Kingston, Jamaica Report of what it's like to live there - 07/15/10
Personal Experiences from Kingston, Jamaica
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
1st expat experience.
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?
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing for most embassy personnel is in a hotel that the embassy purchased and renovated, and the rooms are like large apartments: living room, kitchen, dining room, 2 bedrooms, etc. Some live out in town in townhouses. They are all very nice. The Marines live on compound.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are high priced on some items such as produce. Same with household items.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
They have just about everything you need here.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Chinese and Japanese here are great. They have a little bit of everything Fast-food restaurants include BK, Wendy's, KFC, Subway, but there is no McDonald's.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Not too many insect problems at all.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the embassy or the local post office.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very cheap and always available.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes there is a Gym at the Powell Plaza, wich is where most embassy personnell live. There are also a lot of gyms in town that are not that high priced.
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?
The embassy has an ATM inside. The ones in town are not recommended, especially in the night time.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
English, yes, and they have almost all types of churches here
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
About 20-40 dollars a month.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
They speak english. Some speak patois, which is english but hard to understand at first
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Not much at all.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Public transportation is very dangerous.
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?
Any type is okay. But nothing that rides really low, due to a lot of pot holes in the roads.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
BlackBerry is a must in Jamaica.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
No the unemployment rate in Jamacia is 50%.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Casual in public. At work it is polo shirt and slacks.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Kingston Jamaica is a high-crime area -- usually just petty theft, though, i.e. pickpocketing, etc. Just know where to go and do not go into Kingston downtown. That is a no-no, and using public transportation is a no-no.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is good and very cheap.
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?
It is warm year 'round and very humid. If you been to south Florida, it is just about the same weather. It has a dry season in the winter and rains all the time in the summer, but usually it just rains for a short time and the sun is right back out.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Rainy in the summer, dry in the winter, always warm.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The schools, from what I hear, are not the greatest. But I have no kids and do not know much about them.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
I know it's available but do not know much about them.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes, the embassy also has its own soccer and softball teams.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Great. Everyone gets along and there are many events sponsored by the Marines here.
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?
Amazing nightlife, and there are two movie theaters in Kingston.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's great for singles. The nightlife never stops! There is always something to do. It is also good for couples who want to get out and explore the beautiful parts of the country. I wouldn't really recommend it for families with young children
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Jamaicans are very much against gays. I mean VERY much against gays. It is a very very bad idea to come to Jamaica if you happen to be gay or lesbian, and it and could be dangerous or harmful to yourself.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Before coming here I was told they are very racist against white people, but that is false. I find much more racism in the U.S. Most all people here are very friendly and accepting.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
There is always something going on for a single person and even couples. They throw parties and events all the time in Jamaica, and it's usually about $40usd for unlimited drinks and food.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Nightlife, beaches, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, diving, etc.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Many tourism-type items.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
There is much touring around the country, such as Negril, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and Ocho Rios. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In Kingston there is the Bob Marley museum and some others.
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I would live here! I love it to death and love the local people.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
That's up to you.
3. But don't forget your:
Bathing suit and sunglasses.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you have any other comments?
Dont listen to most people who havent been here before. There are a lot of negative things talked about here. Yes, the crime rate is high in Jamaica, but it is mostly between gangs, and they don't bother you. Just dont get caught up in the wrong parts of town and/or with the wrong people, and you will be fine.