Here is a scenario. After visiting Jamaica a few times you’ve fallen in love with the island and you’re now considering a more lengthy stay when next you visit. Six months perhaps? Subject Matter Expert (SME), Maura Watson, has been living in Jamaica since 2007 and has been visiting since 1985. She recently shared some tips on living in Jamaica for six (6) months on our Spotlight Feature.
WATCH VIDEO OF THE FULL INTERVIEW (BELOW)
Who is Maura Watson?
Maura labels herself a ‘Jamerican’, a very fitting title after all she has lived as a Jamaican resident for the last 14yrs. She is a licensed realtor in Massachusetts and Jamaica since 2010. She is affiliated with a 100+ year old D.C. Tavares and Finson and also owns the Ivy’s Cove Guest House on Jamaica’s captivating south coast, specifically in Whitehouse, Westmoreland Jamaica. There, she has hosted local-based international recording artistes Beenie Man, Christopher Martin and Wellesley and his family too. She smilingly admits that she is trying to get Chronixx to stay at Ivy’s Cove as well.
Ivy's Cove is her first attempt at being a developer. Her original plan was to sell three of the four condos and have one as her home. She instead decided to create a rental business. Here, you can enjoy various water activities on the south coast.
Maura’s children were schooled in Jamaica and they went to Munro and Hampton respectively. These schools are two of the five operating boarding schools on the island and are also among the sought after traditional High schools in Jamaica with excellent academic results year after year.
Accommodations, according to Maura, will vary depending on the location, your budget and the length of your stay. Long-term rental can cost much less than short term and you may also link with someone and rent jointly to further reduce cost. This particular scenario sounds ideal for students. She also told the audience that persons have bought places to live here and then rent them out to others when they are not in residence. A neat way to make some extra income. On the other hand, some hotels have kitchenettes and are willing to negotiate if it is a long term rental that is being done. The prices in US dollars range from $300, $500 or even up to $10,000 per month depending on the previously mentioned factors and the luxury of the accommodation being sought.
Maura highlighted that staying in Jamaica for an extended period, from what she has learned over the years, has given birth to a need for storage. She explained that many ex-pats tend to have a problem finding storage for their personal possessions and even helpfully suggested that persons may consider this as a business idea.
If you desire to have your own place here on the island the SME suggested the use of a realtor to ensure that you’re dealing with a reputable person; many of which may be located on realtor.com Jamaica or craigslist. Otherwise, ensure the person from which you are renting has proof of ownership (if he/she is the owner), is a reputable person, that you obtain a lease and that you understand the terms and conditions. Electricity is a big expense and it's better if the terms of your contract include utilities.
Also, a helper in Jamaica is $20 per day which you may hire to assist you with household chores.
Food is the biggest expense but only if it’s imported. She recommends the farmer’s and meat markets that the locals use as a way to reduce food expenses. Don’t forget to ask for the yardie price as some people may sell their items more pricey if they detect you’re a tourist. Maura endorses using the local accent as it may help you to get more favourable prices :-) (after 14 years she is indeed a subject matter expert). Box lunches and patties are staple tasty meals that can be had for around USD3 but meals at places that cater to tourists will cost more. Maura resides on the south coast which is no less scenic but far cheaper than living on the north coast or the west end.
Tips for Persons seeking residency in Jamaica
Maura advises those with ancestral roots to try for a Jamaican passport. That way you may obtain a passport and stay for as long as you like. Go to pica.gov.jm/ for details on how you qualify for a Jamaican passport. That’s how Maura has been able to reside here. She got Jamaican citizenship having been married to a Jamaican. In addition to that, you can also stay in Jamaica by having work or student permit.
A six-month stay does not require a Jamaican passport. You may receive up to 3 months at the port of entry and then you can be granted an additional three months for a fee through Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).
Transportation in Jamaica
In Jamaica, you drive on the opposite side of the road so be careful if you decide to drive yourself. Maura emphasized that you should practice defensive driving to deal with the less than careful motorists you may encounter. She reported that it costs about USD50 open day to rent a car but she has seen where persons purchase older motor vehicles and use them which works out cheaper in the long term. Your insurance rates tend to be lower if you can prove that you have not had any accidents while driving in your home country.
But if you have heard the term route taxis then you’re familiar with how the locals get around. It’s basically USD 2 per stage from one point to the next. A lot of people travel on it (so it is not ideal for physical distancing). You can also have your personal driver which is a little more expensive.
How Safe is it to stay in Jamaica?
Like many other places, Jamaica has its issues with crime. Maura advises persons to be careful and have common sense, pay keen attention to their surroundings. And importantly, stay around people you trust. Most people are good. She says she feels safe and no one bothers her here in Jamaica.
Fun Activities to do on Your Stay
You will have different experiences depending on where you will be staying on the island. The great part about staying for 6 months is that you will have more time to enjoy all Jamaica has to offer. The eastern parish of Portland offers many beautiful beaches, waterfalls and other scenic spots where you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive. You can also enjoy hiking or bike riding in the Blue Mountains. With places such as Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay on the west coast the will never be a dull moment during your stay. Maura invites you to stay at Ivy’s Cove by the beach where you can snorkel, scuba dive and enjoy the people, vibes and climate of Jamaica.
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About The Author
A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.
To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.
efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications,
including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers,
as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies
and universities. Read more about him here.