Moving to Jamaica

Sunshine, reggae, warm and friendly people -- these are a few of the many hallmarks of the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica. The third largest island in the Greater Antilles, Jamaica covers approximately 10,647 square kilometres (4,111 square miles), and is populated by 2.8 million people. Regarded as a jewel in the tropics, roughly 1.3 million tourists visit Jamaica each year.

Jamaica is blessed with rich and diverse flora and fauna, as well as countless other natural resources. Interestingly, the name "Jamaica" is a derivation of the original Taino word "Xaymaca," which when translated literally means "land of wood and water." Despite its relatively small size, the island of Jamaica exerts a powerful influence on the global scene through its natural beauty, culture, music, cuisine and sporting achievements.

Despite this gorgeous atmosphere, the standards of health on this tropical island aren't necessarily great. Before you move to Jamaica, make sure to figure out how the healthcare system works, and whether your family will be better off with private medical insurance.

Job market

Jamaica is a developing country with a mixed economic system; that is, both the private sector and the state direct the economy. Primary industries include tourism, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and financial and insurance services.

The Jamaican economy experienced consistent growth in 2006, as the nominal GDP grew by an unprecedented 2.9%. However the country was negatively affected by the global financial crisis from 2007-2009.

At present the average monthly disposable salary after tax is $1000 USD.

In 2014, the Governments of Jamaica and China signed preliminary agreements for the development of the Jamaican Logistics Hub (JLH). This venture will take full advantage of Kingston Harbour -- the seventh largest natural harbour in the world -- and position Jamaica as the fourth node in the global logistics chain along with Dubai, Rotterdam and Singapore.

With Jamaica located at the centre of North-South and East-West shipping lanes, the JLH initiative aims to make Jamaica the transshipment hub of the western hemisphere, and the gateway to Europe and Africa. Once completed, the project is estimated to provide many jobs for Jamaican citizens as well as significant economic growth for the country.

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Property information

According to Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty, buying a house on Jamaica's current real estate market can range from as much as $2.5 million USD to as little as $30,000 USD. The average price per square metre to buy an apartment in the Kingston city centre is $750 USD.

Depending on size and location, the cost of a residential lot might be anywhere between $9 million USD and $4500 USD. Land located a short distance from prime tourist spots, as well as land in close proximity to Kingston, tend to be more expensive.

Renting an apartment in premium residential areas such as Norbrook and Jack's Hill can cost as much as $3000 USD per month. However there are many other housing options within these same communities which might be more affordable. A single person, for example, might be able to rent a studio apartment in Norbrook for a mere $300 USD per month, including utilities.


Jamaican neighbourhoods are as diverse and fascinating as the people themselves. While some locations such as Norbrook, Manor Park and Havendale provide the quiet serenity treasured by nature lovers, other areas such as Constant Spring, Ocho Rios, Mandeville, Montego Bay and May Pen are alluring due to the abundance of activities and excitement they offer.

  • Family Friendly: Norbrook - Norbrook's peaceful environs, natural beauty and low crime rate make it the idyllic neighbourhood for safety conscious families. Enjoy the crisp fresh breeze and refreshing light showers that regularly cascade down the hills of Norbrook Heights.
  • Hip and Trendy: Constant Spring - Fully equipped with an eclectic mix of restaurants, clubs and fast food joints, Constant Spring has everything needed for the man or woman on the go. While the noise level is higher than in most other residential areas, the affordable prices and nearby conveniences certainly make up for it!
  • Upmarket: Cherry Gardens - Without a doubt, one of the most luxurious places to live in the entire country. Having a Cherry Gardens address is, in itself, a major social statement. With mansion after never-ending mansion in sight, it is easy for newcomers to appreciate why this is the neighbourhood of Jamaica's social elite.
  • Up and Coming: Mandeville - As the capital of Manchester, Mandeville has grown in leaps and bounds and is now establishing its own unique identity. With cinemas, shopping malls, schools and hospitals all in close proximity, it is fast becoming the next major residential hotspot behind Kingston and Montego Bay.

Schools and education

The education program in Jamaica is based on the British educational system. The branch of government responsible for the administration and management of public education, is referred to as the Ministry of Education (MoE).

The MoE oversees the efficient operation of over 1000 Jamaican schools, serving over 100,000 students and 20,000 teachers. Top ranked high schools include Campion College, Immaculate Conception, Ardenne and Glenmuir. Year after year, students from these esteemed institutions gain entrance to the world's leading universities including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, MIT and Oxford.

The Caribbean region's most prestigious tertiary level educational institution -- the University of the West Indies (UWI) -- is headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica.

Cost of moving

The average shipping cost of moving for a family of three from the following cities are:

FromEstimated Cost
London£2765 - £2956
Sydney£4756 - £5084
New York£1340 - £1433
Toronto£3687 - £3941
Paris£3297 - £3525

A day in the life

Wake up to a delightful chorus of birds just outside your window, and the enticing smell of ackee and saltfish wafting in from your neighbour's kitchen -- so begins a typical morning in Jamaica. Sip a cup of Jamaica's world renowned Blue Mountain coffee to get your mind focused and alert.

Dress lightly. While the odd shower of rain does scatter across the island on occasion, chances are that the weather will be gorgeous. Warmth and sunshine are in abundant supply all year round.

If you are located in the capital of Kingston, then you might be tempted to spend the early part of your day enjoying the beautiful flowers, rolling lawns and majestic trees at Hope Gardens. Yield to that temptation. Hope Gardens has the excellent reputation of being the site of first encounter between great friends and future lovers.

For a delicious lunch, you can stop by "Scotchies" to pick up a heaping portion of Jamaica's iconic jerk chicken or jerk pork. Other traditional meals such as oxtail, curried goat and stew peas might also be purchased at any of the many local diners.

If you are feeling adventurous and enjoy driving, then take the North-South link of Highway 2000 and zip to either Ocho Rios or Negril. A popular tourist destination, Ocho Rios (or "Ochi," as the locals say) is studded with many eye-catching and heart-pumping attractions such as Dunn's River Falls, Dolphin's Cove and the Green Grotto Caves. Negril is known around the world for its exotic culinary hotspots such as Rick's Cafe and Zimbali's Mountain Cooking Studio.

And let's not forget the beaches. James Bond Beach and Reggae Beach in Ocho Rios or the critically acclaimed seven-mile beach in Negril are fantastic spots to get your swim and surf on.

For thrill-seekers who prefer to stay in town and enjoy the nightlife, Quad Nightclub, Escape 24/7 and Club Privilege are highly recommended.

Jamaica is a wonderful, beautiful place to live. There is simply no end to the things you can do and the places you can go. Do not be overly anxious about fitting in; after all, the country's national motto is "Out of Many, One People." With Jamaica's global influence and the country's economy on the rise, it's the perfect time to heed the words of reggae legend Bob Marley -- come to Jamaica, "let's get together and feel alright!"