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Opportunity to move, should I?

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cstath
4/29/2019 07:48 EST

Hi all,

I’ve seen a few posts from people discouraging relocation because lack of jobs... however, I’m in a different situation. My company is likely to allow me to relocate and work remotely from Jamaica (we publish textbooks for Caribbean schools, so it’s in the business’s interest to have an editor based in the region). It’s really tempting as every time I’ve been to the Caribbean i’ve loved it.

My issue... i’m a single 26 year old female from london and i’m a bit worried about safety. I’d mostly be working from home, but visiting authors and schools a few times a week so i’d be out and about. It’s likely i’d need to be near to Kingston so to be able to have meetings there a couple of times a week - but I wouldn’t necessarily need to live in Kingston (and, personally, i’d love to be near a beach!).

I’m visiting again in june and plan to spend a couple of days scoping out areas I would potentially live. Where would you recommend given my situation? Would you recommend this move in general?

Thanks!

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ruthie14
4/29/2019 13:12 EST

Well you've taken care of what I would consider the biggest obstacle to moving to Jamaica -- you have a job and it seems like it pays in a stable currency! So I would say go for it! Try it for a year or so and see if you like it. The fears about safety shouldn't stop you. Most crime is gang-related. You do have to take precautions, just as you would in any big city. Personally, I would rather live in Kingston rather than in a beach area. Actually, even though Jamaicans say "Kingston" the middle class areas are really in St. Andrew, a suburb of Kingston. With the new-ish highway, you can get to a good beach in 2 hours or so and you'll have many more amenities in Kingston than in some of the beach areas. And when you live in a place, these become more important than going to a beach every day (IMO).

However, there's a lot of traffic in Kingston, but since you don't have to be rushing to an office for 9 am, this may not be a big concern. Everyone will have differing opinions on this so on your next visit, maybe sample a few airbnbs in different parts of the island to get a feel for it. I would take a week or two to do this, if you can. Kingston is very different from say Mandeville or Montego Bay or Ocho Rios.

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cstath
4/29/2019 16:13 EST

Thanks Ruthie - really helpful advice. It’s good to know that the beach areas would be difficult to get daily supplies. The reason I was after a beach is because I love to swim and kayak, so it felt like a good way to spend my weekends, but I suppose there are things to do in Kingston too?! I’ve never driven in Kingston before, but being driven around it seems a pretty manic road system (I take public transport in London for a similar reason) - is the public transport between St Andrew and Kingston worth using, or would driving really be the way to go? I’ve heard good things about Ochos Rios, but, while it seems doable, I wondered if it might be too much of a hassle getting into Kingston.

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Lucy12
4/29/2019 17:01 EST

Transportation between Ocho Rios and Kingston is quite easy - the express system, Knutsford Express, is very safe and reliable. Only on reaching into Kingston at the depot that you will need to get a hackney (taxi) to move around Kingston. There are also very good hackney companies.

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Lucy12
4/29/2019 17:07 EST

Transportation between Ocho Rios and Kingston is quite easy - the express system, Knutsford Express, is very safe and reliable. Only on reaching into Kingston at the depot that you will need to get a hackney (taxi) to move around Kingston. There are also very good hackney companies.

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Gardis
4/29/2019 20:11 EST

That sounds like a nice job opportunity. I worked as an expat factory manager during the 90's era of the Free Zones. I loved it, but I also respected the dangers and was very cautious and careful at all times. I don't think it is a practical idea to live on the north coast and be in Kingston regularly. The express bus, yes, but it's expensive and it takes at least 2 hours through winding mountainous roads. I suggest the Barbican area, Jacks Hill, New Kingston, Golden Triangle - those are areas that you would feel comfortable. I drove a car which was vital to get around. You will not feel comfortable on the public transit. And leave all your jewelry at home! Jamaica is no place for flaunting it.

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cstath
4/30/2019 04:04 EST

Thanks so much everyone - these are all really useful comments.

Anyone have any experience of moving solo and how to combat the loneliness and issues with finding friendship circles that comes with that? As I won’t be going into an office, I won’t have that immediate set of people to get to know.

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ruthie14
4/30/2019 08:50 EST

Hi cstath, once you've had a taste of the public transportation in Jamaica you'll want to have your own transportation. Knutsford Express is much nicer but they're private and they do only long haul transportation between towns. If you were coming from Ocho Rios, you could take Knutsford to New Kingston and then a taxi the rest of the way. The regular bus service in Kingston or any parish is very crowded, you'd probably prefer to drive. Plus with a car you could live anywhere and not have to worry about whether there is a bus route near your home. Driving can be a challenge though as people don't obey the rules of the road as much as they should.

As far as meeting people, I think you'd have an easier time in Kingston -- lots of social clubs, nightlife, expat organizations, Lots of Jamaicans go to church, an underrated place to meet people. Jamaicans are quite friendly so once you meet a couple people you'll likely meet their friends as well. The north coast (beach areas) does have supermarkets etc but not as well stocked as you would find in Kingston, and there is more of a vibe of catering to the tourist. I think once you come to Jamaica and get a chance to explore the various areas you'll have a better understanding of what each place has to offer.

Here are a couple links:
One of the local newspapers: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/
More info on Jamaica: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/jamaica

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Cessj
4/30/2019 09:31 EST

Lucy12 is right about the Knutsford Express cross island service. It's reliable and clean, air-conditioned and very comfortable, and I think it has one or two buses departing daily to Ochi. I think the fare is also reasonable at $3KJSD one way.But it takes around 2-3 hours so you need to factor that in. Otherwise there are coaster buses but these tend to be full and may not be for the faint hearted...a taxi or JUTA would cost around $15-20K but could take the most scenic route, rather than the highway,

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Cessj
4/30/2019 09:42 EST

Hi Cstath,
What a fabulous opportunity! Lucky you...there's many who would love to have your option...I agree with most of the advice already given. I personally prefer Kingston, as it has a great vibe, and lots of cultural goings on...the beach areas are great, but I agree with the OP about actually living in say, Ochi...most of these places lack the amenities of Kingston and it can get quite frustrating at times..there's also the tourist factor...one thing that I really appreciate about Kingston is that you're not constantly falling over tourists!

To answer your specific question, I moved to Kingston as a solo female in 2014. Like you I had a job offer and I thought it too good to pass up.
Your experience as a single woman will vary according to many factors eg your race, age, class, accent etc. Jamaicans are in general very friendly people but I found that they tend to keep strangers at arms distance...I'd been here for 18 months before I realised that I'd never been invited to anyone's home! Other expats have said the same. Many non-

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Cessj
4/30/2019 10:13 EST

Hi, I hit send before I'd finished...but I was going to say that many non-Jamaicans without family or friends here join expat groups - I believe some have regular meet-ups. Otherwise you'll meet people most places - Cafe Blue in Sovereign Centre is a great place to hang out, and I know a lot of people work remotely from there `as I often do myself when I'm in need of human company daytime and my friends are at work in their offices...I've met a number of people there who've become good friends...there's also a Starbucks in Liguanea but I avoid that chain back in the UK and do same here.
There's a lot about crime in the media and there is more than a kernel of truth to the stories. However, most violence is personal, though there are some low lifes who will target those they consider vulnerable to rob. Hence, being out and about requires some safety awareness...don 't flash phones, jewellery, or any high end items round. Always be aware of who is around you. If your'e offered anything on the street, say no thanks politely and move on. Do not get into random taxis on the roads, but always use those from established companies such as On Time, Mor-Tec etc. I tend to use regular taxi drivers whom I've come to know and are reliable and trustworthy. Always agree fares beforehand. Most taxis will wait for you while you do your supermarket shopping for instance but there is a waiting charge. I don't rive in Kingston as I don't have the nerves for it, but you could sign up to a driving school for a few lessons to familiarise yourself. People here are crazy drivers. Ensure that you have insurance and don't take an unregulated taxi as it might not be insured. I was unfortunate to be in a pretty serious car crash here and it would have involved been horrendous health care costs without insurance. Stay away from volatile areas in which you have no business, be mindful that you cannot jog freely on the roads as you would at home, especially as a lone woman, though you should be ok in upper class areas such as Norbrook, Cherry Gardens, Beverley Hills, but best to always have a running companion. There's also the Mona Dam which offers a great running/walking circuit and is very popular and well used. In terms of housing, you may initially wish to rent in a gated community until you find your feet. They tend to be pretty secure especially those with 24hour guards. Also a good way to make friends with the neighbours. As for relationships, you're over 21, so I'll just caution you to be very careful about who you let into your life...as Jamaicans say, not everyone . who skin teeth is your friend and foreign women are particularly vulnerable...just exercise the same sense that you would at home, don't let people into your business, and avoid getting into people's business is the best advice I have for staying safe. Jamaica's a fabulous place and if you like hiking etc you'll love the Blue and John Crow Mountains. WiFi is generally available throughout Kingston but be aware of sudden power outages that can kill a deadline etc etc as happened to me this weekend...feel free to ask me any other questions...or you can look through my previous replies to similar posts...

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Lucy12
4/30/2019 16:22 EST

I lived in Ocho Rios for a while and worked in St Catherine. Disliked driving around Kingston and St. Catherine, still do. Take the Knutsford Express up in the mornings and back in the evenings. Used Hackney Cab - El Shaddi- in between.
To me, this proves to be more cost effective than renting a car and purchasing petrol. Felt more safer traveling with friendly drivers who know the ins and outs of the city.
For a single person, Cessj suggestions are very good.

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cstath
5/1/2019 04:41 EST

Hi Lucy12 - can I ask why you chose Ochos Rios over Kingston as a place to live? Yours is a different opinion to the other (very helpful) posters who are recommending living in Kingston.

To everyone - I’m so grateful for all these speedy responses, will definitely do some exploring in June of as many of the recommended places as poss!

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Lucy12
5/1/2019 12:42 EST

Hi cstath

Ocho Rios is more my style of living than the city. I was in Richmond Estate in Priory, which is absolutely beautiful. Lots and lots of other expats. Private beach, club house, very safe etc. Near to grizzly-where shows such as Rebel salute staged. Chakka Cove, Dolphin Cove, Mystic Mountain, Dunns River Fall for recreational purpose.

A place to help for an easy transition into the Jamaican life style.

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blessingsdevine
5/8/2019 14:04 EST

HELLO I AM CANADIAN WHO BASICLY HAVE THE SAME LIFESTYLE YOU DO. NO ONE CAN GARANTEE SAFETY BUT I AM SINGLE TOO AND COPE WELL. ONE THING I DO IS HOME BEFORE DARK. MY UNIT HAS A GREAT SEA VIEW AND THE BEACH TOU CAN SEE FROM THE UNIT OFF THE MAIN ROAD TO MONTEGO BAY. FOR SOCIAL I HANG OUT AT A CAFE NOT FAR AWAY WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS. IT IS GOOD THAT YOU CAN WORK REMOTELY. I HAVE A FURNISHED ROOM TO RENT TO A NON SMOKER AND NON DRINKER. I WOULD LOVE FOR TOU TO RENT IT. I COULD HELP YOU GETBAROUND ETC. FOR FUN I GO TO NEGRIL TWO THREE TIMES A WEEK. ENJOYING JAMAICA IS ABOUT THE BEACHES.AND PANORAMIC VIEWS FOR ME

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