So you have arrived in Barbados, unpacked your bags and had a quick obligatory jaunt to the beach. Now you wonder - what next? Where do I go from here?
This area of Living in Barbados deals with the information you will need to know about making life in your new home comfortable and as stress free as possible.
It includes a lot of how-to guides; like how do I go about finding domestic help? How do I open a bank account? Or where do I leave my dog when I travel overseas?
Finding Somewhere to Live
Temporary accommodation is abundant in Barbados and you should not have a difficult time finding somewhere comfortable to hold you over for a few months until you find something perhaps more suitable and therefore permanent.
The rental market is very vibrant at the moment and finding a suitable home should not be too problematic. There many choices to suit all tastes and budgets.
After you have made a list of everything you are looking for and another list of what you might be willing to compromise on, your best bet is to go through a local real estate agent.
It does not hurt to perhaps be listed with several (but most properties do have multi-agent listings) and looking in the local newspapers can also be a great asset.
You can find rental properties either unfurnished or fully-furnished. However, most common are partially furnished, which will include all major appliances, closets and curtains. A list of important questions to ask about when renting properties can be found by clicking here.
Instead of renting a home, you might decide to make the investment and buy or you might even be ambitious enough to build your dream house. There are numerous existing and new developments around the island so there is a lot to choose from.
Finding the 'perfect' home however can be a little bit more complicated and exhausting, so you will have to approach this task with lots of patience and time.
As buying or building are certainly very viable options in securing your dream home we have valuable information on what it takes to find the right mortgage in Barbados and all the associated costs with such an undertaking.
In Barbados the electricity supply is among the cheapest in the Caribbean and is very trustworthy. The domestic supply is 115/230 volts, 50 Hz, so European appliances will not work unless you use a converter.
It is recommended that you do not bring appliances from Europe here and instead purchase these items locally. There are many stores that sell good quality appliances and will offer repair and warranty services.
The recently liberated telecommunications market has had an immense impact on competition to the benefit of consumers. As a result, the main players Cable & Wireless and Digicel offer great mobile phone rates and services with various billing options such as pre-paid and post-paid. They both operate on a GSM network and offer international roaming capabilities.
Domestic telephone lines are reliable and customers have access to a range of products from basic to comprehensive telephone services and internet access including high-speed cable.
The water supply in Barbados is also very safe and reliable and very good for drinking.
Keeping Your House in Order
Having a housekeeper come to your home is very affordable and most households in Barbados have one. Finding one is easy enough; finding one that you are like and would like to keep can prove to be a bit more difficult.
Your best place to start is by getting recommendations from other housekeepers who work for people you know and by keeping the lines of communication open, you can avoid much frustration.
Should you choose to live in a house with a reasonable amount of garden space, it is very common and recommended to also have a gardener or landscape company visit your home on a regular basis.
If you employ someone for over 15 hours a week you will need to join The Barbados National Insurance Scheme as an employer and this will of course apply to a housekeeper. This scheme provides medical assistance in the event of illness, maternity leave or an accident and also disability, unemployment and pension benefits.
Living In Barbados has information about how and where to register, what the scheme covers, how to file contributions, claims etc...
Living in Barbados has information of many other firms that you might need to use for various jobs or services around the home such as pest control, plumbing, pool maintenance and minor repairs to name a few.
Barbados is by all means a relatively safe place to live and work, but by all means, common sense should prevail. Securing your home and belongings, including your house and car, should always be a priority no matter where in the world you live.
Food and Drinks
In Barbados there is a wide variety of food and alcoholic beverages to choose from. However, as with most imported goods, these tend to carry heavy duty rates and therefore make them quite expensive.
Supermarkets and mini-marts abound, some open late and even 24 hour, so it's never a problem getting food and supplies for the home.
There are two local daily newspapers which can be bought across the island or even delivered to you home in the mornings. This is truly a great way to keep up with local and international current affairs.
There are also a few descent book stores on the island which have a wide selection of literature. Some might also be willing to order a specific one for you should they not have it in stock.
How you manage your own finances is a personal issue. Nevertheless, within the Living in Barbados section of Totally Barbados we offer information on all the things you will need to have in order, before you can open a bank account, pay your bills, information on taxes, insurance and investments.
Barbados ranks at number 31 in the Human Development Index (HDI), 3rd in the Americas after Canada and the US. This is of course encouraging for everyone living here.
Local healthcare services are of a high standard and among the most modern and the best in the region.
Healthcare is accessible to all and the government run Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the main hospital, is a 600 bed facility offering 24 hour casualty service. It also has specialized care in pediatrics, obstetrics, radiology to name a few.
The second largest facility is the privately run Bayview Hospital also offering numerous services.
There are also 8 government Polyclinics providing free medical treatment for minor ailments, 5 Geriatric hospitals for care of the elderly, and a network of Child Care facilities.
There are also 2 private emergency clinics.
In our health section we have more comprehensive information on these and other local facilities, doctors, dentists, specialists of all kinds including alternative practitioners. How you go about filling prescriptions and a list of pharmacies is also found in our health section.
The health and care of your pets are also extremely important. Information on finding a vet, supplies, training, boarding etc. can be found on this website.
Healthy and good quality pets are available for sale on the island and your best bet is to check the local newspapers or ask around for one that might suit you. You might also want to consider adopting a stray or homeless cat or dog from a variety of foundations.
Barbados has very strict laws on the importation of animals due to rabies and other diseases. You must first apply for a permit and import licence from the Veterinary Office of the Ministry of Agriculture to do so. Your pet will need to spend six months in quarantine in the UK before arriving here if, it's not already domiciled there.
How to Dress
Dressing appropriately for every occasion is always encouraged and expected in Barbados. Being quite a casual conservative nation, you will see many in their 'Sunday best' after church on Sunday mornings, work ties during the week for men and casual elegance in the evenings.
Dress codes are always enforced at most establishments and we offer guidelines for what's appropriate to what is definitely not acceptable.
We trust that you will find this information extensive and comprehensive as we make every effort to include all that you will need to know during your settlement in your new home. We strive to take the stress and anxiety out of your move, allowing you to be more relaxed and enjoy your time in Barbados.