Moving to Haiti: What You Need to Know
“Deye Mon gen Mon”
Beyond Mountains, there are Mountains, Haitian proverb.
This is an ancient Haitian saying which I understand as “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.” Moving to one of the poorest countries in the world might sound like a bad decision but it can also be a good opportunity to get to know all of the treasures of a country that very few people really know.
When we decided to move to Haiti, I thought that it wasn’t going to be that much of a difference but although I had visited the country many times before, I realized visiting Haiti and living here are two completely different things.
Not only was I moving to Haiti but I was also leaving my country for the first time, which encouraged me to look for a lot of information from different sources. Often there are many things that you don’t find answers to, until you find the right place to look. This is a short list of things I wish I had known prior to my move.
In Haiti, a part of the population speaks French and some speak English but mostly everyone speaks Haitian Creole. The ideal thing to do is to learn the basics before you arrive so communicating gets to be a little easier. There are podcasts and guides online that will help you express basic things but you should try to speak Creole with the locals as well so that you can become fluent.
There are very few brand new apartments available for rent in Haiti but you can find houses that have been rebuilt over time and turned into living complexes after the 2010 earthquake Compared to other countries you get low value for money and you also need to consider the need of hiring security personnel. When choosing a place to live, you need to make sure that it has an inside parking space, hot water and a generator for whenever there’s no electricity.
The transportation system in Haiti is not very well developed. They have what they call “Tap Tap” or accommodated trucks with fixed routes around the city. It’s not a very safe way to move around and it’s better to have your own car.
The traditional food is very good but it tends to be very spicy. I recommend to always clarify whether you want your food spicy or not and then increase it little by little to allow your body to get used to it.
There are some restaurant options in Haiti with high-quality international food but there are no international fast food chains.
If you’d rather cook yourself, there are many supermarkets with various national and international products to choose from.
There are phone companies in the country which offer different options of mobile data and home internet.
Also, in most places they have Wifi which means that on your first days in the country, it’s easy to communicate.
One thing that is limited in Haiti is the entertainment situation. Unlike in many other countries there are no movie theaters, green areas or play grounds for kids to go to.
People usually go and visit local bars and restaurants, or the various beaches and attend activities at home with their friends or family.
Paula Mateos is the founder and main writer of a travel blog that shares tourist attractions in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She is a graduate of Hotel and Tourism Management and MBA, working in the Tourism Industry for 10+ years. Paula is Dominican, with Spanish parents, temporarily living in Haiti with her husband. She loves road trips and discovering new places. You can find out more about her on islandroadtrippers.com
If you are an InterNations member and would like to contribute an article, do not hesitate to contact us!