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drrich
09-05-2011, 11:11 PM
Hi:

I have a good friend headed to Bonaire from the U.S. for 1 1/2 years to attend the classroom academic portion of medical school. We've been to Bonaire 4 times on 1 week dive trips, so we've got an idea of the basic layout of the island (we stayed at Eden Beach Resort all 4 times). Living there long-term, though, makes for new questions.

1.) I'm told 'high speed' residential internet on Bonaire isn't as fast as in the U.S. I see this as a potential issue in 2 ways. 1.) Skype video calls to talk to his lady & see his baby boy. 2.) Watching Netflix (I'm aware Netflix doesn't service the area officially, but you can pay to subscribe to virtual private network providers in the U.S. who will act as middlemen and stream the content to you). Can anybody comment on using Skype & watching streaming t.v. shows & movies via Internet service on Bonaire?

2.) I know Bonaire power is 127 volt/50 Hz & U.S. electronics can run hot, plus Bonaire has some surges and brownouts. Sounds worrisome for computers & such. I'm told there's some sort of convertor one can buy on island for maybe $100 that converts 127/50 to 110/60 U.S. standard, but I've never heard a specific brand & model that I can look up online to read about. People just say some dive shops have convertors for guests to use. Those of you who use U.S. devices in Bonaire, do you have or know of such convertors for personal use?

3.) Have you had any hassles setting up a Bonaire bank account, transferring money to it, then when you leave, transferring the money back out without big fees? Every time I hit Bonaire, later some charges for international transactions show up on my bank account (I use my bank's debit card, which can be handled like a credit card). Seems that can get expensive. Is any bank said to be better to work with than others for the basics?

4.) I'm told microwave ovens are pretty expensive there. Roughly what cost am I looking at for a decent one (in the U.S., that'd be $100, give or take $25)?

5.) I'm told it's advisable to bring your own unlocked GSM phone from the U.S. & buy a SIM card from Digicel to use. The iPhone 4 uses a microsim of some sort, but you can use a sim cutter (Amazon has plenty of these) to cut the SIM card to fit. I assume this would apply to some Android phones, too. Any of you guys actually done this? I went to Digicel's site, but had trouble understanding their plans. I was hoping for a plan like the U.S. prepaid Tracfone, so we could buy a prepaid SIM with a set amount of time on it.

6.) How amenable are dive shops to a long-range low-use model of tank rental? My buddy might get to dive a couple of times a month, & would have all his own gear except a tank and weights.

7.) For what he's doing, it's my understanding it's advisable for him to bring (from the U.S.) a notebook computer, external hard drive and a USB thumb drive (for swapping class notes, etc...). What other items do you recommend someone moving to Bonaire for over a year bring from the U.S., either due to availability or grossly excessive price?

Thanks in advance for any help you give us.

Richard.

P.S.: It may help to ask yourself, after you moved to Bonaire for a few months & made a trip back to the U.S., what did you make a point to bring back to Bonaire with you?

DiverVince
09-06-2011, 05:39 AM
Richard..for what it's worth I'll take a shot at #s 3 & 4..
Opening up an offshore account can be a bit of a hassel. Certainly not like in the states. We have one with MCB..Check their website to see what current requirements are, but I needed: passport, letter from my stateside bank that I had an account in good standing on their official letterhead. On getting $$ back to the states out of Bonaire, 2 options..First right yourself a check from the Bonaire account & deposit it in US bank. Waiting time to receive the funds was approx 10 weeks! Second method which we'll use next time is a direct wire transfer. Ain't no cheap or easy way that I'm aware of to do it.

With respect to microwaves, my advice is to buy on island & stay away from 110 volt units. If you have 220 voltage where you're staying always get a 220 model as they will outlast the former. We bought ours at Omni and I believe paid approx $300. Same thing applicable to a vacumn cleaner which I was able to purchase at The City & was able to get a 220 volt model. Cost was also $250-$300. Good appliances that last are not cheap.
Hope this helps.

wwguy
09-06-2011, 10:48 AM
I'll throw my 2 cents in on a few of these. FWIW- I'm a regular visitor, but don't own property or live on Bonaire.



1.) I'm told 'high speed' residential internet on Bonaire isn't as fast as in the U.S. I see this as a potential issue in 2 ways. 1.) Skype video calls to talk to his lady & see his baby boy. 2.) Watching Netflix (I'm aware Netflix doesn't service the area officially, but you can pay to subscribe to virtual private network providers in the U.S. who will act as middlemen and stream the content to you). Can anybody comment on using Skype & watching streaming t.v. shows & movies via Internet service on Bonaire?


I tried Netflix with VPN, mostly out of curiosity to see if it would work. It does, barely. Bear in mind that Netflix stream quality is based on internet connection speed. This means that your Netflix player or app will detect the slow internet connection and send you a low quality stream. Personally I found the quality to be unacceptable. You'll probably be borrowing from your neighbor's bandwidth when you do this, which may give him heartburn.

Netflix doesn't "service the area officially" because it's outside of the area which Netflix is authorized to distribute the content. In other words, watching Netflix via VPN in Bonaire may be illegal.



2.) I know Bonaire power is 127 volt/50 Hz & U.S. electronics can run hot, plus Bonaire has some surges and brownouts. Sounds worrisome for computers & such. I'm told there's some sort of convertor one can buy on island for maybe $100 that converts 127/50 to 110/60 U.S. standard, but I've never heard a specific brand & model that I can look up online to read about. People just say some dive shops have convertors for guests to use. Those of you who use U.S. devices in Bonaire, do you have or know of such convertors for personal use?


Most modern laptop power supplies, and many other adapters and chargers, are multi-voltage and multi-frequency. For example, my Dell laptop power supply supports 100 to 240 VAC, 50 to 60 Hz.



3.) Have you had any hassles setting up a Bonaire bank account, transferring money to it, then when you leave, transferring the money back out without big fees? Every time I hit Bonaire, later some charges for international transactions show up on my bank account (I use my bank's debit card, which can be handled like a credit card). Seems that can get expensive. Is any bank said to be better to work with than others for the basics?


Some credit cards, such as the Capital One Venture Visa, don't charge foreign transaction fees.



6.) How amenable are dive shops to a long-range low-use model of tank rental? My buddy might get to dive a couple of times a month, & would have all his own gear except a tank and weights.


Carib Inn offers ala carte tank refills, where you only pay for the air you use. Dive Friends Bonaire offers a 15 tank card to visitors staying longer than 10 days. If I was living on Bonaire for a year or more, I'd probably buy my own tank and search for an affordable place to refill it.

I hope this is useful.

drrich
09-07-2011, 09:08 PM
Thanks, guys. Lots of good info.!


On getting $$ back to the states out of Bonaire, 2 options..First right yourself a check from the Bonaire account & deposit it in US bank. Waiting time to receive the funds was approx 10 weeks! Second method which we'll use next time is a direct wire transfer. Ain't no cheap or easy way that I'm aware of to do it.

Good to know. What I wonder is whether there are much in the way of fees. Say for example you accumulated $10,000 in the U.S., wanted to transfer it down to MCB, then after 1 1/2 years by loans & what-not had $10,000 to transfer back to a U.S. bank. Wonder what the fees would be to wire it to the U.S. bank? If it's just a matter of waiting 10 weeks, that's bad news, but the money does arrive.

I find web sites for Bonaire banks seem less informative than those for U.S. banks, and of course the stores don't have near as strong an online presence. Then again, they're only doing business on the island, and the customers are fairly close. It's not like a New York camera store doing online sales to Arkansas.


Some credit cards, such as the Capital One Venture Visa, don't charge foreign transaction fees.

Good to know. I usually steer clear of credit cards & use debit cards, but he may find it worthwhile.

Richard.

EdandLiz
09-11-2011, 09:23 PM
Richard,

We had Telbo internet, which is the "high speed" on the island. We used
Skype with video/webcam often, to keep in touch with family. Little to no issues, worked great.

We bought a "110/117" microwave on Bonaire, it worked great, no problems. We paid around $175 for it.

RBTT works a lot with students, as a large amount them are from Canada and RBTT is part of Royal Bank of Canada. We use them and transfer money monthly from Bonaire to US, with no problems.

Liz