Listen to a 60 minute telephone interview on tips for those considering a move to Jamaica.
New Kingston, is currnetly the main business center in Jamaica. It is where most of the International Banks and Insurance companies home offices are located.Years gone by many were located in Downtown Kingston, but at some point they all moved to what is referred to as uptown.
This is a video done by an expat Ria Bacon back in 2006. She has since moved on and is no longer in Kingston..
It is now April of 2017 and unfortunately, Downtown Kingston still looks pretty much the same way. Digicel a large International company, recently moved it’s headquarters to the area in hopes of revitalizing it all…I think many are hopeful that new changes will come to this area over the next few years.
My pal John Casey is an Retired American living in Montego-bay Jamaica. John writes monthly for an on-line forum called Jamaicans.com, and often covers topics that I beleive are useful for people considering a move to Jamaica.
I get weekly emails from people who arrive in Jamaica for a Holiday, and for whatever reason go back to home countries with the intent that they will move to Jamaica and live in paradise forever. While nothing is wrong with such an idea, please then do your research wisely. Read, read and ask tons of questions, Jamaica while great for holiday is not as easy a place to live for many outsiders. Jamaica can be a very oral society and things may not be as organized as where you may be moving from, so keep this in mind.
My Jamaican Immigrations Experience – An American Retiree in Jamaica
By John Casey> Jamaicans.com
Published Aug 1, 2011
Immigration to Jamaica-2
Jamaican Immigrations is a very complex and bureaucratic ministry, like most government agencies anywhere in the world. It has been very frustrating for me my whole time in Jamaica. The process from the beginning was very slow and unpredictable. Nine years ago the process wasn’t as easy as it appears today. I say that because back then nothing seemed to be organized as both the system and the staff didn’t seem to be on the same page.
In my case, when I went to Kingston to apply for permanent residency, which is still today the only office that handles this procedure, there weren’t any forms to fill out either in person or on the internet. The interviewer first asked us why we wanted to move to Jamaica. She then instructed us to put it in writing before we could proceed any further. We did this with the paper and pen she supplied. Next we were handed a list of documents we needed to supply before permanent residency could be granted.
Some of the documents needed were easy to obtain while others took an extended period of time such as the police certificate from the state from which we were migrating. In Massachusetts, this can only be done through the mail or on the internet. It took months for us to get our reports due to a number of reasons. When we began our quest for this document it was free but by the time we obtained it there was a cost involved. So you can see, even in Massachusetts the bureaucracy is prevalent. The other time consuming documents to secure were everything to do with our finances. They not only wanted year-end statements of earnings but, in the case of my pensions, they wanted proof from the providers that these were life long benefits and not just for a certain term.
The other required documents were much easier to obtain such as valid passport, original birth certificate, marriage certificate, medical certificate of good general health, two passport size photos, and letters from two reputable Jamaican citizens. The latter could be difficult if one doesn’t know many people in Jamaica.
Today there is a form to be filled out and can be obtained from their website, which I will give you later. I noticed on the form that many of the documents I needed weren’t listed but it’s safe to assume they will be needed before the process is completed. There was one document on the form not mentioned on my list and that is a return ticket/itinerary. Other than the form itself, there is no indication on the site that I could find as to what the process entails or how long it takes. I was told it took three years but it actually took five years because of the much dreaded bureaucracy.
In the beginning I assumed once the process got started it would be smooth sailing until completion. After the normal three years had passed I started to contact immigrations periodically so they would know who I was plus I would be able to handle any problem that arose then rather than waiting to confront it at the annual visit to Kingston.
Some other things not noted on the website is the annual visit and multi-entry visas. Each year, while you are still in the process of obtaining permanent residency, you are required to return to immigrations in Kingston on or before your anniversary date on the extension they give you in your passport. You need to obtain the visa if you plan to travel off the island any time during the year. It is much easier to get the visa while you are there for your annual visit than to try to get one should you decide later to travel off the island. A change that has been made recently is that visas may now be obtained at the Montego Bay office. However, that office only acts as a free messenger as they send your passports to Kingston for the visas are only granted in Kingston.
Time seems to be moving faster than immigrations can cope with. Nine years ago a visa can be issued the same day as the annual visit but that changed several years later when we had to make the long eight hour round trip a week later to pick up the visa. Today the process is even longer. The Montego Bay office takes twice as long supposedly. But on June 22nd of this year, we went to the Montego Bay office as it was getting close for the time to renew our visas. We were given a receipt there for our passports which stated they would be returned on July 4th. On July 5th, we received a call from immigrations in Kingston that the visas were approved but they needed a copy of the document that proved we were in fact permanent residents, a procedure that the Montego Bay office knew nothing about. The Kingston copy is somewhere in immigrations’ archives which can’t be accessed for the visa renewal. The next day we took our letter to the Montego Bay office where the clerk made a copy and indicated it would be sent to Kingston. We have made several inquiries since then but as of this date, July 20th, the passports have not been returned.
Knowing Murphy’s Law all too well, we applied for the visa renewals two months in advance of their expiration and our annual trip to the states figuring that would be ample time even if there were some kind of snafu. So, instead of 7-10 working day, it has been 20 working days and counting. The good thing about the new renewal is instead of the visa expiring every two years it now lasts for the life of our passports and at the same cost as a one year renewal was nine years ago.
Ministry of National Security and Justice
Immigration, Citizenship and Passport Division
So there you have it folks, onward John and Ann his wife goes.
For those considering a move to the Island of Jamaica, be mindful of ongoing homophobic attitudes.
Read the following post from: Caribbean 360.com forum.
HAVANA, Cuba, Tuesday May 17, 2011 (By Dalia Acosta) – While homosexuality is punishable by law in nine Caribbean island nations, gay activism is increasingly taking root in countries like Cuba.
“The situation in the Caribbean today is one of contrasts,” Gloria Careaga, co-secretary general of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), founded in 1978 and with close to 700 member groups in over 110 countries, told IPS.
Differences are greatest between the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking areas of the Caribbean, Careaga, a Mexican psychologist who is also in charge of the Latin American and Caribbean region (ILGA-LAC), said by email on the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Tuesday May 17.
Careaga said “clear” signs of progress were the work of Cuban institutions in favour of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and of strengthening their groups, the growing presence of studies on sexual diversity in Puerto Rican universities, and the emergence of lesbian organisations in the Dominican Republic.
However, “the English-speaking Caribbean seems to be unable to shake off the influence of Victorian morality, and not only maintains laws that criminalise gays and lesbians, but also argues the case for homophobia, for instance in Jamaica,” she said.
A national survey carried out in Jamaica by the University of the West Indies in 2010 found that 89 percent of respondents were homophobic. The study polled 1,007 adults from 231 communities in the island nation.
Jamaican courts often sentence men who have sex with men (MSM) to prison terms with hard labour.
Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago ban relations between same-sex couples, especially men. Penalties for this crime vary between 10 and 50 years, depending on the laws of each country.
Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Saint Lucia only punish male homosexuality while allowing, or simply making no pronouncement on, lesbianism. Since 1976, Trinidad and Tobago has even forbidden homosexual persons from entering its territory.
Institutionalised homophobia is also a health problem. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) indicates that penalisation of homosexuality in the Caribbean is one of the main obstacles to controlling the epidemic that affects some 240,000 people in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.
Against that backdrop, the few groups and individuals fighting for social acceptance of sexual diversity come up against a high degree of homophobia and the risk of hate crimes. They can even be accused of illegality, even though the constitution defends the universal right to free association.
Wilfred Labiosa, a Puerto Rican activist who lives in the United States and is visiting Cuba to take part in the Fourth Cuban Day Against Homophobia, told IPS that the region’s major challenge is to consolidate unity among people struggling for respect for freely chosen sexual orientation and gender identity.
In socialist Cuba, which lived through several decades of institutionalised homophobia, outstanding efforts have been made by institutions and civil society sectors to raise public awareness in favour of the rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We want a new society,” said Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and head of the state National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), during a May 10 conference on “Why a Cuban campaign against homophobia?” Fighting this problem is part of the struggle against all kinds of discrimination, she emphasised.
The experiences of Cuba and Puerto Rico, which hold around four Gay Pride parades, including educational activities, every year, should be disseminated throughout the Caribbean LGBTI community, Labiosa, a leader of Unid@s, the National Latino/a LGBT Human Rights Organisation in the United States, suggested.
But factors like the criminalisation of homosexuality in nine English-speaking Caribbean island nations, and Belize and Guyana, and the lack of historical links between the region’s peoples mean that sexual rights activists remain dispersed in the region, he said.
Labiosa, a psychologist, said that so far, exchanges between civil society organisations in the island nations of the Caribbean and other countries have been “informal and personal.” In his view, this form of contact is more effective than institutional links in terms of building concrete action in favour of the LGBT community.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bloc hosts the Regional Meeting of LGBT activists from member countries, a space where proposals for sexual rights and HIV prevention can be made.
The United Gays and Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados (UGLAAB), the Jamaican Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) and the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) of Trinidad and Tobago all converge there with other activist groups.
In 2010, ILGA-LAC was able to bring together eight activists from eight different countries where homosexuality is still a crime, at its biennial conference held in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba.
“We have established increasingly close ties with LGBT organisations in the Caribbean,” said Careaga, praising the work of activists who, “with our support and recognition, maintain an active and courageous presence, organising themselves and carrying out public demonstrations, in spite of the risks.”
The achievements of the activist community, according to Careaga, include blocking performances by musical groups who foment homophobia through their song lyrics.
“In spite of the blinkered attitudes, we are closely monitoring the actions of governments and we seek dialogue with their representatives at intergovernment forums. We hope one day these efforts will lead to the repeal of those laws that penalise LGBT persons,” she said. (IPS)
Before the coffin leaves the house, the husband or wife of the deceased must put on a piece of black cloth with a white cross made of chalk. This is to be worn for the next four to five months.
Buttons must be removed from the clothes of the deceased and the clothes must be pinned or sewn without knots or the ghost will return. Pockets must also be sewn up or the ghost will return and fill it with stones and harm those left alive.
If you leave a wake, simply touch a person who is to leave with you – do not announce it – so that the duppy does not follow you home. You should also walk backwards and turn around three times since duppies walk in a straight line.
The body must be taken out feet first and through the front door. If the back door is used, the spirit of the dead will not leave the house.
As soon as the body leaves, the room must be swept out.
* Either one man or an odd number of men should dig the grave. After the digger makes the first dig, he should drink some rum.
* The grave must be dug east to west and the body placed to face the sun.
* When filling the grave, the diggers must stand with their backs to the grave and throw dirt in backwards through their legs to prevent the ghost from following them home.
* A calabash tree should be planted at the head and foot of the grave.
Duppies are said to live in the roots of cotton trees, bamboo thickets or in abandoned buildings. They eat bamboo roots, fig leaves and the fruit of a vine called the ‘duppy pumpkin’. Although generally believed to be harmful (especially when used by an obeah-man), there are good and bad duppies.
Duppies can take on the shape of humans or animals and are also able to change themselves into different forms. They can talk, laugh, sing, cook, smoke, ride horses and generally do anything a human can. When they do ride, however, they are said to use the animal’s tail as a bridle.
Interestingly, a number of Jamaican plant names feature the word ‘duppy’. This use of the term ‘duppy’ in plant names to distinguish between edible and inedible plants shows how superstition helps to direct the relationship between Jamaicans and their environment. Generally, what is good for the duppy is bad for humans – this is an important lesson to learn from a young age. For example, there is the real chocho and the duppy chocho, the real coconut and the duppy coconut. There is the real tomato and the duppy tomato, the real soursop and the duppy soursop and the real cherry and the duppy cherry, etc. Similarly, certain plants like night-blooming jasmine are known to attract duppies and Jamaicans know to keep them away from their homes (Resford, J.,1984, p. 69). According to noted historian Edward Long, this belief in the good and bad qualities of certain plants and trees comes from Africa. (as cited, ibid., 1984, p. 69).
Again, the information included in these folk customs about duppies is consistently specific. The following are noted by JIS (1991):
If you are followed by a duppy, stop and mark an X on the ground and since they can only count to nine they will spend the night trying to count to X.
Do not speak to a duppy immediately or it will hurt you. If he is wearing black, he is harmless. But if he is wearing white, he is dangerous.
Use your left hand to strike a duppy.
Do not kill any green lizards in a graveyard as they are believed to be duppies.
If you are in the bushes and hear a stick break, it is a warning from a dead relative that the area is unsafe.
If you feel a sudden gust of warm air, it means that a duppy is present.
While there is no official recognition of the role of superstition in everyday Jamaican life, it is clearly holding on strong as generation after generation share these ideas and continue to act on these beliefs.
Sources: Author unknown. (1991) Jamaica Folk Customs and Beliefs. Kingston: Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Hopwood, A. (2003). “Jamaican ‘Dead Yard’ Cultures and Customs throughout the Years,” in “J. D. Morgan and P. Laungani (eds). Death and Bereavement Around the World. Amityville, New York: Baywood Publishing Co.; pp. 77-94., Folk-Lore of the Negroes of Jamaica: (Continued) Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Mar. 25, 1905), pp. 68-77 http://links.jstor.org
Last week I had the pleasure of spending a few days outside of Kingston the city, and was in Ocho Rios which is what they call “the country” here on the island. Most places outside of Kingston is generally labelled as ” the country, he or she is from the country”
I have never been particularly fond of Ocho Rios, mainly because I have often felt that I am hassled far to often by men as I walk through the streets. To make matters worst, about three weeks ago there was an article in the Sunday newspaper discussing the exact topic, about men hassling the tourist on the streets. Something needs to be done about it, is what the article concluded.
Jamaica wants to succeed in branding itself as a sort after tourist destination, and the tourist board realizes, that the locals living in the tourist towns who attempt to sell goods or services, will need some sensitivity training on how to approach potential customers/ clients.What can be done is the a real ongoing question.
So last week while doing some banking etc. in Ocho Rios, I was approached by about five different men in less than 10mins. offering me everything thing but the kitchen sink. The sentences are as such;
“Queen, yuh wah ahh taxi” ( Do you want a taxi)
“Yuh wah Ganja” (Do you want Ganga-weed)
“Yuh want ahh man, if not now mummy then maybe lata” ( would you like me to get you a man, if not for now honey, maybe for later)
I was amazed and walked to my car shacking my head. While these men may think it’s appropriate behavior the tourist may not think so is my point….
Women moving to this soil, will need to quickly adapt and navigate these types of behaviors. You may initially find these sentences inappropriate or disrespectful and you could choose to be miserable, but learning to ignore the tirade is perhaps best. I generally smile and say ” no thanks” as firmly as I can…. or “no thanks Sir” or ” no thanks Big Chief” anything to throw them off and bring laughter. All this is done while briskly walking away, but I’ve have found that laughter can generally diffuse these characters.
I read an article today that supported my ideas about how some of the local men speak to women on the streets. I was not wearing anything tight or clingy was my immediate thought, so why this trouble;
A Jamaica woman shares her own ideas on the given topic : “http://www.jamaicans.com”
Lyrics-De Jamaican Way
By Darnatz Darnatz
Published Apr 4, 2011
I have always been amazed at how bold, bright, brazen and bumptious our Jamaican men are when it comes to dropping lyrics. I am convinced that the things that women have to endure from some of these men happen only in Jamaica.
Now if you thought I was talking about the regular “browning”, “empress or “my size” that some men use to get a woman’s attention, then you would be wrong. I am talking about those men who are actually convinced that they have what it takes to make a woman give them their number. What makes it even more ridiculous is that when you look at the type of man calling to some of these well-put-together women yuh jus waan pap up, cause nowhere inna him wildest dream would she even give him the time of day, but does he care.
One of my earliest experiences was at the tender age of sixteen when I was keen on showing my “belly-skin” and was proud of the fact that it was cute. Now here I was walking in Half Way Tree minding my own business when a man comes up to me and says, “Bwai baby, mi woulda drink some rum outta yuh navel enuh”. Can you imagine the horror? Not only was I embarrassed but I was also furious because even if I were going to engage in any romantic liaisons, I sure would not want anyone to drink rum from my navel. I wondered couldn’t he had said wine or some other drink, but rum-so not sexy. But then again, rum is the choice drink of many Jamaican men, so he was simply staying in familiar territory.
I thought that things couldn’t get any worse, but over the years men have said some things to me that have made me blush and I sure could not repeat them here for fear of making yuh eyelash curl up-so mi ago keep it PG-16.
Gotta luv the Island….
Some years ago I was at Hellshire, relaxing and trying to complete a chapter for my upcoming exams when a man who sells fish and festival came over to me and said “Babes, mi a watch yuh from ova dey so. How you do? I quickly mumbled “I’m okay” hoping that he would get the message and leave me alone. But he was persistent. Next thing I know missa man is telling me “yuh know seh mi can tek care a yuh. Is a man like me yuh want inna yuh life”. For the first time, I took a good look at him and it was all I could do from laughing out loud. I wondered if he intended to maintain me on the money he made from his livelihood, cause my studies no come cheap. He also didn’t seem put off by the fact that I was married and that my husband was swimming a few feet away. He even suggested that he could be the ‘man pan di side’ and kept insisting that he was the right man for me. Now can you imagine me exchanging my good good husband fi him-no sah. Eventually, I had to let him down easy and I just silently laughed at the episode.
If that weren’t bad enough, I made the mistake of going out in the front yard in a very short shorts some time ago and almost immediately a man named Blacka who has no abiding city and who literally hangs around construction sites in the hope of getting a job walked by and said “Psst, sexy-yuh look good enuh. A shoulda you a my ooman”. I began to cringe because Blacka no stay prappa yuh nuh and I wondered if that was the kind of man I was attracting. Yuh know seh mi go in go tek off di shorts caah mi couldn’t tek another lecherous soul like Blacka lusting afta mi. But later when I had some time to think it over I realized that Blacka was just one of many as there are many Jamaican men who nuh have dry trash inna dem name but believe that they can get any Miss World. I applaud their ambition.
Enough about me though, here are a few of the things that have been said to some of my girlfriends.
“Yuh machine look good”
“Baby yuh know seh mi spirit tek yuh”
“Mi would gi yuh a bwai pickney now”-so romantic
“Yuh chassy set good enuh”
Anyway, the stories are never-ending and could fill a book, so mi ago lef some fi lata. Tek care till next time.
John Casey a retired American lives in Montegbay Jamaica and writes monthly for an on line Website. I felt that his article captured how many feel after a vacation to Jamaica, and wanted to share. Here goes.
“A Jamaican Love Affair”
By John Casey email@example.com
The lure of Jamaica is very powerful. Who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives in such beautiful surroundings with such happy people. The warm sun and tropical breezes are like icing on the cake. Where else could you find the pristine white sand beaches with the dazzling array of colors of the Caribbean ocean where beneath the warm waters are countless varieties of tropical fish that swim among some of the finest coral in the Caribbean. But, alas, could you really be happy with all that?
The initial feeling in your heart when you first see Jamaica is very much the same as when you meet an attractive member of the opposite sex. Love at first sight! As we all know, there is more to love than physical beauty. Beyond what we see lies the unknown. This is true of Jamaica, as well, both have to have a period of courtship. In the beginning are the many dates with that someone special where each party begins to expose their inner being. So too with Jamaica. Time is needed to look beyond that first impression. You wouldn’t marry someone after seeing them just once. It takes several visits and lots of exploration to start to get to know this tropical paradise. Sitting under an umbrella on the beach is not going to enhance that relationship. True, you will meet the friendly hotel staff but this isn’t what all Jamaicans are like. Those people are trained to be more than everyday Jamaicans.
The real Jamaican can be found just about anywhere else away from the resort. There you will find people as nice as those at the hotel and some not so nice. There are many different personalities out there which have to be dealt with on a daily basis. The panhandlers and hustlers are not restricted to the tourist areas but can be found almost anywhere the public is. The higglers you see in the craft market are similar to those in the produce market and haberdasheries. Can you discern whether you are conducting business with an honest person or someone who is corrupt? Do you know if you are getting a fair deal or not? Is a taxi driver giving you a local rate or is it inflated because you may not know the difference?
As you begin to learn about that special person, do they have a small habit that bothers you like biting their nails or talking with their mouth full? Surely all their idiosyncrasies are noted in the back of your mind where, at some later date, they come forth for you to decide if you can live with them or not. The same is true for you to live in Jamaica. If the young man at the traffic light washes your window whether you want him to or not, is that something you could deal with daily? Also, patience is a virtue you would need if you had to do business at a bank or one of the utilities. Standing in line for an hour is not unheard of. You might think there would be a lot of pushing and shoving or even fisticuffs but just the opposite is true. Hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices can be an all day affair, appointment or not. You may find these things very stressful in your life today, but in Jamaica, this is the norm. Much can also be said about Jamaican drivers. The taxi drivers take the brunt of the criticism for their fast and reckless driving but there are as many or more courteous drivers willing to share the road equally with you.
I have tried to compare courtship and marriage to living and adjusting to life in Jamaica. The similarities are quite the same. Each has to take its time. You need time to learn about each other at each and every opportunity as growth of the relationship is strengthened. Some things can be changed or some have to be accepted as they are. It all takes time and hard work but the reward is true happiness.
My love affair with Jamaica began on October 2, 1994 at Sandals Inn in Montego Bay. It was a love that took several years and many visits to nurture. That first year was spent as a typical tourist visiting several of the most popular tourist attractions such as Dunn’s River Falls. The following was more tours but all of them helped me to get to know Jamaica. Tours to plantations, historical buildings and sites, and deep exploration into the heart of this fantastic island further stimulated my longing to bring this relationship to a climax. But I didn’t let my heart rule my head. During those visits I spent as much as time as I could mingling with as many natives as possible. There are some good long lasting friendships born out of those unions while others faded faster than a Jamaican sunset. It was out of these newfound friendships that helped and guided me on my path to paradise. Once my mind was made up that Jamaica was the only place I wanted to be, it took a couple of more years to find the right house and to take all the steps that led me to this tranquil piece of heaven I call home.
Now it’s up to you. Come! Come and see the real Jamaica. Come and experience the happiness I have had for nearly six years. Yes…come and fall deeply in love and experience all this “Garden of Eden” can offer you.
Do realize that living on the Island is certainly not like being on a vacation, and experiences vary depending on who you are and where you are arriving from.
Easier to Network?
Is it easier or harder to network here in Jamaica than in other places? I am not sure if I know the answer to that question, but realized after a few months of living on the island that networking is different here compared to the process I followed when I lived in North America.
For starters, nobody ever asked me, ” was I related to such and such, and did I attend prep school with …….? or am I the daughter- in-law of ……..?” These questions affected me in a very strange way, as I asked “why does it matter who I am related to?”
While I now recognize that this is simply how trust is established among many on the island as they attempt to place you, it threw me for a tail loop my first year here. It is very interesting three years later, when I am introduced as Merle’s daughter-in-law, or Francis’s wife I just smile. As they say in Jamaica ” so it ahh go” meaning that it’s how things are done, so do not try to fight the system.
My new conclusion is that if I am going to live here, I need to understand the “why” of how things work and find my place in this society.
My Rolodex filled with names and telephone numbers for contacts up and down the east coast, those living out on the west coast, as well as those living in the the southern states, was of no assistance to me while trying to network on the island Jamaica.
I had to start my contact list over from zero. Oh lucky me!.
My husband realized this as well and he went a step further and started writing about the networking differences, which led to him giving a few presentations and speeches on the topic last year. At first, he wanted to have someone write a book about the topic, but when he couldn’t figure out how to direct the project, he connected with a designer Tavia Tomlinson and together they came up with an e-book, which is now finally available as a download. This e-book, includes a combination of text, audio and video.
A copy can be claimed by contacting me or leaving your name at the following
I am sharing this with readers since all of you should find this free e-book helpful when considering moving to this island in the sun. We get weekly emails from individuals who are thinking about moving to Jamaica, with many admitting that they are unsure of where to begin. My initial advice is always for them to start making trips to the island and begin building networks.
Moving Back to Jamaica from a First World Country
By Francis Wade
After visiting South Africa (and especially after touring the Alexandria and Soweto Townships), I am facing the fact that my Move back to Jamaica has a lot to do with moving from First World to Third.
In Johannesburg, it is possible to move from First to Third and back again at will, simply by driving a few miles down a road, or by crossing a highway. The transformation is complete, entire and total — almost like entering an airplane in one country and exiting via the stairs into another.
Everything was instantly different — the buildings, the signage, the colour of the people, the poverty, the way the cars drove, the smells, the dust. I liken it to flying from Washington DC to Accra on a direct flight.
Moving Back to Jamaica is not very different.
Essentially a Move Back to Jamaica is not only an economic move from First World to Third, but a cultural move from the U.S./Canada/England (mostly Anglo-European countries) to an African-Anglo country.
As an economic move, Moving Back to Jamaica is like moving to live in any developing country in the world. I have visited a few, and there are just ways in which life is conducted in the developing world (which happens to comprise the vast majority) that are quite common, and widespread.
From my unscientific and limited experience, I can expect the following when I visit a Third World country:
* some people living in shacks, barely subsisting
* high crime
* income disparity
* bad roads and crazy driving
* corruption in the police force
* a lot of cheap goods being sold on the streets (most from the Far East)
* power cuts
* government bureaucracy and obstacles to doing business
* rampant incompetence
* heat, humidity and weak air conditioning
Basically, anyone Moving Back to Jamaica from a First World Country must deal with all of the above elements. Although they might have existed in Miami, Toronto or London, here they will undoubtedly find them heightened here.
But this is no different from Moving Back to Lagos, Mumbai, Caracas or St. George.
Each country has its nuances, but the move from First World to Third is bound to be accompanied by a culture shock that comes with a radical adjustment.
Here, we like to say “only in Jamaica,” when encountering some aspect of life that doesn’t work as it should. However, the truth is that most of what we think is hard about life in Jamaica, is harder someplace else…
* Crime > compared to > South Africa’s murders, Colombia’s internal strife. (And we still don’t have the kidnappings that Trinidad has experienced)
* Poverty > compared to > Haiti (we should be thanking our blessings)
* Corruption > compared to > Nigeria (we are ranked at #61 out of #163 in our corruption index)
* Income Disparity > compared to > Brazil (we are ranked with a score of 37 on a scale of countries with Gini coefficients ranging from 29 to 100)
* Literacy -> compared to> Pakistan (our literacy rate puts us at #99 of 173)
The point is that we are quite an average Third World Country as these combined measures go (except for our exceptional murder rate.)
And we are definitely not a First World country.
Moving Back to Jamaica means accepting wholeheartedly that a move from First to Third World is difficult for anyone who expects the new country to be like the first. I have met people who have moved here to Jamaica and struggled to fit in, not because Jamaica is particularly difficult, but just because they are unwilling to accept the difference.
They dearly miss the shopping (Target! Marks and Spencer! Canadian Tire!), the roads (I-95! 417! A1! ) and the security of living in a developed country, among other things.
The part that many seem to miss is the fact that when they leave the First World, to live in the Third, they are actually leaving the elite of humanity to join in the majority, and that the life lived in New York, Mississauga and Manchester is not typical of the way most people in the world live.
In fact, according to the website Causes of Poverty:
* Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day
* The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.
* 20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the world’s goods.
* A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
The hard thing to face, for those of us who left Jamaica to live in the First World, is that we often become accustomed to the privilege of living in an elite country, completely forgetting that we are enjoying a rare and unique privilege. Instead, we follow the crowd and take the wealth that is around us for granted, and come to expect it as some kind of norm.
The indignant cries that “you just can’t buy good quality clothes anywhere on the island” from those who move to live in Jamaica, therefore sound to me like a complaint based in an ignorance of how most people in the world live, rather than in an inconvenience.
A move to live in Jamaica is bound to be a hardship unless the reality of world poverty is embraced, and the fact of First World privilege is acknowledged.
I’d recommend that, long before the Move Back to Jamaica occurs, a returnee should:
* become acquainted with the statistics on world poverty
* travel to other Third World countries
* start to acquaint themselves with the depths of poverty in Jamaica
When I hear of people who have failed in their Move Back to Jamaica, and I hear the reasons, I often wonder… what did they expect?
A successful move relies on having the right kind of expectation, and being able to deal with the reality of life in this particular, not but so peculiar, poor country.
Francis Wade is the author of the blog “Moving Back to Jamaica” which can be read at http://francismove.blogspot.com. When he began the blog in 2005 the move seemed to be a matter of containers, shipping companies and customs brokers. Now, it is about much more.