Expat Exchange

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Ocho Rios has a high cost of living, a population of approximately 10,000 and upper 80s to low 90s year round. Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

What do I need to know before moving to Ocho Rios?

Live in Ocho Rios? Answer this Question

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Ocho Rios, they said:

"Jamaica is dangerous, it is dangerous to drive in, walk in or just hang around in. Get a good vehicle (They don't do second hand well here so I would get new if possible). Get a 4X4 as roads are crap!! The only place to live are holiday apartments behind a security barrier, this said, always get an apartment beside the security barrier as you will get broken into if out of the way," said another person in Ocho Rios.

"Do your research and don't just think moving to a tropical island will be pleasure. There's always some pain involved LOL. And even though I've traveled here 15 times over 8 years before moving it's still a culture shock to be here and I learn something new every day. When you're a resident you can't live like a tourist. If you would like to read my story about my first two months in Jamaica I blogged about it at http://www.jamaicamyway.com/living-in-jamaica/first-two-months/," remarked another expat in Ocho Rios.

"If you have a chance, give yourself plenty time to look for a good place. Call the realtors around, ask friends and acquaintances if they know of a good place. The town is very small and everyone knows one another. So, if you get in the right circle, you are bound to find help in all areas," explained one expat living in Ocho Rios.

How do I find a place to live in Ocho Rios?

Live in Ocho Rios? Answer this Question

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Work chose it for me. A word to the wise, if work is choosing your place to stay make sure you travel to Jamaica and see it for yourself. If work expect to send you to Jamaica they should pay for a 1 week trip to the country staying in a compounded hotel with a driver available to you. Do not move to Jamaica without being there before!!," remarked another expat in Ocho Rios.

"I had stayed as a vacationer in guest houses in this area. When I was looking for an apartment to live in I saw the ad say a street name in the area I loved so I had friends come look at it and send me photos for my approval," explained one expat living in Ocho Rios.

"When we first moved to Ochi, we were staying in an apartment that was rented out by my husband's company. Since the apartment was a bit far from downtown and also very dark, we started looking around for a new place. Our lease was almost up, so we were actively on the lookout. A friend of ours saw a sign right outside a nice looking complex advertising a real estate agency and we called right away. Now we live in an ocean front apt and couldn't be happier," said another expat in Ocho Rios.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Ocho Rios?

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"I live in a 2 bedroom apartment near Island village in Jamaica. I don't know of any expats locally. Work pays for this, it is basic accommodation and costs US1200 per month. Beware of living close to too much hustle and bustle such as night clubs / late bars, you will be kept up with booming reggae music all night," explained one expat living in Ocho Rios.

"I live in a one-bedroom apartment and I don't really know other expats in my area. I would assume this would be quite typical," said another expat in Ocho Rios.

"We got lucky with our apartment. We have all the amenities many people in Jamaica go without (running water, washer & drier, hot water, AC etc). We even have a dishwasher which we never used, since electricity here is extremely expensive. Our kitchen appliances are modern and really nice. Our internet is much faster than in the US. We have a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom, with a nice balcony overlooking the ocean and the pool. We take our baby son for a swim almost every day," added another person living in Ocho Rios.

What is the average cost of housing in Ocho Rios?

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If you are thinking about moving to Ocho Rios, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Home costs are ridiculous, I don't pay for rent, electricity etc, however these are on average 3 times the cost. Food is far far far too overpriced. I am still paid as if living in Europe and food on average is about 3-4 times more expensive here than home. Frozen stuff is extremely expensive," said another person in Ocho Rios.

"My housing costs are significantly lower but it's all relative to income here so it works out the same," remarked another expat in Ocho Rios.

"I think the housing costs are about the same, since we lived in a very expensive area in the US. That being said, I think that the cost of living here may be higher than in the US. Our supermarket runs are much pricier than back home, and electricity alone is more than triple down here," explained one expat living in Ocho Rios.

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.
Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance in Jamaica

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What should I bring when moving to Ocho Rios?

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People living in Ocho Rios were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"BRING A Generator (Seriously), power cuts are rife and expect to be without power, internet or water for 2-3 days at a time. Toiletries, I should have stocked up on things like shaving foam and toothpaste etc as it is far to expensive here. An umbrella, it rains almost every day here (all year - dont believe the hype on net) LEAVE AT HOME Jumpers, coats etc - It is hot and humid," remarked another in Ocho Rios.

"More household items, the cost of them isn't very cheap here in Ocho Rios, Jamaica," explained one expat.

"I wish I had brought more baby toys, baby clothes and baby accessories in general. I wish I had left our winter clothes behind! Also, I haven't worn any dressy clothes, nor my high heels," said another person in Ocho Rios.

Allianz Care International Health Insurance

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

Learn MoreGet a Quote

Allianz Care International Health Insurance

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

Learn MoreGet a Quote

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame 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.

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
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Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

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Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Expats Ocho RiosExpats in Ocho Rios

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Ocho Rios.

Jamaica Index Ocho Rios Index
An index of all of our site's Ocho Rios information.

Jamaica Forum Jamaica Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Jamaica on our Jamaica forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Jamaica Network Contribute
Help others in Jamaica by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Jamaica.

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Expats in Jamaica offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Jamaica.

Best Places to Live in Jamaica Best Places to Live in Jamaica

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