Kingston, Jamaica Report of what it's like to live there - 03/06/14

Personal Experiences from Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica 03/06/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. This was my 3rd post.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

North Florida. 2-hour flight with 1-hour layover in Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses and townhouses for familes. Apartments for singles.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are about twice the price of what you buy in the U.S. That being said, you can find just about anything you need.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Suntan lotion. It's expensive here. However, Miami is only 45 minutes away.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC, Burger King, Subway. Besides Jamaica restaurants, there is Sushi, Greek, Indian, and Chinese cuisine.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes during the rainy season. You have to watch out for dengue fever.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have pouch and DPO here.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

About US$400 a month is the norm.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but they are expensive.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't use credit cards/debit cards unless you know and trust the business. Credit card scammers are everywhere!

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not sure.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. The sidewalks are worse than the roads.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Using them is not advised.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Most Embassy employees drive SUV's. A 4x4 is good if you want to get off the beaten path and go up into the mountains.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but it is about double what you would pay in the States.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are two cell phone companies here. The service is a little more than what you would pay in the States.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Pets are not allowed into the country unless they come from the U.K.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Shirt and tie for work, shorts and t-shirt for public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is a critical crime post. That says it all.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Watching out for mosquitoes so you don't catch dengue fever. Anything serious will get you medically evacuated to Miami.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is okay. It gets better the further you get out of the city.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Always warm. During hurricane season, it rains almost every day but for only 1-2 hours.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AISK is the international American school here. There also another school that a couple of Americans send their children to as an alternative.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes - the school has all types of sports programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big and decent.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are several night clubs here.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for all.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I am aware of.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Scuba diving, touring the island, enjoying the beach.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Frenchmen's cove beach, blue lagoon, scuba diving, Appleton rum tour.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Coffee and rum.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather is great. About 80-85F degree year round.

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10. Can you save money?

Not at all.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Nothing. I had been here before and knew what to expect.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sun glasses and lotion.

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