Monday, January 30, 2012

Living in the Caribbean...

Is way cheaper than living in the USA. This of course is dependent on a few scenarios, for instance, which state you live in, what job you have, where in that state you live and if you rent or own a home.

For instance, in Trinidad and Tobago these are the average monthly expenses, and by average I mean in a general term:
Car Installments to the Bank - Republic Bank (Barclay's), Royal Bank of Canada, Scotia Bank
Health Insurance - Sagicor, Algico, Guardian Life, etc
BIR - Board of Inland Revenue
NIB - National Insurance Board

These are the bills that are paid otherwise, and if you rent, it can either make or break you:
Water Rates - every three months (WASA)
Electricity Bill - every two months (T&TEC)
Car insurance - every year
Land Tax - Every year

Compared to North America and Europe these are quite cheap. We don't have to pay heating and oil costs, and our homes are built from a lot less materials. For example, a typical caribbean home in the early 20th Century was built out of quarry stone (river stone), red brick, wood (mahogany, pine, teak, green heart, purple heart, etc), mud (these were plastered to a wood foundation and painted) galvanize/tin roof, and depending on the wealth of the owner, a slated roof made of various stones.

Today, the average home in the caribbean consists of materials like red brick, concrete brick, some wood (bathroom, kitchen counters, furniture), PVC pipes (water systems and waste removal systems), etc. What was interesting is that new homes are no longer built with a soakaway. A soakaway in the Caribbean is usually a hole about 6 feet or more deep, with some large stones and then some small stones, or is it the other way around? Somewhere, the explanation is that when the waste comes from the toilet, it goes into the soakaway area where it is broken down naturally by the earth. Now we have plastic sewer tanks, I am not sure if that is a new building code requirement. In addition, there are more sewer truck presence, especially in my area, and around Port of Spain.

In the early 20th Century, most homes had an outside latrine far away from the house, sometimes it was up a hill (I really want to know why? I can think of a thousand reasons why this was a really bad idea), and when you wanted to go, you had to light a candle, and I am guessing that during those times, with folklore like Lagahoo (local werewolf) and Papa Bois (local satyr), you really had to be brave to go out there alone. Later, with the advent of electricity, many latrines were fitted with electric bulbs, even to this day. I used one a couple years ago... on a hill... it was rickety... wooden and old... and I was so scared, that everything happened quickly. On some of the smaller islands off the North-West coast of Trinidad and down south inland, there are still some of the original homes, latrine and all. I am going to have to get a picture, because the internet does not have what it looked like in the tropics.

Ok, I sort of went off-topic, and I forgot what I was going to say.


In the US I found that they pay bills every single month, the State of New York
Car Insurance
Car installments
Property Tax
Health Insurance (Medicare?)
Fire Insurance
Water Rates
Heating Rates (for winter months)
Sewer Bill (yep, when you go to the toilet)
Then if you don't really keep at the top of your game, you can be cited for violations, like: Health, Environmental Control Board, etc.
And some more bills

One time, in New York, I guy I knew ran a red light, he thought he would not be found, after all, Brooklyn is home to millions of inhabitants. Just to be sure, he skipped town for sometime. Later, when he opened a special envelope on his return home, there he was in a series of pictures, speeding from a red light, wheels a-blazin', and he was summoned to appear in court. Once, I witnessed nine cars, two panel vans, an SUV, a truck hauling a 20 ft trailer, and a motorcycle, running past a red light. Who is going to find and summon these "drivers" here?

While it seems that we get away with almost anything here, I must admire large countries and continents like the USA and Europe and Australia, who have to keep at the top of their game in the best way they can to keep law and order, because like my 'run-the-red-light-friend', I don't know who else would take the time and track down a few errant drivers. Maybe, that is why they have so much bills to pay? I don't know.


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