Advanced reconnaissance

Old Sep 24th 2021, 8:16 pm
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Question Advanced reconnaissance

Hello All!

I am planning on taking advantage of the Welcome Stamp next year, and, as I have never visited Barbados before, I have just booked flights for mid/late November so that I can come over for an advanced recce. My intention is to book a number of different AirBnB places round the island to try and get an impression of where I might like to base myself.

I'm a 45 year old single guy. The vast majority of my working day is aligned to the US Eastern time zone, so I'll be able to go back to working a more standard day (compared to being based in the UK) and perhaps even develop a social life again! My research suggests that the following areas might give me the best balance of being close to the beaches, nightlife, and recreation options:
  • Speightstown
  • Holetown
  • Oistins/St Lawrence Gap
I have already done a fair amount of research, including reading through some of the forum posts here ( satellite_ian - I'll almost certainly be coming along to the Hash House Harriers once I move over there next year), but any advice or info that can be offered will be greatly appreciated. Nothing beats local knowledge and experience.

Specifically, any info on the following will be greatfully received:
  • the potential suitability of the locations I listed
  • any other areas that might work well for me
  • reliable letting agents that can be recommended
  • the reality of public transport on the island vs perhaps buying a second hand car/motorbike
  • areas with a good expat social scene (I'm aware of the current curfews!)
  • I practise Krav Maga - is anyone familar with any of the academies on the island?
  • anything else you think will be helpful to know!
Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Stuart_R; Sep 24th 2021 at 9:39 pm.
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Old Sep 25th 2021, 10:59 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Hi Stuart,

Good to hear you're interested in the Hash.. def keep in touch about that..

As for living in a particular area.. I'm very much of the opinion it doesn't matter that much. The island is small and nothing is too far away, but I would suggest a car. Public transport isn't that good overall. I didn't bring my motorbike as in my opinion many cars are not that well maintained and the chance of oil of the road (especially in the wet season) is very real.. and you will understand the potential there..

I think the social scene is something you will grow into.. perhaps through the Hash or your interest in Krav Maga...

As for other things.. you need to know the island is expensive - almost everything is imported. Make sure you renew your electronics to bring with you (computers/phone/smart speakers etc) if you have to replace them locally during your stay it will be costly.

I'm sure you will have more questions.. thats what we're here for...lol...

Ian
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Old Sep 26th 2021, 12:01 am
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Thanks Ian.

I certainly will.

Seond hand car it is then, I guess. What's the market like out there?

I'll definitely bear in mind the advice regarding electronics. I was going to look into buying some monitors once I was out there but it might be easier to just pay for the extra baggage allowance instead.

I have 10 nighs (after the two nights of approved accommodation) over there in November so I'm hoping I'll get to figure most of this out in advance.
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Old Sep 26th 2021, 11:43 am
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Second hand car market... varies a lot.. Can be expensive but there are a number of bargains to be had amongst a few people who buy Japanese/Korean cars and put them back together here.. if you don't an in-car entertainment system in Japanese.

Keep in touch..

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Old Sep 26th 2021, 4:36 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Stuart if you make another post to the forum I can PM you the contact details of a reputable agent to perhaps source a rental property.
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Old Sep 26th 2021, 4:39 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Originally Posted by satellite_ian View Post
Stuart if you make another post to the forum I can PM you the contact details of a reputable agent to perhaps source a rental property.
Ian,

Will do. Thanks!
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Old Sep 26th 2021, 9:58 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Hi Stuart

I'm in the same boat so interested to hear what you find out. I'll be heading over in Oct/Nov and I'm also trying to work out where I want to base myself, whether to buy a car and all that jazz.

Feel free to drop me a message if you'd like to stay in touch
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Old Oct 7th 2021, 12:55 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Hi Stuart and Kate if you want a chat over the phone PM me as im in the UK now so am happy to help you with ideas or info or a soundboard for locations etc

I know when I relocated I needed all the help i could get so am happy to pay forward my support

Dips
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Old Oct 9th 2021, 3:33 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Hey Guys, if you come from the UK just set your expectations on car prices. Regardless new or secondhand any car to up at least 10 years old will be double on what you might think is expensive. As all is imported and duties are applied plus VAT there is inherent tax on cars across the board. Phones are expensive indeed. Computers are ok as some are exempt from import duties, however your choice is limited than you are probably used to. Good luck with planning your move and hopefully enjoying island life.
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Old Oct 9th 2021, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Computers are exempt duties.. however it doesn't stop retailers adding in a huge margin... "for shipping"....
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Old Oct 9th 2021, 4:03 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Thank you Serendipidy, satellite_ian and Wharfer. I think the car is going to be the biggest potential issue, but as Dips pointed out, I should get nearly as much for it when I sell it at the end of my visa as I'll pay for it in the first place.

I am a professional geek so anything tech related will be coming with me from Blighty.
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Old Oct 13th 2021, 5:51 am
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

>> the potential suitability of the locations I listed

Without more information about what kind of scene you prefer, we can't really tell you which of the three locations you would like the most.

Do you like a quiet and laid back environemnt, or a place where there is more going on?

Each side of island offers something different, even in terms of scenery. The east coast has a lot of forest and hiking routes, for example. The west coast, on the other hand, has the most turquoise beaches.

>> any other areas that might work well for me

You have not provided enough information for us to tell you what area might work for you, but I would suggest that you do as you intend, and stay in a number of Airbnb properties in Speightstown, Holetown and Oistins.

You may also wish to consider Worthing or Hastings, which is about 2 miles west from St. Laurence Gap.

>> reliable letting agents that can be recommended

Terra Caribbean is often recommended.

>> the reality of public transport on the island vs perhaps buying a second hand car/motorbike

There is obviously no train service in Barbados, but the bus transport service to the most popular routes are very frequent. The main type of bus you will come across is what we call a 'ZR' (pronounced zed-R, officially known as a route taxi). These are minibuses which go on fixed routes between the major towns.

You will very quickly learn after you arrive on island as to why the minibuses are so frequent, and it's not just because of how many of them are on the road. A day never goes by without road users being pissed off by minibus drivers for either driving too slow, or too fast, or stopping without notice. Minibus drivers often stop traffic in both directions to exchange money or talk to each other.

All buses – whether government or private – charge a fixed fee of BDS $3.50 one-way. Taxis, on the other hand, are able to set their own rates.

You may wish to rent or lease a car while you are in Barbados. It can be expensive though, because cars themselves are very expensive due to the crazy import duty.

For car rentals, I would recommend Drive-a-Matic. For car leases, I would recommend Simpson Motors.

You do not need to acquire an International Driving Permit to drive in Barbados, but you will need to bring your UK driving licence with you and it must be valid (not expired).

To drive in Barbados using your foreign driving licence, you will need to purchase a Visitor Driving Permit which costs BDS $10 for two months, or BDS $100 for one year.

If you are renting a car, you can buy the permit directly from the rental company. For leasing a car, you'll probably need to buy the permit directly from the Barbados Revenue Authority.

For stays on the island of more than two months, you will be required to buy a one year driving permit if you buy the permit directly from the Barbados Revenue Authority.

You are required at all times to keep your insurance documentation, driving licence and visitor driving permit with you. If you don't furnish this information when a police officer asks for it, you can be fined.

>> areas with a good expat social scene (I'm aware of the current curfews!)

Holetown, Hastings, Worthing and Oistins have plenty of expats. There are also a few co-working spaces in Barbados, most notably Regus at One Welches and Suit-Free at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre.

>> I practise Krav Maga - is anyone familar with any of the academies on the island?

I don't think so. I've never heard of this.

>> anything else you think will be helpful to know!

Make sure you explore each side of the island, not just the west and south coast. For example, the east coast has some of the last remaining ancient forest that once inhabited the entire island. There are also hiking routes, for example at Barclays Park, near Bathsheba.

Barbados is not as developed as the UK, and things are very slow here (island time is real). The roads are not maintained to the same standard you will be used to.

If you have complained about potholes in the UK, don't worry, you will begin to appreciate how well maintained your roads are compared to the roads in Barbados. However, the road network in Barbados is extensive so you won't face too many challenging exploring even the most rural parts of the island.

While we drive on the left in Barbados, the rules of the road are not quite the same. You will come across junctions in which drivers have right of way when you may think otherwise.

For example, take note of the following street view image: https://goo.gl/maps/ez7eyPFh3xAu7mYV6.

From the point of view of the direction in which the camera is facing, drivers coming from the right have priority, even though they will effectively be taking a right turn.

Not all junctions work this way though, so the best advice I can give you is to pay attention and assume you do not have right of way. Even when you have right of way in situations like this, you should use your car horn to warn other drivers you're approaching, given there is a blind spot.

Also, we use car horns a lot in Barbados. If you give way to someone, they will usually beep their car horn to thank you. We do not only use car horns to indicate to others a danger or annoyance.

If there is a pedestrian crossing, the hazard lights are often used to warn drivers not to overtake them since a pedestrian is crossing the road. Likewise, hazard lights are used by drivers when they are about to reverse into a parking space.

Roundabouts are common across Barbados. Obviously, this is no problem for the British, but you will notice that no one indicates at roundabouts – and I do mean absolutely nobody. The roundabouts otherwise work the same as they do in the UK, but there are a few exceptions:
  • even if there is only a single lane at one of the exits, drivers may still be allowed to take that exit as if there are two lanes: when this happens, the car to your right has priority.
  • if you are taking an exit which constitutes a right turn, if there are two lanes at that exit, you should take the right lane because other drivers may be driving into the left lane from the junction nearest to that exit.
Hand gestures are also common. If you see a driver waving their hand or entire arm in a downwards motion outside their car window, it means they are slowing down to a complete stop.

At gas stations, petrol and diesel prices are fixed by the government, and are the same for all gas stations on a given day. You do not pump your own gas. You park at the relevant pump and wait for a gas attendant to see you. You can ask them to fill up to a specific amount if you wish.

Final note: that noise you will hear at night, those are whistling frogs. And no, there is nowhere on the island to escape it. 🙂

Last edited by bs_wave; Oct 13th 2021 at 6:15 am.
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Old Oct 13th 2021, 8:53 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

For car rental I'd suggest MAH or Stoutes...

Vistors' driver permits are bought online..
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Old Oct 14th 2021, 4:02 pm
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

Originally Posted by bs_wave View Post
>> the potential suitability of the locations I listed

Without more information about what kind of scene you prefer, we can't really tell you which of the three locations you would like the most.

Do you like a quiet and laid back environemnt, or a place where there is more going on?

Each side of island offers something different, even in terms of scenery. The east coast has a lot of forest and hiking routes, for example. The west coast, on the other hand, has the most turquoise beaches.

>> any other areas that might work well for me

You have not provided enough information for us to tell you what area might work for you, but I would suggest that you do as you intend, and stay in a number of Airbnb properties in Speightstown, Holetown and Oistins.

You may also wish to consider Worthing or Hastings, which is about 2 miles west from St. Laurence Gap.

>> reliable letting agents that can be recommended

Terra Caribbean is often recommended.

>> the reality of public transport on the island vs perhaps buying a second hand car/motorbike

There is obviously no train service in Barbados, but the bus transport service to the most popular routes are very frequent. The main type of bus you will come across is what we call a 'ZR' (pronounced zed-R, officially known as a route taxi). These are minibuses which go on fixed routes between the major towns.

You will very quickly learn after you arrive on island as to why the minibuses are so frequent, and it's not just because of how many of them are on the road. A day never goes by without road users being pissed off by minibus drivers for either driving too slow, or too fast, or stopping without notice. Minibus drivers often stop traffic in both directions to exchange money or talk to each other.

All buses – whether government or private – charge a fixed fee of BDS $3.50 one-way. Taxis, on the other hand, are able to set their own rates.

You may wish to rent or lease a car while you are in Barbados. It can be expensive though, because cars themselves are very expensive due to the crazy import duty.

For car rentals, I would recommend Drive-a-Matic. For car leases, I would recommend Simpson Motors.

You do not need to acquire an International Driving Permit to drive in Barbados, but you will need to bring your UK driving licence with you and it must be valid (not expired).

To drive in Barbados using your foreign driving licence, you will need to purchase a Visitor Driving Permit which costs BDS $10 for two months, or BDS $100 for one year.

If you are renting a car, you can buy the permit directly from the rental company. For leasing a car, you'll probably need to buy the permit directly from the Barbados Revenue Authority.

For stays on the island of more than two months, you will be required to buy a one year driving permit if you buy the permit directly from the Barbados Revenue Authority.

You are required at all times to keep your insurance documentation, driving licence and visitor driving permit with you. If you don't furnish this information when a police officer asks for it, you can be fined.

>> areas with a good expat social scene (I'm aware of the current curfews!)

Holetown, Hastings, Worthing and Oistins have plenty of expats. There are also a few co-working spaces in Barbados, most notably Regus at One Welches and Suit-Free at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre.

>> I practise Krav Maga - is anyone familar with any of the academies on the island?

I don't think so. I've never heard of this.

>> anything else you think will be helpful to know!

Make sure you explore each side of the island, not just the west and south coast. For example, the east coast has some of the last remaining ancient forest that once inhabited the entire island. There are also hiking routes, for example at Barclays Park, near Bathsheba.

Barbados is not as developed as the UK, and things are very slow here (island time is real). The roads are not maintained to the same standard you will be used to.

If you have complained about potholes in the UK, don't worry, you will begin to appreciate how well maintained your roads are compared to the roads in Barbados. However, the road network in Barbados is extensive so you won't face too many challenging exploring even the most rural parts of the island.

While we drive on the left in Barbados, the rules of the road are not quite the same. You will come across junctions in which drivers have right of way when you may think otherwise.

For example, take note of the following street view image: https://goo.gl/maps/ez7eyPFh3xAu7mYV6.

From the point of view of the direction in which the camera is facing, drivers coming from the right have priority, even though they will effectively be taking a right turn.

Not all junctions work this way though, so the best advice I can give you is to pay attention and assume you do not have right of way. Even when you have right of way in situations like this, you should use your car horn to warn other drivers you're approaching, given there is a blind spot.

Also, we use car horns a lot in Barbados. If you give way to someone, they will usually beep their car horn to thank you. We do not only use car horns to indicate to others a danger or annoyance.

If there is a pedestrian crossing, the hazard lights are often used to warn drivers not to overtake them since a pedestrian is crossing the road. Likewise, hazard lights are used by drivers when they are about to reverse into a parking space.

Roundabouts are common across Barbados. Obviously, this is no problem for the British, but you will notice that no one indicates at roundabouts – and I do mean absolutely nobody. The roundabouts otherwise work the same as they do in the UK, but there are a few exceptions:
  • even if there is only a single lane at one of the exits, drivers may still be allowed to take that exit as if there are two lanes: when this happens, the car to your right has priority.
  • if you are taking an exit which constitutes a right turn, if there are two lanes at that exit, you should take the right lane because other drivers may be driving into the left lane from the junction nearest to that exit.
Hand gestures are also common. If you see a driver waving their hand or entire arm in a downwards motion outside their car window, it means they are slowing down to a complete stop.

At gas stations, petrol and diesel prices are fixed by the government, and are the same for all gas stations on a given day. You do not pump your own gas. You park at the relevant pump and wait for a gas attendant to see you. You can ask them to fill up to a specific amount if you wish.

Final note: that noise you will hear at night, those are whistling frogs. And no, there is nowhere on the island to escape it. 🙂
That's a very nice post! After the volcano ash covered the island in April we had a very quiet 3 months as no sound from the frogs at night. Then the hurricane came on 2nd July and they were back in full
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Old Yesterday, 9:54 am
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Default Re: Advanced reconnaissance

bs_wave - that is an incredibly detailed post. Thank you!

Less than 4 weeks until I arrive now. The only thing left to book is the various AirBnBs. Almost everyone I have spoken to has mentioned either Worthing, Hastings or both, so I'll definitely be checking out those areas. I have a car rental sorted now so that will give me a lot more freedom to explore.
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