Photo Credit: Rock Staar
Your Top Questions About Moving To Jamaica Answered
It seems everyone has questions about moving to Jamaica; the land of wood and water has always been a vibe. Life on this Caribbean island promises juici patties on the regular, burning orange sunset backdrops and endless adventure. An irresistible life, if we say so ourselves, is hard for any Black expat to resist. As the saying goes: Jamaica small but tallawah and there is a reason why so many Black travelers have made the move already.
In this Travel Noire article, we share the most frequently asked questions and their answers. We searched through expat groups online to understand the most asked questions. If you’re looking for as little stress as possible while moving to Jamaica, this would be a good place to start.
1. How do you find accommodation in Jamaica as an expat?
Answer: Most expats recommend finding an Airbnb (a local, Jamaican owned Airbnb at that) that is comfortable for your needs because finding a rental can take a while in Jamaica…
It depends on location/parish and how popular it is or whether it is high season, but mostly finding the right space takes a little longer than most other expat hotspots.
Facebook groups serve as a good springboard and, as ever, word of mouth is a trustworthy option. Realtors are also widely used as they have inside knowledge of an area. Realtors are also a great bet because they have knowledge about the safety of a region, a question which often arises with expats moving to Jamaica.
2. Where do expats prefer to live on the island?
Answer: It depends massively on the type of Jamaican experience you’re hoping for.
Kingston, the capital, is a favourite for creative expats and those hoping to enjoy the benefits of a busy city. There are modern conveniences in Kingston which make it ideal for those unused to rural life.
St Thomas, on the opposite end is ideal for those looking for an off-grid, immersive natural experience. St Thomas is also considered to be one of the least developed though naturally beautiful destinations. Those hoping for a stay in a less touristy parish should consider St Thomas.
St Elizabeth, St Ann and St Mary are all popular choices too, think incredible beach or natural views with a nice balance between town, nightlife and access to unspoiled nature.
Montego Bay (MoBay) was cited by many expats too, mostly for ease of access to most things. Portland received an honorary mention as most people agree it is the most beautiful parish but seems to be a nice place to take a trip or two per year.
Realistically, most expats travel around Jamaica to get a feel of what each parish is really like. Traveling around Jamaica for a few months proves effective because you’ll be able to discover the true character and charm of each location slowly.
3. Does Jamaica allow dual citizenship?
Answer: According to the government website PICA, Jamaica does allow dual citizens. Those hoping to move to Jamaica will need to check if their home country allows dual citizenship.
4. What are the employment options for those moving to Jamaica?
Answer: When first arriving it is recommended to work remotely (for a non-Jamaican company) since it is illegal to work in Jamaica without a permit/citizenship. Working in Jamaica without the legal permit would be considered as taking a job opportunity away from a Jamaican. If you want to start a business in Jamaica but are not a Jamaican or a citizen of a British commonwealth nation, then obtaining a work permit will allow you to successfully start a business while in the country.
5. How is healthcare in Jamaica for expats?
Answer: There are a few healthcare options for foreigners and expats living in Jamaica. According to MoveHub ‘as long as you are either making contributions into the NHF (National Health Fund) or are prepared to pay fees upfront, expats are entitled to access public healthcare in Jamaica.’ One thing to note is that advanced public healthcare facilities only exist in Kingston and Montego Bay. With this in mind, many expats choose private healthcare/health insurance.
6. How can I obtain Jamaican citizenship?
Answer: There are a few options for expats to consider. You can obtain your Jamaican citizenship by: Citizenship by descent, citizenship by marriage (to a Jamaican) and Citizenship in Case of Doubt (this is described by the Jamaican government as being for individuals, who have a claim to Jamaican Citizenship by birth, but have no documentary proof – e.g. Jamaican birth certificate – to support that claim). You can find out more about citizenship processes here.
7. What is the number one mistake to avoid when moving to Jamaica?
Answer: It is always worth: taking things slowly, observing yourself and your environment and supporting locals as much as possible. This is advice that is applicable for all expats journeys. Specific to Jamaica, it seems most people encourage expats/repats/returnees not to look for an ‘expat’ community. Jamaicans are friendly though deeply prideful about their homes and land. In this way, expat culture doesn’t typically sit well in Jamaica. Those who have long-made the transition might encourage newbie expats to slowly settle into the environment with respect, taking it for what it is, without comparing it to home. Be honest about how you want to live, what you need to feel comfortable and then let Jamaica and Jamaicans teach you about this abundant and mystical island.
Suggested reading: Day In The Life Of A Black Expat In Jamaica, St Thomas