Jamaica Magazine

The Move – An American Retiree in Jamaica

Retiring to Jamaica has been a dream for 10 years. In all that time, you would think all the particulars and details would have been researched and put in place. There were Jamaican friends, lawyers and custom brokers all aware of the big step in moving to “retirement paradise”. With information coming from different sources, a chronological list was never made. That was the first big mistake. This resulted in many gaps occurring in the steps needed for a smooth transition from a bustling big city in New England to a laid back easy living pace of Montego Bay.

In conversations with a container shipping company and based on the amount of goods being shipped to Jamaica, it was decided a 20′ container would be adequate. The customs broker said we were allowed to bring one household’s worth of furnishings with out paying customs duty. A household consisted of a two-bedroom house. Assuming furniture was cheaper in the states, three rooms of new furniture was purchased. This was all being kept in the original cartons for protection from being tossed around on the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean during the five days it would take to arrive at its destination.

The container arrived on time and was parked in front of the house. A moving company was enlisted to pack the container for a safe journey. It was quickly determined one container would not be enough. Another mistake. A call to the shipping company assured a second container would be on the way as soon as the additional payment was received. The two containers would be considered one transaction, which would save $55.00, the cost of doing the paperwork. The second container came and was packed by the movers. A trip to the local wholesale store was made to purchase incidental items to fill the second container to the brim.

The goods were to be in Montego Bay the day our flight landed at Sangster Airport. Once through immigrations and customs, a stop was made at a local resort that would be home until the new house was filled with the two containers of household goods. The custom broker was the first stop after getting settled in the temporary headquarters. The containers were not in Jamaica. The broker made several phone calls to find out where they were. It seems someone in the shipping company didn’t put the two containers on the same order. They admitted their mistake but that wasn’t much help. The containers were being held in New Jersey waiting for the $55.00 that didn’t need to be paid. It may only take 4 days for the journey to Jamaica but the ship goes to Kingston first. It arrives on a Tuesday but the trip to Montego Bay isn’t until the following Monday. That was just another setback that proper planning might have eliminated.

Once the goods arrived in Montego Bay, the customs broker arranged for a truck to move the goods to the house after customs cleared them. There was a little confusion as to what a household consisted of. The boxed new furniture was seen as goods to be sold for a profit, not for personal use. A small fee was paid and the goods were on their way to their new home. Custom brokers are worth their money as someone without one would be like a fish out of water.

The delay in the move turned out to be a blessing, as the former owner didn’t vacate the premises until a day or so before the goods were released. What a mess there would have been if things went as originally planned.

The move was over! All that was left was to unpack the countless boxes and settle down to enjoy retirement. It has been nearly two years since the move. There hasn’t been one regret in moving here. This is what scrimping and saving all those years is all about. We are finally “home”!

About the author

John Casey