Moving to Barbados, the tropical paradise in the eastern Caribbean Sea, has become an alluring option for expats seeking a change of scenery and an enticing tropical lifestyle. The island offers more than just a prime holiday spot – it's also one of the most developed countries in the Caribbean, making it an attractive destination for those considering expat life in Barbados.
Living in Barbados as an expat
Barbados is home to a diverse population of more than 300,000 people, with roots tracing back to African, European and North American origins, contributing to the island's rich cultural tapestry. The capital, Bridgetown, is the cultural and commercial centre and the island's largest city. It is also where the majority of the population live and work.
The economy of Barbados has historically been based on agriculture, with the main exports being sugar, rum and molasses. Other sectors, including tourism and offshore financial services, are essential to the economy. Expats living and working in Barbados will likely find employment in these industries, although securing employment on the island can be competitive, as job opportunities are generally prioritised for locals.
Regarding transport in Barbados, navigating the compact island is a breeze, making it easy for expats to explore their new surroundings.Although it's possible to walk to many destinations, there are bus routes that cross the island. Taxi services are also readily available from most locations in Barbados.
Cost of living in Barbados
Expats should be aware that the cost of living in Barbados is generally higher than in other countries, primarily due to its reliance on imported goods. However, strategic budgeting and shopping choices can help maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
Housing prices vary based on location and amenities, with coastal properties being more expensive. Utility costs can be high, so it's wise to consider this when choosing a home and using air conditioning.
Local produce is usually cheaper than imported items, so shopping at local markets can help reduce grocery expenses. Eating at local eateries rather than the tourist hotspots is also more affordable. Transport is affordable with public bus routes, though some expats opt for renting or purchasing a car for convenience, which presents additional costs.
Families and children in Barbados
The availability of good healthcare and schooling is particularly important for expats bringing their families along.
Expats moving to Barbados need not worry about healthcare, as Barbados has an excellent healthcare system consisting of both private and public healthcare facilities. There is only one international school on the island, but there are several other private schools that parents may also find suitable.
With an abundance of sunny days, beaches and family-friendly activities, parents will find it easy to keep children entertained and engaged in the vibrant Barbados community.
Climate in Barbados
The weather in Barbados can be a significant deciding factor for expats. Most expats love the weather, but some struggle to adapt. The average temperatures range from 68°F (20°C) to 86°F (30°C). Barbados has two seasons. June to November is the rainy season, and the dry season is from December to May. Humidity can also be very high and makes even mild temperatures uncomfortable.
Still, the warm climate allows Barbados to offer expats a relaxed outdoor lifestyle. There are many activities to keep them busy and active on weekends, ranging from fishing, hiking and cycling to cricket (the national sport) and golf.
Population: About 303,000
Capital city: Bridgetown
Neighbouring countries: Barbados is an island in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. Nearby islands include St Lucia, Puerto Rico, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago.
Geography: Barbados is a small island with a length of 21 miles (34km) and a breadth of 14 miles (23km) at its broadest point. The island's terrain is relatively flat, with some small hills.
Political system: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: English and Bajan (a local English dialect which can nevertheless be difficult for even native English speakers to understand)
Money: The Barbadian Dollar (BBD) is divided into 100 cents. Expats can easily open a bank account on the island as long as they have the correct paperwork. ATMs are easily found outside of banks and in shopping centres. They may be less common outside of cities.
Tipping: 10 percent of the total bill is customary.
Electricity: 110 V, 50 Hz. 'Type A' two-prong and 'type B' three-prong plugs are used.
Internet domain: .bb
International dialling code: +1 246
Emergency contacts: 511 (ambulance), 311 (fire), 211 (police)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. The island's compact size makes it easy to get around. Public transport, such as minivans, buses and taxis, is available.
Are you an expat living in Barbados?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Barbados. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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