Pros and Cons of Living in Jamaica
Last updated on Sep 17, 2022
Summary: Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what expats and digital nomads have to say about the pros and cons of living in Jamaica.
What are the pros and cons of living in Jamaica?
Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Jamaica responded:
"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," said another expat in living in Kingston, Jamaica.
"If you want a measure of what it truly means to live here, get a friend or relative to send you a barrel and go collect it yourself. A day - or two - spent at the wharf, dealing with the arbitrariness that is Customs is a good start. If you can survive that, you might just survive everything else. Whatever you do, don't expect that there will be any order or sense to how things are done. Don't expect perfectly ordered systems, processes and procedures...they MIGHT (not always) exist on paper but the actuality tends to be different," added another expat in Kingston.
What do expats in Jamaica appreciate most about the local culture?
"Jamaicans are like every other people. Some you wouldn't want to make friends with, others that you will wonder just how you managed o live your life without having had that person in it. Most Jamaicans are warm, friendly, hospitable and helpful. In the time that I have been here, for the most part I have experienced nothing but warmth in my interactions with people. This is not to say that you will never encounter some mean, bad-minded people, but bad-minded people exist everywhere," said another expat in Kingston.
"The things I most appreciate are the people for sure!! There attitude totally different from here they are more laid back than Canadians. They take time out to enjoy the little things in life! The music is another thing that falls into the top 5," remarked another in Negril.
What do expats find most challenging?
"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," said another expat in Kingston.
"Be careful about who you choose as friends, because the general advice I give is that people will always take your kindness for weakness. NEVER disclose info about yourself. Stay out of people's business and keep people out of yours. After a while you will see that Jamaicans rarely disclose their intentions or plans. They'll be packing their bags to go overseas but they won't tell you until the last moment if they feel the need to. If you're able to, keep guard dogs, don't stop to talk to strangers, don't listen to hard-luck stories, keep it moving, Don't think you can be a saviour because your life will soon become very difficult and uncomfortable - if you want to help, support, reach out directly to charities. Remember. People here adopt the saying that a fool and his money are soon parted. It's possible to have the best life here but you have to know and understand what you'll be getting yourself into. It's not all beaches and sunsets," added another person living in Jamaica.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
- What do I need to know before retiring in Jamaica?
- How do I meet people in Jamaica?
- What is life like as an expat in your area?
- Is there a lot of crime in Jamaica?
- Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Jamaica accepting of differences?
- What are the schools in Jamaica like?
- Is the cost of living in Jamaica high?
- What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Jamaica?
- What are healthcare services like in Jamaica?
- Is the cost of living in Jamaica high?
- What type of recreational facilities are in Jamaica?
- What is the weather like in Jamaica?
- Are there good restaurants in Jamaica?
- Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Jamaica?
- What are the visa & residency requirements in Jamaica?
- Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Jamaica?
- What do I need to know when buying property in Jamaica?
- Are foreigners allowed to own property in Jamaica?
- What appliances are typically included in a rental?