Newcomers to the Caribbean may find it difficult to settle into their new way of life. Life is a lot more laid back and there are some things that may work differently to what you are accustomed to. In a post-COVID world, many Caribbean countries have pivoted to deal with the changes. Work-from-the-Caribbean programmes have become a norm as countries have opened their borders to temporary immigration. As a result, the region has welcomed thousands of people who have decided to make the Caribbean their home for at least a year.
This guide is designed to cover your move to the Caribbean. Most of these steps can be completed before you even set foot in the region. But they should not be ignored because they will make your life a lot easier. Learn about the importance of setting financial goals before you move; reasons why you should research your new home; how to find the right property; transportation and getting around the country; selecting schools for your children; opening a bank account in the country; and protecting yourself from fraudulent scams.
1. Set Your Financial Goals
When you’re moving to the Caribbean, you should have an idea about your finances. As you assess the variables, consider the specific items in your expenses and income. What are your expenses and how will they be impacted? Will your income from your job remain unchanged; are you getting a new job that pays more; or do you have enough money saved to support you and your family?
2. Research Your New Home
Before you come to the Caribbean, you must try to learn as much as you can about the countries. When you research your new home in the Caribbean, one of the things that you must consider is the cost of living. The hard truth is that some Caribbean islands are more expensive than the larger, more developed countries. This will impact your budget and also your spending. Other things to consider are housing, schools and transportation.
One of the easiest ways that newcomers to Caribbean can learn about the region and their desired is to follow tourism organisations. The local tourism agencies are excellent places to start when researching your new home.
- Barbados: Visit Barbados
- Grenada: Pure Grenada
- Guyana: Guyana Tourism
- Jamaica: Visit Jamaica
- Trinidad: Go Trinidad & Tobago
3. Find Somewhere to Live
Newcomers to the Caribbean will need somewhere to live. Reputable Caribbean realtors are in demand right now because of expats are looking for the best properties in the Caribbean. To find a good realtor, search the local yellow pages; check social media and the relevant hashtags (e.g. #caribbeanrealestate; #housesforrentinthecaribbean; #caribbeanproperties; #caribbeanapartments ) and talk to people that you may know.
The type of home that you choose, the location and the amenities will impact your monthly rental rate. Here are few of the real estate agencies in the Caribbean.
- Barbados: Barbados Estate Agents & Valuers Association Inc.
- Grenada: The National Realtors Association of Grenada
- Jamaica: Realtors Association of Jamaica
- Trinidad & Tobago: Association of Real Estate Agents: AreaTT
4. Decide on Transportation
Newcomers to the Caribbean should make a decision about how they will travel around. Depending on where you choose to live, you might not need a car. Generally, districts that are close to the city and main highways, benefit from excellent public transportation services. However, public transportation can be a challenge in some districts, especially those that are far outside of city limits.
If you and your family are active and you love to explore, you should consider purchasing or leasing a car. Remember that this will be another expense that you will have to account for when assessing your financial goals.
Some of the car companies in the Caribbean which offer lease and purchase options for vehicles are:
Barbados Car Dealerships
- Simpson Motors Limited
- ANSA Motors
- Courtesy Garage Limited
- Mixed Bits Motors
- NASSCO Limited
- Demario’s Cycle World
Grenada Car Dealerships
- Steele’s Grenada
- McIntyre Bros Grenada
- Suzuki Grenada
- Nissan Grenada
- Sun Motors Grenada
- Gleans Garage Limited
Guyana Car Dealerships
- Best Buy Auto Sales
- Ideal Autos – Hyundai Dealer
- Caricom Auto Sales
- SBT Authorised Retailer Guyana
- Yokohama Trading
- ANSA Motors Guyana
Jamaica Car Dealerships
- Toyota Jamaica Ltd.
- Stewart’s automotive Group
- Supreme Deals on Wheels Auto Ltd
- Superlative Auto Ltd
- Auto Pub Jamaica
- Auction Direct JA Ltd
- Crystal Vehicle Sales Ltd
- McKoy’s Auto Imports
Trinidad & Tobago Car Dealerships
- Toyota Trinidad & Tobago Ltd.
- Massy Motors
- Lifestyle Motors Ltd.
- Bess Motors Limited
- Kia Motors Trinidad and Tobago
- Orbit Motors Limited
5. Choose Schools for Your Children
In the Caribbean, children of school age (age 4+ to age 16) are required by law to be in school. There are no requirements for children under the age or 4, or over the age of 16 to be in school. You may decide to enrol younger children in pre-school or older children in tertiary institutions. You should research the schools in your chosen country and check with the Ministry of Education to confirm the procedure for enrolment. Many primary and secondary schools in the Caribbean wear uniforms and the curriculums are structured towards the Caribbean Examinations Council examinations.
Information about schools in the Caribbean can be obtained from the following:
- Barbados: Ministry of Education, Technological & Vocational Training
- Grenada: Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development & Religious Affairs
- Guyana: Ministry of Education
- Jamaica: Ministry of Education, Youth & Information
- Trinidad & Tobago: Ministry of Education
6. Open a Bank Account
You do not have to close your account in your home country, but you should open a bank account in your new home country. This account will be used for day to day transactions and will be how you survive financially. Unfortunately, banks in the Caribbean apply several fees to their accounts, so you will have to check around to see which banks give the best value for money. Alternatively, you can choose to open an account at a credit union, but you will have to be mindful of the features of the accounts offered.
There are several commercial banks and credit unions in the Caribbean, which will accommodate newcomers to the Caribbean. Here are a few of the commercial banks that exist in the individual countries.
Commercial Banks in Barbados
- The Bank of Nova Scotia
- FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Limited
- First Citizens Bank (Barbados) Limited
- RBC Royal Bank (Barbados) Limited
- Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited
Credit Unions in Barbados
Click here for a list of credit unions in Barbados.
Commercial Banks in Grenada
- CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
- Grenada Co-operative Bank Ltd
- Republic Bank (Grenada) Ltd
- RBTT Bank Grenada Limited
Credit Unions in Grenada
Click here for a list of credit unions in Grenada.
Commercial Banks in Guyana
- Bank of Baroda (Guyana) Inc.
- Bank of Nova Scotia
- Citizens Bank (Guyana) Inc.
- Demerara Bank Ltd.
- Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Ltd.
- Republic Bank (Guyana) Ltd.
Credit Unions in Guyana
Click here for a list of credit unions in Guyana.
Commercial Banks in Jamaica
- The Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited
- Citibank, N.A.
- FirstCaribbean International Bank (Jamaica) Limited
- First Global Bank Limited
- JMMB Bank (Jamaica) Limited
- JN Bank Limited
- National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited
- Sagicor Bank Jamaica Limited
Credit Unions in Jamaica
Click here for a list of credit unions in Jamaica.
Trinidad and Tobago
Commercial Banks in Trinidad and Tobago
- Bank of Baroda (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited
- Citibank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited
- FirstCaribbean International Bank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited
- First Citizens Bank Limited
- JMMB Bank (T&T) Limited
- RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited
- Republic Bank Limited
- Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Limited
Credit Unions in Trinidad and Tobago.
Click here for a list of credit unions in Trinidad and Tobago.
7. Protect Yourself From Fraud
Newcomers to the Caribbean are urged to be cautious and vigilant. Scammers will try anything and everything to get money from unsuspecting victims. In recent time, COVID-19 scams have popped up and joined the likes of other phishing scams; bank scams; immigration scams; pyramid scheme scams; and email and telephone scams. The best way to protect yourself from fraud and scams is to remain vigilant. Ignore telephone and email requests for personal information. If the information is required, an official letter should be sent by the requesting entity. If you believe that you are a victim of fraud, contact the police, and your financial institution.
Police Forces in the Caribbean
- Barbados: The Royal Barbados Police Force
- Grenada: The Royal Grenada Police Force
- Guyana: The Guyana Police Force
- Jamaica: The Jamaica Constabulary Force
- Trinidad & Tobago: The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service
Reference: Savvy New Canadians: Financial Checklist for Newcomers to Canada
Image Credit: @dimexphotography via Nappy.co