Moving to Barbados

The easternmost island of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is one of the most developed countries in the Caribbean and is an increasingly popular expat destination.

The population of about 286,000 people largely stems from African, European and North American origins. The capital, Bridgetown, is the cultural and commercial centre and the island’s largest city. It is also where the majority of the population live and work.

The weather in Barbados can be a major deciding factor for expats. Most expats love the weather, but some struggle to adapt. Barbados has two seasons. The average temperatures range from 68°F (20°C) to 86°F (30°C). June to November is the rainy season. Humidity can also be very high and makes even mild temperatures uncomfortable.

An aspect of life expats could struggle to adjust to is the slow pace at which things happen in Barbados. Expats shouldn't expect things to be done quickly or they may end up becoming frustrated. Having said that, Barbados has a vibrant, friendly culture with locals who are eager to help.

The economy of Barbados has traditionally been based on agriculture, with the main exports being sugar, rum and molasses. Other sectors, including tourism and offshore financial services, form an important part of the economy. It is within these industries that expats living in Barbados will likely find employment. However, it is not that easy to secure employment in Barbados as jobs are generally reserved for locals. Applicants will need to prove they have the necessary skills for the position.

Expats moving to Barbados need not worry about healthcare, as Barbados has an excellent healthcare system, consisting of both private and public healthcare facilities. There is only one international school on the island, but there are several other private schools that parents may also find suitable.

In terms of getting around in Barbados, navigating the island is easy, especially because it is so small. Although it's possible to walk to many destinations, there are bus routes that cross the island. Taxi services are also readily available from most locations in Barbados.  

Barbados offers expats a relaxed outdoor lifestyle and there are many activities to keep them busy and active on weekends from fishing, hiking and cycling to cricket (the national sport) and golf.


Fast facts

Population: About 286,000

Capital city: Bridgetown

Neighbouring countries: Barbados is an island in the West Indies, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. As an island, Barbados doesn't share land borders with any other countries. Neighbouring islands include St Lucia, Puerto Rico, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago.

Geography: Barbados is a small island with a length of 34km (21 miles) and a breadth of 23km (14 miles) at its broadest point. The island's terrain is relatively flat with some small hills.

Political system: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: English and Bajan (a local English dialect which can nevertheless be difficult for even native English speakers to understand)

Money: The Barbadian dollar (BBD) is divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account on the island with relative ease as long as they have the correct paperwork. ATMs are easily found outside of banks and in shopping centres. They may be less common outside of cities.

Tipping: 10 percent of the total bill.

Time: GMT-4

Electricity: 110 volts, 50 Hz. 'Type A' two-prong and 'type B' three-prong plugs are used.

Internet domain: .bb

International dialling code: +1 246

Emergency contacts: 511 (ambulance); 311 (fire); 211 (police)

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. The island's compact size makes it easy to get around. Public transport such as mini-vans, buses and taxis are available.