Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Absolutely crazy to return

Almost every week, I get an email from someone who has read my blog and wants some advice on their own Move Back to Jamaica.

Here is an excerpt from one email I received:

I am so glad I came across your weblog! I recently returned from a trip to Jamaica...and am anxious to get back. I went for a week,....
Everyone seems to think I am absolutely crazy but I am ready to pack it all in here and move to Jamaica. I am willing to admit that at least on some level I have romanticised the simplicity of living on the island...but really, I would like to make a go of it.

(I have 2 degrees)....I suppose my question I likely to find stable employment in Jamaica---in any field outside of hospitality and business? I have been searching, mostly on the net, but I haven't really seen much.
My plan right now is to go out there in August and spend about a month...hopefully I can get some leads for work and find out a little more about buying/renting property...but until then I would really appreciate any advice or suggestions you can offer.

I won't put all of my reply here, as it repeats some things I have said in other places in this blog.

What was interesting however was her line "Everyone seems to think I am absolutely crazy."

My wife recently shared with me the different reactions she got from people when she told them she (a Trini-American) was Moving to Jamaica.

from Whites> "I wish I could do that -- I hear it is beautiful -- I went there and had a great time"

from Trinis > "You are crazy, I hear those people are backward, uneducated, and the crime is really bad"

from Blacks> "I would never do that -- those people don't like us Blacks, and they have goats and pigs running all over the streets, and a LOT of bugs, and the food is terrible "

from Jamaicans> "You won't make it. What are you going to do there? Everyone is leaving Jamaica to come here to the US! -- I give you 2 years."

Interesting... and difficult to explain in total.

She was most surprised at the reaction she got from Jamaicans living in the U.S., who were the most negative of all.

I have a feeling that her Move was flying in the face of what they had told themselves for years -- that Jamaica was in bad shape, and getting worse. And that they had no choice but to leave. And that they have no choice but to stay away.

The reaction from Whites is also interesting. I put it down to the fact that my wife's friends happen to be the type who have travelled widely, and seen how most other people in the world live. In other words, they have benefited from having open minds, and adventurous spirits that have taken them to many different parts of the world.

I remember the first time I visited Ghana, Trinidad, South Africa and Belize and a few other developing countries. Each visit had a particular affect -- it absolutely changed the way I saw Jamaica.

Living in America has a certain limiting power -- by virtue of the American lifestyle, which is is mostly focused on being "American," there is very little interest or exposure to other countries, their lifestyles and points of view.

I don't know if it's true that George Bush didn't have a passport before he became President, but the story is told and believed by many... and not too surprising to me.

I contrast that with the average child in many, many countries who speaks 2 or more languages.

Many Jamaicans who move to live in the U.S. seem to adopt that same narrow perspective, which helps to ensure that the views they had of Jamaica when they left never really _mature_. They don't seem to benefit from going abroad, in the way that travelling makes you a better person.

Instead, it cements into place a Jamaica-bad, foreign-good belief system that just gets reinforced when they hear news of Jamaica.

At the moment, the news from Jamaica is pretty good: murders in Kingston down 31% over last year. Inflation at the lowest since 1981. The economy is growing at 2.7%.

These are the best macro-indicators we have had in many, many years. This may be the best time to think about returning, in some respects, yet I struggle to hear Jamaicans abroad acknowledge that things are moving in the right direction.

Wouldn't that be a better message to tell a non-Jamaican who is marrying a Jamaican and Moving Back to Jamaica? Well, yes... but it will take some work for those who left to give up the comfort of their deep resignation, and be able to see when the sun does shine through the clouds.


At 3/29/2007 2:13 AM, Blogger Brooks said...

I am a jamaican living in America. There is no country like Jamaica. they may have more money, but you fell invisible here.

At 4/29/2007 5:29 AM, Anonymous cayt said...

I agree with Brooks 200%, 'nuh weh nuh betta dan yaad'. Where in the world can you not find poverty and crime? Probably it would be better if these crimes were categorised, then we would be better able to see the true nature of what is happening in the country. What percentage of 'crime' is actually random versus gang related versus domestic or crimes of passion. Maybe I'm just out right biased...but Jamaica will always be home to me.

At 4/03/2008 7:50 AM, Blogger jojo said...

I am what is termed a Black British - not a term I like but lets leave that for now. Four years ago I met my beloved (I know it sound old fashioned but I like it). He is a Jamaican who has lived in England for the last 7 years. Hundreds of West Indians & Africans came to England to work, study provide for their families back home. Sadly like my partner the Home Office have palced them in the invisible cage of immigration restriction. For the past 3 years there has been a serious influx of Eastern Europeans into England - especially London where we live. We have a two year old son, both work, pay through the nose for everything. The education system now uses a high percentage of its resources to cater for children for whom English is a second languge. All public services alos are required to provide special services ie translators, staff etc - but again let me leave that one. Jamaica is home for me, with its problems, its issues etc but its still home. If you see me when I step off the plane - the sigh tha leaves my body. Anyway after prayer and discussion we have decided to return. Crazy! No! Just ceazing the moment. This is will be an opportunity for my 2yr old to spend time with his grandparents, for us to buy a home in an area we both agree, for my partner to work using his qualifications and not menial jobs due to this Gov't method of oppression of black folk (don't be fooled thats why visas were introduced - but know the devil is a liar) let me leave that one as well. I have a property in England, and the ability to book a airline ticket when the need arises. I have visted other sites, read many bloggs (mainly from American women married to Jamaican men) if you based your decision upon their entires you would miss the experiences Jamaica has to offer, and there are plenty. From a personal point of view I often hear my own mother extoling the virtues of England and amplifying the problems of Jamaica but my mother is reminicing about England through rose tinted glasses. IFor me the decision to be in Jamaica is not romantic, I know there will be times I will ask myself why I did it, times I will miss England, times I even pack my things (mentally at least) but I am not going to sit in England and wander 'what ifs'. As my granny used to say 'Nothing beat a tryer but a failure' God is still on His throne so He will continue to be my guide, protector & provider. Jamaica is not America, its not England or Canada or anywhere else. Its Jamaica!

At 4/03/2008 10:27 AM, Blogger fwade said...


Thanks so much for sharing the challenge ahead of you.

I wish you all sort of luck!

If you'd like, send me an email and I can put you onto a free e-book that my wife and I are writing to help those who want to move to Jamaica -- it's mostly geared towards those who have never lived in Jamaica.

At 7/03/2008 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello! My name is Ashley, I am a 23yr old woman from Canada! In recent months I have fell in love with a man who lives in Jamaica, we have had a wonderful long distance relationship with a few visits from both him and I. I am now ready to take it to the next level and move there (to Jamaica) just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to go about doing this...I have a job lined up and he has his own business there so financially we are okay it is just that I want to make sure I follow all things legal and go about everything in the best possible way! I will be moving into Montego Bay, my boyfriend currently lives in OchoRios but is looking at relocating to Montego as well! any advice would be appreciated! thanks! my e mail is

At 8/12/2008 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visited Jamaica for the 1st time this year. It took me long enough to get there!! I have never had a better experience. Jamaica is the most beautiful country I have ever seen and If I had my own way I'd pack up and leave England tomorrow. Jamaica has given me a purpose, which is to work to earn the money so I can go back to live one day. I tell everyone that I have spoken to that my body may be here with me in England but my spirit is still and will always be in Jamaica. Yes things are hard, but you get that everywhere and at the end of the day you make it what it is.

At 8/12/2008 7:42 PM, Blogger fwade said...


Keep the fire burning! Jamaica offers so much of the very best (and some of the other stuff too) that it keeps you constantly on your toes... never a dully moment.

At 11/26/2008 6:12 PM, Blogger Single Black Female said...

Hi just saw your blog - i am currentl in JA ( St Thomas and Portland) staying with family for 6 months orginally from the UK. I know after my six months I'm going back home to pack another barrell to come back out. Jamaica is a beautifully rich country with a wealth the surpasses money. All I have to do is secure a job and I'm here for good!

At 7/22/2011 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anne said...

I enjoyed reading most of your posts.. It would have been really nice to get some follow-ups, to see how many returned or are still in Jamaica.
I am also British born, and live in Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica is not the easiest places to live, however it does have a natural beauty of simplicity.
As for the work situation, unemployment is extremely high, and the average wage does not reflect the cost of living! Living in the UK, where your eyes have been exposed to many things, then coming to Jamaica and seeing so many things lacking, gives you the perfect opportunity to start your own business.. Remember any business in Jamaica that has good service will do well..:)

At 12/22/2012 9:25 AM, Anonymous Netty Simmonds said...

Hi i an 23 years old female living in London,england i came back from jamaica 18th nov 2012 that would be my 3rd visit to the island. I was born and raises in jamaica, spanish town to be precise and i moved to england at the age of 9yrs old. Jamaica is a beautiful place and at times i wish i didnt leave to come to england but as we all know england provides alot of opportunities and is really good for money.... But still there is no place like home (jamaica). Well to cut long story short, im looking to move back real soon but the prob is that i need to find work and a place to rent. I am single and i dont have any kids dont know if any of you guys could help on giving me some info on places in jamaica to rent even if its a house share as i dont mind, i can pick my feet up from there. I have friends and family already residing in jamaica but at times its best to have your own, i am currently a student attending uni doing a business degree and i would like to open up a nightclub in jamaica or a travel agent. Well i plan to move back after uni and see how it goes. But for now i need all the advice i can get. Thanks x

At 12/24/2012 1:38 PM, Blogger fwade said...


The recession is doing a job on Jamaica right now. I'd look to stay with relatives to start out with - almost everyone does that - as the job market has dried right up. Before coming back, I think its essential to get some work experience that can help you stand out when you come back, especially if it's in an industry that's present here in Ja.

At 5/16/2013 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what is funny the same Jamaicans that left Jamaica and is bashing Jamaica lives like dogs in America and other countries. I know that because I have lived in America almost 30yrs. I recently moved back to Jamaica leased a beauty and barber shop with 20 workers getting ready to buy my 1st home which is very much cheaper than buying a house in America. My uncle died last January and still did not owned his home he purchased in Brooklyn NY since the late 1970's. Now lets talk about crime in the USA an average of 30000 people died each year from violent crime compared to a little over a 1000 in Jamaica. My bother moved back to Jamaica from New York and is already doing better. Why bashed Jamaica and everything that happens here when you are living in people's basement and attics or live in a cubicle so small you can barely turn around. Some Jamaicans it doesn't matter how good or how bad Jamaica does it can never do enough good in their shallow mind. Jamaica is paradise America is stress England is stress my sis in law pays 800 pounds for a 1 bedroom flat that is your mortgage for 3-4 houses in Jamaica. So for the Jamaicans living in squalor in other people country you know nuff a unu itch up inna government drug infested not fit for human beings welfare houses draining the wellfare systems and deh man dem wha itch up pon street corner selling drugs or have to pick up an American on welfare with her 10 kids and 10 different baby daddy(s) to survive think before you put your own country Jamaica down there is people in Jamaica living better than plenty of us who left Jamaica shores... My daughter who was born in America said mom this is the best we ever live here in Jamaica as over in America all you see is drug dealers..drug addicts...prostitutes amongst others roaming the streets all day transacting business with no regards to who is around them. Lol let me stop I will not get into the racism. I LIVED THERE I KNOW plenty of Jamaicans I know that is homeless...still living in apartment for 20 plus years off welfare to get by along with many many homeless Jamaicans in America....Your check is $700.00 and your rent is $600.00 do the math....modern day slavery in disguise.


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