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Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Old Feb 12th 2017, 9:58 pm
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Default Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Hello everyone

My husband and I might be relocating to St Lucia in the next couple of months with our four children (7, 5, 2, 2). We would be interested to hear some more experiences of moving and living in St Lucia with a family, especially about schooling, security and social life. We couldn't find much information on the web so far and it's hard to know what to expect so any information would be gratefully received.
Many thanks
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 12:22 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Where are you from?

Schooling here is ok but no universities, highest is college and they would have to go to University of The West Indies after depending on what they plan to pursue. If it's business/accounts then its possible to pursue their degrees without actually temporarily moving to one of the UWI locations.

If you're from the US and you want to raise them up as US people then it's most likely you will send them to the international school in Rodney Bay.

This is good and bad. Good is that they might fit right in because thats where the "rich kids" go. Bad is that they will not truly experience St. Lucian culture. Persons who go to that school usually form a "pack" amongst each other because they might feel like they don't fit in with us "normal" St. Lucians simply because they live in the most expensive part of the island or come from rich families.

They're young, if you want them to fit in, encourage them to talk to locals who know the Creole language. If you move to the North of the island it would be harder for them to pick up the language than if they were in the South, that's just how it is, but it's not set in stone. Being able to speak more than one language is a blessing.

Though Creole is not widely spoken around the world they would not feel lost when they're on a local bus and everyone around them is speaking creole or songs are playing and their friends are smiling and laughing but they can't because they don't understand. I'd encourage you to teach them the creole language, if you don't know it yourself then there's dictionaries and the easiest way is if their friends know it they can easily teach them!

As with any country in the world, if you're truly paranoid bar your windows, don't idle around areas where you're not familiar with the neighborhood.

Social life...there's always a "session" (dance) in some part of the island. Every Friday night has "Gros Islet Friday Night" street jam in...Gros Islet. You'll never be bored...if you're looking for places to visit and stuff to do in your first few months there then check out this website:

https://bellecarib.com/

It has spots not typically shown on other travel websites since it's made in the Caribbean. Let me know if you have any other questions, I actually live in St. Lucia.

Last edited by wiyo; Apr 16th 2017 at 12:30 am.
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 3:34 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

NB do mozzie screen and bar your windows and doors, but not because you are paranoid, but because you can then leave them all open but barred, and keep your house cool breezy but safe and secure.

What is the local view on security? We have been hearing bad things about st lucia recently but it could all be rubbish. Here real crime against people - tourists or locals is thankfully low.

I actually live in Grenada a few hundred miles south where we all speak english, patois died out decades ago except for our older born calypsonians like sparrow, to be fair we do have a few private schools but they have significant numbers of local better off kids in them.

We also have the UWI and SGU medical/vets university [full of americans].

Loads of social events here, its common to do 3 parties a day during busy periods like xmas. There is one important distinction, most locals [not all] wouldnt be seen dead in a tourist hangout or tourism related event. It is i guess important not to be a perpetual tourist, that way madness may lie...

Class issues are everywhere i believe, and arent just related to a colour or country of origin.

Last edited by uk_grenada; Apr 16th 2017 at 3:37 am.
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 4:23 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
.... I actually live in Grenada a few hundred miles south .....
Very few hundred miles, in fact it couldn't be fewer.
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by wiyo View Post
Where are you from?

Schooling here is ok but no universities, highest is college and they would have to go to University of The West Indies after depending on what they plan to pursue. If it's business/accounts then its possible to pursue their degrees without actually temporarily moving to one of the UWI locations.

If you're from the US and you want to raise them up as US people then it's most likely you will send them to the international school in Rodney Bay.

This is good and bad. Good is that they might fit right in because thats where the "rich kids" go. Bad is that they will not truly experience St. Lucian culture. Persons who go to that school usually form a "pack" amongst each other because they might feel like they don't fit in with us "normal" St. Lucians simply because they live in the most expensive part of the island or come from rich families.

They're young, if you want them to fit in, encourage them to talk to locals who know the Creole language. If you move to the North of the island it would be harder for them to pick up the language than if they were in the South, that's just how it is, but it's not set in stone. Being able to speak more than one language is a blessing.

Though Creole is not widely spoken around the world they would not feel lost when they're on a local bus and everyone around them is speaking creole or songs are playing and their friends are smiling and laughing but they can't because they don't understand. I'd encourage you to teach them the creole language, if you don't know it yourself then there's dictionaries and the easiest way is if their friends know it they can easily teach them!

As with any country in the world, if you're truly paranoid bar your windows, don't idle around areas where you're not familiar with the neighborhood.

Social life...there's always a "session" (dance) in some part of the island. Every Friday night has "Gros Islet Friday Night" street jam in...Gros Islet. You'll never be bored...if you're looking for places to visit and stuff to do in your first few months there then check out this website:

https://bellecarib.com/

It has spots not typically shown on other travel websites since it's made in the Caribbean. Let me know if you have any other questions, I actually live in St. Lucia.
I don't want to confuse the OP but I find it interesting that you put significant emphasis on kids learning patois as a way to integrate into St Lucian culture aside from the rich kid clique.

Our son spent five years at St Mary's as a pure English speaker and never once indicated that he regretted the fact that he hadn't mastered or even attempted to master patois. He was called bourgeois for the fact that his parents were retired and he wasn't in rags but he is a sporty kid so he fitted in well.

Ironically, I personally feel that patois itself is isolating for much of the St Lucian population because they only get to find out what is 'happening' by listening to the world according to Juke Bois when so much of the day-to-day is conducted in English.

We lived in the 'country' and indeed most casual discourse there is in patois but there was no way that I was going to attempt to gain some sort of handle on patois at the age of 65 in spite of being excluded from big chunks of the everyday chit chat.

In spite of that, I feel more socially isolated here in the UK (after 40 years away and the rest of it) than I ever did in St Lucia. I will never forget being in my local rum-shop when a group chatting in patois spotted me nearby (I'm white), stopped, apologised and continued to speak in English in order not to exclude me.

I believe that the International School curriculum is modeled on that for Canada and there is online access to degree courses aside from UWI. In addition, SALCC offers degrees but only at Associate level. Monroe College has more direct US association.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Apr 16th 2017 at 12:46 pm. Reason: casual.. I will never forget ......
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 1:04 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
NB do mozzie screen and bar your windows and doors, but not because you are paranoid, but because you can then leave them all open but barred, and keep your house cool breezy but safe and secure.

What is the local view on security? We have been hearing bad things about st lucia recently but it could all be rubbish. Here real crime against people - tourists or locals is thankfully low.

I actually live in Grenada a few hundred miles south where we all speak english, patois died out decades ago except for our older born calypsonians like sparrow, to be fair we do have a few private schools but they have significant numbers of local better off kids in them.

We also have the UWI and SGU medical/vets university [full of americans].

Loads of social events here, its common to do 3 parties a day during busy periods like xmas. There is one important distinction, most locals [not all] wouldnt be seen dead in a tourist hangout or tourism related event. It is i guess important not to be a perpetual tourist, that way madness may lie...

Class issues are everywhere i believe, and arent just related to a colour or country of origin.
I'm sure that there are plenty of others like us who have been touched by crime in St Lucia who were largely the reason why the OP didn't get replied to for two months - all of it is just too painful. One just doesn't want to go into detail on this sort of discussion forum.
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 1:51 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by Pistolpete2 View Post
I find it interesting that you put significant emphasis on kids learning patois as a way to integrate into St Lucian culture aside from the rich kid clique.
I'm sorry but yes I do put emphasis on it because no, it's not just the old timers, yes they mostly understand creole and not english but this generation is bilingual and I can tell you your son might have not regretted yet but I do know others who wish they could speak it, I hear it time and time again.

You lived here so you know we have an annual Jounen Kweyol as a national holiday, that's when local non-speakers might feel the most awkward.

He most likely didn't feel it because he went St. Mary's, that's in the north part of the island and I know some of my friends who went there don't speak it, those who do speak it do so because they learnt it in the home or from friends etc.

It's definitely not a dying language in St. Lucia and if anything I'd say it's growing, there are 20, 19, 18 year olds making creole songs which are rocking the airwaves on Hot FM (most popular local radio station).

I'm a fluent speaker and my friends who can't speak it have come to me multiple times asking me to translate

@OP there's nothing you could lose by letting them learn the language, to be fair it may sound harsh at times but don't ban them from learning or speaking it.
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Old Apr 16th 2017, 2:13 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Incidentally, speaking english doesnt mean you will understand locals. The grenadian dialects and words take time to really master. There are some patois words in common use, but for example, if you ask a lot of kids 'how old are you?' they wont understand, they need 'how many years you have?' Goodnight sometimes means hello, goodnight goodnight means goodnight. Its not new years eve, its old years night. Theres a definite language for car horn use, eh has many meanings depending on intonation.
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Old Apr 17th 2017, 7:39 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
Incidentally, speaking english doesnt mean you will understand locals. The grenadian dialects and words take time to really master. There are some patois words in common use, but for example, if you ask a lot of kids 'how old are you?' they wont understand, they need 'how many years you have?' Goodnight sometimes means hello, goodnight goodnight means goodnight. Its not new years eve, its old years night. Theres a definite language for car horn use, eh has many meanings depending on intonation.
Well indeed, in practical terms one needs to be fairly careful when in St Lucia and issuing instructions to somebody who's native tongue is patois. Something could have got lost in translation so one might need to fairly actively 'supervise' or the task will get done as the local saw fit rather than as (thought to have been) requested. So watch-out when building!

However, unlike Bermuda where sentences are sometimes peppered with Um Ums or the UK where a 'sentence' seems to now include several Yeahs and a couple of Nos (as opposed to the former Uhs), St Lucians can usually string a well-articulated sentence together, sometimes after the well-used starter of "Let me tell you!"

The (now sadly) late Sir Derek Walcott (a true master of the English language) would have been justified in being proud of the quality of English spoken in his homeland in spite of the fact that English teachers at St Mary's College (his alma mater) constantly complained that students take English as taught in English language classes for granted. That says a lot when upwards of 70% of St Lucians regard patois as their native tongue.

BTW, St Mary's may be in the north of St Lucia but it has an island-wide catchment area with students attending from Vieux Fort, Soufriere and Dennery at the bottom end, though some stay with relatives in Castries during the week to ease the commute in terms of time and expense. If we are 'talking girls' the same goes for St Joseph's Convent. These are the two stand-out academic choices in the state-funded* and are single-sex though some parents of non-St Lucians lean towards co-ed Hess for a bit less pure academia.

For those parents who choose to live south of Castries, particularly in the Tapion area if they are medically-connected, Tapion primary school (private relatively modest fee-paying) is a viable alternative, though it is not as academically rock-solid as it once was when it was an expat absolute first choice for many - like us living as we did south of Castries.

Now, with Montessori in the (Rodney Heights) north and a couple of state schools delivering solid academic results at the primary level, such as Carmen Renee and Dame Pearlette Louisy, parents who want to prioritise academics might look to these choices.

*St Mary's and St Joseph's are government-assisted state grammar schools having been founded by the Roman Catholic Church.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Apr 17th 2017 at 8:09 am. Reason: Now, with Montessori in the (Rodney Heights)
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Old Apr 17th 2017, 10:57 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Eh, ah seeee
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Old Apr 17th 2017, 11:04 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by uk_grenada View Post
Eh, ah seeee


Got a smattering of the way you fellas talk (when at home) from the illuminating story (assisted autobiography) of Johnson Beharry's life.
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Old Jul 25th 2017, 5:26 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Hi Suedev,

Your kids will adjust pretty easily thanks to their ages. As someone who attended both private and public primary schools on the island, then left for university and grad school - i'd recommend that you try to get your kids into the Bonneterre preparatory school. The headmistress (and owner) is experienced and the students perform very very well in the island-wide exams. If the school is full, feel free to ask her for recommendations.

The issue of speaking patois is a non-issue. The entire north of the island (where most of the commerce is based) operates on English and the high school students all speak English. Your kids will not miss out on any major cultural interactions if they cannot or do not speak creole.

Your kids will make friends in school and from joining swimming, football or tennis clubs as they get older.

I recommend renting a property (a well-ventilated one) in Bonneterre, Rodney bay, Rodney heights, or Cap Estate. The main entertainment hub is in Rodney Bay, so prices are pretty hot.

The crime spiked a few years ago due to drug-related gang activity in the capital (Castries) which is 10 miles from Rodney bay. The crime has decreased quite a bit but young, unemployed, non violent guys are always on the lookout for a nice phone or laptop so ensure that your home has security bars as a deterrent and don't leave electronics on surfaces near the windows.

There are yoga, meditation and other fitness-oriented groups meeting in Rodney bay throughout the week, and these would be a great place for you to meet other local and expat women. You can also join the golf club to meet people as well.

Feel free to message me with any other questions and i'll see if I can help.
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Old Jul 27th 2017, 7:08 am
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Originally Posted by nixa20 View Post
Hi Suedev,

Your kids will adjust pretty easily thanks to their ages. As someone who attended both private and public primary schools on the island, then left for university and grad school - i'd recommend that you try to get your kids into the Bonneterre preparatory school. The headmistress (and owner) is experienced and the students perform very very well in the island-wide exams. If the school is full, feel free to ask her for recommendations.

The issue of speaking patois is a non-issue. The entire north of the island (where most of the commerce is based) operates on English and the high school students all speak English. Your kids will not miss out on any major cultural interactions if they cannot or do not speak creole.

Your kids will make friends in school and from joining swimming, football or tennis clubs as they get older.

I recommend renting a property (a well-ventilated one) in Bonneterre, Rodney bay, Rodney heights, or Cap Estate. The main entertainment hub is in Rodney Bay, so prices are pretty hot.

The crime spiked a few years ago due to drug-related gang activity in the capital (Castries) which is 10 miles from Rodney bay. The crime has decreased quite a bit but young, unemployed, non violent guys are always on the lookout for a nice phone or laptop so ensure that your home has security bars as a deterrent and don't leave electronics on surfaces near the windows.

There are yoga, meditation and other fitness-oriented groups meeting in Rodney bay throughout the week, and these would be a great place for you to meet other local and expat women. You can also join the golf club to meet people as well.

Feel free to message me with any other questions and i'll see if I can help.
I'm sorry! You're telling people that you are the reliable resource on the ground in St Lucia and in the same breath telling us that crime in St Lucia has decreased quite a bit - I really wish!

What could possibly have caused the level of crime to decrease - Attrition of the criminal elements due to the level of homicides, as some people seem to wish? Are they emigrating? As I said in my post #6, it's painful thinking about what has happened and is happening in Fair Helen but don't try and sell what can't be sold.
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Old Apr 1st 2018, 11:41 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

A good few months late 😁 My cousins have now been living on the island permanently for 4 years in the north of the island and have had a relatively peaceful experience. Burglar bars and good security is a must though. They have an alarm and cctv
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Old Apr 1st 2018, 11:56 pm
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Default Re: Potential move to St Lucia with 4 kids

Is security that much of an issue? Here down the road, its still very safe. I put this down to an aggressive police force who while not whiter than white im sure, are interested in keeping the place peaceful and controlling on-island crime, especially where it affects tourists or the more affluent locals.
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