When relocating to Barbados, you will likely experience a wide spectrum of emotions. There is always the initial excitement and perceived challenges of living in a new country, coupled with the apprehension of leaving family, friends and the familiar behind. Locating the right new home is probably the single most important component of the relocation process.
Important Steps to Consider:
- Understanding what properties are available and suitable
- Defining the type of home that the family needs
- Considering the option of shipping personal effects
- Understanding locations and distances on the island
- Managing security, services and other amenities
- Prioritizing important property characteristics
Understanding Home Choices
Barbados offers a wide variety of home choices such as single standing houses, townhouses, apartments and condominiums. The island offers gated communities and planned residential neighborhoods. It is worth noting that property type categories may have different meanings depending on your country of origin. The same real estate terminology could have different nuances: a cottage – a small house; a cottage – a small holiday home with limited amenities. There are also property designs that have different names depending on which part of the world you are from. For instance, what is a duplex? Is it a semi-detached property? As such, a wide variety of properties should be viewed based on a layout description rather than on a type.
Defining Your Key Criteria
Seeing an ample selection of properties will give you a good understanding of the product range and Barbados landscape. However, identifying key criteria and providing feedback to your agent upon each viewing will lead you to the property best suited to you and your family. Consider the housing options and amenities that are important to your lifestyle:
- Will a pool be important?
- Is a garden necessary?
- Are there plans to have a pet?
- Is walking distance to amenities important to you?
- Do you partake in certain hobbies or sports?
- Will you have a lot of overseas visitors?
- Will you be travelling often?
Shipping Personal Effects
You may be undecided as to whether you should ship your personal effects. While many wish to maintain some sort of familiarity with the importation of the family furniture, others choose leave furniture in the country of origin. The Custom and Excise Department allows items for the individual or household to be imported duty free once the items are a year or older and are imported within the first three months of arrival. It is recommended that a customs broker be retained to receive the shipment. If importing furniture is not an option or feasible, a smaller shipment of personal items such as photos, paintings, ornaments, lamps, books and linens can meet this objective.
Choosing the Right Location
Although our island is small – only 166 square miles - the winding roads and traffic congestion can create long drive times. Even though you might be accustomed to long drive times in your home country, a similar drive time in Barbados is typically a different experience. Therefore, your work location should be considered in relation to the home location. We strongly recommend test-drives to work during rush-hour traffic before signing a lease. Also, have children attending schools, you will need to factor in their transportation in the morning and afternoon. Most of the elementary schools are located in either one congested location on the south coast or in the countryside. The extracurricular activities are generally located on the south coast as well.
Factoring Security and Other Amenities
The security of the house and the neighborhood is also of paramount importance. Although Barbados has low crime, necessary precautions should be taken. An informed evaluation of the area and review of the security of the home is required before the final decision on the home is reached.
If you are looking for home that offers a tropical garden and a pool, maintenance costs should also be considered. The costs associated with maintaining these choices must be fully investigated and negotiated prior to signing the lease. It is preferable for the renter and the landlord that these items remain the responsibility of the landlord by having the costs included in the monthly rental amount. These services are usually fixed costs under a service contract and the amount of weekly service times should be agreed on beforehand.
It is also recommended to ask for a utility bill review of the past three to six months of other variable costs such as electricity and water so as to avoid being surprised once the tenancy commences.
Making a Checklist
When you shop for any property, there will be compromises to make. Therefore, we recommend that you create a checklist, prioritizing the important characteristics of your ideal home. The list would include home design, neighborhood characteristics, commute time to work and schools and proximity to amenities. Rating these important points will maximize your success of finding the right home in Barbados.
For more information on relocation to Barbados please browse our Corporate Rental eBook.