The High Cost of Living: A Sufferer’s Perspective

HouseTHE EDITOR: I’d like you to allow me a small space on your website to address one of the many elephants that occupy this large room that we call Trinidad and Tobago. With all the recent talk about the high cost of living I think that this would be a most appropriate time to do so.

I recently read a short article in the Trinidad Express about the high cost of house and apartment rentals in Trinidad and Tobago today. In the article, a number of landlords defended their exorbitant prices saying that the costs of building materials have gone up and therefore to cover these costs, they have upped their prices. Fair enough, right?


Even with the current prices of steel and concrete the Mathematics involved in this disproportionate rise in the price of rent still escapes me. Especially since the majority of these landlords still require the tenants to provide extra money for their own light and water rates. How could someone of sound mind and good conscience charge a young working person or couple almost $3 000TT for a two bedroom apartment where lights and water are not included and the rental property is nowhere near any main road or major city? If anyone does not believe me, I invite you to call the numbers in the rental section of your favourite dailies’ classifieds.

I am currently renting an apartment for $2 200 a month, and my landlady, a teacher just like myself, consistently harasses me via text message at the end of every month, asking me when I’m going to pay my rent. This is the same woman who on several different occasions has given me (in her own mind) glowing advice about taking a second job, “because there is no future in teaching,” and has the gall to ask me if I’ve applied to the HDC for a house yet. Meanwhile amenities which were included in my contract, including an air-conditioning unit, indoor washtub and backup water supply are non forthcoming. I brought this to her attention, demanding that she put these things in place or drop the rent to a price where I’m not paying for things I don’t have. All I got was a sob story about her own expenses and personal life. Then after receiving the rent she immediately buys tiles, concrete and steel and hires a slew of Guyanese workmen to build cupboards and redo all the floors in her house upstairs. I’m not kidding, there is someone hammering above my head as I type this letter.

A friend of mine who also rents told me just yesterday that her landlady blatantly palms off the electrical bill for the whole house, her own area included on her in addition to the rent, which is even higher than mine. However that did not stop her from turning off the breaker for the water pump when leaving the house for the night, leaving my friend without a water supply of any kind, while she went to visit her grandchildren.

People talk about crime in this country, demanding that the government do something about it. However, the number of criminals who are highlighted in the newspapers’ front pages cannot begin to compare with the legions of those who lurk in the daily classified ads. Everyday they deny hardworking citizens of this country financial stability and peace of mind. They take advantage of the nonexistence of enforced tenancy laws and subjugate honest, hardworking citizens with their greed and blatant bigotry simply because they cannot afford to buy a house of their own. Perhaps, with the price of rent preventing them from saving a single cent, they never will.

Lady Ishtar

42 thoughts on “The High Cost of Living: A Sufferer’s Perspective”

  1. I hope the property taxes on these exorbitantly high rent dump would exact a penalty based on the income derived from sweatboxes. Never worry. Karma would get them!

  2. You are welcome Bev. I am certain you’ll be fine and do the right thing in time. To think that I nearly followed the movie selling suggestions of Michael Moore, and run for Canada myself,but this story gave me cause to pause, as I recognize that though they claim to hate guns ,they are just like their more aggressive and confident southern cousins in good old USA ,as far as racist profiling an,d abuses against unprotected , disadvantaged minorities.

  3. Sarge, you mean exorbitant, don’t you. Costs cannot be exuberant, they are not living things, and incapable of emotion.
    Sorry, old English teacher could not let that pass. Of course, you could say you coined a word to suit the situation.

  4. Neal,
    Do not think every canadian is a racist supremacist.
    Imagine I say that everybody in Trinidad is a gang member.
    Come visit Canada for yourself and you will see that it’s not so bad. A journalist from Quebec visited Port of Spain because he thought he would have good material to write about violence and crime but instead he fell for the place.
    Good day!

  5. Thanks Guy for putting things in proper perspective. While at it, please note that I am quite aware that not most Canadians are not uncaring , racist savages, who pretends to be all tolerant to encourage only skilled immigrants to their country , so that they could eventually , boost population ,perform the secondary jobs that Canadians despise ,or settle in the ice parries of Saskatchewan,as well as other inhabitable regions that neglected ,indigenous Canadian indians once lived.
    So our non referendum loving , anti separatist Quebecois journalist friend fell in love with Sweet T&T aka Rainbow Country , ehh? Join the long line my friend that did not only listen to our Trini non patriotic expats , and elite country bashers.
    Good for him indeed! Now move forth and tell the rest of the global community, including the thousands of desperate , misguided Trinis that line your Woodbrook Canadian Embassy from 3 am to 12pm each day, for a Visa to the culturally inclusive land of elusive milk and honey , that Trinidad and Tobago too is fine , and no different to Canada and similar countries of the industrial north. Should I hold my breath Guy, or am I now getting carried away?
    Stay strong , and say yes to objective journalism my new friend.

  6. I was in Trinidad and Tobago a long long time ago for 10 marvellous days. We spent 2 days in Port of Spain, I liked so much the indian food and the young women especially for me indian mixed. Big crawling insects at night on the sidewalks. The rest of the time, I was in Tobago. Friends and I slept I think it was in Plymouth near a wonderful snorkeling bay. Remember the roosters going all night. We used to get up with the sunrise and then jog for an hour before it got too hot and the rest of the day was at the beach snorkeling or body surfing on the other side of the island near Scarborough (Minister Bay). One day we decided to go for a car ride and ended up on a road that seemed to be damaged by an earthquake and had to turn around after driving few hours in the middle of nowhere.
    Of course, we saw the reefs. As I said, it was a long long time ago but still good memories..

  7. I am reading you loud and clear Guy, and is happy like many of my fellow national bloggers that you can still share these fond memories with us of your past visit to the once tranquil , and innocent nation.
    Unfortunately,today in a visit to that same Tobago ,you might be well advised to walk with your 9 millimeter glock , or Smith and Wesson in your bathing trunk for protection from desperate ,angry,cynical, and unemployed Trini predators that lurks the island looking for innocent victims.
    Do you know dear Guy what is even more laughable , or pitiful if one prefers? The fact that stupid idiotic Tobagonians are so busy pointing fingers at their Trinidadian twin island counterparts for the massive influx of criminal activities on the island, as opposed to really standing up like adults and demand a real, and equal slice of the socio – economic pie that is due to them from being one of the most wealthy, resource laden countries in the entire English speaking Caribbean.
    What is even more sad is the fact that there is so little hope in sight any time soon, as our country is laden with some of the most naive, insensitive,arrogant ,callous , idea deficient,elitist, and clueless, tribalist leaders the world has ever seen.
    These leaders , male and female ,past or emerging , are quite lucky as they are the beneficiaries of a collective mass of people that have been so brain washed and bamboozled, that they have little to worry about in terms of life long , cultish support.
    Let’s wish them well shall we Guy?
    Warm regards my new friend.

  8. Neal- It seems that you are a socialist or communist. Why should the wealthy give their profits to those who have not? Nothing worth anything comes for free.
    Seriously, I believe if the haves want to maintain their standard of living that they create pathways for acceptable and meaningful ways of life for the Have Nots.
    You are correct about the tribalism of the leaders and the naivety of their followers.
    How long will it be before those who have realize that they cannot maintain their current way of life without creating paths to economic stability, and a decent way of life for the unemployed “Trini Predators”?
    Granted, some of these criminals would be criminals even if they were fed with a silver spoon all of their lives, but crime being heavily associated with poverty leads me to believe that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

  9. Neil,right now in 2010, if there is a political void, there is a higher danger that we will have to face everywhere in the world.
    The danger is called Muslin Integrism. Political Muslim Integrism.
    If your basic thinking, believing and other part of free being is important for you, be aware that the Muslims militant will make you believe your ways are wrong. The truth is that they are recruiting people for their cause. Neil, I do not want to insult your intelligence, look at the Muslims, how they behave.
    Here in Quebec province, there are heavy frictions going on. And there are lots of problems in Europe with the integrist Muslims.

    Still think you live in a paradise country

  10. I am the communist indeed, because I believe that one should not refuse to give a wing to the man that gives you the bird, eh Curtis? I am forced to wonder if Curtis has put on the provocative T-Man mantle , in trying to rile me up with this here “socialist or communist,”depiction label. Am I not the only one on this board that believe that Chavez should be locked away in a four by two cell in the worst part of poverty stricken Caracas? Who else but me think that Castro by any acceptable standards was a dismal political failure , even at the peak of his anti capitalist stewardship, when the USSR was subsidizing his idiotic global adventurism, while neglectful of his own people ? When some look at crazy Red China as the new world order industrial princes , as they dabble in unregulated pseudo capitalism , while holding on to all the evil vestiges of Maos dreams , I am the one that screams , hey watch out! These so called noble folks are in actuality human rights violators , interested in their twisted version of global hegemony, your oil , gas, and other precious resources .
    They have little compunction in constructing a bridge to no where, as they simultaneously open markets of cheap goods , produced by under aged kids, and chiefly ,starving poverty stricken country folks.
    Guy you are raising an important point re our Muslim brothers and sisters that deserves more than just a two liner response, so I’ll get back to you in due course .

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