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Living in Paramaribo
A comprehensive guide about living well in Paramaribo
Those who plan on living in Paramaribo will face an exciting culture, a very affordable way of life, as well as tropical weather. While public transportation options are less than plentiful, there are alternative ways of getting to the many cultural sites, including quite affordable taxis.
Life in Paramaribo
Healthcare in Paramaribo
Healthcare in Paramaribo is generally considered to be below western standards, and outside of the city good healthcare provision is scarce. While emergency services are available in Paramaribo, they are limited and most hospitals lack air conditioning, although private rooms are available at an extra cost.
Vaccination against yellow fever and rabies is strongly recommended and it is also advisable to obtain health insurance before moving to the city.
Culture and Leisure
Life in Paramaribo has plenty to occupy an expatriate family with interests in Suriname’s culture and the city’s leisure pursuits. The 17th century wooden fortress Fort Zeelandia is of significant historic interest, as is the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, though please note that visitors must not wear shorts, sleeveless shirts or open-toed shoes.
Many visitors and local residents alike will enjoy exploring the markets along the “Waterkant” (the waterfront) where the great diversity of Paramaribo is readily apparent. Nearly every imaginable item is available for purchase, from batteries and meat to live monkeys, as well as endless bottles of casiri, a local drink.
For those wishing to escape the busy markets and traffic of the city, a stroll under the palm trees of the Royal Palm Gardens would be the perfect antidote.
With regards to everyday expenditure, Paramaribo has a relatively low cost of living. 1 Surinamese Dollar (SRD) is equal to around 0.30 USD and one can easily obtain a generously portioned meal — such as curried egg and sardines with peppers, or coconut rice cubes in a sweet and spicy sauce served in a banana leaf — from the Central Market for around 1 USD.
The district of Blauwgrond is famed for its collection of great restaurants, but do take cash if you go, since credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels.
Transportation in Paramaribo
Local public transport is minimal in the city. There are government run buses but they tend to be infrequent and unreliable. There are also privately run buses, but as well as varying widely in appearance, they do not run to regular timetables as they tend to function only when demand is high, and only depart when they are full of passengers. If you wish to take a bus, you will find that the majority of the buses arrive and depart from Heiligenweg.
There are plentiful taxi services, which are reasonably priced at around 5-10 SRD per trip. Fares are negotiable, and you should settle a price before setting off.
If you choose to drive, traffic in Paramaribo can be busy, but it is certainly not an extremely congested city. Vehicles drive on the left, with the steering wheel is on the right, so it may take foreigners some getting used to.
Holders of an international driving license are allowed to drive automatically; expatriates holding foreign licenses may apply for a Suriname license. These are valid for a year, at which point they must be renewed.
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