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Question regarding salary and quality of living

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Menc
5/18/2018 17:52 EST

Hello all!

I have been offered a job in Trinidad & Tobago. I have never been there, thus my questions about salary and other issues. I did research about the place, nonetheless, some additional opinions would be very beneficial.


First, and most important, I was offered TT$ 20 000 month + some benefits, e.g. transportation and housing allowance (20%) allowance. As a foreigner, how comfortable would it be for this salary? In general I do not expect luxurious life, however, I need to be sure that with this salary I will be able to live from 1st to 1st without any concern about money and it would be great to make some savings.

Second, As European, in case of comparison, how different would be the quality of life? What would be important points for me to remember?

Thank you for any information or suggestions.

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stephylynn
5/18/2018 21:01 EST

Where exactly will you be working? Port of Spain can be very expensive and transportation is essential.

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stephylynn
5/18/2018 21:01 EST

Where exactly will you be working? Port of Spain can be very expensive and transportation is essential.

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Menc
5/19/2018 00:12 EST

It will be Saint Augustine.

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kenwyn
5/19/2018 08:44 EST

Hey Menc,

The housing allowance will help. You didn't say if you would be living alone or with family but as a general guideline:

Groceries (family of 3) : 3,000
Utilities (Monthly) : 450
Cable/Internet: 450
Rent: 5,000
Taxi/Fuel: 1,000
Entertainment: 1,000
Gym: 450

so 12,000 should just about cover your expenses. Question is if the 20,000 attracts taxes....if it does then your net will be 15,000....leaving only a 3000 cushion..........manageable in my opinion.

Best of luck.

Ken

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stephylynn
5/19/2018 08:54 EST

St. Augustine is a nice area. I stayed there for 7 months in a compound called Fidelis Heights. It's a gated community that sits up high and has gorgeous sun sets.
I see someone posted a guide for rent and utilities. Check out Tucker Real Estate's website. You will quickly see that rent for $5,000 TTD will have you in some sketchy places. You definitely want to be prepared to spend more. Because you'll be in St Augustine, I suggest having a vehicle. You can get access to the Maxi and taxis outside of UWI, but depending on the lifestyle you want, getting to the movies, dinners, shows, etc will be easier with a car of your own. I hope this helps.

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kenwyn
5/19/2018 09:35 EST

Frankly with a salary of 20k you are going to have to live economically (frugally)...paying more than 25% of your gross salary on rent makes no sense.

Apartments in the western part of the country are overpriced but they do offer better security and access to malls etc....leasing a car costs around 5,000 per month so that's clearly not an option on that salary.......more practical to live close to where you work and commute by uber or taxi when needed. You can rent an entire house in Trincity for 6,000-7,000.

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Menc
5/19/2018 10:09 EST

Thank you both for your opinions.

I will be alone, so I don't expect higher expenses in groceries. But, what will go down with groceries, will increase in rent, as suggested by Stephylynn.

Well, the problem is, I don't have a driving license, thus will focus on public transport and, maybe, bike. How much would it cost to buy a new bike in T&T?

I have one primary concern: savings; as an expat, I need to earn sufficiently to accumulate some money in case of another relocation or emergency.

Could you tell me, what is the general salary for an academic senior lecturer or assistant prof.?

Would you say that 25kTT would make the life much more comfortable as comparted to 20kTT (before tax)?

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stephylynn
5/19/2018 12:59 EST

When I lived in St Augustine I had to rely on public transportation. I either walked to the Maxi route or waved down a car to taxi me to the Maxi route.. The UWI students were nice and helped me out a lot. They also have Uber now which is nice. The maxis and taxis are very affordable. Your biggest expense will be your rent. Utilities are pretty cheap as well. Groceries were expensive in my opinion (I'm from the US), but they have markets in POS that are locally grown and affordable.

I can ask my friend about where to purchase a bike. I would suggest it more for recreation than as a means of transportation. I don't recall a lot of bike racks, etc. I would definitely aim for the higher salary to build a nest egg. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

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kenwyn
5/20/2018 11:00 EST

Shoot for the 25K.

Do you mean a Motor Bike or a Bicycle?

You need a licence to operate a Motor Bike as well....They can cost around 40K depending on HP. You can get a nice Bicycle in Pricesmart for around 1800.

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Menc
5/21/2018 14:30 EST

Thank you both for your time and opinions. If I may have one more important question. I have heard that it is very difficult to transfer or wire TT$ abroad? Even if I accumulate some money, I wouldn't be able to write to back home or spend it traveling in somewhere. Is my understanding correct?

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stephylynn
5/22/2018 00:03 EST

That's a good question. While I was there. I was still getting paid USD directly deposited to my American account. I know that they have a shortage of USD and only allow a limited exchange at a time. I'm not sure how it is with Euro and what that exchange is. I know they have Western Union locations.

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kenwyn
5/22/2018 09:01 EST

US Dollars are in short supply. This has also created pressure on the Euro and Canadian currencies.

As an Expat you should demand that your salary be paid in US Dollars or Euro equivalent and not in TT Currency.

If that's a deal-breaker, you can open a US Dollar account at a commercial bank (you need at least $500 USD to open the account) and purchase US currency to deposit into it as savings.

You should note that even though you may own a US Dollar account the Bank may not allow you to withdraw all of your money in a single transaction so when making those trips you have to plan ahead.

Wiring funds abroad is not an issue once you have the US funds in your account.

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