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Moving to Jamaica

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ScottMi
12/22/2017 03:21 EST

Hi, I'm new to the forum however have read the majority of previous threads to try to get up to speed.

I'm moving to Kingston next month, and while I've travelled extensively I've never been to the Caribbean.

I'm a white Australian, and while I will initially be moving by myself my wife and young child will be joining me around the middle of the year.

I'm looking for any tips, tricks, or watch outs that people want to throw my way. As I said I've read the previous forums so I know not to carry large amounts of cash and neither my wife or I wear any jewellery including watches.

Also if anyone has recommendations for ways for my wife and child (moving when 5 months old) to meet people that would be appreciated.

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Gardis
12/22/2017 07:36 EST

It would be interesting to know why you are moving and what are you hoping to accomplish by this. If you say you have never been to the Caribbean, I have to assume that includes Jamaica?

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edmon59
12/22/2017 08:20 EST

Gardis,
I have found during my travels that folks from the Pacific rim tend to be a bit more "worldly" , for lack of a better term than most North Americans or Brits....just my experience. Don't judge the op before finding out whaT he/she is all about.....no worries, but there are plenty of worldly folks that have never been to the Caribbean. I know some of them.

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edmon59
12/22/2017 08:22 EST

Send me a pm with specific areas of concern, I have a fair amount of history in Jamaica, lol

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ScottMi
12/22/2017 15:23 EST

I'm being transferred for work, and unfortunately time got away and I wasn't able to complete a pre-country inspection.

The role is an regional position so I choose to live in Jamaica as there was already local people on the ground from my business and we could move without the need to vaccinate our baby against Yellow fever.

Having said that I'm really excited by the opportunity,

I've spent a lot of time travelling throughout Asia and South America so although I'm western I hope that I should be able to live without all the perks of home.

What we are hoping to achieve is an interesting question, and while we would want to get involved in the community I would like to think that we are smart enough not to make wide sweeping statements before we arrive and understand what is appropriate.

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ScottMi
12/22/2017 15:26 EST

Thanks for the support Edmon, having read a lot of expat forum's there seems to be a healthy balance between people being helpful and others almost protective and wanting to keep their locations to themselves.

Either way happy to receive all feedback and the decide what's helpful

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Gardis
12/22/2017 17:38 EST

Having a waiting job is an excellent reason to be there. Good luck and enjoy it. You can get a lot of help on this wonderful forum. There are some very knowledgeable peopole on the ground who can guide you. Best of luck.

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Marutti
12/23/2017 05:03 EST

ScottMi,

We are arriving mid January, my hubby, two kiddos and myself. I don't really know whether we gonna settle in Kgt or mobay, but def stay in touch, if you'd like. I been there several times and this time around we gonna stick for 6months, trying to get residency later on. If you wanna chat offline , pm me.

I wish you an easy transition, it's a beautiful beautiful Island.

From my personal experience, I'd say try to be open-minded and open-hearted, don't take any hassle personally , don't judge the.whole nation by a couple of rascals, don't pay more than $150 jd in route taxi and always have plenty of change, like,if you need to pay $100, don't hand them $1000, you'll hardly get all your change back :) always for the menu in restaurants beforehand , so you'd know how much your food costs before ordering, so that they wouldn't overcharge , treat Jamaicans with respect and humbleness and you will enjoy it immensely, people are the most kind and caring and welcoming out of all the world i.traveled, and i been to many places. this is a proud country, very alert and very aware nation and people are highly intelligent! they will hassle, but if you don't show aggression and won't hold a grudge, they will back off. good luck!

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ScottMi
12/23/2017 17:41 EST

Thanks for the response, I had wondered the exact thing about ensuring I had smaller notes rather than needing change.

Are the taxi's metered or should I negotiate a price prior to starting the trip?

When you're in Jamaica do you shop in the local markets or in supermarkets?

How old are your kids, I noticed someone has previously asked about getting immunisations locally however was shot down for not knowing the local health system. Would you immunise locally in Jamaica or recommend a trip to Australia / USA (seems a bit over the top but my wife's considering the 26 hour trip)?

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edmon59
12/24/2017 18:34 EST

Well said!
All this chat is making me homesick. Not for the US, but for Jamaica. Sigh.

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edmon59
12/24/2017 18:43 EST

Doctors .
I recommend getting set up with a local guy, I have yet to meet a woman doctor in private practice though they may be out there.
A lot of these folks work from their homes.... clinic in front, housing in back. Check their credentials. My main doctor was a graduate of Columbia University in the US. They usually have the your usual prescription medicines on site and give them to you on the spot.

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edmon59
12/24/2017 18:49 EST

Carry 100s and 50s...1000 to 2000 will get you around just fine. ATM fees and exchange rates are something to be aware of......I have several banks in several countries so I shop for the least expensive rates. Overall the JCB bank machines are the cheapest. The Scotiabank machines are the the most expensive by far. Just sayin.

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ruthie14
12/25/2017 07:53 EST

There are lots of doctors who can vaccinate your kids. Kingston is not short of doctors -- you just have to go privately rather than through the public system. And the supermarkets up town are as well stocked as any in the U.S. or England. As a nonJamaican you should be careful in the local markets. Yes you'll want to negotiate taxi fares in advance. No one uses meters. I hear there is a local app like Uber called Get There but I have not tried it.

Jamaica is a highly individualistic society. You won't find uniform levels of customer service. Many people are rude or indifferent. Others will go far out of their way. I find that the service in restaurants is much slower than the typical American restaurant but the food tastes much better. So just be patient and go with the flow. Kingston is full of stores, nightlife, theatre and restaurants. Enjoy them all but stay safe!

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ruthie14
12/25/2017 08:03 EST

P.S. you asked about meeting people. Even if you are not a religious person I would suggest visiting one of the thousands of churches on the island . Jamaicans tend to be very religious and a visit can give you a lot of insight into our culture.

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kenwyn
12/26/2017 08:53 EST

Good Day,

Interesting topic. My company has offered relocation to Jamaica and im thinking it over.

For those in the know, how much in USD equivalent dollars would you say an average person might spend monthly for a 2 Br furnished apt in a nice area, food, transportation, Utilities and medicine?

Just a lump sum average would be fine. I seem to be getting conflicting information when I check rentals online and hardly any information on the cost of living.

Would appreciate any feedback. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

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Gardis
12/26/2017 10:28 EST

I haven't lived in Jamaica since the early 2000's so perhaps I'm out of date, but it was and I believe still is, a very expensive Island amongst Caribbean islands. It seems to be an anomaly-- 3rd world country in almost every respect, yet a very high cost of living. I rented a 3 bedroom townhouse off Lady Musgrave Road, considered a good area gated with pool, as you put it, and it was about $1500 USD a month. I don't think rentals have come down. Food is very expensive. Negotiate a good reimbursement rate.

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RickBlaine
12/26/2017 12:01 EST

I have now been here (Montego Bay) for 2 years. Attempting to compare Cost of Living between the U.S. and Jamaica is difficult as it depends on where you are in the U.S. and your style of living.

Housing: Housing rental prices here are all over the place, depends on the location, amenities and honestly the owner. We currently have a 2 bedroom - 2 batch in a 6 unit building in Westgate Hills with security gate, parking, 2 balconies... and not a shoe-box!, decent kitchen and honestly is a step above some of the places I lived in south Florida at twice the cost! Our rent is $60K (~$480 USD) per month. We're moving in January to a 3 bedroom & 3 bath home in St. Ann with a cost of $110K (~$850 USD) per month. The same home in south Florida would be around ~$2000 USD per month.

Gated communities especially those that cater to expats will cost more! If you don't need to be in Kingston or Mobay you'll pay less in most of the rest of the island.

Food: Food prices are all over the place. You'll pay a little more for U.S. products (shipping & duty) however the local products are generally cheaper. Our monthly grocery bill for my wife & I runs ~$50K - $60K per month or about $350 - $400 USD. I should point out that we eat pretty well as I enjoy cooking and we always but a couple bottles of wine (which isn't cheap here). Example: Iberia Extra Virgin Olive Oil Walmart: $4 USD and Progressive: $650 ($5.25 USD)

Dining Out: We go out a lot for dinner & entertainment and roughly $200 - $300 USD per month

Electric: $12K - $16K ($90 - $130 USD) depending on time of year. We do have air conditioning which is used primarily May to November. Also have a washing machine and all my electronics.

Water: $3000 per month ($24 USD)

Cable: $5000 per month ($40 USD) We only have Internet and not cable TV. We've "Cut-the-cord".

Car Payment: $25K ($200 USD) per month

Car Insurance: $8K ($65 USD) per month

So in summary our monthly living expenses are roughly $1800 USD per month (for 2 - based on the new housing cost next month & NOT including dining out). When I lived in south Florida my monthly expenses (I was single) was well over $3000 USD per month.

Medical, dental & vision is less expensive here (for even top level service)
Cars & Gas is more expensive
Electronics, Appliances, Furniture are generally more
Clothing about the same however you'll have a difficult time finding higher end clothing.

We import a lot of stuff that we CAN'T find here such as health & beauty, electronics and clothing.

In my opinion... you have to acclimate yourself and NOT try to live like an American, Canadian or Brit. If you currently reside in a major metropolitan city like Chicago, New York, Miami, Seattle, etc than you'll do fairly well here in terms of cost of living. If you currently live (in the U.S., Canada or England) paycheck to paycheck and still can't make ends meet you'll have a tough time here.

I'm American & my wife is Jamaican. I've lived in several countries and a lot of cities in the U.S. and can honestly say I have no desire to live anywhere else except here! I certainly won;t move back to the states! Jamaica, like ANY country, has issues but the lack of stress & drama coupled with the weather and people is almost paradise. Sure you have the crime issues but name me one country that doesn't!! The overwhelming majority of people here are kind, friendly and helpful.

Being an interracial couple we don't get the looks, stares, comments and hassle we'd get in the U.S. For the most part racism, prejudice and bigotry doesn't exist here... especially like it does in the U.S.!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year. Feel free to PM me if you have other questions or need additional info.

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RickBlaine
12/26/2017 12:16 EST

I just found this site which will allow you to compare Cities in Jamaica to cities in the U.S. It does appear to be fairly accurate. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=Jamaica

You would need around 2,687.97$ (334,972.31J$) in Montego Bay to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,700.00$ in Miami, FL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 3,354.39$ (418,021.26J$) in Kingston to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,700.00$ in Miami, FL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 2,675.92$ (333,470.49J$) in Montego Bay to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,100.00$ in Chicago, IL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 3,339.35$ (416,147.10J$) in Kingston to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,100.00$ in Chicago, IL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 2,689.54$ (335,167.93J$) in Montego Bay to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 4,300.00$ in Charlotte, NC (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 3,356.35$ (418,265.38J$) in Kingston to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 4,300.00$ in Charlotte, NC (assuming you rent in both cities).

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RickBlaine
12/26/2017 12:16 EST

I just found this site which will allow you to compare Cities in Jamaica to cities in the U.S. It does appear to be fairly accurate. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=Jamaica

You would need around 2,687.97$ (334,972.31J$) in Montego Bay to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,700.00$ in Miami, FL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 3,354.39$ (418,021.26J$) in Kingston to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,700.00$ in Miami, FL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 2,675.92$ (333,470.49J$) in Montego Bay to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,100.00$ in Chicago, IL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 3,339.35$ (416,147.10J$) in Kingston to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 5,100.00$ in Chicago, IL (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 2,689.54$ (335,167.93J$) in Montego Bay to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 4,300.00$ in Charlotte, NC (assuming you rent in both cities).

You would need around 3,356.35$ (418,265.38J$) in Kingston to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 4,300.00$ in Charlotte, NC (assuming you rent in both cities).

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Gardis
12/26/2017 12:33 EST

Great job with that answer Rick. That was an education.

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ScottMi
12/26/2017 15:00 EST

Thanks Rick, I found the same website and had been using it for my own comparisons, but that's also where my confusion set in.

I live in Sydney (ranked 25th most expensive city to live in) so I was anticipating the cost of living to decrease however my company has indicated that it will actually increase.

I've now moved to tripadvisor and I've been using the photo's of menu boards to make a comparison. It feels like drinks (especially alcohol) will be much cheaper but meat more expensive.

To hear the cost of someone who is already on the ground is refreshing especially as your costs included air conditioning which will be a must for us.

Thanks for your reply

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RickBlaine
12/26/2017 15:15 EST

LOL, yes booze is cheaper here which surprises me! you can get a mixed drink with rum or vodka for $500 or $600 ($4 -$5 USD). I mainly drink tequila which is usually around $10 in most places even in the U.S., so it's about the same.

Chicken, pork & fish are generally less expensive. Beef while expensive is NOT the greatest. I love beef however my consumption is way down... not because of the cost but the quality.

If your company is giving you a CoL increase take it and run!

Good luck to you.

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Kimbeena
12/29/2017 22:18 EST

my fiance and i are also moving there mid January and my main concern is somewhere to lay my head? have you found out how to go about renting there?

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danmcg
1/10/2018 21:10 EST

Hi ScottMi,

I had to do a double take when I read your message to check I hadn't posted it earlier! You seem to go through almost the exact same experience as I have gone through over the last couple of months. I am also Australian who moved for work in mid-November, waiting on my wife to arrive around April (although no kids for us).

I have also done a fair degree of travel It helped me prepare for some things but there are some intricacies you'll pick up on once you arrive and are probably too long-winded to put on the forum.

Let me know if you are keen to meet up for a drink when you are here and I can tell you a bit more about my experience thus far.

All the best with the move,
Dan

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kenwyn
1/13/2018 10:22 EST

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your detailed information and feedback. Your response pretty much validated my thoughts.

If I decide to take up the offer I owe you some beer.

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kenwyn
1/13/2018 10:23 EST

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your detailed information and feedback. Your response pretty much validated my thoughts.

If I decide to take up the offer I owe you some beer.

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