Barbados is expensive!

Old Sep 2nd 2011, 5:53 pm
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Default Barbados is expensive!

With the possibility of moving to Barbados I spent the past few weeks there exploring everything. I stopped in everywhere I could. I went to every parish and drove a lot. I checked out prices, made contacts, and really just looked into everything, including medical care.

I think Barbados is very expensive. Is Barbados really expensive or is it just me? I guess living in the US spoils you but after spending a few weeks there I was surprised with the prices. I am still wondering how the locals manage? We are a family of 5.

We were driving a BMW and an Xtrail (SUV). I drove a bit over 1000KM and it cost me 3 full ups at $160-180BB each. I was driving from St James to St Lucy a lot. It was nice seeing River's Bay after so long of not being there.

SuperCentre - each time we went we bought basic stuff, it was about $100-$200BB. We spent about $700-$800BB in about 2 weeks. This was starting from scratch so I know the cost is higher. I shopped at Jordans too and it was a little cheaper. TriMart seemed the best deal around, I stopped by the one in St Lucy.

Beach House restaurant - stopped in there for appetizers, no drinks - $300BB
Champers was around the same but liked Champers much more.

On the way to the Crane Hotel we stopped at a small place called Cutters. Tab was $180BB and we just bought small items. Seems like Oistins is a great deal for a nice meal for $25-$30BB.

I also stopped by a nice lady in a van, her name was Sandra, she sold food out of her van near Sandy Lane, great deal at $12.50 per plate and her food was really really good.

Electronics down there are way too much, the same laptop I would get in the US for $200US is selling in Barbados for $600 US at Courts.

Horseback riding was $100US an hour. Snorkeling swimming with the turtles was reasonable at $80BB for a 1.5 hour trip.

I got great deals Jetskiing at $50BB for 20min sessions. Usually it's $50US for 30min.

I stopped by Bushy Park which was FULL of mud, never again! Had to wash the SUV and found a local guy next to the police station on Holetown for $10-$15BB a wash.

I checked out Sheraton Mall, nice place. I also checked out the Olympus movie theater. Also checked out a smaller Mall on one of the roundabouts before the Sheraton Mall, nice place there too but small. Animal flower cave was well worth the money and we loved visiting the Wildlife reserve.

So after all of this, is it just me or are things expensive on that little island?

Anthony
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Old Sep 2nd 2011, 7:10 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

Originally Posted by AnthonyNYC View Post
With the possibility of moving to Barbados I spent the past few weeks there exploring everything. I stopped in everywhere I could. I went to every parish and drove a lot. I checked out prices, made contacts, and really just looked into everything, including medical care.

I think Barbados is very expensive. Is Barbados really expensive or is it just me? I guess living in the US spoils you but after spending a few weeks there I was surprised with the prices. I am still wondering how the locals manage? We are a family of 5.

We were driving a BMW and an Xtrail (SUV). I drove a bit over 1000KM and it cost me 3 full ups at $160-180BB each. I was driving from St James to St Lucy a lot. It was nice seeing River's Bay after so long of not being there.

SuperCentre - each time we went we bought basic stuff, it was about $100-$200BB. We spent about $700-$800BB in about 2 weeks. This was starting from scratch so I know the cost is higher. I shopped at Jordans too and it was a little cheaper. TriMart seemed the best deal around, I stopped by the one in St Lucy.

Beach House restaurant - stopped in there for appetizers, no drinks - $300BB
Champers was around the same but liked Champers much more.

On the way to the Crane Hotel we stopped at a small place called Cutters. Tab was $180BB and we just bought small items. Seems like Oistins is a great deal for a nice meal for $25-$30BB.

I also stopped by a nice lady in a van, her name was Sandra, she sold food out of her van near Sandy Lane, great deal at $12.50 per plate and her food was really really good.

Electronics down there are way too much, the same laptop I would get in the US for $200US is selling in Barbados for $600 US at Courts.

Horseback riding was $100US an hour. Snorkeling swimming with the turtles was reasonable at $80BB for a 1.5 hour trip.

I got great deals Jetskiing at $50BB for 20min sessions. Usually it's $50US for 30min.

I stopped by Bushy Park which was FULL of mud, never again! Had to wash the SUV and found a local guy next to the police station on Holetown for $10-$15BB a wash.

I checked out Sheraton Mall, nice place. I also checked out the Olympus movie theater. Also checked out a smaller Mall on one of the roundabouts before the Sheraton Mall, nice place there too but small. Animal flower cave was well worth the money and we loved visiting the Wildlife reserve.

So after all of this, is it just me or are things expensive on that little island?

Anthony
ALL the Caribbean islands (plus Bermuda) tend to be expensive for food and household items though Bermuda is THE most expensive as the wage levels are much higher, as are rents, and Barbados comes in second on most things.

The reason is five-fold for Barbados:

1. The Island now has value added tax (applied like a sales tax) of 15% on goods and services, except hotels which are 7.5%.

2. There are also significant import duties which vary according to the commodity and are relatively high for cars, car parts and gasoline as well as electronic goods.

3. Caribbean islands are small markets so they have limited negotiating/purchasing power with the foreign suppliers unlike entities such as Wal-Mart. Retailers also have greater risk of having to sell at heavy markdown prices due to the limited retail market. Heavy discounting in general would be commercial suicide as there is no real potential for high volume sales.

Retailers have to compete with locals who travel to the US and Puerto Rico and load up barrels for shipment of "personal effects" bought on the cheap while there on vacation/shopping holiday and this further reduces their market as many locals swear they will try as much as possible not to shop local wherever possible.

4. Most items for sale are imported and the shipping, handling, clearance, import agency, warehousing costs, security and trucking charges are a very significant add-on.

5. Income taxes where they apply (which are progressive) start at relatively low thresholds.

plus,

The tourism season is limited in duration due to Hurricane Season so tourism operators have to make their profits as best they are able to make a living and cover their equipment, maintenance and re-equipment costs and thus prices can be high on a per-item basis.

SO, the Islands tend to be expensive for items other than locally produced goods and all alcohol. Doesn't really help, but it does explain it.

The good news for Barbados is that though it is likely that goods will (once VAT is introduced throughout most of the Caribbean) be similar in price throughout the entire region, wage levels are significantly higher there, though so are RENTS.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Sep 2nd 2011 at 7:15 pm.
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Old Sep 2nd 2011, 7:57 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

my 2 cents. (firstly, the island has had VAT for over 15years and it's now 17.5pct. raised by our current government last year in an attempt to make them more money.. not sure it's working..)

we drive 1 SUV (now appx 180-200 per week in gas) and 1 smaller car (hatchback but 4door - Gas is now approx 130.00 per week). We also don't drive all over the island in that time so your experience is not the norm. (well it would be for someone living in St. Lucy or St. James who drove to children's schools in St. Michael or Christ Church on a daily basis (sometimes twice a day). in my week I can drive from the middle of St. George to the South coast, Christ Church to middle St. Michael area maybe once or twice per day.

Our grocery bill for a family of 5 can average about 600.00 to 700 per week.. much depends on what we buy, and where we get it. I shop at Big B, Trimart (Haggat Hall) and Pricesmart mainly.

We don't eat at Champers and The Beach house, or really any restaurant on a regular basis, mainly cooking at home. We do Chinese on Friday nights with other family members and friends, and this can get pricy but we share the expense.

Electronics, we don't buy locally, and if we have to, we will (to save on shipping). As said.. there are import duties, plus shipping costs etc that are borne by the consumer that are just a way of life on a small island. Prices have actually come down considerably, but obviously not what you would find in the USA (having said that, I shopped in Plantation Florida during July for 11days and spent waaaayyyyy more money this year than I ever have. things just more expensive there as well). Actually I lied.. I did import a Dell laptop late last year through a local computer company. I paid maybe just under double what I would have in the US, but..I also purchased a 3 year warranty and the peace of mind that I can take it back for repair here and not worry about sending it overseas if something goes wrong with it (most US/Canadian purchased items like that have warranties but they do not cover them if you bring the item back to Barbados. - most people never bother with the warranty anyway.)

And even though I think it's expensive, I'm finding out that paying 8.00usd for a movie in Barbados is really not that expensive. but again, we don't do movies every day of the week. And I can purchase them for a lot cheaper at the local video store (ok.. so they might be pirated.. but.. that's the way it is).

Residents of Barbados don't live like tourists every day, so your experience is not going to be the same as mine, unless I decide to become a tourist for a day, week or year.

Someone once, many years ago, said to me.. that Island is expensive.. my response.. it's all relative to what you do and how you live..
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Old Sep 2nd 2011, 8:28 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

Originally Posted by Sunniebgi View Post

Someone once, many years ago, said to me.. that Island is expensive.. my response.. it's all relative to what you do and how you live..
I can remember also many (15+?) years ago looking in the magazine Business Traveller and invariably seeing Barbados as the most expensive place in the world
for dry cleaning and way up there per diem for business travel.

I knew that VAT came in after this so partly the reason for my mention.

As you say, living like a tourist can be very expensive.

VAT is supposed to be introduced here in St Lucia after the upcoming general election and is supposed (as in Barbados) to replace consumption taxes as they relate to goods but other islands such as St Vincent and Dominica which have recently introduced VAT have seen, in some cases, significant price rises.

St Lucia is representing that the arrival of VAT may create a windfall which would allow for decreases in income taxes. This would seem to suggest that there will be significantly increased burden upon consumption and tourism will carry a lot of this.

After all of this, Barbados will not then look quite as expensive relative to other Islands which most definitely currently leverage off Barbados in terms of price, particularly for housing and land.

In passing, the mandatory service charges on many bills would also seem to be a big add-on for US visitors to this part of the world, not just Barbados.
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Old Sep 2nd 2011, 11:23 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

I MUST agree: Barbados is super expensive. It was amazing to me that we spend more in groceries here than in the UK- even for items of less quality like the produce (tomatoes and onions are particularly of bad quality here).

Electricity is also very expensive. The explanation I get is that fuel is imported, but I have lived in other places in which fuel is also imported but the electricity is nowhere near the cost of electricity here (maybe due to the lack of econs of scale here or because there isn't much alternative energy production here).

Anyway, it's a nice island, people are very nice so you pay a price for living here. At the end of the day I think most expats are happy here and when they leave they miss Barbados very much. Especially those with small children.

Anyway, Sunny: what chinese restaurant do you go to? After 1.5 yrs here I still have yet to find a good chinese restaurant .
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Old Sep 3rd 2011, 12:16 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

I laugh when they blame import of fuels on high electricity cost.. and, from what I gather, there are other issues there they, while they will tell you some, they will not tell you the whole story. and.. they can charge you because.. well they can...

We tend to go to New Century, but we know the owner and have been buying food from he and his brother (Guong Dong) for years. I can't say it's "the best" chinese food going, but it's not bad.. Unfortunately it has changed over the last 6mths or so.. not sure why, except for likely a change in the cooks.
I also don't mind the one at Sheraton Mall either.. again.. not NYC or even NC Chinese, but ok for Barbados.
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Old Sep 3rd 2011, 2:28 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

Great! We will give it a try! thanks so much!
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Old Sep 17th 2011, 3:39 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

Originally Posted by Pistolpete2 View Post
ALL the Caribbean islands (plus Bermuda) tend to be expensive for food and household items though Bermuda is THE most expensive as the wage levels are much higher, as are rents, and Barbados comes in second on most things.

The reason is five-fold for Barbados:

1. The Island now has value added tax (applied like a sales tax) of 15% on goods and services, except hotels which are 7.5%.

2. There are also significant import duties which vary according to the commodity and are relatively high for cars, car parts and gasoline as well as electronic goods.

3. Caribbean islands are small markets so they have limited negotiating/purchasing power with the foreign suppliers unlike entities such as Wal-Mart. Retailers also have greater risk of having to sell at heavy markdown prices due to the limited retail market. Heavy discounting in general would be commercial suicide as there is no real potential for high volume sales.

Retailers have to compete with locals who travel to the US and Puerto Rico and load up barrels for shipment of "personal effects" bought on the cheap while there on vacation/shopping holiday and this further reduces their market as many locals swear they will try as much as possible not to shop local wherever possible.

4. Most items for sale are imported and the shipping, handling, clearance, import agency, warehousing costs, security and trucking charges are a very significant add-on.

5. Income taxes where they apply (which are progressive) start at relatively low thresholds.

plus,

The tourism season is limited in duration due to Hurricane Season so tourism operators have to make their profits as best they are able to make a living and cover their equipment, maintenance and re-equipment costs and thus prices can be high on a per-item basis.

SO, the Islands tend to be expensive for items other than locally produced goods and all alcohol. Doesn't really help, but it does explain it.

The good news for Barbados is that though it is likely that goods will (once VAT is introduced throughout most of the Caribbean) be similar in price throughout the entire region, wage levels are significantly higher there, though so are RENTS.
You forgot the Barbados Light and Power's 10% Fuel Adjustment Clause. That spiked my once $40 electric bill of mine to over one hundred and something dollars... And that has had a knock on effect on supermarkets, and businesses all across the country. The Barbados government needs to hurry up with their plan of switching to Solar Power street lamps, and outfitting all government buildings with solar energy. That should shave a chunk out of Light and Power cost of generation.
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Old Sep 17th 2011, 11:56 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

tropical 11.. what I hear with light and power is that they seriously need to upgrade their equipment and then the whole place will run more efficiently. (but then that will cost us, because they will pass on the costs to the consumer.. and we have no choice but to pay it to use Electric) There are other internal things I've hear, but can't confirm and will not post here.
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Old Sep 18th 2011, 2:08 am
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

Overall cost in Barbados is quite cheap except for food and yes some electronic,cars etc.But i dont get it when people compare this little island of 270,000 people with so little resources,a country that import most of its stuff to countries with over 100 million people,if anyone can explain to me the sense in this comparison with prices between such a large and small population.
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Old Oct 13th 2011, 2:58 pm
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Default Re: Barbados is expensive!

Originally Posted by AnthonyNYC View Post
With the possibility of moving to Barbados I spent the past few weeks there exploring everything. I stopped in everywhere I could. I went to every parish and drove a lot. I checked out prices, made contacts, and really just looked into everything, including medical care.

I think Barbados is very expensive. Is Barbados really expensive or is it just me? I guess living in the US spoils you but after spending a few weeks there I was surprised with the prices. I am still wondering how the locals manage? We are a family of 5.

We were driving a BMW and an Xtrail (SUV). I drove a bit over 1000KM and it cost me 3 full ups at $160-180BB each. I was driving from St James to St Lucy a lot. It was nice seeing River's Bay after so long of not being there.

SuperCentre - each time we went we bought basic stuff, it was about $100-$200BB. We spent about $700-$800BB in about 2 weeks. This was starting from scratch so I know the cost is higher. I shopped at Jordans too and it was a little cheaper. TriMart seemed the best deal around, I stopped by the one in St Lucy.

Beach House restaurant - stopped in there for appetizers, no drinks - $300BB
Champers was around the same but liked Champers much more.

On the way to the Crane Hotel we stopped at a small place called Cutters. Tab was $180BB and we just bought small items. Seems like Oistins is a great deal for a nice meal for $25-$30BB.

I also stopped by a nice lady in a van, her name was Sandra, she sold food out of her van near Sandy Lane, great deal at $12.50 per plate and her food was really really good.

Electronics down there are way too much, the same laptop I would get in the US for $200US is selling in Barbados for $600 US at Courts.

Horseback riding was $100US an hour. Snorkeling swimming with the turtles was reasonable at $80BB for a 1.5 hour trip.

I got great deals Jetskiing at $50BB for 20min sessions. Usually it's $50US for 30min.

I stopped by Bushy Park which was FULL of mud, never again! Had to wash the SUV and found a local guy next to the police station on Holetown for $10-$15BB a wash.

I checked out Sheraton Mall, nice place. I also checked out the Olympus movie theater. Also checked out a smaller Mall on one of the roundabouts before the Sheraton Mall, nice place there too but small. Animal flower cave was well worth the money and we loved visiting the Wildlife reserve.

So after all of this, is it just me or are things expensive on that little island?

Anthony
Animal flower cave was well worth the money

It is!!! I missed your private message as I have not been on this site forever but the Animal Flower Cave is home for me and I think it is the beat place on the island, also serving reasonably priced, tasty cutters, wraps and salads!

Yes Barbados is ridiculously expensive but there are ways to make it manageable. Tri-mart at Mile & A Quarter is the cheapest, and the staff the friendliest.

We too never eat out, too expensive but often pack a picnic and take it to the beach.

There is also a great new beach bar - Ramshackle - next to Lone Star which does reasonable priced food and the beach is sweet.

When are you back?
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