If you are thinking about moving to Jamaica then the information I have given in the last post to retirees about living in Jamaica is much the same as for those who are still at working age. Many of the same principles exist in relation to setting up home overseas, although the amount of every day ‘freedom’ and commitments you have is different.
Although Jamaica may seem like an ideal place to live especially when you are fresh home from a brilliant vacation, the reality of living here is nothing like life in an all inclusive hotel. I do not necessarily means in terms of surroundings as there are many beautiful homes in Jamaica that are worthy of being shown off to others. I am talking about getting used to your new environment, the way things are done, and the totally different way of life you will be leading. By reading my full post at Retirement and Good Living you will get an insight on what to expect when choosing Jamaica as a retirement destination. If you want some more general tips about living in Jamaica, whether retired or not, this post will expand on the information already given.
Getting a Visa and Attaining Permanent Residence in Jamaica
There are different stipulations to being physically allowed to live permanently in Jamaica and there is a preference for Jamaican descendants and their spouses. Commonwealth citizens, those who have worked here and non-nationals that are classed as ‘aliens’ need to apply and wait for a longer period of time to get their ‘stay’ in order to fully retire or live here permanently; namely after 5 years of living here you can apply for Citizenship. Full information and guidance can be found at the Passport, Immigration, and Citizenship Agency (PICA) website.
Enjoying the Climate in Jamaica
Living in London for the majority of my life has afforded me first-hand experience of the four seasons in the U.K., of which the summer months never last long enough. If you have ever planned an outdoor event in northern Europe you will be more than aware of the risk of being ‘rained off’, as is the unpredictability of the summer. The long and oppressive weather can be debilitating and even more so for those who should be enjoying the freedom that retirement brings. Sitting in your house shivering in the wintery months is not a prospect that even the most patriotic person looks forward to when contemplating spending the rest of their life in colder climates.
However, the pace of life in Jamaica is more relaxed and things take longer than you are used to back home. But you will have more freedom to be outside in the sunshine, taking in the fresh air and soothing the eyes with views of the tropical, green and bountiful Jamaican scenery. In Jamaica they say each rainfall is ‘A Blessing’ as without this rainfall the verdant and lush greenery that makes up Jamaica’s topography wouldn’t be possible. If you are able to afford a little space why not think about raising a small raised bed vegetable patch, keeping a few egg laying chickens and keeping some fruiting trees, so that you can have your own organic fresh food right in your garden? All this is possible year round in Jamaica. Give it a try, it’s fun, environmentally friendly and keeps you healthy too.
Living The Good Life in Jamaica
‘Ah! the Good Life!’ I can guarantee that your retirement years in Jamaica will herald the call of this beautiful statement of satisfaction far more than any freedom years lived in the UK, Canada or America. I appreciate that I can be over zealous with my ramblings about the weather in Jamaica, but have I mentioned that you have almost guaranteed sunshine 365 days of the year?! You can wile away the hours pottering about around the home and garden with a slip of clothing and flip flops on. Home bodies will enjoy these pursuits, plus you can paint, sew, garden, play an instrument, entertain friends, listen to music or just chill taking in the view, or napping in the shade. If you prefer to leave the house there are places to go and things to experience, especially if you live near one of the tourist haven towns.
The health and well-being of the body feels freer and supple in the warm weather and many aliments are eased. Jamaica is abundant in its access to fresh foods including meat, chicken, seafood and fruits and vegetables and the mind and body will also benefit from being nourished with this diet. The pace of life is more relaxed, you have more freedom to be outside in the sunshine, taking in the fresh air and soothing the eyes with views of the tropical, green and bountiful Jamaican scenery.
Will I be Safe Living in Jamaica?
I would advise reading the Jamaican Gleaner or Jamaican Observer for the ‘real story’ about what is happening in Jamaica. Some people may think that this is a proverbial ‘shooting myself in the foot’ moment, but whilst many countries try and hide the crime rate, Jamaica is very honest in its depiction of the reality of the island. But in truth if you read any local newspaper in your home town you will be horrified to learn about what is happening to your friends and neighbours.
After researching online I couldn’t find Jamaica listed in anyone of the numerous ‘top 10 dangerous places to live’ lists, as South America, Africa, the Middle East, Korea, Pakistan and even the USA (due to terrorist threats) amongst others were featured. Much of the crime rate is related to the poorer areas and mainly due to people taking revenge and gang crimes, which often do not have prior mediation. Life for the poorer people and the middle classes in Jamaica is a very different experience and dependent on where and how you choose to live in Jamaica, will impact on how much crime you are potentially exposed to.
Putting Down Roots in Jamaica
There are many lots of land and finished properties for sale all over Jamaica and it can be hard to choose where to live if you have no special connection with a parish or area. Many people with roots in Jamaica choose to buy land nearby to family members that have remained there, whilst others prefer to move away from their former compadres and live in virtual anonymity in another area. There are also many gated communities and schemes that aim to offer a secure environment and a sense of community when everyone has come from different places, but are more or less on the same page as far as income, means and status is concerned.
It would be advised to rent a property in the area that you plan to live so that you can immerse yourself in your new community and get a sense of how your life will change and if you are able to adapt to it. When moving anywhere new and especially more so when it is overseas, it takes a while to settle in and get used to the different way of life so be patient and give it your all. Take your time getting to know people and don’t judge a book by its cover, many people have been deceived by those who they thought they could trust the most, whilst the ordinary person gets overlooked and misjudged.
I have heard stories of people sending down money to Jamaica for their dream home to be built or secured, only to find the money has been frittered away through the hands of idle people. Please be sure to use a reputable Project Manager or builder and make sure that you are keeping up to date with what is going on if you are not able to be in the country to oversee things. You may be frustrated by the speed that things move in Jamaica or the amount of red tape involved, but with the correct processes carried out in the correct order you will be able to reach your home owning goals. Yes, it will be stressful, but it will pass and if you protect yourself it shouldn’t be any more stressful than if you were going through the same process in the country you are leaving.
Driver, Don’t Stop At All!
Jamaican’s drive on the left of the road most of the time, but sometimes it is on the right when they overtake into an impossibly tight space. This can also be accompanied by a blind corner and a hump back bridge, but hey at least the high volume music keeps your gasps from being audible! O.K not everyone drives like this in Jamaica, but you will find that a lot of people do so be aware. If you do take public transport only get in a vehicle that has a red licence plate as they are insured and registered as passenger vehicles. You will still get crammed in but the new rules and regulations are making it more comfortable and safer for passengers even if you do pay a few more dollars.
If you have the means I would recommend that you purchase a vehicle for yourself as at least you can drive at the speed and gait that makes you and your passengers feel comfortable. You will need to drive ‘defensively’ on the road, that is to say be alert when driving, always use your mirrors and keenly watch and anticipate other driver’s actions. It is perfectly normal to blow the horn for any number of reasons and is recommended when driving around blind corners on narrow roads and when overtaking a vehicle that has suddenly pulled over to the side of the road.
Settling In To Your New Home in Jamaica
You may find that it takes a while to settle in, but give things time. There will be a flurry of activity that includes securing somewhere to live, preparing to leave, packing up your worldly belongings, saying your goodbyes and actually arriving in your new home only to unpack and organise again. Phew! Anyone would flop down in a chair after going through all that! As you sit there some of you may be thinking, now what? I would highly recommend that the easiest way of giving your new home and environs the best chance of giving you back what you want out of life, is to go out there and get it. How do you expect to make new friends and have dates in the diary if you shut yourself away in the perfect bubble you have created for yourself?
As I have described in my Guest Post on Retirement and Good Living in the Pursuits and Activities in Jamaica section, there are many ways of keeping yourself busy in Jamaica. But if you are still struggling then may I suggest that you join a local group for anything that interests or appeals to you, just turn up, smile, talk and be yourself. I am sure you will soon sieve the wheat from the chaff and find some like-minded people to spend time with. There are churches, community events, charities and local groups who would be glad of your time and assistance if you are willing to reach out to them. If you want somewhere to dress up, look in the daily newspapers for exhibitions, trade fairs, talks and other events going on at venues around the country and get involved. You will be glad you did and will relish your new life in paradise.
Give Your New Life in Jamaica a Chance!
If you enjoyed this post and want to read more about Retirement in Jamaica, check out my Guest Post on the Retirement and Good Living website.