What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
I wish we had brought more sheets, hangers, and rugs - things like that and dishes and towels are super expensive here. I didn't need to bring pharmacy items such as acid-reducers, shampoo, bath items - pharmacies here are very well stocked and you can get things more easily than in the US! I also wish I had brought more items for my pets - food and other items are hard to find and expensive.
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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Think about your daily life and plan accordingly. Are you willing to fight traffic to live up in the hills or nearer to the beach? We weren't after doing that in California, so we chose a location close to our school and my husband's office. He has about a 15 min commute. We did bring our pets, a dog and two cats. You have to fill out forms, get permits and inspections, etc., and they were in quarantine (2 for 1 month, 1 for 3 months). It was expensive, but worth it for us. In dealing with the animal authorities, customs, and various bureaucracies, just remember to keep your cool and pay the man what he says you owe. It does no good to get mad or fight it. There's no computerization and things seem inefficient, but it's really just that Trinis value living in the moment and fun rather than time-management. The government seems designed to employ the most amount of people rather than building efficient processes. Dealing with the ministries was the hardest part of the move, but now that we're through it (we've been here 5 months now), I truly like living in beautiful Trinidad and especially the friendly, family-oriented culture. My kids have settled in, I'm happy with the school, and I've learned my way around town. Life is good, you just have to cultivate the right attitude!
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We rent a house near the ocean - it's bigger than our house in California. We are assisted in the rent by my husband's company - this is typical of the company-sponsored ex-pats stationed here for a few years. The neighborhood is wealthy Trinis or ex-pats. We have an alarm and gates and decorative bars on the windows - everyone here does. I feel safe enough here, but you do still have to be aware and careful. But it's no different from living in a big city in the US - you have to pay attention and be smart about security.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
We chose Westmoorings since our kids attend the nearby International School - they can walk back and forth and I don't have to fight the traffic. Traffic can be ver congested, but it's usually at predictable times, so you can avoid it if you plan your travel accordingly. I do pick my kids up if they stay at school until dark, which is around 5:30 here every evening. Day length varies only about 20 min in the course of a year since we're so near the equator.
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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Housing costs are relatively the same as the Bay Area where we came from. I understand that compared other parts of the US it seems steep, but it's very comparable to the housing costs we were used to near San Francisco. We kept our house in California and have rented it out, so this move has actually lessened our housing costs.