How To Rent A Home In Jamaica

This article is an overview of finding a Jamaican property rental, based on my experiences of going through the process a few times over the years.  It not only covers how to find a long term rental property in Jamaica, but how to set one up as well.  There are a few different options when diving into home rentals so I’ll touch on each of them.

 

How to Find a Rental Home in Jamaica

The most obvious way to find long term rentals in Jamaica are through real estate websites.  There are pros and cons to this way of searching.  PRO: This is a convenient way, especially if you start your search from abroad but for that one pro there are many cons.   Real estate websites have FAR more properties for sale than for rent and it seems that every Jamaican real estate website pretty much shows the same listings so you most likely won’t see any better selection on any given website.

The most popular Jamaican real estate listing websites are:

Coldwell Banker Jamaica

Sagicor Properties

Remax Elite

Meldam Realty (which appears to be changing over to Keller Williams Realty as we speak)

As mentioned above, each of these websites seem to show the same listings so visiting any of them will turn up the same results.  It is worth mentioning that customer service in Jamaica is not up to par with what we’re used to abroad so you may or may not EVER receive responses to your inquiries through these websites.  I have personally tested this theory on three out of four of the sites listed above and have received no replies on property inquiries.  My guess is that if you’re interested in buying a home you’re far more likely to receive a response over renting.

Here is one more website that can be hit or miss but might be worth checking out in your search:

Property Ads Jamaica

 

There are other ways to find rental homes in Jamaica:

  1. Find Facebook groups.  Here is one that I have been a member of in the past:  House for Rent (Jamaica).  It’s very hit and miss though so you have to be diligent in your search through Facebook groups.
  2. If you’re currently IN Jamaica you can go check post office bulletin boards.  Many of them have ads for properties pinned up.
  3. If you know locals in areas where you’re interested in living you should definitely ask your friends to put the word out and ask around.  More often than not, a local Jamaican will know of plenty more places to rent than real estate websites.

 

Different Types of Property Rentals

There are a couple of options for types of property to rent in Jamaica – private or shared.  I’ve done both so I can weigh in equally on both.

 

apartments in jamaicaPRIVATE PROPERTY

Having rented a private apartment long term in Jamaica I’d say I prefer being private for several reasons, the main one being that I like my privacy.  However you will pay a higher price for this option.  Things to consider in a private house or apartment are utilities.  It is likely you will have to pay for your own water, electricity, internet and cable.   You’ll also need a tax registration number (TRN) to hook up utilities in your own name.  When I had my apartment in Ocho Rios the utilities stayed in the owner’s name, he presented me with his bills and I paid him.  However, this is not always the case.

 

big house in jamaicaSHARED PROPERTY RENTAL

This option offers much less privacy but the cost is also SO much cheaper.  If you’ve traveled around Jamaica enough, no doubt you have seen monster-sized houses everywhere.  It’s not uncommon that these large homes are being rented by the room with more than one tenant sharing a common kitchen area.  With this kind of setup each bedroom usually has its own private entrance, private bathroom and often the room is big enough to have a couch and small dining table inside.  But tenants share the kitchen and cooking facilities.

I have done this option twice in two different large villa style homes.  The number one benefit of this is price.  You can’t beat the cost of renting a large room.  Utilities are usually either included or split evenly among tenants which makes it very cheap living.

The down side is lack of privacy.  Jamaicans LOVE to cook and its hard to get into the kitchen to do your own thing.  On the flip-side of that, Jamaicans LOVE to cook so if you play your cards right and pitch in for groceries there’s a good chance that you’ll always eat well but never have to do the cooking.  This is exactly how I had it in both of my shared rental situations.  I usually just pitched in for groceries and whoever did the cooking made sure that there was always a plateful saved for me, whether I was home or not at the time of cooking.

In this type of shared situation it can be a good idea to buy a small refrigerator for your room and keep your personal food items in it.  You can also put a kettle, microwave and coffee maker into your room for convenience.  It all depends on how well you know your co-tenants and how much you like your privacy.

TV and music noise is another thing to consider in a shared situation.  Only you can know your tolerance level.

 

Things to Look for in a Rental

 

Is it furnished or not?  In Jamaica it’s common to find furnished rentals which is convenient.  It may not be decorated the way you like but it definitely cuts down on the expense of setting up a home when you move to the island.  My private apartment was fully furnished right down to plates and cutlery in the kitchen, however this is not always the case.

Are utilities included?  If so, which ones?  Utilities in Jamaica are the same as back home – electricity, water, internet, cable.  Find out which of these are included, if any.  It is worth noting that electricity in Jamaica is very expensive and will likely be your highest bill, especially if you use air conditioning.

Does it have a washer and dryer?  The majority of homes in Jamaica only provide wash basins in laundry rooms because most people do laundry by hand.  Are you willing to do laundry by hand?  If not you should take into consideration your proximity to a laundromat.

Are the windows and doors grilled?  It’s wise to look at security features on rental properties in Jamaica.  As a foreigner you attract more attention so having the extra security of window bars and a grill on your door gives you more peace of mind.

Is the yard fenced and gated?  For the same reason as above, it provides an added layer of security.

Is there a backup water supply (black or blue tank on the rooftop)?  Most homes have them as as a back up water supply because it is common for pipe water to run dry occasionally.  If you can’t see a tank on the roof ask the landlord about a back up water supply.

 

Rental Prices in Jamaica

It is difficult to advise on the cost of renting in Jamaica because it can vary widely depending on what area you choose to look in and what type of home you’re looking to rent.  Of course the main tourist centers are going to have a much higher cost of living than towns outside tourist centers.  The cost of living has gone up significantly in Jamaica over the years.

While it’s difficult to break the cost of living down for each individual situation, I would say if you’re a single person looking for just a studio or one bedroom apartment, anything under $50,000 JMD (less than $500.00 USD) is a great deal in a tourist area or mainstream town.  In more remote locations you can probably get a full 3 bedroom 3 bathroom house for that price.

In all cases the first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to one month’s rent is due up front.

 

Utilities in Jamaica

Below are the utility companies you may or may not need to use when renting your own home in Jamaica:

Jamaica Public Service Co (JPS) – Electricity

National Water Commission – Water

For cable and internet services there are several options available.  FLOW is the biggest provider but there are many smaller competitor options available on Google.

 

If you are in the process and have any advice to add, PLEASE, by all means add it in the comments below.  Your input is welcome!

2 Comments

  • Rochelle says:

    As a Jamaican I must say this is all excellent advice. Only other thing I’d add to utilities is cooking gas. If you have a gas stove, you’ll have to buy cylinders of gas and the largest provider is IGL. This expense is only every couple of months though and depends on how much or if you even cook. For laundry, I’d add consider buying a washing machine if it’s a long term rental. You can get one for around $60,000 and take it out on 3 or 6 months hire purchase if you don’t have enough up front.

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  • Kristi says:

    Excellent advice! I forgot about cooking gas. In my private apartment in Ochi I didn’t cook enough to even thing about gas, although I did run out once but the landlord replaced it for me. And in the home I rented in St Elizabeth it was shared accommodation so I didn’t have to think about gas there either. So thanks for adding that in there.

    And yes, about the washing machine, I would definitely do that if I knew it was a super long term and stable living situation. When I lived in Ochi I used the laundrymat once a week which adds up in cost for sure. And in St Elizabeth it was hand wash all the way lol. I sucked at doing hand laundry hahahahaa.

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