Living in Aruba
Aruba is an attractive location for people to live. It is very safe, has a high standard of living, and is generally well organized and politically stable.
There are things to consider when think about living a new country or island. Information and preparations like: schooling possibilities for kids, pros and cons of renting versus buying a home, applying for work and/or residence permits, government offices for registration, shopping locations for essentials, and possibly also temporary accommodations while a more permanent residence is sought
In order to qualify for the necessary residence and/or work permits one must comply with specific rules and requirements. Once the necessary permits are obtained, as a new resident you will have to register at the census office known in Dutch as “Bevolking”. Registration is mandatory and important if you intend to apply for a mortgage and/or other home related services such as: utilities, cable, gas and telephone and also for registering children at schools, both private or public.
The Census Office (“Bevolking” or “Censo”)
The Aruba Census office is generally known as “Bevolking” in Dutch or Censo in Papiamento. The Census office handles registration of all persons residing on Aruba. Once you are registered you can then request an extract known as the “proof of registration”, which can be used along with a valid ID to show you have permission to live on the island. The extract will also be necessary for the following purposes:
- Enrolling in schools and training;
- Applying for utilities (WEB – the water provider, Setar – for phones and internet connections, and Elmar – the electricity company);
- Renewal of residence and work permits;
- Certificate of good conduct;
- Clearing of moving household goods.
Aruba’s currency is the florin denoted by the letters `Awg.` but also widely known as `Afl.` The official rate at which banks accept U.S. dollar banknotes is Awg. 1.77, and checks at Awg. 1.78.
The rate of exchange granted by shops and hotels ranges between Awg. 1.75 – Awg. 1.80 per U.S. dollar. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency. Major credit cards are accepted at most establishments while personal checks are normally not accepted.
The Aruban florin is divided into 100 cents and there are coins of 5, 10, 25, 50 cents, 1 florin (100 cents) as well as the 5 florin coin. The square shaped 50 cent “yotin” coin is probably Aruba’s best-known coin.
Banknotes are issued in denominations of 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 florins.
Cash may be obtained with MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards at banks, in some casinos and via Western Union. ATM cards and credit cards are accepted by ATMs of most banks in Aruba. The card must have either a Cirrus or Visa Plus logo. ATM instructions are normally given in Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. Cash is normally dispensed in local currency.
Not only can you find the best deals on Aruba, but you also have a variety of shopping districts to browse and compare prices.
Shopping in Aruba is most known for its various selections of shops devoted to jewelry, table linens, perfumes, leather goods, designer fashions, electronics, locally made handicrafts, Cuban cigars, Dutch Delft, Dutch Cheeses, and many more superior and favorably priced goods. Most stores are open Monday – Saturday from 9:00am – 6:00pm and some stores are closed for siesta during the hours of 12:00 noon – 2:00pm.
In each district you will find “mom and pop” mini markets or groceries. The bigger supermarkets such as Ling and Sons, Super Food, Super Do-it Center and CMart offer a wide variety of food products, fresh produce, canned goods meats and fish. Supermarkets are open from 8:30am – 8:00pm Monday – Saturday and on Sundays until 2:00pm – specific times at each supermarket may vary.
Education plays a key role in the development of Aruba and more than 80 schools offer the opportunity for an average of 22,000 students on a daily basis to discover their own potential, to develop and grow.
In the public schools the education system follows the Dutch Curriculum and most schools are partially subsidized by the government, with the exception of The International School of Aruba and Basisschool De Schakel (Dutch), which are both private schools.
The International School of Aruba
This school provides an American-based curriculum with an international dimension for children ages 3-19 that includes academics, the arts, activities, and athletics. Opportunities related to Aruban culture are also integrated into curriculum at both elementary and secondary levels. Additionally, they put an emphasis on community service via student organizations, activities, and with teachers as models who are actively engaged in the community.
The University of Aruba, offers Bachelors and Masters degree courses in Law, undergraduate studies in Finance and Economics, a Bachelor program for Business Administration in Hospitality & Tourism Management Aruba. and the Faculty of Art and Science offering undergraduate and graduate studies.
The Xavier University School of Medicine at Aruba was founded to train students in the art of medicine using a US based curriculum. The entire focus of their program is to ensure students receive the knowledge they need to successfully enter residencies in the United States as competent physicians.
The Xavier University School of Medicine at Aruba (XUSOM) is a prime choice for foreign students to pursue their medical education overseas in the Caribbean. Their medical school offers studies in the Caribbean with guaranteed clinical rotations in the United States. Best of all, there are no MCAT required for admission.
The Schakel is a private school, where the curriculum is based on the Dutch system.
They provide different levels of education starting with Kindergarten, secondary education and College. They are strictly a Dutch school but with a strong focus on an International outlook.
In Aruba, the utilities companies are largely privatized but the government is still responsible for providing these basic facilities as majority shareholder and is closely involved with the delivery of these services.
The following utilities operate in Aruba:
- Aruba Gas Supply Co. Ltd. (Arugas), for gas supply
- W.E.B. Aruba N.V., water and electricity production
- NV ELMAR, the electricity distribution company
- N.V. Setar, Aruba’s telecommunications company, covering landlines, cellular services, cable television and internet services
- Digicel, a cellphone provider
Water is produced and delivered by WEB Aruba NV (water and energy). WEB uses desalination for water production, and electricity is produced using boilers. Tap water in Aruba is of a very high quality, and excellent taste, often indistinguishable from bottled water.
WEB Aruba NV also produce electricity. Elmar is responsible for the distribution of electricity. The electricity voltage is 110 v AC at 60 cycles.
In Aruba, there are cable television and cable Internet services available. Cable television and cable Internet services are provided by Setar NV.
The Aruba Gas Supply Co. Ltd better known as “Arugas” carries and delivers gas for domestic use. Propane gas is supplied in cylinders of 100 lbs. To become a customer, you must register with Arugas. Gas is normally supplied to households in two cylinders, one is connected, the other is ‘standby’ for switching over should one be empty. A deposit would need to be paid for both tanks. For additional cylinders an additional charges apply.
Telecommunications service is provided by Setar NV. In addition to fixed telephony; mobile telephony and internet services. Another cellular provider on Aruba is Digicel.
Waste collection services
The removal of household waste is considered a public responsibility. This duty, geared to health and environmental management, means that the government has a duty to at least one (1) time per week to collect household waste. This task is for the government, conducted by Serlimar. Ecotech also offer this as a commercial service to households and businesses.
Many properties in Aruba have septic tanks for wastewater and sewage. For periodic cleaning or emptying of septic tanks, various septic service companies offer the service.