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As a mixed race family who has lived & worked in Jamaica, one of whom had dreads, these are our learned experiences:
It’s not so much where as what. Moving to Jamaica without already having employment orba business is a bad idea. People are hard up, especially now. They will bad mind you to no end as foreigners coming in, taking away desperately needed jobs. Doesn’t matter how good you are or how hard of a worker. Have a plan first. Too many people focus on tourism. Building brand Jamaica - high quality, locally produced products that are sold in the country would be the way to go. Can be something as simple as free range chickens or hot house tomatoes that you sell to a supermarket or hotel chain.
You have to have money to live somewhere safe. Look out for your neighbours but don’t let yourselves be taken advantage of & you’ll be fine. Steer clear of tourist traps like Negril & Ocho Rios. Portland, St Bess & St Mary are your best bets. Personally, we love Port Antonio. Scenic, quiet, fairly rural & mostly crime free. Your wife would be equally comfortable in Port Antonio as Port Maria or Montego Bay. Live in Mango Walk, Bogue or an apartment in Coral Springs.
Ship your vehicle if you have one. There is a one time exemption for personal assets when you move to Jamaica & vehicles with taxes are 3x the cost you’re used to. Same goes for electronics. Both are prohibitively expensive in Jamaica.
And don’t forget about extended health insurance, etc. That is after you apply for work permits, business licences, etc. Anything legal & official in Jamaica takes FOREVER, is in person, on paper & in triplicate usually done only after you’ve spent an entire day waiting around in NCB for your appointment to get proof of payment for said paperwork. It’s awful. Pay someone to go to town & wait for you instead. Most importantly, keep a big dog preferably that is indoors at all times while you are at home. Nobaddy nuh tief yuh wid no dawg inna di yaad. We had a wicked man up a country club, called him stick man. Used to take a stick to reach through the window bars at night & take your wallet right out of your jacket pocket. Till them catch him one night & chop him.
Basically just be safe & be sure this is what you want to do. Is it island life you are looking for in general or Jamaica specifically? We actually found Vieques in PR, Belize, Dominica & Grenada to be far more suited to our lifestyle as much as Jamaica remains our home & where our family is from.
Where have you stayed previously? what do you like about Jamaica - leading you to consider a move? what will you do for work?
These answers will help as you could be looking for an ‘authentic experience’ from a tourist perspective, or safe island living and the two can be very different things.
I’ve stayed over off the west end. At the Wake N Bake and The Cliff hotel. I love the people and the fact they are so laid back and all I got was love from everyone I’ve met. Its a beautiful country. We stayed at the hotels but we were always out doing stuff and hang out around Negril, Lucea, Montego bay. Went to Kingston a couple times as well. Not really looking to live in the City. Just a quiet life in a small town or a quiet parish. I’m willing to work wherever as long as its somewhat safe lol I’m not picky and I’m willing to do my fair share to make it. And I’m over the USA. We have a lot of opportunities and a lot more money to be made but I really don’t care about that at all. Just want to live in Paradise with people who share similar values and look like me. I am a very outdoor person so I’m always outside! I just want to find somewhere safe for me and my wife to live out our lives. No drama or issues with people. I’m not looking to make enemies or anything like that its all love from me 🙏🏿
There’s a bed and breakfast named Lakeview Manor, in Moneague, you can look at the reviews on Google see if it’s worth it. The gentleman that runs the place is named Mr.Gentles who is a lawyer, outside of staying at a hotel, staying at that bed and breakfast got pretty close to what it would be like to live in Jamaica without sacrificing too much luxury like A/C and hot water (I am a previous Jamaican resident).
Maybe Mr. Gentles can also discuss with you the logistics of living on the island and finding work (he seemed nice enough) and you would get a non-tourist stay that may or may not change how you view the island. He also seemed to have a friend or so who visited that works for the JA gov in forestry/environment (idk if that’s the outdoors you’re into)
However as a previous national and resident, I have to say living on the island is not what it’s chalked up to be, and a 3 week in total visit is not the same as living and interacting with the local community on the day - day. I know you believe we have similar cultures and values, but we absolutely do not (I had horrible culture shock moving to the US) Jamaicans might play off the differences as you being a tourist, but that’s just over short periods of time.
You might think that Jamaicans are laid back, but the working world in Jamaica is also very different and is permeated with classism (the culture and society is very classist as well).
You might find that you’ll have to spend a lot more money for safety, and USD does not stretch in Jamaica. Yes 1 USD is ~150 JAD, but what cost 10USD costs 10USD in Jamaica just now converted to JAD.
When I lived on the island, the careers available to me were also VERY limited. If you want money, Law, medicine and business are the way to go. Business is a saturated field because naturally law and medicine are tedious, hard and it cost a lot of money to get the education in the first place.
Obviously these are all my opinions, I grew up poor and lower class so my experiences will differ from those who are upper maybe middle class.
Law saturated too. If OP is into living a truly simple life then some kind of boutique agricultural product is the way to go. Like making organic honey or whatever and using international links to set up distribution in America.
I appreciate your post! This is exactly what I wanted to read. I know it wouldn’t be easy and I will of course do a test run before I try to make it a permanent stay. I am a hard worker so whatever I end up doing I will do my best and work my hardest to make it work. I respect and appreciate your perspective and thank you for the info it is much appreciated!
Falmouth in Trelawny have a few community with modern amenities that still give a laid back vibe without being far from highway and airports.Stone brook, Florence hall, coral spring. Units are available in these area for rent and sale. Would suggest renting for a few month to get a feel of the area. Ps these are gated communities with security control accessRecommend getting a car as chartered transportation can get pretty pricey over a medium term
The Parishes you can look into is Trelawny( farming parish), Clarendon( slow parish), St.Ann, Portland (slow parish), St. Elizabeth( farming and fishing parish). Farming parish means you tend to see more land used for agriculture. Slow parish means not much goes on in these parishes. All these parish have the less amount of crime compared to others. You need to have job that makes about 150kJMD a month to live comfortable enough. So about 1k USD a month. But these are just suggestions of mine. So just do some research and find out which is best for you.
In addition to this I think it’s important to ask if high speed internet access is important for your job and how long are you willing to commute.
Kgn will have most of what you need to assimilate in Jamaican culture, get your paperwork done and other official stuff a couple years in a nice neighborhood and then I’d suggest somewhere more laid back like Portland which is an hours drive from Kingston.
You’ll have to contend with some challenging roads but the drive to and fro is beautiful.
It all depends on what you plan to do for a living. If its remote work and you want to avoid the tourist areas, I’d say Mandeville is best, the temperature is cool and mostly contains retirees and foreigners. If you want a fun and adventurous stay, then Ocho Rios is best. But for fast paced, urban Jamaica, the best option is Kingston, just get a rental in the uptown portion and you’ll be fine, especially for networking and work options. Additional rent a car or get a driver to carry you around (msg me if you need one of either).
Where ever you stay always think security… in the same way we think security when we visit other Countries… depends if you want to live as tourist or blend in with everyone else … any Parish is just fine… done get involve with criminals or criminal activity… Weed is not legal tender… not everyone with Dreads is a Rasta and may not be friendly to you
We’ve stayed In Negril towards the West end and I really love the area and it seemed safe to me but I am curious if there are any other areas which are safe as well to live. And if that area itsself is okay to live. Thank you for your time!❤ #JahBless
Curious what industry you work in or if that is a factor. You bring up the term safe, which is a common concern. Much (not all) factors in safety has to do with understanding jamaican culture. Even the safest tourist area is not safe if you dont understand the culture. I grew up in Manchester where many European and American expats lived due to the mining companies. Many fit in perfectly, others not so much.
I work at Manufacturing factory at the moment but I’ve worked in customer service and healthcare as well. I love the Jamaican Culture but I do understand it will be a learning Curve and I’m willing to learn and try to understand more fully. I do want a couple trial runs before I even consider permanent residence. I know it won’t be easy and I’m sure it will be a culture shock as well but I’m willing to try. I love Jamaica! Its a beautiful country! ✊🏿