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Relocating to Nassau

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Gio1183
5/11/2020 13:24 EST

Hello everyone, my name is Gio and I am currently negotiating a deal to move to Nassau.

I have found some info about living and moving to Bahamas specially in this forum. I am a 36 years old Single Architect from El Salvador leaving and working in Haiti for the past 3 years and now I am sure I want to relocate and start over in another country (Island), I've been working in Saint Martin in the past, so I have a bit of experience in the Caribbean, but never hand the chance to go to Bahamas.

I will be most grateful for all the information you could help me with (regarding Housing prices and options, daily expenses, transportation (((is it better to get a car or use taxi))), after work activities (((Gym, or any other))), well overall information that you may have that could help me to negotiate a better contract.

Thank you for your time and help,

Best Regards,

Gio.

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Robbai
5/14/2020 15:33 EST

Hello Gio,

Living in the Bahamas can be quite expensive as you probably already know.

Cost of housing varies widely depending on which part of the island you will live in. In general it is cheaper to live in the East and more expensive in the west.

Food is more expensive here, you can figure about a 30-50% markup on the regular prices in the USA.

Taxis are not readily available. We have jitney's which are cheap to use but not that reliable and the routes do not go everywhere. Cars are expensive. About double the price of the USA. You can also buy a car in the USA but again it will be about double as you will have to pay to transport it to the Bahamas and then pay a duty rate which brings the car to nearly double again.

A decent gym without a personal trainer will cost about $110 a month. Their are much more expensive options as well if you want more.

Restaurants are also quite expensive and you do not have the same quality level of food as you would in many other countries. If you want a really good steak for example be prepared to pay more then double the usual rate at a steak house. Local food is quite cheap, you can find good carribean and seafood at local places for much cheaper then the fancy restaurants.

Bahamas brews several beers. These are not very expensive and you can for example get 3 Kaliks or Heinekens for around $10.00. Rum is reasonable but not cheap. Whisky and other spirits are quite expensive.

This is just some general info, if you have more specific questions please ask and I will try to help.

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MrsQ
5/15/2020 11:34 EST

You should definitely try to negotiate for a housing allowance from your employer, which is what a lot of expats do. I would suggest living in a gated community with 24-hour security if you can afford it as there is a lot of crime on the island. My husband and I live in Sandyport in the west and pay $3500 a month for a 2-bedroom, 2 bath condo that overlooks a canal. This is on the low end of rents for apartments in a community like this. You should also look for a place with a generator if you can afford it, not only because of hurricanes but also because power outages here are fairly common.

I have found that groceries and other items here are more like a 50 to 100% markup on U.S. prices depending on where you shop. In addition, the quality of clothes and household items you find here is on the lower side.

I would definitely look into purchasing a car here rather than relying on jitneys. The jitneys stop running at about 6:00 at night and right now due to COVID-19 they are not running at all. A lot of people here purchase cheap used cars imported from Japan rather than buying a new car. I think they cost around $5000 or $6000.

There is no home mail delivery on the island. A lot of expats rent a postbox (about $200 per year) and have their mail forwarded to it. Not sure if this is possible coming from Haiti or if this is more of an American and European thing. The postbox that we rent has a Florida address attached to it. Amazon also does not ship directly on the island. If we order something from Amazon, it goes to the warehouse with the Florida address which then ships it to our postbox here. Once it arrives, customs assesses duties and VAT (sales tax) which we pay at the postbox store, along with whatever the freight charges are. Honestly, ordering stuff online and getting it here is kind of a hassle and ends up being very expensive. We plan several short trips to Florida each year to go shopping and bring stuff back. Bahamian residents are allowed $500 worth of duty free imports twice per year.

One good thing is that cell phone service here tends to be reasonable. I pay less here than I did in the U.S. I have a decent cell phone plan with data for $60 per month. Landline, cable, and internet services for the house cost us about $350 per month, but that's for the top of the line cable package as well as unlimited data and calls to the U.S. and Canada. Hope this helps.

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breija
5/16/2020 17:54 EST

Hi Gio,

Congrats on your new negotiations.

As others have said, the Bahamas, or specifically New Providence, is much more expensive than some of the places you have been, but as you have lived island life before, you know that everything coming in must be imported via plane or boat, so therefore more expensive! Prices here are a bit higher than Saint Martin, but not significantly so.

Housing will be a significant cost. That said, given that you are coming as a single person, you would not need more than a 2 bedroom place, if even, so the rent would be significantly less. Also, as a male, you may not feel the need that a female or a couple would feel for a more secure (aka gated) community. Rent for a 1 or 2 bedroom place is likely between $600 and $4000/month. That said, if you don’t mind a roommate, you might find other expats who are willing to share. What part of the island will your work be centred around? This could significantly influence your choice of where to live. It takes a long time to get from one end of the island to the other!

When it comes to transportation, a car would likely be most efficient for you. Some people will have a regular taxi on standby, but it is not inexpensive, and they are not always available when you need them. We do not have “regular” taxis here as they do in many other countries, and we do not have Uber or Lyft. Another option is to get a scooter to use on dry days, and then to taxi it on wet days. Of course, the wet season is 6 months long, not every day, but can become expensive if you are relying on taxis. Some will have a car for the wet days, but primarily use a scooter the rest of the time because you can get through traffic a lot easier. That said, if you are going to be going to be meeting clients in their spaces, a car is likely most efficient. Used cars can be purchased in many ways – through used car lots, as off lease vehicles from dealerships, through offshore purchasing, or even from expats leaving the island. There are often lots of those!

Gyms – there are a number of gyms here, but it really depends on what you are looking for, and where you live. There are also a lot of personal trainers here who will meet you at a gym, have their own gyms, or do outdoor “bootcamps” in public spaces.

I agree with MrsQ that it would make sense to at least ask for a housing stipend from your employer, because many people here do that. It certainly never hurts to ask!! That could offset your expenses significantly!

When it comes to mail, you can rent a PO Box here. I don’t know whether they are readily available, though. We have had ours for 14 years, and we were able to easily get one because they opened a new PO Box station. The cost for a medium box is $30 (plus VAT) per year. Alternatively, a lot of people receive their mail at work, if it is a small workplace, which I suspect an Architect firm would be. Also, as an Architect firm, I would suspect that they receive goods from the US fairly regularly, so you would likely be able to piggy bank on their shipping services if you needed to order things from the US.

Goods are definitely more expensive here than in the US, Canada, and many other countries. Again, that is because shipping, duties, and 12% VAT need to be added. However, if you shop online and have things shipped, sometimes you can still save money. Of course, there is also a lot less choice here, so many people will shop in the US, as it is a short flight away.

There are a lot of expats here, and there is an Expats in the Bahamas page on Facebook, as well as a group on Internations.com. They connect for many different reasons, and may be able to offer a different perspective on expat life here.

Please feel free to PM me with other questions! I am happy to share!

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10abuse

breija
5/16/2020 17:54 EST

Hi Gio,

Congrats on your new negotiations.

As others have said, the Bahamas, or specifically New Providence, is much more expensive than some of the places you have been, but as you have lived island life before, you know that everything coming in must be imported via plane or boat, so therefore more expensive! Prices here are a bit higher than Saint Martin, but not significantly so.

Housing will be a significant cost. That said, given that you are coming as a single person, you would not need more than a 2 bedroom place, if even, so the rent would be significantly less. Also, as a male, you may not feel the need that a female or a couple would feel for a more secure (aka gated) community. Rent for a 1 or 2 bedroom place is likely between $600 and $4000/month. That said, if you don’t mind a roommate, you might find other expats who are willing to share. What part of the island will your work be centred around? This could significantly influence your choice of where to live. It takes a long time to get from one end of the island to the other!

When it comes to transportation, a car would likely be most efficient for you. Some people will have a regular taxi on standby, but it is not inexpensive, and they are not always available when you need them. We do not have “regular” taxis here as they do in many other countries, and we do not have Uber or Lyft. Another option is to get a scooter to use on dry days, and then to taxi it on wet days. Of course, the wet season is 6 months long, not every day, but can become expensive if you are relying on taxis. Some will have a car for the wet days, but primarily use a scooter the rest of the time because you can get through traffic a lot easier. That said, if you are going to be going to be meeting clients in their spaces, a car is likely most efficient. Used cars can be purchased in many ways – through used car lots, as off lease vehicles from dealerships, through offshore purchasing, or even from expats leaving the island. There are often lots of those!

Gyms – there are a number of gyms here, but it really depends on what you are looking for, and where you live. There are also a lot of personal trainers here who will meet you at a gym, have their own gyms, or do outdoor “bootcamps” in public spaces.

I agree with MrsQ that it would make sense to at least ask for a housing stipend from your employer, because many people here do that. It certainly never hurts to ask!! That could offset your expenses significantly!

When it comes to mail, you can rent a PO Box here. I don’t know whether they are readily available, though. We have had ours for 14 years, and we were able to easily get one because they opened a new PO Box station. The cost for a medium box is $30 (plus VAT) per year. Alternatively, a lot of people receive their mail at work, if it is a small workplace, which I suspect an Architect firm would be. Also, as an Architect firm, I would suspect that they receive goods from the US fairly regularly, so you would likely be able to piggy bank on their shipping services if you needed to order things from the US.

Goods are definitely more expensive here than in the US, Canada, and many other countries. Again, that is because shipping, duties, and 12% VAT need to be added. However, if you shop online and have things shipped, sometimes you can still save money. Of course, there is also a lot less choice here, so many people will shop in the US, as it is a short flight away.

There are a lot of expats here, and there is an Expats in the Bahamas page on Facebook, as well as a group on Internations.com. They connect for many different reasons, and may be able to offer a different perspective on expat life here.

Please feel free to PM me with other questions! I am happy to share!

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Gio1183
5/19/2020 11:41 EST

Thank you for the time and info Robbai.

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allianz international health insurance

For expats in Bahamas, choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Get a quote from our partner, Allianz Care. Their plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz Care's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

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Gio1183
5/19/2020 11:42 EST

Thank you MrsQ. I really appreciate all the info shared.

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Gio1183
5/19/2020 11:55 EST

Thank you Brejia, I am still negotiating and because of the COVID-19 situation I still don't know if will be able to strike a deal. But I needed to have some others points of view so I could negotiate the best way possible.

The offer is to be working in Nassau and Abaco, but after reading a bit more about Bahamas I will push to get stationed in Nassau, I can assure you that after 3 years in Haiti no place will be as difficult to adjust to.

I can manage to live with the high prices as I have learn to live with the necessary. I am a part of the Internations group here in Haiti, but to be honest, here is more like a local social group to meet expats, because there are just a few that actually go to the events, the rest are mostly locals, trying to "hookup" with a foreigner which is really annoying, I don't know how the platform works in Bahamas.

I'll be writing you on PM for more info if I can get pass this stage of my negotiation, for now I can assure you I want to be stationed in Nassau and that I would try to get a car or a Scooter to move around the Island.

The security issue although is really important, again after living in Haiti it will not be a problem for me to adjust.

Thank you for your time.


Best Regards.

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