John Casey a US retiree living in Jamaica has compiled a FAQ from many of the questions he has been asked about moving to Jamaica.
Jamaica Magazine

Moving to Jamaica FAQ’s by American Retiree in Jamaica

1. Can non-citizens purchase property?
Yes, no restriction that I am aware of.

2. What are the mortgage rates?
As of Sept. 2004, one bank quoted me a rate of 17.2%.

3. Is it a sellers or buyer market?
Buyers market. Many homes are on the market for months before they are sold.

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 is 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 including a Century 21 agent. Most property is not listed in the paper. The agents will show you homes based on your price range.

6. Is there a vandalism problem with foreign own property?
No. Vandalism is very low and not related to nationality.

7. What kind of medical facilities are there?
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.

8. Is there homeowners insurance including flood and hurricane coverage?
Yes, but expensive. If your house is made of 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 but less expensive after the first year. Previous driving records are required from your state or insurance company.

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 extremely low.

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.

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 2 grocery store chains and numerous independent stores. Good quality clothing stores can be found throughout the city, however, selection is 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.

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 are similar to the states.

17. Is gasoline expensive?
The cost is higher than in the states but there is less driving in Jamaica.

16. Can I purchase new or used automobiles?
Yes, but the cost includes a high duty tariff. Bringing you 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.

19. Are Jamaicans good workers?
Usually. If you find one who is not, there are many more to choose from.

20. Are there reasonably priced restaurants nearby?
Most of the dine-in restaurants are located in the tourist area as many hotels are not all-inclusive. There is 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 immigrations 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 is the same as it would be in the states but in a different setting.

25. Do you return to the states often?
Usually about once a year.

26. What do you like best about living in Jamaica?
There are many things that make living here great but the stress-free life is what I like best.

27. What do you like least about living in Jamaica?
Not being able to understand their dialect called “patois”, which is a mix of French, Creole and English. All communications in the business place is in proper English. Only in the street will you hear them conversing in “patois”.

About the author

John Casey