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.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Top 7 Reasons that Make Jamaica a Tough Country to Move To

In the immediate prior post, I mentioned my belief that Jamaica is one of the most difficult countries to move to live in.


Here are my top 7 reasons:

1. Crime
Our homicide rate is one of the highest in the world, as I have mentioned in this blog in posts on crime. This alone makes things difficult for anyone moving from most countries.

2. Poverty
As one of the poorest countries in the region, there are daily reminders that someone moving to live in Jamaica is privileged (by virtue of them being able to pay for their own ticket.) These reminders include frequent begging at stoplights, homeless people living on the streets, the sight of people living in shacks held together with string and nails, the sight of children selling fruits, and general run down nature of the city, the presence of stray animals (and humans) rooting through garbage and, of course, the level of crime.

3. Language
I can honestly tell you that we speak two languages in Jamaica, and that when patois is spoken outsiders might as well be listening to Portuguese. Whereas just about all Jamaicans can understand English, most foreigners have a very difficult time communicating in the lingua franca. Perhaps 10% of the total conversations taking place in Jamaica are actually conducted in English... maybe.

4. Incorrect Incoming Perceptions
Unfortunately, people moving to Jamaica don't have an accurate picture of what living in Jamaica is really like, courtesy of our reputation as a tourist destination. Daily life has less to do with decisions about what to take to the beach, and more to do with deciding which way to drive to avoid trouble in the form of traffic, demonstrations, accidents, political parties and neighborhoods that "one should not be caught dead in." Assistance in understanding the real story is really hard to find, and the sheer beauty of Jamaica has mislead many.

5. Bureaucracy and Corruption
Official activities can take a very long time, and sometimes there is a temptation to pay bribes to get things moving. While this is not too different from other Developing Countries in the world, it is often shock to the sensibilities of someone moving to Jamaica from Boston.

6. Aggression and Violence
The daily reports of violence, and the everyday acts of aggression take some getting used to for most people. Foreigners are sometimes paralyzed by the loud music, the open cursing, the seemingly hostile looks, verbal altercations, crazy driving, gang warfare, threats and counter-threats and high level of police killings that they observe. Also, the service levels outside of the best hotel resorts is low relative to the standards of most developed countries.

7. Thwarted Contribution
Most who are new to Jamaica are surprised at how difficult it is to make a non-monetary contribution. Volunteer work is hard to find, hard to accept when offered and is often poorly managed in the experience of many expats. This happens regardless of the apparent need.

Bottom Line -- Jamaica is not a destination country for the faint of heart. While there won't be a violent overthrow of the government or an invasion from a foreign country, there are enough challenges to warrant serious preparation.

Postscript: After getting a few "hot under the collar" comments, I thought that I'd add the following link to quite a different post, and hopefully give the next reader a chance to browse the blog a bit before shooting off a reply: Reasons Why Moving Back to Jamaica is Easy.

To understand why both blogs are accurate, is to understand what moving to live in Jamaica is _really_ like.

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At 8/15/2007 6:04 PM, Anonymous K. Campbell said...

I think this article should be accompanied by one listing the top 7 reasons that makes Jamaica a great country to move to.

I am confused as to the bloggers intent. Is it to deter migration to Jamaica? Or to vent at issues he has no suggestions for or seems remotely interested in making better?

At 4/11/2008 1:34 PM, Blogger klas_hac said...

this article is a grossly uninformed generilization of what ife in jamaica really like. it sounds like going to Baltimmore and complaining about how run-down and violent the United states is. I have lived for about 20 years in Jamaica it sounds like one bad trip to downtown kingston which does not equal jamaica jamaica

At 5/10/2008 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this blog only tells half the story. Jamiaca is a wonderful plce to be and not everything about it is bad. jamiaca has MANY amazingly nice things and nice people and if jamaica is so bad how come I hav never heard any celebreties complain even though they are all rushing to buy million dollar houses there? if you ask me you are just making a bad name for you country and you should fill other peoples heads with a half story.

At 3/26/2009 5:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this writing is biased. I have been Jamaica soooo many times and overall I think it is a wonderful country - so wonderful me and my Jamaican partner want to move out there next year for a bit.

Yes there is some truth to the writing but every country is 'corrupt' in their own way. I was born and live in England which is glamourised as being one of the most 'best' country's to live in - but believe you me, it has its own issues!!!

Bottom line - They say home is where the heart is - and in my case - it is in JAMAICA!!!!!!!!!

At 7/27/2011 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! The Blogger is Jamaican? Or an enemy? The average person would never promote negatives happening in his home, not even when he goes to his neighbors home and all seems peachy there. I travel extensively and have lived in and out of Jamaica, and it comes with it's ills as well as rewards like any country you can name. The sun shiny white sand beach destination advertised is not at all misleading. The place is paradise if you chose to see it that way, or simply hell if you search for it that way. Each person makes it what they will. As for me, I find more paradise then hell. Anyway some of the comments the blogger makes are true, but the same is true of Bronx NY and I don't hear them complaining.


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