Kingston, Jamaica Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica 08/14/18

Background:

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

Yes, first experience as an expatriate.

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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?

It takes about eight to ten hours to get to the West Coast. There are no direct flights there from Kingston.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

US 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?

Housing consists of a government-owned apartment complex (Powell Plaza) and townhouses/single family homes. Apartments in Powell Plaza have two -three bedrooms, and are very spacious and nice. The property has a decent-sized gym, game room, barbecue area, tennis court, racketball court, and a pool. Powell is good for singles and young families, especially for spouses who don't work, since they have easy access to the aforementioned facilities and can meet up with other spouses. Since Powell Plaza is a government owned complex, maintenance issues are generally resolved within a day or two. The only thing that some people complain about this place is security entrance procedures for non-residents.

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

Almost everything here is 1.5 to 2 times more expensive. Local products are cheaper, however, quality is a mixed bag. A small jar of good peanut butter (not peanut sugar spread) or a bottle of olive oil can cost $8-9.

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

Ship enough olive oil, wine, peanut butter, nuts, maple syrup, engine oil, laundry/dishwasher detergent, mouth wash, and shampoo/conditioner. However, DPO makes it easy for us to ship almost anything we need.

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

There are some great Indian and Japanese restaurants in Kingston. However, the prices sometimes seem to be a little higher than in Washington D.C. Almost every place will add 5-10% service fee, and 16.5% government tax. Customer service is slow and poor here, unless you are in an expensive restaurant. Waitresses or cashiers are usually pretty checked out.

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Daily Life:

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

Through pouch and DPO.

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

Household help is readily available and most people are happy with their helpers. It has taken a few families, though, a bit of trial and error to find the right person. The embassy rate is a bit higher than the local rate.

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

Powell Plaza has a nice and decent-sized gym. It might be the best gym on the island.

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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?

Cards are accepted almost everywhere, but make sure that they run your credit card in front of you (especially at gas stations), and check your credit cards statements regularly.

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

This is English speaking post, but sometimes it is hard to understand Jamaicans because of the local dialect.

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

Yes! It could be a very tough post for people with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Due to security concerns, we are not allowed to use public transportation. I believe the same goes for most colleagues: UK, EU, Canada, etc. There are couple of approved taxis we can take, but during the rush hour, it is very hard to get one.

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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?

Bring something with clearance. Roads are terrible in Kingston, as well as in the south and east parts of the island. The roads get better on the North Coast, near high tourist areas. Taxi drivers (forever distracted and stopping) and coaster - bus drivers (the Mad Maxes of public transportation) drive recklessly and seem proud to do so. Needless to say, driving on the island can be very stressful. It's a left - hand drive country and Embassy colleagues are split between right - hand and left - hand personal vehicles.

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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?

Internet can be installed prior arrival. It is reliable most of the time. However, if there is an outage, the customer service representative is never able to tell how long it will take to restore the services. The prices are comparable to the U.S.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone. Coverage on the island is fine. It was mostly 3G when we arrived, but we get LTE now.

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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?

It is very hard, nearly impossible to bring a pet to Post, although this is easing. A lot of people adopt pets on the island. Veterinary care is not cheap, and is not comparable to U.S. standards.

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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?

There are number of positions that are available to EFMs. Things are looking up with the hiring freeze lifted.

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

Business or business casual. Depends on the section.

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Health & Safety:

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

Kingston is a high crime post. Some parts of the island are off limits. We are not allowed to walk in most of the places, which makes life at post much more difficult. It can be tough for young women walking outside alone, even for a couple of minutes in broad daylight. Local men can be unwaveringly aggressive.

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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?

Zika is still a concern and pregnant women medevac off island. We have a fantastic health unit in the embassy, with amazing nurses and doctors. Hospitals can get very pricey, almost like in the US, but the quality is not up to the US standards. People are evacuated to Miami for major issues.

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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?

Air quality is fine. However, the locals burn trash a lot.

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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?

Jamaica has a nice climate. The temperature varies from 75 to 90 degrees. Kingston can get a bit muggy and windless, especially in the summer. Winter is blissful, island wide.

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Expat Life:

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

Morale is good here.

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

It is good for couples and families, if you are willing to get out of Kingston on the weekends.

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

Beautiful beaches, the Blue Mountains, and great coffee.

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

Getting out of Kingston is key. Those that appear happiest at Post tend to be those take to island's variety of offerings, most outside of the capital. Negril, Ocho Rios, Treasure Beach, Portland, and some parts of Montego Bay.

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

No, a lot of handcrafts are actually made overseas, despite the seller telling you he/she carved it, or made it just that morning. You'll see the same carving or painting two minutes down the road. Buy clothes and shoes before you come to the post. There is, however, good rum and coffee (expensive).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How expensive it would be and how slowly things are done. A favorite local phrase is "soon come" which means anywhere from five minutes to never.

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

Our family is split on this question.

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

Winter clothes, bicycles, and low-clearance car.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, sunscreen, and beach gear.

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Kingston, Jamaica 06/24/18

Background:

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

No, have lived in Asia, Africa, and other parts of North America.

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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?

Primarily the northeastern US. There is a 4-hour direct flight from NYC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over 2 years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Many expats live in housing developments with townhouses, most of which have pools. If you are with the US Embassy, you may also live in an apartment complex they own; both complexes are nice.

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

Groceries and especially household goods can be shockingly expensive. Best strategy is to go to local markets (or get helper to if you have one) and avoid buying too many processed foods and household goods.

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

More household goods. Chocolate. Wine. Cheese.

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

There are a variety of international restaurants that are popular with the expat set: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Lebanese, and Mexican. I also recommend jerk stands and/or local chains like Island Grill. There is Burger King, KFC (reportedly much better than the US version which Jamaicans think is terrible), Subway, Wendy’s, etc.

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

It is the tropics. Lots of bugs, with the most dangerous being the mosquito as it carries Zika Virus, Chikungunya, etc. We did have a wood termite infestation in our house, as did another family in our compound. Otherwise, expect ants, etc.

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO and pouch, no experience with the local postal facilities.

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

Many expats, especially those with kids, employ a "helper" full time for around US$500 - US$600/month. Part-time helpers are also available.

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

Yes. Varies, but generally on par with U.S., a tad cheaper if you’re lucky. There are also yoga and Pilates studios.

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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?

Widely used in established businesses. ATMs are available, but I would be careful about where I use one due to card skimming.

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

Yes, there are many, many Jamaican churches. The services are all in English.

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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?

A little patois comes in handy.

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

Yes. There is very little accommodation for physical disability.

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Transportation:

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

The US Embassy recommends using only a couple taxi companies. Jamaica's taxi drivers are generally pretty reckless drivers, so wear a seatbelt if they've got one.

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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?

Ask folks on the ground what kind of cars are popular. I see a lot of Honda CRVs and Toyotas; buying one of those will make resale and maintenance easier and cheaper. High clearance can be useful, although most Jamaican drivers get by without. 4WD can also come in handy, but it's not a must. Know that the road conditions are not fantastic.

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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, costs depends on your phone plan as they are typically bundled. Service is relatively quick and efficient in my experience with FLOW. Digicel is a competitor.

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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?

Digicel and Lime are the main carriers. Rates are not too bad, pretty good rates to the U.S. as many Jamaicans have family there. Calls are more expensive than internet, so many people use WhatsApp.

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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?

Only pets from the UK allowed to enter. No other pets AT ALL. Strays abound if you want to adopt!

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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?

Many expat spouses/partners do not work. Jobs depend on who you know, so the longer people stay, the more likely they are to find a place in the local economy. I mostly know spouses that have continued to do work that they did previously, are telecommuting, or are engaged in an artistic/entrepreneurial profession.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many! A lot of folks come from the US to volunteer. Anything from orphanages to environmental issues.

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

Jamaicans are sharp and stylish dressers. They dress very well, almost formally for work and occasions.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Realistically, roads seem to me to be the biggest danger. Roads are in poor condition and it seems reckless driving makes the problem worse. Also, Jamaica also has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Much of the murder rate can be chalked up to drug and gang-related violence. It's my understanding that unless you are a victim of a home invasion, or go to the wrong neighborhood or are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you are not a big target as a foreigner. That said, it seems security firms are some of the largest employers in Jamaica, so clearly it is an issue. In the last few years, sexual assaults of women at resorts has also been an issue.

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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?

Zika, other mosquito borne illnesses. The quality of the medical care is not great overall. There are good physicians, but hospital facilities are not great. Fortunately, for non-emergency care, you are near the U.S. A number of Jamaican elites go to the U.S. for care, so that should give you an idea of their confidence in the local facilities. For those embassy folks, there is an in-house doctor who is good. Based on personal experience, I would not recommend getting major dental work or other serious procedures done in Jamaica.

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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?

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Have heard it’s quite bad for some allergy sufferers, but I have no personal experience.

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

Tropical: it is warm, hot, and very hot. In Kingston, 80 is cool weather. There are several rainy seasons and during that time, rains can be frequent and heavy, but usually the sun is out at some point in the day. If you need relief from the heat, though, the mountains are just an hour away and there, you might even need a sweater.

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Schools & Children:

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

People seem happy with the American school and Hillel, no direct experience.

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2. 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?

They are ok, and more affordable than those in the US. Jamaicans tend to focus on “academics” from a young age. It’s not unusual to sit toddlers down for a classroom lecture or assign them homework.

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

Many sports activities are available.

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Expat Life:

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

Fairly large expat community. The US Embassy is medium-sized. Morale seems to be mixed. For some it’s a dream, for others the tropics is just not their thing. In the wider expat community, morale also seems to be mixed. Some expats moved here because they are nuts about Jamaica and they are very happy! Others are here for work/spouse. Wide spectrum of feelings, but most like it or at least don’t seem to loathe it.

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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?

Depends a lot on your taste. Jamaica has a lively theatre, art, and musical tradition, but it’s often not very well-publicized. Easiest way to find out about things is to read the local paper and/or get on social media (Facebook, there is such a thing as Jamaican twitter) and follow folks in the know. Some interest groups such as Natural History Society of Jamaica and the Georgian Society of Jamaica are good opportunities explore lesser known spots and meet locals with similar interests.

As far as parties, if you are into dancehall, you are in luck; there are parties all the time and literally at all hours of the day.

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

Yes, it can be a good city for anyone. Rather than family status, it seems that whether you like it seems to depend on whether you find either the tropical lifestyle or Jamaican culture (or both) endearing or interesting. If you love warm weather, beaches and the laid back vibes of the tropics, you will probably find a lot to like in Jamaica. Same goes if have an interest in reggae, dancehall, Rastafari, or global black history.

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

Not really. There is an LGBTQ movement and scene, but homophobia seems very mainstream. Prominent gay authors, such as Marlon James and Nicole Denis-Benn, among others, have written extensively on this topic.

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

There seems to be a lot of racial segregation in Jamaica, and, to me, a lot of parsing of shades of color. The small population of white Jamaicans seem to be wealthier. Sexism appears to be rampant.

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

I had a lot of special experiences in Jamaica, most of them traveling outside of Kingston to beautiful beaches with friends or getting into a session of "reasoning" with Jamaicans. Port Antonio and Blue Fields are some favorite places, as are the Blue Mountains.

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

You can go to resorts, if that is your thing. They tend to be pricey. There are also many small villas available for rent. Prices range from affordable to astronomical. There are cultural events in Kingston such as concerts, lectures at UWI, exhibits, etc. The local art and music scene is vibrant for a city this size. The best way to find out about goings on is probably social media (FB, Twitter). Not a hidden gem, but a too-often overlooked one is the Calabash literary festival at Treasure Beach every other year.

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

I would not say this is a "shopping post," but local fine artists are accessible and have their works for sale. If you want tourist knick-knacks and Bob Marley memorabilia, there’s plenty of that too. I wouldn't say any of it is cheap.

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

A lot of people choose this post for its proximity to the US, so that is one.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, this is a special island.

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

Winter coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach gear and sunblock.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

A Brief History of 7 Killings and Here Comes the Sun are two recently published novels worth reading. The authors Marlon James and Nicole Denis-Benn have also written informative essays related to life in Jamaica in various US publications. Other authors of interest include Anthony Winkler, Kei Miller. Any history book on the transatlantic slave trade/sugar industry in the Caribbean.

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Kingston, Jamaica 03/15/17

Background:

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

Yes, first experience as an expatriate.

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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?

Direct flights to NYC, Atlanta, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale from Kingston. Southwest flies from the airport in Montego Bay which opens a few more options.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Nearly two years.

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

US 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?

Housing is good. There is one US gov't owned apartment building, Powell Plaza. Apartments are 2-3 bedrooms, bright, open and spacious. Powell provides great amenities including a pool, gym, play room for kids, tennis courts, etc. People in Powell are generally happy with their housing.



The biggest con to Powell Plaza is the distance from the Embassy and traffic. It can take almost an hour in traffic to go about 4 miles. Other leased housing is in gated neighborhoods throughout the city. All are open and quite spacious. Very limited yard space at most of the houses and town homes.

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

Things are really, really expensive here. You can buy local products and brands to save money but most of the time the quality is not on par with US quality products. Most things are available but if you're looking for something very specific you might have to search several stores before you find it.

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

Household items including paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, dishwasher detergent, cleaning supplies, sunscreen, shampoos, make up products for fair skin. Food items like canned salsa, brown sugar, chocolate chips, powered milk. We do have a DPO which makes it fairly easy to get the things you need.

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

American restaurants like Subway, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Dominos, KFC. Jamaicans claim to have the best KFC in the world! There are lots of restaurants to choose from but customer service is not a priority. You can expect long waits and sub par service. Restaurants do deliver and there are a handful of online delivery services that have started up.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. Mail room and mail staff are great!

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

Helpers are affordable. $20-$35 USD per day for somebody to come clean. Child care is a bit more but still very affordable for full time help, $500-$700 USD per month depending on number of children and the helpers experience.

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

Powell Plaza has a great gym area that is available to all embassy staff.

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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?

Yes, credit cards are used widely. Try to stick to the bank or ATM inside the embassy. Outside ATMs are fine--just be aware of your surroundings.

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

Lots and lots of churches in Kingston.

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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?

Jamaica's official language is English but most of what you'll hear from Jamaicans outside of work is the locally spoken patois. Sometimes this can be difficult to understand but it's a lot of fun to listen to and try to learn.

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

Yes. No sidewalks, ramps are not typical.

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Transportation:

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

Not permitted by RSO with the exception of a handful of specific taxis that are approved.

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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 people have some type of small SUV due to the poor road conditions. Lots of potholes!

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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. There are outages sometimes and the company is basically unresponsive when that happens. Again, customer service is not a priority. It can usually be set up prior to your arrival.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone and use a local provider.

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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?

NO pets are allowed to be imported. However, lots of families have adopted pets during their time here. Vet care is good and affordable.

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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?

There are number of EFMs working at the embassy. Most EFM positions are secretarial or administrative in nature. There are a few EFMs currently to telework. Work in the local economy does not provide a good salary.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Orphanages, schools, salvations army, local churches.

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

Business casual. Men in slacks and button-up shirts, women in business attire.

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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 so security issues are part of life. Lock your doors when driving. Be vigilant in locking your gates and turning on alarms. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid the restricted areas of the city as directed by RSO. All that being said, I have never personally felt threatened or unsafe.

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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?

The embassy health unit just recently got a full time doctor (local hire) which has been great. Medical care is an issue. Facilities and equipment are not at US standards and wait times for services and appointments can be very, very long. The labs and hospitals look scary. Ambulance and emergency care is severely lacking. However, I have always been satisfied in the providers. Florida is a short flight for any issue that require a medical evacuation.

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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?

Apart from some seasonal allergies, generally good.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

It's really easy to feel trapped and isolated because of all the restrictions. There are places to get outside and walk and play - just not right outside your door.

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

You can't really get a better climate than Jamaica. It's basically between 70-85 all the time, all year round. There is rain but typically doesn't last very long and then the sun is shining again.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two schools that people send their children to: AISK and Hillel. People seem happy with the schools especially in the elementary grades.

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2. 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?

Several different preschool options which people seem to be very pleased with.

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

Lots of options through the school (AISK): tennis, swimming, chess, robotics, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium-size population. I think morale is good! With expectations in the right place people are happy here.

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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?

Lots of play dates, pool parties, birthday parties, for the kids. Organized beach trips, hikes, runs.

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

Good for everybody!

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

Jamaica is very homophobic.

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

Violence against women has been in the forefront of the media in the past several months. Women have little value but more awareness is being brought to that issue.

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

Getting to know Jamaicans and the local embassy staff has been a treat. They are fun-loving people who are quick to take you in. The best part about being posted in Kingston is getting the opportunity to explore the rest of the island. Jamaica is beautiful and when you get outside of the city there is a lot of amazing things to do and see on the weekends. The newly constructed highway has made trips to the north coast easier and quicker.

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

Hiking in Holywell, Reach Falls, Portland Parish, Frenchman's Cove, Irie Blue Hole, resorts in Ocho Rios, Bamboo Beach, Fort Charles, Golfing in Montego Bay, tons of options. There are lots of resorts to get away for the weekends but can be very expensive. Go during low season and ask for the local rate and sometimes you can get reasonable prices.

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

The mangos are delicious.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I knew food and groceries would be expensive but it's EXPENSIVE!

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

Yes, this has been a great post for us.

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach toys, water shoes, sun screen.

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Kingston, Jamaica 04/05/16

Background:

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

No

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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?

East Coast, no direct flights, must go through Atlanta

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Beautiful large apartments, and some nice houses. Everyone is happy with housing.

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

twice to three times as expensive as the U.S. We have a low COLA so expect to spend about 40% of your income on groceries.

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

Tires, food, consumables, light bulbs

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

Wendys, Subway, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken; however at double the prices. Food is SO expensive here.

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

There is zika virus and Chick V, many colleagues were extremely sick, you have to take precautions

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch, great mail room team at Embassy

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

Relatively cheap--US$500 to 600 a month for full time.

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

Yes. There is a nice gym at the Embassy housing complex, Powell

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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?

I use credit cards all the time

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

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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 but some people don't speak or write English very well.

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

Yes, very hard to get around.

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Transportation:

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

NO, not allowed by RSO

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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?

All cars seem to do well but many of us have been in car accidents. Ship extra tires as well. The bad roads will lead to your car getting ruined in a short amount of time.

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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, US$80 a month

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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?

Embassy phone and a few local providers

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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?

NO PETS and this is really a HUGE hardship.

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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?

No.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Maybe at the schools.

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

Some people really do not dress well. Local staff is a bit more attentive to dress. Ties for men, dresses for women. Only the section chiefs seem to wear suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, very violent country. Most of my local colleagues have had a relative murdered. There was a murder near Embassy housing last year. It just isn't safe to go out and you cannot walk anywhere, ever.

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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?

Medical care is really really poor here. Lack of facilities, lack of water in the existing facilities, no soap, unnecessary procedures, botched surgeries, etc. Awful. However, Embassy just hired an MD.

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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?

Great, except when the trash dump gets set on fire

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Some allergies and the fires burning seem to affect many of my colleagues.

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

Rains are brief, almost always sunny and beautiful

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Schools & Children:

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

2 good schools, one very small and all Embassy kids go there. The other school is much larger and seems to have a lot of sports, but only one family has kids there, families at both schools seem pretty happy.

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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?

yes and most colleagues are happy with the preschools. Reasonable too.

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

There appear to be all sorts of activities.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium Embassy. Morale was very poor but seems to have improved after some junior officers worked very hard to get our differential looked out. We are now a 20% differential post. It makes a huge difference both for money and for morale. We can now bid first on our next posts.

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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?

Drinks with friends, lots of Embassy parties. CLO trips and basically everything CLO organizes is good. She is really good and helping spouses get jobs and organizing parties.

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

Yes, good for all

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

No. Extremely homophobic but the Embassy is putting a lot of stress on full citizenship for all and so at least now there is a dialogue.

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

Jamaicans seem overly preoccupied with skin color, many lighten their skin. Generally the lighter you are the closer you are to European ancestry and more money you have. It is sad. However, no overt racism that I have witnessed. Lots of sexism. Little value for women.

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

Getting to know the Jamaican people-- a fun, dynamic, outgoing culture, trips to Montego, Ocho Rios, Negril and Portland

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

No. There is nothing to do but go to resorts and beaches. Resorts are VERY VERY expensive.

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

Massages at nice resorts.

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

Great weather, sunny and beautiful all year long, tourism is great too. Awesome beaches

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely not. I rarely go to hotels but am broke because of work on my car and groceries.

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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 love it here and feel fortunate to be posted here.

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

Absolutely. Love it here.

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

Pets. Expectations of living in paradise. This is a beautiful country and while it was hard in the past to travel, it is better with the new highway. However, it can be expensive to travel here and there is a ton of gun violence, making it hard to leave your apartment.

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4. But don't forget your:

Open heart and willingness to collaborate. It is so easy to work with staff and Jamaicans are just fun, open people.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

A Brief History of 7 Killings

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Kingston, Jamaica 12/28/14

Background:

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

No, lived in Europe, Asia, and did extensive travel in Sub-Saharan Africa with a previous job.

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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?

New York. 3.5 - 4 hour direct non-stop flights to and from Kingston with JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines. American Airlines connects via Miami (2.5 hour flight) and then onto Kingston (90 minute flight). Delta now offers service to and from Kingston via Atlanta (2.5 hour flight from Kingston).

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Work for US government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing for U.S. government folks is generally split between apartments and townhouses. The apartments are located in a building that used to be a hotel and was converted into an apartment building. Apartments there are 2-3 bedroom, 2.5 - 3 bathroom units with balconies, washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc. in the unit (no garbage disposals). Each unit is about 1,600 square feet and views vary but most include mountains or the Caribbean Sea, some lucky people have both. Townhouses are spread out around Kingston, many are located in compounds with other expats and locals, all have 24 hour security, most have communal swimming pools as well. Commute times vary from 10 - 40 minutes to the Embassy. Traffic is also a huge factor in commute times and traffic volumes increase during the school year as there is no formal public school bus system.

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

In general, locally produced items are going to be cheap, but of lesser quality (except fruits and veggies). Items in the grocery stores that cater to expats are at least 30% more than in the U.S., if not more. You can purchase very good fruits and vegetables from vendors around or outside of the city for pennies on the dollar. If you have domestic help, then ask him/her to purchase fruits/veggies for you because they can get the local prices.

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

Nothing specific. You can get pretty much anything you need on the island, but for 30% more than you'd pay in the US. If you're patient then you can order pretty much whatever you need to the DPO. For those without access to the DPO, UPS and FedEx offer door-to-door service (they even clear the item(s) through customs for you).

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

In general, Kingston is an expensive city. Pretty much everything not grown on the island is imported and so that impacts the costs of most everything, food included. Expect to pay 30% or more for the American fast food companies than you are used to. Local fast food chains are much cheaper and still have very good food. Make sure you try all of the major brands of patties (Tasty, Mother's Juicy, etc.).

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

Mosquitoes are the most common pest. They can carry dengue, Chick-V. I was unaware of any Malaria on the island and no one I knew was taking prophylaxis meds for it. There are also cockroaches and small lizards that can get into your home. The lizards eat do eat mosquitoes and other insects so if you can tolerate their presence they do provide a natural pest control service.

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Daily Life:

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

For U.S. government staff, there is a DPO. Amazon and Walmart were two of the more popular options for people looking to purchase non-perishable food items. Delivery usually took 1- 2 weeks.

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

Domestic help is readily available and relatively inexpensive. Most people pay in the area of US$20 per day for their helpers.

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

Be careful. I did use my ATM card often, but only at Scotia Bank, fortunately, no problems. I only used my credit card at larger grocery stores, again, fortunately no issues. Many people did have their cards skimmed . I would not recommend using a card at any place where they cannot swipe it right in front of you.

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

English is the official language of Jamaica. Locals do speak Patois (local dialect) among each other but everyone speaks English. If you speak English then you'll have no problems in Jamaica.

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

Newer buildings (of course the major resorts and hotels) seem to have accounted for people with physical disabilities. However, in general, the infrastructure in Jamaica does not make it easy.

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Transportation:

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

Public transportation in Jamaica is a mix of buses and taxis. They are affordable, but not recommended because they can be very unsafe due to the style of driving among Jamaican chauffeurs. There are no trains. Fortunately, Jamaica is a relatively small island and the drive from Kingston to Negril is 4 hours, to Montego Bay 3 - 3.5 hours, Ocho Rios 2.5 - 3 hours, Port Antonio, 2. - 2.5 hours, so things are not far.

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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?

The Jamaican government restricts what vehicles can be imported. As of late 2014, SUVs had to be 5 years old or newer and other vehicles 6 years old or newer to be imported onto the island. Most people opted for mid to regular size SUVs that have a high ground clearance. The roads in Jamaica, especially outside of Kingston, are riddled with potholes and other obstacles that you want to avoid.

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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?

It is available and very reliable. The speeds are pretty much the same as in the U.S. and the cost for phone/tv/internet packages are roughly what you'd expect to 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?

No pets are allowed to be brought onto the island.

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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?

Few and far between. Jamaicans are eager to leave the island in search of job opportunities. For expats with specialized skills (accounting, legal, tax services, possibly tourism management) there may be better opportunities. Many people try to work remotely with a US or other foreign companies from home since the communications infrastructure is very good.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Several. There are under served local orphanages, animal shelters, food banks, etc. that need help. Most are willing to accept volunteers.

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Health & Safety:

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

Kingston is known as a high-crime area but this was largely confined to the downtown portions of the city. Typically, there is little crime (petty or otherwise) in the parts of town where expats live. That said, there were some incidents of home break-ins or theft/muggings at ATMs around town. Most people who used common sense were okay and they avoided the downtown areas and were discrete when using ATMs or going out for the night.

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2. 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?

Air quality in Kingston is typically fine. There is a very large landfill/dump in Portmore that catches on fire from time to time and the smoke from those fires can be blown into Kingston, depending on the wind. People are routinely burn leaves and small piles of garbage, but those are usually very small and isolated fires, but they do spread smoke. The air quality outside of Kingston is typically better, especially up in the mountains.

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

The weather is fairly constant. Temperatures range from 80 - 90 F or so during the day and in the winter months the evening/night temperature can fall to around 70. During the peak of the summer July/August, the temperature can get close to 100. There is a rainy/hurricane season from November - June, which varies in intensity from year to year.

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Schools & Children:

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

Children of U.S. government staff attend either AISK or Hillel. Both are very good schools, the top private schools in Jamaica. Many Jamaican students who attend these schools go on to attend colleges in the U.S.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community in Jamaica is large and morale is generally high.

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

Kingston can be a good city for families, singles, and couples. For families, there is a good size expat community, children have amazing options for after-school activities, sports, etc. There are often movie nights, birthday parties, and other kid-themed events to attend. For singles and couples, there are some good restaurants, bars and clubs in Kingston. Beach parties are also prevalent. Jamaicans are usually up for meeting foreigners and showing them a good time. Most people I know who enjoy going out have no shortage of opportunities for finding things to do.

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

Jamaica is very conservative on this issue. Openly gay or lesbian couples or individuals are not really welcomed.

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

One love? This is a real concept in Jamaica. Jamaican men and women can sometimes be overly flirtatious and their attitudes toward gender roles tend to be more traditional. Most people are religious (Christian) and attend church every week. I am unaware of any real prejudice toward other religions or races. Jamaicans truly do share the One Love concept, which does feed into some social issues facing the island.

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

Getting to know Jamaicans. They have a fascinating culture and history that is rich and they are happy to share it with foreigners. There are also many 5K races in and around Kingston, some even incorporate beaches into the race. Of course, the beaches are amazing, the weather is wonderful and the coffee is divine. Also, if you're from the U.S., you'll probably never live closer to home while being in a foreign country. Travel to and from the U.S. is relatively easy and cheap - a great recipe for weekend getaways and family/friend visits to the island. Climbing Blue Mountain is also a must-do, no special gear needed. It take about 4 hours to hike up from Whitmore Hall and 3 hours to hike back down. The summit is at roughly 7,000 feet and on a clear day they say you can see Cuba.

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

Port Antonio. This part of the island is not frequented by tourists and has a more laid back and local feel to it. Frenchman's Cove and San San Beach are only a 2 - 2.5 hour drive from Kingston, perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. Climbing the Blue Mountain is also an amazing experience.

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

Jamaicans are extremely friendly and know how to have a good time. There are nearly endless beaches, waterfalls, rivers, jerk centers, and outdoor activities to explore. The main tourist attractions are on the North coast (Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios) but there are lesser-visited gems in Port Antonio (Frenchman's Cove, San San Beach, Blue Lagoon, Boston Bay). The southwest part of the island also has amazing beaches and nice bed and breakfast options. The weather is usually hot (80 - 90 F) and sunny year round, save for the rainy season (November - June). Real Blue Mountain coffee is also prevalent on the island. Make sure to visit some of the coffee plantations (UCC, Coffee Roasters, Strawberry Hill, etc.)

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8. Can you save money?

Some people did save money but the costs of food and entertainment are much higher than people expect.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely! Jamaican is an amazing place to live and work. Great people, great weather, great beaches, tons of outdoor activities!

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Kingston, Jamaica 10/09/14

Background:

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

No. Before Kingston, we were in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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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?

We frequently fly to NY which there are direct flights to on Jetblue, Caribbean Air, Delta and Fly Jamaica. A lot of other destinations connect through Atlanta and Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been here for three years.

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

Spouse works for the U.S. government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. Embassy folks live in the Powell Plaza compound or townhomes in gated communities. We live in a townhome and love it. All places have a communal pool. Our house is very spacious. And our neighbors are a mix of U.S. and other diplomats, expats and Jamaicans. All the kids run around and play outside after school together.

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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 expensive. There is Loshusan, a more upscale supermarket. Megamart, where you will find better deals. And finally, Pricesmart which is like Costco. Pay to join and buy in bulk.

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

There's Wendy's, KFC, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominoes and TGI Friday's. Everything in Jamaica is more than in the U.S.

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

There are mosquitos here. We're able to keep them out of our house and use spray when going outside at night. Little ants come in on the ground floor if any little crumb is around. And we've seen the occasional cockroach but nothing treatment didn't stop.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. Works fine.

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

Very affordable. Our full-time helper works 50 hours per week for roughly US$120.

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

Powell Plaza has a gym for all U.S. Embassy folks to use. The nurses station at the U.S. Embassy also has some cardio machines for use. Haven't tried any but there seem to be plenty of gyms to join and exercise classes to take in Kingston.

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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?

I use a credit card for groceries and scan my bill monthly to make sure it's legit as others have had their numbers skimmed. Only ATM I would use is at the Embassy. Typically, I would just cash checks at the Embassy.

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

Yes. There aren't too many accommodations for those with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

There aren't any trains. There are buses but expats tend to have cars so don't use them. RSO has a list of approved taxis to use.

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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 people have medium sized SUVs. Driving is on the left side of the road. You can use LHD or RHD. Beware of taxi drivers and motorcycles.

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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, through FLOW. GSO sets it up in your house so it's working when you arrive. HUGE PLUS!! Never had any connectivity issues.

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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?

I pay as I go each month with a cheap, basic cell phone from Digicel. Others use their iphones.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's a high crime area but if you're careful you'll be fine. Most houses have grills and U.S. Embassy houses have a 24-hour security guard outside. Can't walk anywhere really and I don't drive after dark all too often.

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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?

You need to be careful with mosquitos. Friends have gotten dengue and Chik-v most recently. Facilities and staff for routine doctor's and dentist appointments are fine. For something more than that, fly to Miami.

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

It's about 85F degrees and sunny almost every day. Rainy season is from June to November but hasn't been so bad for the three years we've been here. Sometimes it rains hard for a couple of hours and the power goes out. But soon enough the sun is back out.

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Schools & Children:

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

Mainly, kids go to Hillel or AISK. Most U.S. Embassy kids attend AISK. Our child is young and we've been mostly satisfied with the education he's getting.

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2. 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?

There are a handful of preschools in the area-CLC (near Powell Plaza), Step by Step and El Centro. My kids went to SBS and enjoyed it. It's in session from 8am-1pm so if both parents work you'll need a flexible schedule or hire a driver to pick up your child.

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

Yes. Both the schools offer after school activities-tennis, swimming, soccer, dance, glee etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Good size. Big enough so you can branch out but small enough that you run into people when outside of Kingston. Morale is fine. Most expats are happy here but ready to go after 2-3 years.

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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 a couple of movie theaters that get decent and recent movies. Plenty of restaurants to try-especially Marketplace where you can sit in a courtyard and order from any of the five or six restaurants. Lots of 5K races take place here in Kingston.

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

Definitely a good city for families. Kids, especially young, are kept happy with playdates, birthday parties, swimming, after-school activities, visits to the beach and other nearby tourist attractions. A bunch of singles live in Powell Plaza and seem to have a good group to hang out with.

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

Having so many mini vacations sampling the different hotels/resorts. Some are all inclusive which is convenient with little kids. Other areas are less touristy with villas to rent and come with chefs to cook for you.

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

Boardwalk beach at Ft. Clarence...only 30 minutes from Kingston and has umbrellas and chairs to use. Seafood for sale. Take a day trip to Lime Cay by boat and hang out on the island, bring all of your food and drink.

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

Beautiful beaches and resorts, year round sunny weather with occasional storms, affordable household help.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, we've had a great experience. Our young kids had fun, made good friends and so did we.

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

Winter clothes.

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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, 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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Kingston, Jamaica 12/15/13

Background:

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

Yes, first expat experience.

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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?

Midwestern US. 2 hour flight to Miami, and then on to home. It's easy to get to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but apart from that it's hard to get anywhere that doesn't have a large Jamaican population. Boston, NYC and DC are easy, the midwest and the East coast are expensive. Sometimes you can get charter flights from MoBay during the tourist season, but even that is tough. Delta just entered the market, so that might bring costs down a bit. It's much harder to get around the Caribbean or off the island in general than I had anticipated.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is nice -- townhouses, mostly, and apartments. All have pools. Commute times are 15-45 minutes, depending on whether it's raining or not.

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

Expensive. Especially anything that's a cold-season veggie in the U.S. Pork and beef are very expensive compared to U.S. prices, and if you're in to sausage or smoked meats, the availability is very limited. Chicken is widely available and great, but also spendy in comparison to the U.S. Local vegetables (cabbage, carrot, 'Irish' potato, sweet potato, green beans, tomatoes when they're in season) are reasonably inexpensive. Fresh herbs are down-right cheap. Dairy -- milk, yogurt, cheese of all types -- is expensive. Fresh milk is about US$5 per half-gallon, UHT milk is US$2.75 per litre. Bring laundry detergent if you can, other cleaning products are fairly reasonable.

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

Canned tomatoes and beans, which are CRAZY expensive here. Laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, sheets and towels. More toys and things for the kids to do as they don't get out as much here as at home.

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

Burger King and Wendy's are here, about the same price as the U.S. There's a TGIFridays in Kingston, which is expensive and fairly lousy. That's about it for American chains. Scotchies is great for Jerk Chicken, there are a number of good Middle Eastern places, two decent Indian restaurants, a couple of sushi/japanese places. Most of the restaurants are not on main streets, but on side streets, so it's really hard to stumble upon good places to eat -- you've got to know someone who knows someone. Tripadvisor, weirdly, is good for this.

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

Everyone has ants -- the wee little ones. People complain about the mosquitoes, but they're nothing compared to what I'm used to in the Midwest. Of course, the ones at home don't carry Dengue, either. But not bad.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy. DHL and Fedex both deliver here, though, and package mail can be shipped either way.

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

Embassy families usually pay about US$25/day for domestic help and US$35/week for gardeners. We overpay SIGNIFICANTLY compared to locals. Nannies get about US$400/month usually.

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

Available, most complexes have a small gym on site. There are bigger ones available, but they're fairly expensive (US$100/month).

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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?

You can, but credit card cloning/skimming is a thing that happens, even in the nice expat grocery stores. ATMs are reasonable, but most won't handle Mastercard, only Visa.

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

All of them? English language post. :)

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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?

They speak English here, but picking up some Jamaican slang is helpful.

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

I don't see a lot of ramps or accessibility around town, but I think you could probably make a reasonable go of it.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. There are buses and they're cheapish, but you can't take them. Taxis exist, and you can use approved companies. They're reasonable.

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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?

Bring something with a high ground clearance, the pot-holes here are legendary, especially outside of Kingston. We've never really used our 4-wheel drive, but I'm glad we have it nonetheless.

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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. It's expensive (US$75-100/month) and fairly reliable. It goes out maybe once a month, for 4-6 hours?

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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?

You've got a choice between digicel and LIME and just about everyone uses Digicel. Bring your own phone, they're expensive and technologically behind here -- Blackberry is still the 'cool' brand. But easy and cheap to set up.

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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, except with some complicated quarantine system involving sending them to the UK for 6 months first. Not a good choice for those with pets.

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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?

No idea.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

No idea.

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

Fairly casual. Work is dresses and cardigans over suits most of the time. For women, the more upper-class Jamaicans tend to be more covered up and chose capris or pants over shorts -- not that you have to do likewise, but it's something to be aware of as you pack. Also, bring your wardrobe or plan to order it online. There are very few clothes shopping opportunities on the island.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Jamaica is #4 in the world for per-capital murder rate. Most of the crime is intra-community violence tied to politics and the drug trade, but there's plenty of opportunistic crime as well. Violence can pop up on very short notice here, so you've always got to be careful of where you are and who is around you. It limits your ability to get out among Jamaican society pretty heavily.

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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?

Medical care for basic stuff -- infections, fevers, sprained ankles, etc. -- is good and cheap. Doctor's visits run US$20-30. Prescriptions can get expensive and doctors tend to over-prescribe (5 different medications for a sinus infection is common). Bring cold medicine, especially for kids, with from the States.

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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 not bad, but it's not great. They burn trash here, and do a lot of slow-char to make coal and ash for farming, so if you're sensitive to smoke that would be a problem. Allergies seem to be bad here, especially during the fall.

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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?

85F and sunny. Rains during the hurricane season, mostly in the afternoon, usually for a couple of 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?

There are two major international schools here: Hillel and AISK. While I think your kids would get a good education, meeting or exceeding U.S. standards at both, make sure to tour each one as they've got very different standards and vibes between the two.

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

Hillel has resource teachers that work both with gifted and talented students and with students with academic special needs. There are speech therapists available, but it would be a referral, not in school. We have not been able to find an occupational therapist here.

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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?

Available, but we didn't use them. Nannies are very common and affordable, and tend to be quite good.

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

Yes, there's tons sports through both of the schools, starting from the younger grades. There's also football (soccer) and cricket through associations here in Jamaica.

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Expat Life:

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

There are a lot of expats here, but the 'community' is very splintered and the American community keeps to it's self-- tends to use different schools and socialize apart from other missions/communities. That said, morale seems to be good over all.

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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?

Lots of hanging out at the pool, especially for families. Movie nights, house parties, etc.

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

This is a good city for people who can make their own fun, regardless of whether you've got children, a spouse, etc.

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

NO. Jamaica is probably the single most homophobic country in the western hemisphere, and you can feel that and see that, even in the staff at the Embassy. It would be a very, very uncomfortable tour, likely including some fear for your personal safety unless you stayed scrupulously in the closet. I would NOT recommend coming here if you are LGBT.

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

Not really -- Jamaicans really feel their "Out of Many, One people" motto.

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

Feeding hummingbirds outside of Montego Bay. Lots of great beach days and family vacation to the North Coast.

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

The majority of the social life here is centered around pool parties and 'hanging out'. We've enjoyed driving out for picnics, playing in the river at the Castleton Botanical Gardens, and lots of day trips on the weekends. There is very little to do in the immediate Kingston area.

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

Not a lot of handicrafts here -- some wood carving, and some interesting painters, but that's about it.

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

It's 85F and sunny year round, basically. The Jamaicans are an incredibly warm and welcoming culture. There are great beaches and tourism opportunities on the North coast.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes -- but factor in the need to get out of Kingston and travel to really enjoy the country. You'll spend more than you planned on for hotels, villa rentals and the like.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How little there is to do for a family in Kingston -- seriously, it's the Bob Marley Museum, a bad zoo and Devon House, and that's it. We'd have been much more able to roll with it if we had been prepared.

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

Yes, we would. We'd just like to have our eyes a little more open.

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

Winter clothes, expectations of being entertained and tropical island fantasies.

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4. But don't forget your:

Pool toys, video games, books, and things to entertain yourself.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Harder They Come
, Dancehall Queen

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Dead Yard: A Story of Modern Jamaica
-- depressing, but gives you a feel for the Jamaica outside of the tourist brochures.

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Kingston, Jamaica 08/05/11

Background:

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

No. Yerevan, Armenia. Melbourne, Australia.

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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?

Baltimore, MD. Connection through Miami. About 5 hours total with layover.

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3. How long have you lived here?

August 2010 - present.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single family houses and apartments are available in Kingston. Traffic is bad during morning/evening rush hour, but is otherwise fine.

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

Expensive. Almost twice as much as in the U.S., especially due to the 17.5% General Consumption Tax on everything.

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

Consumables and household goods. Good wine -- it is expensive here unless you buy Chilean.

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

Some US fast food - Wendy's, Dominoe's, Burger King. No Starbuck's or McDonald's.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Some organic vegetables are available. There are some farms that sell direct to customers and will deliver produce/chicken/eggs during the week.

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

Ants, mosquitoes, but not too bad.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic Post Office - takes 1 - 2 weeks for mail to arrive.

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

Very reasonable. Around $1500 - $2500 JM per day, or $8,000 - $13,000 per week for full time.

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

Yes. Several gyms and yoga studios are available. Expect to pay US$600 - $1000 for an annual membership.

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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?

There are ATMs throughout the city and credit cards are widely accepted.

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

Yes. Christian mostly.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes.

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

English. Patois would also help!

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

Not a lot of disability-friendly facilities here.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fine and affordable. Haven't ridden public buses, but some people do.

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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?

4-wheel drive is advisable but not necessary. Only cars less than 3-years old can be imported into Jamaica. Bring extra fluids, replacement parts, etc. as they can be expensive here.

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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. Can get cable/internet/phone bundle for around $100 per month from FLOW.

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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?

Bring an unlocked cell phone from the US as they are less expensive there. Best coverage here is with Digicel.

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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?

Cats and dogs cannot be imported into Jamaica, unless from the UK, and only if they have not had rabies shots.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Some -- mostly teaching.

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

Business or business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are security concerns, especially in Kingston. Be aware of your surroundings, as in any other urban environment. Most violence is gang on gang, or targeted at locals, but there are a lot of break-ins. Many complexes have security guards.

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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?

Good medical care is available.

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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?

Good.

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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?

Beautiful from November - March. Rainy in April - May. Hot and humid the rest of the year, but not unbearably so.

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Schools & Children:

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

Hillel and American International Schoool of Kingston. No experience with either.

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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?

View All Answers


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

Not sure

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Expat Life:

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

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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

Restaurants, bars, resorts out of town.

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

This would be an OK city for anyone. There really isn't much to do in the city, but there are some restaurants, nothing very fancy. Great jerk shops. There are several gyms downtown, and yoga studios. There are a couple of parks. Active cycling and running groups. Not much as far as museums and other cultural activities. Lots of bars/dance clubs that get started late in the evening.

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

No. There is a lot of anti-gay stigma in Jamaica. Although this is being discussed a lot in the press, and there are some active gay rights groups, I think it would be very difficult and possibly hazardous to be openly gay here.

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

No.

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

Getting out of Kingston to explore the island - Frenchman's Cove, Treasure Beach, Negril, Ocho Rios, Holywell park, Reach Falls are just a few of the places to visit. The Hash House Harriers (Jamacia Hash ) are very active and organize hiking trips to remote parts of the island every two weeks.

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

Get out on the weekends and enjoy the beaches and countryside. Go hiking. Scuba and snorkeling. Bird watching.

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

Great hotels at beautiful beaches.

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

Jamaica is a beautiful country. Beaches, mountains, rivers are all easily accessible for day or weekend trips if you have a car. There are tons of places to explore, and lots of nice hotels that offer local rates.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, in dual income households, or if you don't spend a lot of time in hotels.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely.

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

Sense of urgency. Everything here is on Jamaican time!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure. Get out and see the country!

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?


National Geographic Insights

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kingston, Jamaica 09/19/10

Background:

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

Germany & Russia.

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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?

Maryland. It is a 6-hour plane trip with a layover usually in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year and 4 months.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Singles tend to live in one main apartment area, but there are townhomes and houses.

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

They are available, however, it'll be cheaper on your wallet if you can get items online.

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

More canned foods and tires.

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

There a number of fast food and restaurants here. However keep in mind that it takes awhile to get your food. I've found that if I'm going to a restaurant it's better to call in advance and to know what I'm ordering as soon as I get there if not your in for a long wait. Your bound to wait for a long time for your food even in the more touristy areas.

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

Sugar ants are a bit of a nuisance.

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Daily Life:

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

I use the DPO.

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

They are available and the rate is from $2k JA to 3k JA. It's open for negotiation.

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

There is a gym at the apartment building.

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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?

I've had no problems but I'd still be careful.

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

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. They have FLOW and Lime. You can view the tv packages online.

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

The language here is english, but you'll start to pick up the patois easily if you try.

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

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Transportation:

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

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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?

You don't want to bring a car that rides low to the ground. There are potholes inside of potholes here. And you'll also want to bring spare tires, emphasis on the plural!

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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. And the internet is excellent except when it rains really hard and the power goes out.

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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?

Bring an international cell phone.

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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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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

Just like the states.

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Health & Safety:

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

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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?

I haven't tried out any of the doctors.

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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?

Good.

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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?

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Schools & Children:

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

No experience with them - but there are two main schools that are used here - Hillel Academy and AISK

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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?

A lot of people tend to use nannies - but there is the Rainbow Daycare Center I have not needed to use this

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

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty decent not sure exactly how large.

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2. Morale among expats:

I think everyone here gets along very well, and I think we've got a fantastic team serving here!

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

Tons of parties. Lots of mixers

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

It's a wonderful place for all of the above.

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

Jamaica is a homophobic environment.

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

None that I am aware of.

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

Wonderful place if your into photography, Participating in Carnival, going to some of the various resorts, and lots of things to do so long as your willing to do a little research.

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

Dunns River, Beaches, Shimmering Waters, Blue Lagoon, Monkey Island, Jerk Festival, Kite Festival, Go Karting, Suncoast (it has the black sand beach, paintgunning, hiking, and rope challenge), Lover's Leap, etc.

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

Wicker furniture and some of the foods.

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

Numerous outdoor activities and great weather.

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11. Can you save money?

Not really -- you'll just barely break even.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat.

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

worries.

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3. But don't forget your:

bug spray.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kingston, Jamaica 07/15/10

Background:

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

1st expat experience.

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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?

Florida, 1-1/2hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Military/Goverment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing for most embassy personnel is in a hotel that the embassy purchased and renovated, and the rooms are like large apartments: living room, kitchen, dining room, 2 bedrooms, etc. Some live out in town in townhouses. They are all very nice. The Marines live on compound.

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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 high priced on some items such as produce. Same with household items.

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

They have just about everything you need here.

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

Chinese and Japanese here are great. They have a little bit of everything Fast-food restaurants include BK, Wendy's, KFC, Subway, but there is no McDonald's.

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

Not too many insect problems at all.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the embassy or the local post office.

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

Very cheap and always available.

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

Yes there is a Gym at the Powell Plaza, wich is where most embassy personnell live. There are also a lot of gyms in town that are not that high priced.

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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?

The embassy has an ATM inside. The ones in town are not recommended, especially in the night time.

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

English, yes, and they have almost all types of churches here

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

About 20-40 dollars a month.

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

They speak english. Some speak patois, which is english but hard to understand at first

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

Not much at all.

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Transportation:

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

Public transportation is very dangerous.

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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?

Any type is okay. But nothing that rides really low, due to a lot of pot holes in the roads.

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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.

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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?

BlackBerry is a must in Jamaica.

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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?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

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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?

No the unemployment rate in Jamacia is 50%.

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

Casual in public. At work it is polo shirt and slacks.

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Health & Safety:

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

Kingston Jamaica is a high-crime area -- usually just petty theft, though, i.e. pickpocketing, etc. Just know where to go and do not go into Kingston downtown. That is a no-no, and using public transportation is a no-no.

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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?

Medical care is good and very cheap.

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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?

It is warm year 'round and very humid. If you been to south Florida, it is just about the same weather. It has a dry season in the winter and rains all the time in the summer, but usually it just rains for a short time and the sun is right back out.

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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?

Rainy in the summer, dry in the winter, always warm.

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Schools & Children:

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

The schools, from what I hear, are not the greatest. But I have no kids and do not know much about them.

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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?

I know it's available but do not know much about them.

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

Yes, the embassy also has its own soccer and softball teams.

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Expat Life:

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

200+

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2. Morale among expats:

Great. Everyone gets along and there are many events sponsored by the Marines here.

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

Amazing nightlife, and there are two movie theaters in Kingston.

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

It's great for singles. The nightlife never stops! There is always something to do. It is also good for couples who want to get out and explore the beautiful parts of the country. I wouldn't really recommend it for families with young children

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

Jamaicans are very much against gays. I mean VERY much against gays. It is a very very bad idea to come to Jamaica if you happen to be gay or lesbian, and it and could be dangerous or harmful to yourself.

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

Before coming here I was told they are very racist against white people, but that is false. I find much more racism in the U.S. Most all people here are very friendly and accepting.

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

There is always something going on for a single person and even couples. They throw parties and events all the time in Jamaica, and it's usually about $40usd for unlimited drinks and food.

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

Nightlife, beaches, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, diving, etc.

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

Many tourism-type items.

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

There is much touring around the country, such as Negril, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and Ocho Rios. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In Kingston there is the Bob Marley museum and some others.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I would live here! I love it to death and love the local people.

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

That's up to you.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit and sunglasses.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

n/

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

cool runnings

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Dont listen to most people who havent been here before. There are a lot of negative things talked about here. Yes, the crime rate is high in Jamaica, but it is mostly between gangs, and they don't bother you. Just dont get caught up in the wrong parts of town and/or with the wrong people, and you will be fine.

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Kingston, Jamaica 05/31/10

Background:

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

This was not my first one, I have lived in Prague, and Bugerest, Romania.

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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?

My home base is Toronto, Canada. It takes about 5 hours to get there, most flights have to layover in Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Lived there 2 years ago for 8 months.

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

My father got a job there.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most expats live in a compound with a fence around it. Most compounds have a pool and gym. I feel very safe in them, as the secerity is very good in these compounds.

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

You can find everything here. Most things are imported from the US, so you will be able to find your favorite American product. The cost is more than in the USA.

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

Movies and books.

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

All fast food is here. You will find the same fast food you find in America or Canada. Same prices, too.

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

There is not really a problem, but as in all tropical locations there are a lot of mosquitoes and ants.

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Daily Life:

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

There is one post office at the only safe mall in town.

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

Available and fairly cheap

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

Yes, most compounds have gyms.

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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?

There are not to many ATM machines, and when you find one, expect to pay a fee. So you should take a bunch of money out. However, do not carry it around. Keep most of it at home.

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

Many.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There is the daily Gleaner newspaper, and it is in English. All TV is in English and available.

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

English is the national language.

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

Many. No ramps, no elevators, missing sidewalks, etc.

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Transportation:

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

Trains and buses are not safe, so do not even think about using one. Taxis are safe, but make sure they have a license and are not just pretending to be a driver for money. I have heard of that happening.

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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?

Bring a big car with good wheels. The roads are bad here, and there is not much service.

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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, available and same price as in America.

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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?

Get one when you arrive, there are many places to get one.

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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?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

View All Answers


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?

Not really.

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

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, Jamaica is the 3rd-most dangerous country in terms of crime. Every day there are murders, rapes and break-ins. We heard gunshots a few times, and we were in the safest area in Kingston. Also, do not walk alone, ever, and never take a walk at night - even with other people. If you want to take a walk it has to be day time. Be with a group, do not carry much money with you, and no valuables. Also, most expat homes have an armed guard.

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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?

No health concerns, and the medical facilities are good. But for any major issues or surgeries, you will have to go 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?

Moderate.

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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?

Tropical and warm all year.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is one international school, it is an American school. I went there and did not enjoy it at all. Many teachers seem poorly trained and unable to handle special-needs children.

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

None. I had major problems going to school here. I do not have specific special needs, but when I had trouble with something, they did not offer any help at all. It is like they do not even care.

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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?

There is one at the American School.

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

I think the American school has some.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Ok, but most people hate not having freedom, and they always have to watch their backs becuse of the crime issue.

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

Not much in Kingston. There is one safe mall in the Sovereign center, and it has a movie theater, food court, grocery stores and 2 floors of shopping. Other than that, there is hanging at your compound, swimming, partying, dinners and you neighbors, and hanging at home.

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

No/no/no, as it is not safe and there is very little to do, especially for families with kids.

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

Gays seem to have no issues here,

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

There are none of these issues.

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

Experiencing a new country and culture.

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

Get out of Kingston! There are many things to do elsewhere. There are the blue mountains nearby, and there are many tourist towns that are so much safer than Kingston. Go to Negril or Montego Bay. There are also nice beaches there. There are many tourist things in Jamaica, such as Dolphin swimming, zip lining, and beaching.

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

None.

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

Great Weather all year 'round.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, because I did not like having no freedom. I did not like not being able to go for a walk at anytime, and I hated being trapped in the compound all weekend and summer.

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

winter gear and your sense of freedom.

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3. But don't forget your:

movies, books, and tons of toys if you have kids and infinite patience.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a high-crime post, you need to seriously consider whether it is worth coming here.

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Kingston, Jamaica 11/06/09

Background:

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

First.

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

Our family has been here 1 1/2 years.

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

I joined my husband, who had been working here.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

A large variety of housing exists. There are beautiful single-family homes with fruit trees and lots of yard space, as well as many small townhouse developments with community amenities such as pool and tennis courts.

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

Buying typical American food will lead you to the poor house. Not only is the marked price of an item expensive, but also most imported items and non-essentials also attract a 16.75% tax. A gallon of ice cream cost 9$/gallon. However, most items are available, but brands may be unfamiliar to you, and you might only have a choice of 1 or 2 types of a particular item versus 5 or 6 in the States. There are two warehouse stores PriceSmart (like a Costco) and MegaMart that carry typical American items. PriceSmart has the best prices by far on the whole island. You can also purchase big screen tv's, diapers, and fresh baked bread under 1 roof. We have learned to purchase in season fruit/vegetables, to eat far less processed food and to eat locally available food. It has really been a better lifestyle as far as our health is concerned. And it is much cheaper as well.

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

Anything that you really want. It will not be available here in either the quality you want or at a price you expect. Shoes, clothing, household furnishings are limited.

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

American Fast food - KFC, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza. There are also a large number of local fast food places (patty shops and jerk chicken especially).There are also a number of very nice and reasonable restaurants, including Sunday brunch at the Terra Nova hotel. I would have to agree that the Chinese food here in better and less expensive than in the States.

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

Lots of insects, very buggy. Use appropriate repellent and you will be fine.

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Daily Life:

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

We use regular postal service to send/receive letters, but it takes anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks for delivery to the States. Packages being sent down take about 3 weeks.

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

Very inexpensive and readily available. It is VERY important to get a personal reference, as trustworthiness in worth its weight in gold.

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

There are a few, although I have not used them.

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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?

You can use them with ease at almost all establishments. HOWEVER, NEVER LET THE CARD OUT OF YOUR SIGHT, EVER!. We have twice (with two different cards) had our cards used illegally after purchasing gas at an unfamiliar gas station. The banks refunded our money (more than $1000), but it was a real problem to have to address this.

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

Yes, there are lots of churches here. Some say there are more churches per capita here than anywhere else in the world. Anglican, Catholic, Assembly of God to name a few.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. Cable is easily available and reasonably priced. (about $50/month) with FLOW.

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

Middle and upper class Jamaicans speak standard English and in many cases are more polite than American. Almost all of the poorer locals can understand Standard English. Many can also speak Standard English. It can be helpful to you to make an effort to understand patois, as it will benefit you in understanding what someone is really saying.

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

Lots of difficulty. There are no special accommodations, other than a school for the blind that teaches residents how to weave chairs. And a program that teaches deaf students how to do batik art design.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. Local buses are not pleasant or safe, but they are affordable. Local taxis are not something I would want to ride in unless absolutely necessary.

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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?

Any vehicle that can withstand enormous and frequent potholes will be fine. Seriously. Also, small SUVs work well because of the extra height necessary during rainy season. Do not bring a large SUV, as you will never find a parking spot big enough to fit your vehicle, and the roads also tend to be very narrow. Toyota and BMW are very popular here. Import duty fees are extremely expensive, approximately 100% (yes, 100%) of the value of the vehicle. Most mechanics here are good.

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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, our DSL internet connection is very reliable. Cost is about $40/month. We have a combined phone/internet/cable package that runs about $100/month, including free calls to the US/UK/Canada (FLOW).

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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?

Cell phones are everywhere. One can purchase a basic phone for about $35 US and buy credit (minutes) at any supermarket, gas station, or store front.

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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?

No pets from US are allowed. There is no rabies on the island, and the country wants to keep it that way.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are a few vets, and the local SPCA (JSPCA) has extremely low-cost and competent pet care. Not sure about kennels.

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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?

No. There are not enough jobs for the locals, and it is very difficult to get a visa which allows you to work. However, there are abundant volunteer opportunities.

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

Usual dress attire: suits for men, dresses/skirts and blouse or pantsuits for women. Normal casual wear, summer-type clothing when not at work. All children wear school uniforms.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

I believe the air pollution is moderate. Similar to other congested cities. Trash burning is a very common occurrence in many areas. Generally speaking, though, we have not had any problems.

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

There are extremely high security concerns here. One must have bars/grills on ALL windows and doors. One must drive with windows up and doors locked. One must avoid certain neighborhoods at all times. All that said, our townhouse community is very comfortable, and children play freely at the community playground, women jog alone in the evening and families walk into and out of neighbors' houses with ease.

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

Private physicians are extremely capable and competent. However, the public hospitals are horrific. The cost of health care is very low. A doctor's office visit about $20, a private hospital emergency room visit $30. Most charges are similar to what one would pay in the States.

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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?

The weather is absolutely beautiful. During the summer months it can become hot and humid, much like Miami, however the breezes from the sea tend to offset the high temps. Sept/Oct through May is spectacular: warm days, sun shining and blue skies. Hurricane season lasts Jun-Nov, but daily afternoon rain showers tend to occur during Sept/Oct/Nov.

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Schools & Children:

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

American International School of Kingston is a very good as well as small (about 200 students total) school using an American style of instruction/curriculum. Tuition at AISK however is prohibitively expensive for those families who are not sponsored by the embassy or other employer (@15,000$US).Hillel is also a very good private school whose population includes most of the upper class children of the community, similar to what one could find at a "good" school in the States. Hillel has been very extremely accommodating as it opens up some of its extra-curricular activities to the community. The Porter School is also a good local private school with class sizes limited to 15 students/classroom.

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

There are speech therapists at many of the schools and in the community. There are a few special-ed local schools, but the availability of services is extremely limited compared to what is available in the States.

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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?

No personal experience, but all of my neighbors sent their children to Rainbow Land and all have said wonderful things about this school. Very academic focus I hear though. There is also a Montessori school, but I do not know anyone who attends. Stella Maris Catholic Church has a good daycare, prep school as well. Daycare is extremely cheap if you hire a helper/nanny. There are many options in this area.

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

Gynmastics (Mr. Ishimoto), soccer, swimming (tons).There are many, many more programs available through the schools and churches, i.e. track and field, cricket, tennis, table tennis, and others. Horseback riding is also available.

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Expat Life:

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

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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?

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3. Morale among expats:

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

It is okay for families. The community is very close-knit and whole family socialize together, which is wonderful. However, because of the crime/trash, most people cannot just meet at the local park or activity center.

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

No.

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

There are mostly class differences here, rather than racial problems. The country has a very diverse ethnic population (African, Middle East, Indian and Chinese) that all see themselves as Jamaican. Very strong sense of nationalism here. However the vast majority of people are extremely poor, and the income disparity is horrific.

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

The beaches are the most beautiful I have ever seen. Hiking is fun, as is visiting friends. Gardening is very popular. Symphony, dance and occasional music concerts are available. Some children's activities available include excellent gymnastic instruction, violin/Suzuki instructors, youth symphony, large Halloween/Christmas parties, foreign language classes, swimming instruction, storytime/bookclub for children, soccer programs, art programs. It absolutely takes lots of time to find all of these activities, but they are available. Yoga classes adults/children. Lots of restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines.

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

Local arts and crafts, like baskets and woodwork.

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9. Can you save money?

No. Most things are far more expensive than you expect them to be.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not sure. My husband is here, and in order to keep our family together we joined him. This is definitely the 3rd world. However, we have learned many life lessons and have met some wonderful, kind, generous, warm people during our stay here.

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

cold weather clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

bug spray, bathing suits, and good shoes.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Rough Guide to Jamaica, most of the tourist-type books are fairly accurate.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kingston, Jamaica 01/21/09

Background:

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

No, I lived in Japan.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Living there now, 1.5 years.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Travel is pretty cheap from Kingston. A flight to Miami takes only about an hour and half.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing can be pretty nice, depending on your paygrade. Alot of people live in Powell Plaza. It is a huge tower that used to be an Hotel that is now made into a housing complex. Most people that live there seem to like it. Personally I am glad I don't.

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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 very expensive. You will spend alot more than you would in the states and not get near the quality. Household supplies will be the same. Some things will not be available here. There are times when things will be completly unavailable.

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

Clothes, you can't but any good ones here, makeup, if you are light colored you won't be able to get any here. Computer software.

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

There are some fast food places here like KFC, Burger King and Wendy's, but they are not as good as stateside! There are a couple resturants in Kingston that are really good and decent prices.

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

There are alot of mosquitos. Also the mosquitos here carry dunga fever. I personally have known several people who have gotten it from a mosquito bite.

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Daily Life:

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

We go by pouch system. Mail comes to the Embassy 2x a week. It can be late as well. It takes a while for mail to get here. Order things early, especially for Christmas.

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

Domestic help can be cheap. There are always helpers and nannys always looking for a job. Finding a trustworthy, hard worker can be a little harder to find.

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

Powell Plaza has a gym, it is pretty nice. The Marine house has a small gym but that is only for certain people. You could get a membership at some out in Kingston, but I have heard they are really 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?

Most places here will use credit cards. You may get hassle but you can use them. There are ATMs around the city, but it is best to use the one at the Embassy or go in the daytime.

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

There is a small Baptist International churh here pastored by American missionaries. There are lots of local churches here as well.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are local newspapers that are english speaking. You can read American newspapers from the internet. American Magazines are harder to find, they have some. If you have a subcribtion it will take a while for it to get here. There is American TV. It is average price.

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

English is spoken here, but the Jamaican accent can be very hard to understand sometimes.

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

They will see alot of difficulties. There are no ramps, not many elevators and not much acomadation for them.

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Transportation:

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

I am sure they are, but we have been told not to take public transportation due to high crime

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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?

A vehicle that can take rugged terrain, the roads can be very bad. Also something that is set up higher, when it rains it floods! There are some local restrictions on how big a car can be. Embassy personall sell their vehicles alot when they leave.

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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?

They do have high speed internet now, you can get your cable and internet through FLOW

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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?

Everyone here has a cell phone and they are easy to come by. You can get one here very easily. You will probably pay more, just like anything else you buy here.

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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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

You can not bring a pet here from America. It is against Jamaica Govt. Law. You could get a stray here, they are everywhere.

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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?

In the local community, No! The Embassy does have jobs for EFMS

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

For work it is normal work clothes like in any office. Out in Kingston you could wear anything!

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Like any city, it has pollution. Kingston is also very dirty with trash everywhere on alot of streets.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Normal immunizations for Americans. Most get them before they come.

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

Very High. You need to always be on alert. Lots of beggers on the streets and they can get mean. Windows need to be up and locked at all times. Try to only use the ATM at the Embassy, if you can, otherwise it can be scary. Do NOT use the ATMs after dark. Crime here is very high and affects how you live your life here. I don't go out much after dark.

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

If you have major health concerns you may not want to come here. Pregnant women are sent back to the States to have babies. Health care is okay, but I would not want to stay one day in a Hospital here!

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

The climate is very nice. It is always warm here, summer is really hot! Rainy season is about 2x a year and it can be pretty bad, especially with the Hurricane Season!

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Schools & Children:

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

There is one International School here. I do not have a child in it. I have not heard good things about it. Some of the parents I know are taking there kids out and sending them elsewhere or to boarding schools.

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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?

There are alot of preschool and daycares. My child is in Rainbow Land and loves it. The cost is about the same as any good city preschool. The teachers are great.

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

The International school has some things available, but not like the states.

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Expat Life:

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

It is about medium sized.

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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?

The social life here in Jamaica starts really late and stays up through the night. They like to party. There are small groups of families that get together to do family things.

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3. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you talk to. Overall it is pretty good I guess.

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

It will be whatever you make it. I don't think it is the best for families. There is high crime and not a lot for your children to do.

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

No, they are very much against anything of the sort!

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

Yes, people with light colored skin may see some prejudice.

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

Kingston doesn't have a lot to offer. Bars, nightclubs some good resturants. If you want to find something to do, leave Kingston and drive to the country or Montego Bay.

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

Local artists have nice paintings. Local crafts.

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9. Can you save money?

No, things here are expensive and you will want to use extra money to travel outside of Kingston or Jamaica all together.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

If I had the choice to go somewhere else I would of picked alot of other places, but I have met some good people.

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

Coats, gloves, winter boots.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, shorts, all summer clothes.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Kingston, Jamaica 01/07/09

Background:

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

No I have also lived in Canada, America, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

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2. How long have you lived here?

9 months.

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

Father got job.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Many fligts fly into Kingston. You can get direct flights from several major U.S., Canadian and Eurepean Cities.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most live in walled communities with security, barred windows and an armed guard. Many communites have a pool.

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

Expensive, a lot more than in the States. The best grocery store in the one in Soverien Center mall.

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

Movies, books, certain canned food, pool supplies.

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

There are a few American Fast food places such as KFC and Burger King. There are a few good resturants.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Available and cheap.

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

There are ATMs in the malls and most places accept credit and debit cards.

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

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes - widely avalible and cheap.

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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, the local language is English.

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

Major, there are not elaveters or ramps. Do not come if you are in a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left like England or Australia.

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

No trains here. Buses are not safe. Taxis are safe but expensive.

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3. 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?

Bring any car, but the terrain is rough, there is many pot holes in the roads and not much good service here.

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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 and cheap.

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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?

Use a phone card which you can buy at any gas station.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Many people use the local service. Most choice Cable and Wireless.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Do not bring your pet, it is not safe to go for a walk so your animal will not be able to go out. Many compounds to not even accept pets. If you do bring you animal, there are a few kennels and vets.

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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?

No.

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

Anything goes.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate, like any other medium sized city.

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

Yes, major. Never go out alone, and never go out at night even with someone. There is alot of crime here. Be carefull and do not do anything that will make you stand out.

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

No health concerns, medical care is not too bad.

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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?

Hot and humid all year round, same temperature as Miami. I was glad to leave the cold behind.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is one International school. The school was not very good.

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

They do not make any accommodations. I have special needs and they did nothing to help me.

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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?

There are many daycares, the best one is the one at the American School.

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Expat Life:

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

Small.

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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?

Nothing to do, most expats hang in their homes, go swimming in their pool and hang out with other expats.

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3. Morale among expats:

Ok.

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

No/No/No It is not good for anyone.

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

Not bad.

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

No.

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

Not much, there are a few safe malls, a good movie theater with the same movies that are shown in the States, there are some nice beaches outside the city. Montego Bay is a nice town to visit.

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

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9. Can you save money?

No, everything is expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Anything for cold weather.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, bathing suit, books, movies, warm weather clothing.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Do not come here if you have kids, they will not like it here.

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Kingston, Jamaica 05/23/08

Background:

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

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

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

It's my husband's home country.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About an hour and a half from Miami.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most expats who live in Kingston, live in gated communities of townhouses or apartments. Having a guard at the gate helps with who comes and goes. Commute times can vary from 20-90 minutes depending on the time of day you leave. Jamaica does not have a school bus system so many parents are on the road dropping of kids in the mornings, major traffic, and it gets worse when it rains.

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

Groceries, I have found most things to be available but extremely expensive. I was amazed when I first arrived as we were spending more than we did for food in DC. I have now however learned to buy local products for the items that I can, and buy fruit that is in season. I learned that its not like the U.S. when you get everything all year round, and things are seasonal. You also have to drive to two or three different places to shop. I arrive home exhausted after those trips. You may see something in the shops and when you return the following week, it's nowhere to be found.

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

Living room furniture, rugs, lamps & planters for my plants. Household items are very expensive here and I find the quality to be shabby.

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

I do not eat fast food but they exist. Subway, Wendy's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Diminos Pizza and many local Jamacian places. Jerk shops, Drum pan chicken, all you can eat crab shops. Market Place in Kingston has some great restaurants. The food is the best. The Chinese food is way better than the U.S. I think. There's also Indian food, Greek, and Japanese.

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Daily Life:

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

Post office or Mailpac a personal shipping service, which is extremely expensive.

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

Cheap, US$20-$ 25 a day depending on the size of the home she has to clean.

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

No problem, they are all around town. Just make certain you tell them take out in JA dollars when using Debit cards, as they will punch in $2,000. and its 2,000 JA and they pull outUS $2,000. This has happened to us a few times, thank goodness the banks call in a few hours later - it took forever to sort out.

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

Yes.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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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?

While English is spoken, Patios is the language on the street. So to get the best prices on the road, one must be able to barter and Patio is better, as they find you amusing. I hate this but many vendors charge you double or triple the price that a local person gets.

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

Huge difficulties would exist, as special services are minimal to non- exsistent. Rarely can one find a clean public bathroom with toilet paper, so be warned. Using the bush on trips is now common for me, sad but true, and I always have a knapsack with wet wipes/ tissue handy.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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

No train system exists here and I have heard of a shabby bus system. Mainly Peace Corp people use the buses but they appear fine. Taxis are best, or hiring a lone driver. Utilize a taxi service like Express taxi, do not just flag cars down on the roads, as this is not safe at all.

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3. 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?

SUVs are best for the Jamaican roads. We learned that after it rained for 15 days straight our first 6 months here. Do not bring an automobile, just get an SUV here, it will be easier for parts and repairs. Getting a new car could take 4-6weeks or longer, be warned.

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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?

About US$ 50.00 a month, not much.

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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?

Yes. Digicel and Cable & Wireless. Many of the locals have two phones. Purchase a phone as soon as you arrive and always keep an extra phone card credit in your bag.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage, Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Nope. Work for yourself, but jobs are scare and even volunteering is like pulling teeth.

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

The Jamaicans are conservative in many work place environments. Stockings can be seen on women with Jacketslong pants etc. short sleeves shirt for men appear okay, but open toes sandals may be a no no.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

Extremely high at all times. I always recommend that people make certain the houses/ apartments that they choose have bars/ grills on all windows and doors. Most friends who move here and tried not installing grills got burglarized within the first month. Jamaica, while a beautiful country, has the 3rd highest murder rate. Poverty and high levels of unemployment may be driving the criminal element.

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

Good dental and medical care. We have been very pleased. Health is cheaper than in the U.S. but many specialist do not take the insurance plans we have. For major concerns, you may want to fly off the island.

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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?

Rainy and dry seasons.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American School has a good reputation here and some local Jamaican children also attend. Hillel is another good private school. They provide both U.K./U.S. type curricula, so when your children go home, they can matriculate. We do not have children, so no personal experience to share.

Research is key and many say its best to have your child sit infor a few days before enrolling them. Do not send your child to some school in Ochi or out in the country as they call anything outside Kingston. Any place where you child may be the only minority kid or outsider will be more painful. I have heard horrible stories of children crying for weeks.

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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?

Rainbow land, is supposed to be a good one.

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Expat Life:

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

Not large - maybe 500 folks in Kingston. I am not sure about Montegobay.

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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?

Yes, we have several social events to attend yearly.

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3. Morale among expats:

Mostly good, but I avoid the bored folks who complain daily.

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

Good city for couples or single men. Not so kiddy friendly or wheelchair friendly. Many complain about lack of creative things for children to participate in. Single women have to be extremely cautious about who they date or go out with, which makes it difficult, plus the sincerity level of dating. Be careful is what I say to all, as many can be seen as a ticket off the island.

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

NOPE. Extreme caution here, as many of my DC gay pals vowing to never come visit this country. An underground scene may exist, I guess.

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

Not really, but some racial class distinction exist among the locals. It is a rather complex situation, with many expats often missing the hidden essence. A topic not spoken to outsiders about, as its a country based on tourism and survival. Food and shelter first.

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

Yes lots -- hiking, running, cycling, touring the Island, great beaches & water sports. Cricket, plays food fairs and even gardening. I am never bored, as I belong to a great book club and wine club. It's a very social place.

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

Art, wine and pottery. Good meat dinner at nice restaurant.

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9. Can you save money?

NOPE.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not sure.

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

Winter clothes and heavy blankets. Dark suits.

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3. But don't forget your:

Several pairs of kakhi shorts for the weekends, strong sturdy sandals, that can handle heavy rain water. Tevas, crocks and a few dressier sandals as well. Weekend walking stuff, sun hats, mosquito unscented stuff. Light washable clothing. No dry cleaning stuff as that can be expensive and your stuff may get ruined.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Jamacains.com & Youtube vidoes on Jamaica. Both are helpful.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Jamacains.com & Youtube vidoes on Jamaica. Both are helpful.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Jamaica is not for the soft and closed-minded. Several things sometimes do not work -- power outs, Internet outs, road blocks. Daily life is harder than where you may be coming from, but not a bad experience. I often say I have a great love / hate relationship with this soil, as some days I love it, and yet other I scream to myself.

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