Barbara Snaith, from Northumberland, moved out of a gated community in Barbados to live amongst the locals. Here, with the help of a friend who still prefers life behind gates, she takes a look at the pros and cons of living off and on a communal resort in our favourite Caribbean hotspot...
"On a gated development we didn't like being segregated from the locals”
My husband Warren and I knew within a week of arriving in Barbados in 2001 that it was the perfect spot for a holiday home for our family - a safe and comfortable base from which to enjoy this beautiful slice of paradise.
Our main criteria? Four bedrooms, to be within walking distance to a beach, and, most importantly, to be within a gated community. We didn't hesitate when we visited a new-build property close to the famous Lonestar restaurant, and we bought a four- bedroom home in a small gated community for US$ 795,000 (£507k). However all the other owners were Brits and within 18 months we realised that we were missing out on the most important thing that had attracted us to Barbados in the first place - the people!
Bajans truly are some of the most friendly, unassuming individuals in the world and here we were segregating ourselves from them behind wrought-iron gates. We decided we wanted greater integration with the locals and to take more control over the management and decision-making of our home. So in 2006 we sold our house and bought a four bedroom townhouse-style villa in Mount Standfast, St. James for US$ 1,300,000 (£829k).
We particularly loved its traditional Bajan style, perched on a former sugar plantation ridge, surrounded by an eclectic mix of brightly hued small chattel houses and larger homes like ours. Across from a small field of sugar cane, we have 180-degree views out across the Caribbean Sea, and a larger pool than before, but it is the location amongst real Bajans that we love.
We spend about four months of the year there and we are on first name terms with most of the locals, who we pass daily as we make the five-minute walk to our local beach bar for sundowners. Many neighbours stop to catch up and meet family members who are visiting with us. Schoolchildren in their colourful uniforms, proud grandparents walking their toddlers, or just local workers on their daily commute are all keen to greet us as we pass - it is such a friendly environment.
Our cleaner – a local lady from Oistins on the south coast – now looks after our house, maintaining the property when we are off the island – for £57 a week; plus £32 per month managing the household accounts. We simply walk out the door to the airport and she comes in and cleans ready for our next visit, making sure any maintenance issues are resolved (and all at local rates!)
Last year we were chatting to a neighbour Keith whose garden was always beautiful - he is now our gardener. He takes pride in our garden as if it were his own because we are not just his employer, but also his friend and neighbour too. Our immediate next-door neighbours – Joel and his English-born wife Sue – are marvellous, always providing us with local produce from lobsters to quails eggs! Now you don't get that in a gated community…
Down with the locals
• No communal fees so lower costs
• No need to consult others about decisions regarding OUR property!
�� Integration with the local people
• Ability to manage your own services and staff
• Need to manage your own security
• All costs are your costs
• Need to find a neighbourhood in which you feel comfortable and safe
“We love the security and convenience of a gated community”
Patti Ephgrave, 62, and her husband Martin from London, live in a four bedroom townhouse on a small communal development in St. James which they bought for US $850,000 (£536k) in 2004. Here Patti explains why it works for her...
Having spent many family holidays on the beautiful island of Barbados, when we decided to invest in a holiday home, Barbados was the obvious choice. We knew we wanted a home on the Caribbean side of the Island, on the Platinum Coast, and found a home in a small, gated community of six houses. As we would not be in residence for the greater part of the year, it was important that we felt the house to be secure in our absence. Another deciding factor was that of maintenance of the property and grounds, which we felt would be best served in a gated community.
As part of a community, costs are shared between all owners, and employing a management company becomes a viable option. Running costs are inevitably higher than Barbara's: management fees are £95-127 per month, on top of gardening (£108pm), pool-cleaning (£108pm), and cleaning (£32 per day). This makes for a stress free holiday, knowing that all the little niggles that could await us have been efficiently dealt with before we arrive. Departure is just as easy - a case of “pack up and go”, as again the management company organise the cleaning and packing up of the house when we go, leaving us to enjoy our last day on the beach.
Although we do not rent our home, the fact that the road is gated is a bonus when renting, as it provides a safe and worry free environment for those holidaying with children. Of course there are downsides to a gated community, in that all decisions concerning the community must be agreed by all owners, although in our case this is rarely a problem, and in fact when several owners are on the island together, the road is a very sociable place!
Life on the inside
• Added security of gates
• Communal fees are shared amongst all owners
•Management company act for all properties
• Decisions on communal areas must be agreed by all owners
• Limited control over staff and services
• Communal fees can be high and some owners may not be as willing as others to contribute