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Relocating for a Year

Calgary, Canada
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Relocating for a Year

We have had many sources share information about Trinidad and Tobago and we really need to verify some facts. For a 10 month period we are thinking of living in Trinidad. My husband will work online, I hope to find a teaching job, and our 13 year old daughter will hopefully attend grade 9 in a private school. As a family we are looking to enjoy a warmer climate, a new cultural experience and hopefully a safe environment. Financially we need to know what are committment would be...what would our Canadian dollars buy in location? Is this a safe place to bring a 13 year old girl? Help...we welcome all input. Can't wait to hear what you have to say.

Three Canadians looking for sunshine!

Port of Spain...
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41 posts
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1. Re: Relocating for a Year

Hi

Excellent idea! Yes it is safe, provided you use the same precautions that you would use in any Metropolis that you are unfamiliar with. Pretend it is London, New York or better yet Paris if you do not speak French and you will be fine.

Couple of questions though:

Have you ever been here?

Have you sorted work permits? They are required.

Have you sorted visas? While they are not required for a holiday, I think I am right in saying that you would require visas for that length of stay.

Also, you have not said what facts you need to verify.

To give you a rough idea of living costs, I will quote in TT dollars.

Depending on where you choose to live, (I am assuming Port-of-Spain environs) you can expect to pay anything from $4000 and up for a two bedroom apartment per month, depending on the degree of luxury you want. To match average Canadian standards, I would suggest $6000 to $7000 is realistic.

The main utilities: electric from $300 per month and up depending on if you require air conditioning and water about $180 per quarter.

Broadband for your husband to work online, depending on the package you take and the provider you use, from about $280 and up for a goodish service.

Your other main expense will be transport. Depending on where you live and your needs, you will either need to hire a car long term - expect to pay around $4000 a month, but that will be very negotiable for a long term lease. Vehicles here are very expensive to buy as is insurance. a good reliable vehicle if you are not too fussy, can be got for around $55,000 and up.

Fuel is cheap by North American standards. Premium gas is $4.50 a litre, Regular is $2.50 I think (don't use it so not sure) and diesel which I use is $1.50 a litre.

Hope that helps. I am happy to answer any more questions you have.

Good luck with your venture.

Kind regards, Ally.

Edited: 15 April 2011, 01:51
Calgary, Canada
6 posts
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2. Re: Relocating for a Year

Hello Ally,

You certainly provided us with a lot of valuable information. No, we have never visited your island and are excited about the prospect.

We would be looking into obtaining all visa required for our 10 month stay. Is it difficult to find good rental accomodations? We are looking for a gated community with a pool.

Also, are there nice public beaches in Port-of-Spain?

Wondering about bugs? Here in Canada our mosquitos give us grief in the summer...with your high temperatures what can we expect in this regards?

It is April here and it is still snowing...it has been a very long winter and the thought of a tropical island is very appealing.

Oneyear

Port of Spain...
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41 posts
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3. Re: Relocating for a Year

Hi

How very brave of you! I have traveled all over the world and I still think Trinidad & Tobago is the best place in the world, but I am biased. I don't think I'm brave enough to go and live somewhere I never been though. Suppose you hate us when you get here :)

However, to answer your questions:

It is not difficult to find the kind of accommodation you specified, as long as your wallet can stretch to it. The prices for gated communities with pool are usually quoted here in US dollars, and are usually inhabited by foreign workers, usually from Embassies and the oil industry. I think Bay Side Towers at Cocorite rent from around US$2000 and up and The Towers at Westmoorings are nearer US$3000 and up per month. I'll ask around and see who has what available at a more reasonable rate at the moment.

There are no beaches in Port-of-Spain. The most popular beach in the North of the island is Maracas, approximately a 45 minute drive from Port-of-Spain.

Mosquito problems vary from area to area and also depend on the amount of vegetation. In general the more vegetation around your home, the more mosquitoes you have.

This time of year is our dry season, but so far it has been quite rainy. Global warming no doubt! Today there was no rain in Port-of-Spain and the temperature was around 92F in the hottest part of the afternoon. Tonight it has dropped to about 80F.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards, Ally.

Edited: 17 April 2011, 01:48
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204 posts
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4. Re: Relocating for a Year

Not to appear too negative re Trinidad: I respect the well-voiced opinions of Ally. Well spoken and I praise him for his knowledge of life in Trinidad proper. I have spent a fair amount of time there over the past 35+ years, and each time have followed up with time on the sister island of Tobago.It sounds to me you folks are looking for a bit less City and a lot more Country atmosphere?? Beaches, relaxing in the sun, walking out to enjoy the flowers, the culture, etc??? I recently spent 8 days in West Moorings area of Trinidad : lovely area, fairly close to malls, and downtown Port of Spain. But it also involves traffic jams, needing a car to go anywhere safely, or to get to a beach. The nearest beach... and it's lovely... was at least 40 minutes away, at Macqueripe. I think Maracus was an hour away, and a very hot drive.

We stayed with family, and we had to keep doors locked at all times, even to go out for the morning paper some 300 feet away. If you are accustomed to living like that, fine: for us it was a nuisance and intimidating. Not being able to walk to the Mall, or the nearest convenience store without someone with me was a real downer.( I am a senior... a very active one.) BUT Tobago??? The complete opposite. Still very safe for the most part, very friendly, and very near a beach no matter where you stay. I am not sure, however, about the school for your daughter: I suspect the schools in Tobago might be a great deal different from what you are used to. They will also be fairly different in Trinidad, too, and you may have to sacrifice one issue for another. To me, safety would be priority #1. I am not trying to dissuade you from Trinidad completely : I just want you to know how I see it as a Canadian, compared to the laid-back beauty of Tobago. Do your homework ; Ally has offered to help you re pricing accommodations, which is wonderful. But if you are going with hopes of experiencing the real "Island Feel" please look at Tobago before deciding for sure.My family members in Trinidad call Trinidad the "New York of the ISlands", and that really does sum up the Port of Spain lifestyle: very busy, very cosmopolitan, hustle and bustle, not close to beaches or the related water sports, etc.,which we Canadians think of as part of an island atmosphere.

An extreme example, from Carnival time in Port Of Spain: we went to purchase tickets for Panorama, and there were several groups of small school children at the venue, obviously taking in the sights and sounds of the Carnival season with teachers in attendance. On either side??? Several police, with sub-machine guns on their hips! We were completely shocked. Has it come to that in beautiful Trinidad?? The children did not seem a bit deterred.... as if this were normal for school kids there.

Ally, please do not take offence: I know you mean well and have been very helpful. You love your island as my family does. But this family does deserve to know there are some drawbacks as well, and I think you would agree to that. JUst do LOTS of homework, on both islands, Oneyear.

Port of Spain...
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5. Re: Relocating for a Year

Hi

No I won't take offense Novie, and I agree with you completely, which is why I had related Port-of-Spain to being like London, New York or Paris. Or really any metropolitan city. Full of madness and mayhem, as well as the good bits. Which is why I was also surprised that Oneyear was thinking of coming to live in a country they have not yet visited, but they did say they had talked to people so I am guessing they know.

I assume they were also was looking at Trinidad for their year out partly because there is a Canadian Maple Leaf School here that their daughter could attend.

I think the question of security is valid, but should also be put in perspective. The reality of life here is that there is very little "stranger" crime. Not that there is none, but it is a small percentage compared to any of the above mentioned cities. I think it would be fair to say that in over 90% of the crimes committed here there is some kind of connection between the criminal and the victim, whether directly or through friends or family. A high percentage of the crime is also drug related, so if you are not involved in drugs....

Also, it does depends on where you live. I live in Port-of-Spain not in a gated community. Like most Trinidadians I keep yard dogs. Today I have been out on two errands several streets away. I did not lock up on either occasion, because I was not going to be long and if any criminal came into my property in my absence the dogs would have given them a lecture on the laws of trespass.

As to the police with the machine guns.... difficult to say anything about them without being rude, but I guess the school children were noticing them as little as the rest of the law abiding citizens do.

I don't know what city living in Canada is like, but after years of different cities in the UK, I think the homelessness here is about the same per capita as Oxford - less than London, the literacy rate is higher than London, and the crime is different but probably about the same per capita.

Let's face it, the world is a dangerous place but we do the best we can.

Novie you are also right in that if anyone is looking for a holiday brochure type of existence for a year, they would be better off in Tobago or one of the other islands with a tourist based economy like Barbados or Grenada.

We Trinidadians are known for our rudeness, not just to visitors, but to each other too. Mainly I think because this economy thrives on the oil and chemical industry and Trinidadians on the whole do not like to serve people. It is how it is, and after all the places I've been, I'm still glad I belong here and still happy to be living here.

I think we are also unjustifiably, patriotic, nationalistic and arrogant about ourselves and our nation, but I like that too. We can so we are :)

By the way I am a "she" - not a "he" :)

Kind regards, Ally.

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6. Re: Relocating for a Year

I love reading your letters: Very well informed, and well composed. And I do admire the fact you can not only stand proud for your beautiful country, but do so with the facts all in order: not trying to mask the problems, or sweep them under the rug so to speak. Good work ! I was really amazed this year to see downtown P.O.S. so much cleaner than ever before: they have made many strides over the past 9-10 years, with recycling bins in many spots now, etc.The new facilities for the Panorama were wonderful, also. We were up around Aranjuez, as well : even there I could see some advances in tidying the streets and savannah, etc. And believe me, none of you on any of the islands should have to apologize for not wanting to do jobs where you are obliged to serve people, especially if the people you serve are ungrateful and "Lord it over you". Some islands, however, have only tourism to supply them jobs, and in those cases, I think they should try to be pleasant but not subservient. Most Canadians have worked their share of tourist related jobs as teenagers, and should certainly be well aware of what restaurant and guest house workers have to endure, and respond with courtesy.I was a nurse for 40 years..... that is quite different, but even that can get tiring, if those you serve do not appreciate what you do for them. I have talked to several people in both Trini and Tobago, Dominican and Cuba, who had such unpleasant experiences with tourists, who seem not to be aware slavery was abolished in the late 1800's!! Ally, you go girl.... praise your country and do all you can to promote it. You do have your facts and present them very well.

Port of Spain...
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7. Re: Relocating for a Year

Why thank you Novie, you are too kind. Truth is I'm not a big fan of the tourist speak that most tour guides use, so I'm inventing a 21st Century attitude to tour guiding - tell it like it is as diplomatically as possible :)

Yes there have been lots of improvements here, especially in the last year under a new government, but the biggest eyesore is still the rubbish everywhere. I encourage people that I escort around Trinidad and Tobago to drop a line to TDC (Tourism Development Company). They can't to told enough and it is so embarrassing sometimes when I take a visitor somewhere and the first thing that draws the eye at what should be a beauty spot, is a pile of rubbish.

Trinidad and Tobago are a stunningly beautiful pair of islands, with so much to offer, but we do let ourselves down badly sometimes. Fingers crossed it will keep improving.

Kind regards, Ally.

Calgary, Canada
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8. Re: Relocating for a Year

Hello Novie and Ally,

My husband and I truly appreciate your honesty...and the honesty of "private messages". It is wonderful to have people like yourselves help us make this very difficult decision. Since reading your posts we have decided to search out schools and homes in Tobago. I have a trip planned in which I will visit both islands in advance and at that time we will search out vacation rentals. Many family members plan to visit and stay; therefore, we are looking for a home that will be safe and entertaining for guests. From what you have mentioned, we are thinking that living in Tobago will be ideal and weekend trips to Trinidad will give us a place to travel and explore.

My deadline for making a fairly firm decision is only days away...

As a Canadian, I like to think that I am patient, kind and understanding of other cultures. Our plan to become a part of island life and not to disturb, but rather contribute.

Simply can't wait to visit...

Oneyear

Brandon, Florida
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9. Re: Relocating for a Year

Here's an article in today's online edition of the Trinidad Guardian that may be of interest. There is an email address at the end of the article that you may find useful.

guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2011/04/26/canadian…

Calgary, Canada
6 posts
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10. Re: Relocating for a Year

Thank you for the info. The email address will come in very handy. On this date we are having...yet again...another snow storm...this time of year we are usually mowing our grass! Can't wait to see green:)

Oneyear

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