in Barbados to have a gardener/landscaping company come to maintain your property.
Note: If you employ someone for over 15 hours a week you'll need to join The Barbados National Insurance Scheme (NIS) who provide medical assistance in the event of illness, maternity leave or an accident. They also cover disability, unemployment and pension benefits.
Living in Barbados has all this information about how and where to register, what the scheme covers, how to file contributions, claims and so on. And, for even more information on NIS in Barbados, visit www.nis.gov.bb.
Living in Barbados also has information on other service businesses you might need for home maintenance like a handyman, pest control, plumbing, pool cleaning, and minor repairs.
How can I maintain my health on the island?
The 2013 Human Development Report UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) places Barbados 38th of 187 countries surveyed, including both developing and developed nations.
The HDI measures development by combining indicators of life expectancy, education attainment, and income. This statistic is encouraging for all who live here on the island and is something to indeed be proud of.
Local healthcare services on the island are of a high standard and easily accessible. The government-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) offers emergency services as well as provides specialized clinical services in surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics, radiology, and psychiatry, just to name a few.
You can read about all the QEH has to offer on their website at www.qehconnect.com .
The second largest facility is the privately-run Bayview Hospital, also offering numerous specialty services. For more information, see www.bayviewhospital.com.bb.
There are also government Polyclinics all over the island providing free medical treatment for minor ailments, as well as Geriatric hospitals, Child Care facilities and private emergency clinics.
Need to know more? Refer to our pages on Health for a more detailed description of the above mentioned local facilities, as well as on doctors, dentists, specialists, alternative practitioners, and for a list of pharmacies located here on the island.
What about my pets?
Your pets are also an extremely important factor to consider when settling in at home in Barbados. Totally Barbados provides you with information on things like finding a vet, pet supplies, training, and boarding kennels so you can ensure your pets are taken care of.
Pets are available for sale all over the island and your best bet is to check out the local newspapers for pet advertisements, otherwise that good old Bajan word of mouth will also do wonders in your pet search.
You might a want to consider adopting a stray or homeless cat or dog from a variety of charitable foundations like the RSPCA, located right here in Barbados.
Note: Barbados has strict laws on the importation of animals due to rabies and other diseases. An import permit must be obtained from the Chief Veterinary Officer and all pets must be examined before they are permitted to leave the customs area. If you plan on bringing your pet with you, please make sure you do your research before deciding to settle in Barbados.
For more information on pet importation guidelines, call Barbados Veterinary Services on (246) 427-5073.
Is there a dress code in Barbados?
Dressing appropriately is encouraged and expected in Barbados.
Dress codes are enforced at most establishments and it's common to see signs stating 'no bare-backs' (meaning a shirt must be worn) all over the island at certain venues, as well as shops.
The Barbadian way of life is quite relaxed yet conservative, so we advise to use your discretion and dress according to the situation and venue at all times.
Important: Please take note that it is illegal to wear camouflage or army style clothing, or carry any items in camouflage material, in Barbados.
What else do I need to know?
Barbados has a wide selection of unique local, as well as international brand, food and beverages to choose from. However, as with most imported goods, these tend to carry heavy duty rates and therefore are quite expensive to purchase on the island. Go local and seasonal for the cheapest and freshest produce on the island.
Supermarkets and mini-marts/convenience stores are dotted all over the island, some open late and even 24 hours, so it shouldn't be a problem getting food and supplies for your home at almost any hour.
Note: The only exception is on Sundays, when the island tends to 'shut down' for the day. Bridgetown tends to be basically non-operational however you'll still find stores and fast food chains open for basic food and beverages all over the island on a Sunday.
There are two local daily newspapers (The Nation and The Advocate) which can be bought across the island or even delivered to your home, and is a great way to keep up with local and international current affairs.
There are also quite a few book stores on the island with a wide selection of literature. Some will also order specific books for you, should they not have it in stock.
For those health enthusiasts, there are also many health stores in Barbados who stock various health and beauty products, snacks, and books. Not to mention an increase in gyms and fitness clubs, so you can maintain your health regime in your new home without a problem.
Settling in at home in Barbados doesn't have to be stressful!
We hope you find our pages useful - we make every effort to include as much of what you might need to know during your settlement into your new home as possible.
We strive to take some of the stress out of your move, allowing you more time to be relaxed and really get to enjoy your new home of Barbados.
Author: Brett Callaghan