Expat Exchange
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Montego Bay has a high cost of living, a population of approximately 110,000 and year-round temps in the mid-to-upper 80s to low 90s. Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

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Allianz Care International Health Insurance
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Allianz Care International Health Insurance

Is the cost of living in Montego Bay high?

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We asked people about the cost of living in Montego Bay, they wrote:

"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," explained one expat living in Montego Bay.

What do I need to know about living in Montego Bay?

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

"Your first stop needs to be the PICA website. This is the immigration website and it will list the options available to you for residency. There’s more to it than just packing your bags and deciding you’re going to move to Jamaica… I do suggest however, that you come for three months, maybe extend it to six months, and actually live here. By that I mean, you’re gonna live like a local; not a tourist. There are two totally different things. You need to figure out how you’re going to find your lifestyle here… As you’re not gonna be able to work, unless your company has an office here and sponsors you for a work permit. Or, do you have enough money to start your own business. As for housing, buy or rent the best place you can afford… In a gated community. A high end gated community Ex: Freeport, Spring Garden, Spring Farm, Rose Hall, you don’t want to live in a typical Jamaican gated community that was built by developers.," remarked another in Montego Bay.

What do I need to know before moving to Montego Bay?

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

"If you’re looking in MoBay you should check out Freeport, Spring Garden, Spring Farm, half Moon villas, Rose Hall, those would be the places to look if you are looking to purchase a home. They are all upscale gated communities," added another person living in Montego Bay.

"One of the things I struggle with is lack of transportation. We have a car, but if my husband is away I feel trapped. It's not easy to jump on a bus or grab a taxi," explained one expat living in Montego Bay.

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Montego Bay?

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"I am living in a 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom furnished townhouse in a gated community. It's brand new and beautiful," said another expat in Montego Bay.

What is the average cost of housing in Montego Bay?

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

"I am paying $1200 USD plus utilities here. Expensive for Jamaica however this same house would cost double in Canada," remarked another expat in Montego Bay.

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Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance in Jamaica

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What should I bring when moving to Montego Bay?

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

"1. I wish I had gone to Dollarama and stocked up on spices and kitchen stuff. It pains me to spend $8-$10 on items I know I could get for free. 2. I brought a TV, but wish I had shipped both. Electronics are crazy expensive here. 3. Sheets, bedding, towels. I packed light so I didn't bring too much of anything. I had already read from others not to bring too much clothing and I'm glad I didn't," remarked another in Montego Bay.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

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

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An index of all of our site's Montego Bay information.

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

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Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Jamaica.

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Montego Bay, Jamaica

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats Montego BayExpats in Montego Bay

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

Jamaica Index Montego Bay Index
An index of all of our site's Montego Bay 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.

Expat Healthcare Advice in JamaicaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Jamaica

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

If you're thinking of moving to Jamaica, deciding where to live is not as simple as you think. Jamaica is a large island with numerous cities and towns that appeal to expats. This article highlights the 10 best places to live in Jamaica according to expats living there.

Real Estate in JamaicaReal Estate in Jamaica

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Jamaica.

Mike-Miville-Shares-His-Expat-ExperiencesMike Miville Shares His Expat Experiences

An Expat Interview with Mike Miville, an expat helping to find long-term sources of water in Jamaica.

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