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Bottom Bay, Barbados

10 Tips for Living in Barbados

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Barbados recently introduced the 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp to enable people to easily live and work on the island for up to 12 months. The online application is probably the easiest and quickest process we've ever seen.

If you are looking for a beautiful island escape where you can work and relax while riding out the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados may be the perfect spot. Barbados re-opened their airport on July 12, 2020 and has established official travel protocols to, "protect, both locals and visitors while on island". Barbados simplified the residency process to attract short-term residents by introducing the 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp. If you choose to live and work in Barbados, you may stay for up to a year. The application is online and processed within 7 business days (begins processing in 48 hours and is approved (or declined) in 5 business days). This new program has definitely made headlines and has a lot of people dreaming about moving to the beautiful island of Barbados.

We are thrilled that Barbados is making it easy for people to experience island life for the foreseeable future without having to hire a lawyer and deal with a mountain of red tape. What an amazing opportunity! If you're thinking about heading to Barbados, here are 10 Tips for Living in Barbados based upon advice provided by expats and global nomads who are living there:

1. Expat and Global Nomad Life in Barbados

"The friendliness, the openness, and the love of life. The Bajans enjoy life, they don't take work as seriously as we do in America or Europe which can be frustrating but also can be liberating depending on how you approach the change. If you learn to relax and live a slower paced life you will enjoy the island life here in Barbados," said one expat.

"I love the island life and the weather. I needed to get away from the rat-race and the pace in Barbados suits me. The weather is great most of the year. Barbados is rarely affected by hurricanes. The quality of life is higher then many alternative Caribbean countries. Barbados is a commonwealth country which is a bonus for us as we are more familiar with the political and law systems in place," reported one expat.

"We have all we need on this island. We can go fishing, sailing, see a concert, play sports, go to the horse track, eat at good restaurants, go to the drive in and much, much more. This is a Caribbean island with much to offer in the way of modern amenities and development," added another expat.

2. Adapting to Island Time

"Life is lived at a very different pace in Barbados. Do not expect things to be done too quickly or you will just become frustrated at the natural pace of things there. It is better to accept it and learn to slow down and go with their pace. It becomes much less stressful. Also once they see you are not so uptight they tend to help you out more as they are now not afraid to be around the foreigner who wants them to work faster," wrote one expat in Barbados.

"Getting anything done in a timely matter. Do not expect quick service for anything from restaurants to building a new home. Everything takes more time then you would be use to in America or Europe," explained another expat.

3. Do Hurricanes hit Barbados?

Barbados is lucky to be on a short list of Caribbean islands that have been hit by fewer hurricanes than neighboring islands.

"Even though Barbados is located in the eastern Caribbean, it is just outside of the principal hurricane zone, and the country has not experienced a major hurricane since 1980. The rainy season, which runs from June to October, brings occasional flooding, which can cause significant travel disruption, particularly in rural areas," reported one expat.

4. How do I apply for the 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp?

Apply Online

Details of the 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp (Visa):

Length of Stay: Maximum 12 months from date of approval
Fees: $2,000 for an Individual, $3,000 for a Family
Online Application Available: Yes
Documents Needed: Passport (Bio data page of passport), Photograph, Proof of Relationship to Dependents (for Family Applicants)

Visa Processing Time: Application begins processing in 48 hours and will be confirmed or denied in 5 working days.
More Information & FAQs

5. Healthcare in Barbados

When asked about access to quality medical care, one expat living in Clapham Ridge, Barbados replied, "Yes, they have both a government hospital as well as private hospital. These are located in the south east part of the island near Bridgetown. They also have many clinics around the island and an ambulance service. As in most places healthcare for major issues can be quite expensive. Make sure you have private healthcare insurance and understand your coverage before needing it."

Our article, 11 Tips about Healthcare and Health Insurance in Barbados provides an in-depth look at:

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6. What is the Cost of Living on Barbados?

"The cost of flights in and out of Barbados is quite expensive. The cost of food and water is also much higher than alternatives... The cost of living being more then alternative retirement locations. However we also manage to live here on a semi-modest budget and have found ways to save money here and there. Eating local food and not what you are use to in your home country will make a big difference in your cost of living here. Also the housing market changes dramatically depending on which ever you are looking at," wrote one expat.

When asked about a yearly budget, one expat said, "This is a tricky question as it depends a lot on how much quality of life you are accustomed to. If you are the type that goes out and eats out often you will need considerably more then someone who prefers home cooked meals and having card nights with friends. I would suggest that you could live quite comfortably on $60,000 a year but that is very dependent on the person."

7. Finding a House in Barbados

"We rented at first so we could 'test' out the different regions and be sure of a location before investing in purchasing a place. Shop around for housing before selecting a place. Prices range quite a lot. You will also want to talk to some locals or expats about the regions you are looking at to make sure it will be a good fit for you," commented one expat.

If you're interested in a long-term rental (not a vacation rental), check out Island Gold Realty, Long-term Rentals Barbados and Barbados Sotheby's International Realty.

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8. Should a newcomer ship their furniture or buy new in Barbados?

"We choose to move our furniture here from our home country as it was expensive to buy new in Barbados. Now looking back I would have sold the old furniture and bought new with the money I would have saved on freight, clearing and duties," advised one expat.

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9. Meeting Other Expats and Global Nomads

"We have a very active expat community with lots of clubs to join such as the American women's club, Canadian women's club, majong club, cards group, sailing club, etc. Their are also lots of opportunities for volunteering in different groups if that suits you. The recreation mostly centers around water life (beach, boating, snorkeling, etc) but we also have other interests as I mentioned above. The nightlife is good. We do not really go clubbing but have lots of opportunities to meetup with friends from drinks or have cocktails at fundraisers and other parties. The restaurant selection is also quite good," explained one expat.

10. Crime in Barbados

"There is crime, which you hear about often but this is mostly because all news is big news here. The island is small in terms of population so you will hear about every killing that takes place. Mostly it is safe and we have walked alone outside at night without feeling afraid of such things happening to us. As with anywhere you need to take certain precautions and avoid bad areas at night," said an expat in Barbados.

According to the US State Department, "American citizens are not specifically targeted for crime in Barbados." In terms of avoiding specific areas, the State Department advises:

  • Avoid Crab Hill at all times (located Northwest of the island).
  • Avoid Nelson and Wellington Streets (located in Bridgetown) at night.
  • Use added vigilance while on non-reputable nighttime party cruises.

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Allianz Care's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Our flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. You can submit your claims digitally and our helpline is available 24/7 to help you anytime.

Allianz CareAllianz Care

Allianz Care's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Our flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. You can submit your claims digitally and our helpline is available 24/7 to help you anytime.
Get Quote

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

Bottom Bay, Barbados

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