I got the idea to do a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) blog because I am asked several many of the same
question each month.
After doing some research about where my readers are coming from, I was amazed that I now have readers from Italy, Australia, Netherlands, England, South Africa, Canada, Trinidad, Barbados and the United States.I was initially very excited by this news but also shocked, as it now means that the pressure is now on to get this blog site vastly better. I stumbled across a most frequently asked questions piece which was written by my new pal John Casey, a retired American fellow living here Montego Bay Jamaica and decided to use his responses as a template, while adding some of the additional questions which I am receiving.
John Caseys’s target audience, may be retirees, so the questions he is being asked are often related to more permanent moves. My audience, I’ve concluded falls into roughly the following six major groups.
1.Expats who arrive to take up jobs with multinational companies. They can be male or female, married or single.
2. Single women who arrive for vacations and fall in love with the natural beauty of the land and are determined to relocate after one trip. 3. Women who have Jamaican husbands or boyfriends whose significant others desire to move back home and live in Jamaica. 4. Women whose Jamaican boyfriends cannot for whatever reason get visas to leave the country from the various foreign Embassies. 5.The lone rangers from South Africa, Australia, Belgium, Germany or Ireland who simply enjoy traveling and experiencing life and find Jamaica and or Jamaican women fascinating. 6. The returning resident groups, from England, Canada or the U.S., who are tired of living in ” farrin ” and simply want to come home. Attached are some of John’s questions, along with of the ones I get almost weekly. Jamaica FAQ’s by American Retiree (John & Dale) ([email protected]) 1. Can non-citizens purchase property? Yes, no restriction that I am aware of. 2. What are the mortgage rates? I was told a figure of JA dollars of 25% -30% and USD 15% This is a September 2009 quote. 3. Is it a seller’s, buyer’s or renter’s market? Buyer’s market. Many homes are on the market for months before they are sold. It is also a renters market as many properties are available and prices are often negotiable. ( Depends greatly on what part of the Island you plan to reside) 4. Would it be cost-effective to purchase a home and rent it out until I retire? That would depend on where the house is and the value of the house. One thing to be aware of as an absentee landlord; someone needs to be visible to protect your interests. 5. Are there any real estate agents in the area? There are several in Montego Bay and the Kingston area, including Century 21. Most properties are not listed in the paper. The agents will show you homes based on your price range. 6. Is there a vandalism problem with foreigner owned property? No. Vandalism is very low and not related to nationality. 7. What kind of medical facilities are available? Montego Bay has a large hospital. There are also several clinics in the area. Most routine testing can be done locally without going to Kingston. At least one of the clinics will airlift you to the South Miami Hospital in case of a life-threatening problem. There are a few decent hospitals in the Kingston area, Andrews Memorial and the UWI ( University of the West indies) comes to mind.There are also several good primary care doctors available. We have found medical and dental cost to be lower than in the U. S. 8. Is there homeowner’s insurance (Including flood and hurricane coverage)? Yes, but very expensive. If your house is made of concrete blocks, there isn’t much to burn or blow away. Flood concerns would be mainly on the coast and some rivers. 9. What kind of medical insurance is available? Blue Cross has a 20/80 program which is very reasonable. 10. What kind of automobile insurance is available? The coverage is similar to the states, and can be less expensive after the first year. Previous driving records are required from your state or insurance company. You will also need a local driver’s licensee after a few months of living on the Island, so as to be not hassled if you find yourself in a fender bender. 11. How safe is it to live in Jamaica? Most houses are fenced and gated. The windows and doors usually have decorative grating on them. Home invasion is low depending on where you live. Break-ins and high crimes are generally higher in the Kingston areas. Many people own what Jamaican call ” Bad Dogs” for protection. It is not unusual to see six dogs on one property. ( Note, we live in Kingston) 12. Are groceries expensive? That depends on what you purchase. Imported items from the USA are more expensive than domestic. Some of the same brands in the states are available in Jamaica but come through other countries. Jamaica has several large food companies with excellent quality products. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be cheaper when they are currently in season, but it generally takes an outsider some time to figure out what prices are reasonable. 13. What kind of stores are available for hardware, groceries and clothing? There are several large full- service hardware stores with building supplies. Jamaica has several grocery store chains and independent stores. Some quality clothing stores can be found throughout the city, but selection and sizing availability are more restrictive than the USA. 14. Are there large shopping malls? Not as you know them. There are several shopping plazas with a variety of shops. One usually finds out about them by word of mouth.So do not be bashful to ask somebody where they purchased a certain item, or got a certain haircut. 15. What are the water rates? It all depends on your consumption. With septic systems instead of a municipal sewer system, the rates are low. 16. What about electricity costs? The costs in the last few years have gone up a great deal as the power company is 80% privately owned. 17. Is gasoline expensive? The cost is higher than in the states but there is less driving distance in Jamaica. 16. Can I purchase new or used automobiles? Yes, but the cost includes a high import duty. Bringing your own car would be subject to the same high duty rate. 18. Is maid service expensive? No. Maid service can be anything from once a week to live-in, with separate quarters. Cost are less expensive than Canada & the US. 19. Are Jamaicans good workers? Usually yes. If you find one who is not, there are many more to choose from. 20. Are there reasonably priced restaurants nearby? There is generally a wide range of prices between them. 21. Is there more of Jamaica that can be seen once the normal tours are exhausted? Yes. There are countless places to see that most tourists aren’t interested in seeing. All you need is a knowledgeable guide to find those hidden jewels. 22. Can anyone move to Jamaica? Jamaican immigration laws allows you to stay up to 6 months at a time unless you apply for permanent residency. This is a three year process. Each of those 3 years you must reapply until you become a permanent resident. 23. Can I seek employment in Jamaica? Not normally. The exception would be if you had a particular skill not found in Jamaica. If that was the case, a work permit would be required. 24. What is your life like in Jamaica? Daily life in Kingston can be very intense as no two days are similar, but life is what you make it and how you approach what occurs. I find the city vibrant, dynamic and more intense than my life in Florida or Washington, DC. Whenever I travel to Barbados & Trinidad, I always notice how much quieter those Islands are compared to Kingston. Life outside Kingston may more closely match where you are moving from if not more quiet. 25. Do you return to the states often? Usually about twice to three times a year. 26. What do you like best about living in Jamaica? There are many things that make the quality of life good in Jamaica, but I enjoy the year round sunshine and warmth, abundant fresh fruit and vegetables, the Islands creativity, resilience and energy of the Jamaican people. I find the history of the land and the culture truly fascinating and really enjoy doing compare /contrast of two other favorite islands of mine. 27. What do you like least about living in Jamaica? The poverty and intense daily begging, even when you gently say to people ” No, I have nothing to give you today.” I dislike what I perceive to be an educational system which I have concluded to be failing the Jamaican people, and also the very high unemployment rate, which has lead to an environment of helplessness, high crime and despair. I also dislike the intense homophobic ways of thinking and being, it stifles a great country. 28. What are some of the first steps I should take when considering a move to Jamaica? Make several trips and combined these trips outside of vacation all inclusive resorts. These trips are for networking if you plan to seek employment or retire at some later date to Jamaica. Seek out and have discussions with as many expats as possible about what their lives have been like since moving to Jamaica.