Gated Luxury Communities in Jamaica

Gated Luxury Communities in Jamaica

What could be more ideal than to have your luxury Jamaican home ready to move into and in a secure and well-kept gated community? Maybe all is not as it seems in some of these ‘man-made’ communities as I discovered after staying with a returning resident friend in their beautiful home. I was amazed to hear about the comings and goings, politics, back-handers and more, it was easily enough drama for a Jamaican Housewives T.V. show to be made all about it!

I will spill and give you the best high(low)lights, but I will keep the development name and location a secret to protect my lovely friend from any more unfortunate incidences. Please note that this article is indicative of one individual persons experience of living in a gated development in Jamaica as told to me over two visits to their home.  For the purposes of the article I shall call my friend *’Ashley’.

I will admit to sometimes browsing through the adverts for gated communities in Jamaica, scanning the prices and looking wistfully at the beautiful properties imagining living there. But after my short stay in a gated residence my views have changed somewhat and the rose-tinted spectacles have been somewhat removed!

What are Gated communities All About?

Many people who dream of having a second home, or return back to live full-time in Jamaica decide to buy on or off plan from one of the developers that are springing up all over the island. This is usually for the Peace of Mind of:

  • living in a secure gated community.
  • not having to manage a building project whilst being overseas.

The developers show images and plans for residents living in luxury homes, on perfect streets with beautiful surroundings and communal areas for swimming, eating and meeting up. But the reality of the development that I visited was very different as it s-l-o-w-l-y filled up, residents started to come and go and the excitement of the initial opening  and interaction of the community drifted away. Some houses were taken by international music artists, whilst other houses were eventually bought, but left unkempt and empty.

What to Exect When You Move Into Your Gated Community

If you visit the site before purchasing a property you should be shown the ‘pegs’ that lay out the parameters of the Plots, including your garden area – make a photographic and signed record of this using fixed objects, such as, a lamp-post or fire hydrant to help accurately depict the location. Just in case they have magically moved decreasing the exterior land size after you have put down a deposit or paid in full.

The exterior of the house is unfinished meaning extra money was required for:

  • The driveway was a plain concrete screed, wide enough for one vehicle, and which stopped about 18″ (1.5ft) short of the ‘porch/front verandah’. You were free to tile, pave (and so on), increase the size to a double car width (eliminating your front garden) and ‘join’ it seamlessly to the front of the property.
  • The house has no physical boundaries present. That is to say there are no fences or gateways to the houses, creating private areas. Boundaries must be put up at a designated height and style to keep a uniform look.
  • The garden only consists of a lawn. You must plant your own trees, plants and shrubs.
  • Wooden carports and balconies can be added to the properties to match the style of the others already present on the site.
  • Other verandah type structures are permitted but must have the same type roofing as the main buildings.
  • The ‘grounds’ of the gated community are not overly planted and residents were gaining permission from the Office to add plants and trees.
  • The ‘corner’ properties had grass verges that some residents ‘captured’ and planted up to create larger front garden areas.

Who Lives in Gated Communities?

Jamaica has a melting pot of residents buying into the properties on gated developments, but most are bought by professionals or wealthy globe trotters. ‘Ashley’ commented that when they first moved in, primarily returning residents from the UK or USA bought up the properties. After 3 years of living there the shift of residents has moved to mainly Chinese and Indian business owners and professionals, with a smattering of American and European people joining them. This made distinct micro communities within the development and these different cultures kept themselves to themselves dissipating the ‘we are one’ village feel and making some residents feel isolated and unwelcome.

There is a universal hierarchy to the development too, with snobbery, constant one-upmanship and reverence given to residents that are doctors, lawyers and respected business owners over residents that worked as tradespeople or care workers. Persons who were deemed to be single, or non-married where also held with somewhat contempt too by the others. This favouritism can run to the point of preferential treatment from the office staff and the snubbing and belittling of the unpopular or unwanted residents by those wanting to be ‘in with the in crowd’.

Unfair Play and Back-Handers

One of the things that most amazed me about the development and ‘Ashley’s’ experience was that there were so many incidents of theft.  Unbeknown to ‘Ashley’ the Sales Office staff did not hand over all the sets of keys for the property when they first moved in.  So, every time ‘Ashley’ left Jamaica the Sales Staff were letting themselves into the house and basically helping themselves to whatever they wanted which, included pots, pans, other assorted kitchen items, bedding and even the shower curtain; which was what eventually gave the game away as it was so obviously missing and drew suspicions.

A garden hose, various small trees, palms, flowers and other planting was physically dug out of the ground and stolen from the front garden after Ashley bought it and bedded it in. Other established plants and trees were hacked by neighbours who were later oblivious to it ever happening despite it being blindly obvious who had done it.

When tradespeople came to do work on the house they rifled through draws and helped themselves to household items and bits and pieces of tools and other materials they could make use of. Jewellery was stolen right from under their nose, when some post building cleaning was being carried out in the house.

Poor workmanship was carried out when making repairs or snagging and it took ages and a multitude of missed appointments before the tradespeople turned up, if at all. This was potentially because the tradespeople seemed to all be friends of the Office Staff and back-handers seemed to be prevalent in ensuring the work was handed out to their preferred suppliers; even if this meant severe delays caused by the (over) workload. There was even an incident of catching one of the Office Staff watching porn when they claimed to be too busy to leave the office and do something within the grounds of the development!

As the development offered the service of finding tenants for certain owners and investors, there were incidences of properties being let out by the Office Staff without the knowledge of the owners and without them getting payment for it.

Piles of rubbish, garden waste and pruned trees would turn up on the grass verge outside ‘Ashley’s’ house which other residents have dumped and the Office Staff would make to complaints about it, despite it being nothing to do with them.

One of the other residents damaged ‘Ashley’s’ property and when it was reported to the Police it was ‘paid off’ and the incident never had a proper statement taken in order for it to stand to trial.

There were thriving clubs to join when the development first opened and a lively bar and restaurant, unfortunately three years down the line these facilities have closed down or diminished and the micro-communities have their own events and gatherings.

Things to Remember…

Security is one of the main reasons for living on a gated development, but sometimes the devil is among those who are supposed to be looking out for you. Change the locks when you move in and save yourself the headache of unwanted and uninvited persons from entering your home.

If you are to be away from the property for extended periods of time be aware that the house will not be ‘aired’ and the heat generated in the property will be immense, these factors can create all types of unwanted problems. Insect infestations, especially ants are common as they have all the freedom and uninterrupted time to make your home theirs, eating away at wooden areas and destroying the beauty of it. Your furniture will also swell and shrink in the changing temperatures of the property, which can even cause a 10ft solid wood dining table to warp and fabrics to ‘burn’ in the sun.

Be careful who you trust to come into your home to carry out work, or to manage it for you. Keep valuables LOCKED AWAY. Notice the bag that the person carries with them, is it noticeably fuller when they leave?! Try to supervise or get a trusted friend or family member to supervise them.

If you want to get on with your fellow residents try not to be too overtly anything! Most people like people who just agree with the masses and don’t cause too much drama. If you want to live peacefully try and pick your arguments (very carefully!) and only make people aware of you when it is really necessary.

It can get lonely if you come to Jamaica on your own. Despite the beautiful views and freedom that comes with chilling out in your own oasis, it is nice to have someone to share it with. Try and encourage friends and family to visit, if you don’t have someone special in your life to share all that Jamaica has to offer. Or get out there and make some new friends…

To Finish…

I am not dismissing the value of living in a gated community as to some the experience can be fulfilling and enjoyable, giving them the home they always wanted in beautiful Jamaica without the headache of having to manage the building phase from overseas. You also get the benefit of 24 hour security, grounds maintenance, on-site facilities and the companionship of the other residents, all being well.

If you aren’t planning on being there all year round do you really care enough to worry about whether you are keeping up with the Jones’s? Obviously theft and criminal damage and two things that you do not want to come up against, especially in the so-called confines of a secure development, but you can help to limit the risks by being vigilant, changing locks, keeping them locked and keeping things behind closed (locked!) doors when not in use.

The drive of some people (including me) to live and be in Jamaica, even if it is for extended visits at a time, can be so powerful we would put up with almost anything just to be here. My advice to you if Jamaica really is your feel good place than just enjoy yourself and chill out a bit when you are here. Yes, there are loads of things to really get on your nerves and things are done differently and at a different pace, but don’t give up your dreams due to someone elses small mindedness. If you let things get on top of you and give up going back overseas feeling disheartened it will put a bad taste in your mouth about coming back. Look on the bright side, bad stuff happens no matter what side of the planet we are on, I just prefer to be depressed and disheartened wearing shorts, eating fried fish, rice and peas with a cool natural juice and a beautiful view!

Peace – I Love Jamaica!

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  1. Arwa

    Thanks for this useful info. Very soon i am moving to Jamaica with my husband and my 6 months old daughter,leaving behind my full fledge supportive family of wonderful parents in law ,extended family and friends in the luxuries of Dubai with whom i spent wonderful 5 years.However your post is actually confusing me whether i should be excited about our movement to a beautiful lush green island from a hot desert or should i be afraid of leaving the most secured and peaceful city i have lived in and moving to a place where i will have to be cautious enough to take care of changing the locks regularly.please guide some more !

    1. Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post about my friend’s experience of living in a gated community in Jamaica, I am glad that you found the information useful. I would be more than happy to give you any advice you need about your move to Jamaica, you can private message me at it would be helpful if you could let me which part of Jamaica you plan to move to.

      I would like to reiterate that I have retold the experience of just one individual and although the post gives an insight as to what can happen, it is not indicative of everyone’s experience of moving to Jamaica. When moving to another country it is only natural to have mixed feelings, as you move away from the familiarity of home, friends and family and onwards to a new life full of possibilities. I am very excited for you about your move to beautiful Jamaica, the country has much to offer and you will be entranced by its natural beauty.

      Although you may find Jamaica different from Dubai in many ways, I would advise you to come here with an open heart and mind as you will soon get to love the island. The people of Jamaica are warm, welcoming, helpful and family orientated, even through the greatest hardships they find something to smile about and they generally have the attitude that ‘better must come’ (things must get better). It has excellent schools and infrastructure, the private health care is very good, the food is unbeatable for freshness and flavour; there are plentiful supermarkets, fresh food markets, excellent fresh seafood and meat on offer. There are also many activities to keep you occupied in Jamaica and each and every parish has something different to offer you. If you wish to open a business here there are numerous ways the government will assist you.

      I firmly believe that no matter where you move you should take some basic steps to ensure your security in your new home. Changing the locks when moving in is a good precaution that I would recommend whether you be changing address is Dubai, or moving to London or Jamaica. Living in a gated community will bring you many benefits and as your daughter grows older, you will feel comfortable knowing that she has the security to play out with neighbours friends. You will also find it easier to make friends as you have an instant community.

      Please do not be overly concerned about your move to Jamaica, as I am sure like me and many others you will find something to love about the island. Feel free to get back to me with any other questions that you have, I love talking about Jamaica so will be happy to help!

      Best wishes for your move Jules

  2. curlytressfifi

    Hi Jules, I am so glad I found your blog! I am of Jamaican heritage but born and bred in London (North West). I have a property in London, and plan to keep it but have long had a dream to live in Jamaica during the UK winter time. I love London and all the diversity and culture that it has to offer, but OMG the winters are harsh on my everything! I want to have a stronger connection with my heritage as well as provide a home for my soon to retire father and feel JA may be the place to lay down this second base in the sun that I dream about! I have only just started researching things to start putting my plan into action. I have only been to Jamaica twice and last time was 2001. I don’t feel like I know enough about Jamaica at this stage, so have a lot of work to do! Can you give me any starting points? Thanks in advance!!

    1. Post author

      Hey Fiona, thanks for getting in touch, it is great to hear from a fellow Londoner making the move to Sweet Jamaica! I can honestly say I do not blame you for wanting to make Jamaica your winter retreat as they seem to be getting longer and longer in the UK…. I would love to give you some help with your move, but it would be helpful to know a few of the ‘finer’ details of the move, such as the area, short and long term plan, budget and so on. If you would like to private message me at I would be happy to see how I can help you and give you the all important pointers for making the move as smooth as possible. Looking forward to hearing from you. Take care for now Jules

  3. Angela

    I read your post and I don’t know why I was not startled by your blog. Maybe it is because I am from another Caribbean island and have lived in a big city in Canada where people are not very friendly. When people come to the Caribbean from N.A, etc., they tend to bring the habits with them. I was not surprised by your statements with regard to the micro communities and all their snobbery. I have lived with all those things in my early years in the Caribbean and in a big city. It is a normal part of everyday life here too. About staff letting homes and pocketing the money and all the things that you mentioned about them was not a surprise to me. I think using Home Away from Home site and keeping a tab on your home and getting a trustworthy friend to look after your affairs may help. About workmen, etc., stealing. I live in a building here and even my clothes have been pinched when I was working and they had to do work in my apartment. You wrote a very good article. Maybe, I have lived in the real world and that is exactly what happens. The preferential treatment, etc., from office staff, especially to other people who are single, especially the single woman was not a surprise. I think that what happens in Jamaica would happen in any other W.I. island. I just had my front door lock changed when we changed management because I am sure that the old staff had something to do with my missing items and vandalism to my furniture. I was either working, meeting people outside for dinner and going on vacations so my friends did not do it.. Yet things happened and I live in a decent residential area in a Canadian city. So, I believe every word that you wrote. I guess what would be most surprising to people is that they would not expect all these things to happen in a gated city. Thanks for the information, though. Maybe, I will skip buying a place in a gated community and build a home out in the country, yet not too far away from the city. The neighbors might be nicer and hopefully, look out for me. Who knows? I would prefer to live in a real community if I return to a place like Jamaica.

  4. DeeHall

    Interesting article, with some truth to it. But I would say that all gated communities are not created equal. You need to do your homework on the so-called developers who as u rightly said are springing up all over the island. As someone who has purchased, lived in and will soon return to my home in a gated community after living in London for some time (can’t wait!) I think the experience varies, depending on how much effort you put into checking out the developer’s/seller’s background and history, the target audience that they are trying to attract and matching what is being offered with your own expectations and personal tastes. My purchase was a pretty good package (paved driveway, fencing and finishes included, and as far as I know nobody kept copies of my keys, though I still went ahead and changed my locks anyway) and even though there were a few small areas where the developer fell down, overall I have not regretted my investment.

    1. Post author

      Hi DeeHall

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post. I would be very interested to hear about your experiences of buying and living in a gated community. I totally agree they are not all created equal and it would be great to share another point of view with my readers. I feel that my friend had a particularly rough time in her experience, but she too has not regretted her investment either and still regularly comes to Jamaica. I think the experience of moving into a new home or a new development, no matter where it is in the world, is likely going to be met with some hiccups along the way. But, it is always best to just take a deep breath and keep forging on. The end result, living in the property that you feel in love with, is normally always worth it in the end!

      bless up Jules

  5. Marion Johnson

    I have a 2 bed room home I’m Boscobel St mary very close to Ocho rios for sale it’s 5 minutes from the beach and very nice.Just tired of being a land lord so I decided to sell.Not gated but very residential.

    1. Post author

      Hi Marion
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I would be interested in getting further details about the property you are selling in Boscobel, please get back to me.

      Bless up Jules

  6. Norah

    We have been looking at property for almost 2 years in Jamaica and haven’t found the right one yet. We are looking at gated communities and would love to hear your input regarding places to avoid

  7. kay francis


    I am also from the UK and looking to have a property in Jamaica for my holidays. I was thinking of buying the land as I have a great Aunt who would help me with the builders.

    There is a premium for land in gated Stony Hill. I don’t believe this section has homes built as part of a development like the Gore stuff. I would be starting the home from scratch, I am just checking if it’s worthwhile. Security is my most important focus.
    Or will I be equally as sound on any of the hills, eg. Coopers Hill, Smokey Vale without worry or grilled windows and doors.

    1. Post author

      Hi Kay

      Welcome to the site and thanks for taking the time to share your story.

      Long gone are the days when you could pick up a parcel of land for a song in Jamaica. There is a premium to pay for land all over the ‘busy hotspots’ of the island and especially so in gated communities and around the coastline.

      I am not too familiar with all the areas you mentioned in Kingston, in terms of the crime rate. But I feel that you will probably feel ‘safer’ in a gated community where there is limited access to undesirables and the persons who do not live there. Additionally I would recommend installing grills and security features, especially if you are going to be away from the house for extended periods of time.

      Hope this helps!

      Bless up Jules

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