Kingston, Jamaica Report of what it's like to live there - 09/19/10

Personal Experiences from Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica 09/19/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Germany & Russia.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Maryland. It is a 6-hour plane trip with a layover usually in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year and 4 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Singles tend to live in one main apartment area, but there are townhomes and houses.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

They are available, however, it'll be cheaper on your wallet if you can get items online.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More canned foods and tires.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There a number of fast food and restaurants here. However keep in mind that it takes awhile to get your food. I've found that if I'm going to a restaurant it's better to call in advance and to know what I'm ordering as soon as I get there if not your in for a long wait. Your bound to wait for a long time for your food even in the more touristy areas.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Sugar ants are a bit of a nuisance.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I use the DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

They are available and the rate is from $2k JA to 3k JA. It's open for negotiation.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a gym at the apartment building.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I've had no problems but I'd still be careful.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. They have FLOW and Lime. You can view the tv packages online.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

The language here is english, but you'll start to pick up the patois easily if you try.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You don't want to bring a car that rides low to the ground. There are potholes inside of potholes here. And you'll also want to bring spare tires, emphasis on the plural!

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. And the internet is excellent except when it rains really hard and the power goes out.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an international cell phone.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Just like the states.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I haven't tried out any of the doctors.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No experience with them - but there are two main schools that are used here - Hillel Academy and AISK

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

A lot of people tend to use nannies - but there is the Rainbow Daycare Center I have not needed to use this

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty decent not sure exactly how large.

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2. Morale among expats:

I think everyone here gets along very well, and I think we've got a fantastic team serving here!

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Tons of parties. Lots of mixers

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a wonderful place for all of the above.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Jamaica is a homophobic environment.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that I am aware of.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Wonderful place if your into photography, Participating in Carnival, going to some of the various resorts, and lots of things to do so long as your willing to do a little research.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Dunns River, Beaches, Shimmering Waters, Blue Lagoon, Monkey Island, Jerk Festival, Kite Festival, Go Karting, Suncoast (it has the black sand beach, paintgunning, hiking, and rope challenge), Lover's Leap, etc.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wicker furniture and some of the foods.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Numerous outdoor activities and great weather.

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11. Can you save money?

Not really -- you'll just barely break even.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

In a heartbeat.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

worries.

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3. But don't forget your:

bug spray.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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