Is Jamaica a good place to retire? Learn more in the next paragraphs.
Jamaica is one of the most beautiful and welcoming places in the Caribbean. It has breathtaking beaches, stunning waterfalls, and lush jungles (besides the lovely fauna; my favorite of the local species are the lovely hummingbirds). With a pleasant climate and an easygoing lifestyle, one could look for more about retiring in Jamaica and ask if it is a good place to live during the golden years.
So here it is! In this article, you will find all of the information you need about the pros and cons of retiring in Jamaica.
But if you are looking for a place in Europe, take a look at our article about retirement in Italy (the pros, cons, how much you need, and the best places) or our newest one about retiring in Finland.
Why Retire in Jamaica?
If you’ve ever asked, “Is Jamaica a good place to retire?”, the answer is yes, but it also depends on a few factors. There are many reasons why Jamaica is a great place to retire and many reasons why it is not. But don’t worry, in the next few paragraphs you will discover ALL of them, so keep reading.
The country has excellent cuisine, breathtaking natural wonders, and affordable housing options. It’s also one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, with gorgeous beaches and tropical rainforests.
When you want to retire, you readily picture yourself sitting at the beach with a drink in hand, overlooking an azure ocean. Jamaica is the perfect location to live out that fantasy.
The island’s beaches are some of the most gorgeous in the world, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy during retirement. You can go scuba diving or snorkeling on one of the many beautiful reefs around the island.
Do these sound like a dream come true?
Jamaica boasts a relatively good quality of life (if you have a pension in US dollar standards) and a bubbling local community. The island is also relatively safe to live on, but you should still take some precautions when going out late at night or traveling alone.
It’s also important to note that there are many western expats in Jamaica, so there will be plenty of people around you who speak English.
Check also: The best countries to retire.
The Pros of Living in Jamaica
Let’s look at some of the pros of living and retiring in Jamaica:
- Natural Wonders: Jamaica is a paradise for nature lovers. You can go diving on one of the many beautiful coral reefs around the island, swim with dolphins and sea turtles, or enjoy a relaxing day at one of its many natural wonders. The Blue Mountains are especially popular among tourists as they offer breathtaking views and hiking trails through the lush rainforest that take you right up to the peaks.
- Jamaica is home to a vibrant arts community and a strong foundation. Many museums and galleries around the island showcase local talent, besides world-famous places like the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. You can also enjoy live reggae music at one of Jamaica’s many festivals or go out dancing at one of its nightclubs.
- Music: Jamaica is well-known for its vibrant music scene. The island has produced many iconic artists, including Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. If you visit Jamaica, you’ll be able to see live reggae performances at one of the many festivals or nightclubs around the island.
- Simple Political Subdivisions: With an area of 4,240 square miles, Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean. It has a population of 9 million people, making it the 35th most densely populated country in the world. Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes, more like counties than states.
- Healthcare: The Jamaican government initiated a program on April 1st, 2008, that enabled Jamaicans to receive free medical care. This program responded to Jamaica’s high cost of health care, which put many people at risk of financial ruin when they got sick or injured. The goal of this new program is to give all Jamaicans, no matter how much money they have, access to good health care.
- Jamaican cuisine is a unique blend of African, European, and native Indian foods. Its famous dishes include ackee and saltfish, jerk chicken, oxtail stew, and curried goat. Jamaicans also make rum, which they use in cooking and drinking.
- Birds and Wildlife: Jamaica is home to various birds and wildlife. The island is famous for its majestic, brightly colored hummingbirds and parrots. But keep your eyes peeled for other types of wildlife, like iguanas, snakes, and bats. There are also many beautiful beaches along Jamaica’s coast that are great places to see sea turtles swimming in the water or coral reefs at low tide.
- Fishing: Do you love to fish? If so, you’ll love Jamaica. The island has some of the best fishing in the Caribbean, and there are many types of fish that you can catch here. Some of the most popular species include snapper, grouper, and barracuda. If you’re not interested in fishing but still want to try your hand at it while on vacation, plenty of tour operators offer excursions where they take guests out on boats for an afternoon or even overnight trip.
Why Not Retire in Jamaica?
What are the downsides to retiring in Jamaica? There are some things you should know before you retire here.
The Cons of Living in Jamaica
- Limited Economic Diversity: The island is not very diverse regarding the jobs available. Most residents work in tourism or agriculture, although there is an increasing need for technology workers. If you’re looking for a more stable income, you may want to consider one of the other Caribbean nations instead.
- Public Safety: With a homicide rate of 85 per 100,000 people, Jamaica is one of the most dangerous places in the world. The main reasons are the high gang violence and drug trafficking rate. If you’re considering retiring there, get advice from someone who lives on the island first to avoid these areas and reduce your chances of being a victim. Jamaica is more violent than even the most violent cities in Europe.
- Disparities in Employment: Jamaica has a high unemployment rate of 6.2%. This means that many people will try to exploit you as a tourist by charging exorbitant prices for goods and services. You’ll also find a few jobs available for retirees, so you may have difficulty finding work if you don’t speak the language or have any skills that locals need.
- Limited Emergency Medical Services: Jamaica has a life expectancy of 74.77 years. It is ranked 123rd in the world, and its healthcare system is not very good. If you become ill or injured while on the island, finding adequate medical care or diagnosing your condition could be challenging. You may have to travel a long distance to get treatment at a reasonably good hospital if something happens that requires emergency care. There are only 30 to 40 hospitals, and most of them are small and not equipped to handle serious cases. This makes it hard to get medical care.
- Infrastructure: The infrastructure in Jamaica is not up to par with the rest of the world. You will find that many roads are in disrepair, and public transportation is limited to a few buses and taxis. There are also no high-speed trains or subways in the country, so if you want to get around quickly, you’ll need to rent a car or take a taxi. If you drive around town, be sure your vehicle has an international driver’s license before hitting the road.
- Jamaica is a tropical country, so it’s prone to hurricanes. Unfortunately, these storms can cause significant damage and disrupt travel plans. If you are visiting during hurricane season (June through November), keep up with the latest news about what’s happening in Jamaica and plan accordingly.
Check also: Are public pensions at risk? The short answer is yes. The long answer is here.
How Much Does It Cost to Retire in Jamaica?
The cost of living in Jamaica is between $800 and $2,000. So, a retired couple can live comfortably for about $2,000 per month. This amount would cover things like rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other necessities. It is a bit more expensive than retiring in Argentina but also closer to the US.
It’s essential to remember that the cost of retiring in Jamaica varies depending on where you live and your lifestyle. For example, if you want to live in an upscale neighborhood with access to a private beach, expect to pay more than someone who lives in a more modest community without these amenities—which is not really what someone expects for retirement.
Time for a comparison of the cost of living in Jamaica. I will not compare the living costs of Jamaica with New York or London, because nearly anywhere in the world is cheaper than those two cities. Let’s compare the cost of living in Jamaica with the best city for retirement in Europe (Valencia, Spain) and one of the favorite cities for pensioners in the USA (Tampa, Florida).
Cost of Living in Jamaica vs Valência (Spain) and Tampa (the USA)
|Values in USD||Kingston (Jamaica)||Valencia||Tampa|
|Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant||6.07||11.59||22|
|Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draught)||1.97||2.9||6|
|Eggs (regular) (12)||2.79||1.98||3.3|
|Chicken Fillets (1kg)||6.19||6.4||11.64|
|Gasoline (1 liter)||1.34||1.56||1.2|
|Utilities (Electricity, Water, Garbage, etc.) for 85m2 Apartment, monthly||135.01||128.6||156.61|
|Internet (60 Mbps or More)||41.08||31.88||63.85|
|Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat||9.85||7||14|
|Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)||22||73||98|
|Standard men’s haircut in expat area of the city||11||20||23|
|Rent of an apartment (1 bedroom) in the City Centre||641.47||720.77||2,035.75|
|Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in the City Centre||1,836.07||2,999.91||4,635.63|
What an American Moving to Jamaica Needs to Know
Retirement Visa Jamaica—Steps to Have a Visa to Retire in Jamaica
By now, you probably know that Jamaica is a natural tropical paradise with its pristine white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and welcoming people. If you are considering retiring in Jamaica, here’s what you need to know about the process.
What Are the Requirements for Retiring in Jamaica?
Jamaica offers various visa types to stay in the country:
- A Tourist Visa is for those coming for tourism.
- Entry visa for temporary trips to Jamaica
- Visa on arrival for some nationals coming to the country for business or other reasons.
- Retirement VisaThere is no official Jamaica retirement visa. However, you can retire in Jamaica with a Permanent Residence Visa. We’ll now explain how it works.
Jamaica Permanent Residence Visa
You can apply for a Jamaican Permanent Residence Visa if you meet these requirements:
- You can retire in Jamaica using the Permanent Residence Visa. You must have a retirement plan and show evidence that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay on the island.
- The process takes about three years on average, so it’s essential to start early.
- You must provide your valid government-issued identification and proof of address. You will also need to show a copy of your passport, birth certificate, and marriage license.
Retiring in Jamaica can be a great way to enjoy your golden years in a beautiful tropical paradise. What do you think about that possibility?
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Levi Borba is the founder of The Expatriate Consultancy, creator of the channel The Expat, and best-selling author. Some of the links of this article may be affiliate links, meaning that the author will have a commission for any transaction.