The First Two Months

I’m flying out tomorrow, back to Canada to visit my son for his birthday. This first two months living in Jamaica was always meant to be a test run because one never knows if they’re going to love something until they try it. I’m the most diehard Jamaica fanatic I know and I still knew that there would be things I’d hate about living here full time. Get out your popcorn because I have a feeling this post will be longer than usual and will be spilling a lot more info than I’m prepared to share.

I just realized I haven’t made a blog post in 9 whole days which is pathetic for me and I’m sorry! That brings me to my first issue – living here and trying to be self-employed – it’s beyond easy to get derailed and sidetracked! For me the hardest part is my friends in the neighborhood who are used to me being on vacation but I’m not on vacation anymore. So they show up at my gate or call every day and ask what I’m doing. I think they secretly hate that I work and can’t just hang out at the rum bar all day anymore, which brings me to my next issue about living here – rum.

Forget safety in Jamaica because I’m more concerned about my liver than I am about getting shot in an unsafe street. Rum is just too available, too cheap and too easy to not drink it. There have only been a handful of days in the last two months that I haven’t had at least two drinks, which is a sharp contrast to my life in Canada….I can’t remember the last time I drank there. I’m not saying I get drunk every day here but I am saying that compared to my quiet, liquor free Canadian life I feel like I need to detox.

You know the old saying “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”? Well there are a few additions to that list where Jamaica is concerned. One of the certainties here are curry stains – you cannot and will not avoid them. Cockroaches are another but the cool part about roaches are that the longer you live here by yourself the more you learn to just deal with the disgusting things and stop calling your neighbor to come kill them.

Some things I’ve learned about myself:

***I absolutely can’t keep up with hair growth here. It HAS to be the hot climate but I can’t shave my legs fast enough before I feel like a wooly mammoth again, in less than two days.

***Living in Jamaica doesn’t not chase all the blues away and cure depression. Happiness is inside you and living in a tropical country isn’t going to make it all better. The sun is shining and the men are cute but it doesn’t take long to see through it all and realize you’re still YOU.

***It’s lonely. I moved here as a single female, not to be with a Jamaican boyfriend (like most people believe). I have a lot of “surface” friends here but only a handful who would go the extra mile and could rely on in a pinch. It’s funny, when you live here full time a lot of the good friends migrate to the surface friend side.

Some things I’ve learned about being self employed here:

***Internet can and will ruin your life unless you’re one of the lucky ones who gets a great provider the first time. Not all places in Jamaica are created equal and what works for someone up the street may not work great for you.

***Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, meaning diversify when it comes to ways you earn money. Inevitably there will be some sort of “fuckery” that comes along to put a wrench in your plan so it’s better to have multiple work streams, unless of course you’re already wealthy when you move here.

***You CAN make very positive connections in this country! So same as anywhere else, get out and network sometimes. Don’t see everyone as your competition because they just might be the connection you need tomorrow. For real.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself here is that in my first two months I absolutely DID NOT accomplish anything I came here to accomplish. I was easily sidetracked, had major internet issues and had some non-paying clients. My first bundle of money ran out and I have just enough to get myself home tomorrow and pay my June rent. Yes, I’m disappointed in myself and need to go home to Canada and regroup, re-plan and rethink my return to Jamaica.

A few things in general that I’ve found about living here:

***There are MANY great and wonderful people here who aren’t out to take advantage of you. I can’t count how many times I’ve been picked up on the roadside in the rain and offered free rides home, etc. Foreigners rarely get anything for free here so I’ve been really appreciative and thankful for the great people I’ve met.

***I’ve really never wanted to bring up the man topic but my eyes have been opened since moving here! I’m not involved with man here but I do get the opportunity to hang with lots of male friends who’ve opened my eyes, I think it’s fun to watch LOL.  I thought I had them and their game figured out but you really need to be here in person, full time to watch it in progress. It’s interesting and I’ve built a tolerance/understanding towards it, if you can believe it.

***JPS and Digicel suck and if they see this post and want me to elaborate I would be more than happy.

***When you have a car no one wants to give you gas money but when they have a car they ALWAYS want gas money. Yes even some foreigners don’t pay and it makes life kind of rough here.

So I think that’s it for now. The biggest disappointment of all is that I’m leaving the island and hardly have any more to write about til I come back in a month’s time. Because I ran out of money I’ve been pretty much stuck to home for the last few weeks and haven’t been on the road at all. The only thing I can ask is PLEASE don’t abandon me because I promise when I get back to Jamaica in June I will produce what I came here to produce.

49 Comments

  • Janet says:

    Welcome to the REAL Jamaica!

    All that you’ve written I’ve experienced and more, I’ve lived here for six years permanently and I have TWO good friend who look out for me – the female feeds me, gives me money if I’m broke and her shoulder is there for me to cry on. A TRUE friend, the male will do anything for me, I only have to ask and vice versa.

    I have many many acquaintances and I am loved and respected by the same many but to be honest all they want is either your man or your money or both! I’ve learned to sift out the good from the bad.

    Trust is a BIG thing here and I never trust because if I can’t afford it – I don’t buy it but not so here. We’re owed thousands of dollars for the work we’ve done for people who won’t pay and if you ask them for the money it starts an argument and they turn it around on you. And if you tell them they can’t take the goods without payment they won’t come back for it. You just can’t win. They want something for nothing.

    And its the same with gas for the car. We have transported many for nothing but when I wanted to go to the airport and gave a supposedly good friend $1000 to put toward the gas (the taxi fare would have been $280) he charged me $4000. He seemed to have conveniently forgotten all the times we took him where he wanted to go for free. I learned the hard way about gas money and friends when I first came to Jamaica and it put me off coming back but I did…….

    Rum – I rarely drink it because I don’t like the smell and it gives me a massive hangover – so i don’t bother but I know its easy to get hooked on it.

    Curry stains – what DO they put in the powder so the pretty yellow colour turns a disgusting brown and won’t come out? I manage to get it out of my stove/fridge by using scouring powder and it fades in time but certainly not from your clothes.

    JPS – Kristi I sympathise with you. My last bill was $5,600 but In only used $1,400 in electricity. The rest? $3,500 in fuel and gas charges. WHY am I paying more for fuel than the current I’ve used???? The remaining $700 were customer charges etc. Its disgusting and then they have the cheek to charge you for reconnection…..

    Digicel is the SLOWEST 4G I’ve ever come across but no other problems.

    We have very few cockroaches but my advice is get them on their back and watch them play dead then give them a huge whopping and take all your frustrations out on them…

    Well Kristi this really is the real Jamaica – and you need to be strong and hard to survive but once you’ve mastered it you can be just like them and call yourself a real Jamaican. Don’t let anything put you off – put it down to experience and learn to be Jamaican…..

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 1

  • JC says:

    Thank you so much for this Janet. I enjoyed your response and yes it’s a giant learning curve, especially doing it alone. I have to give a huge shout out to my neighbor Shane (best friend) who’s been almost my rock since I got here. He’s one of the ones I trust and know would help me in a bind. The cool thing is he’s not Jamaican either (Guyanese) and he’s told me he sometimes struggles with the loneliness too so we kinda fill a void for each other.

    None of this has put me off but it’s kinda put me in a funk and made me realize I’ll be happy for the break when I go home. I never understood people who moved here, hated it and went home but now I kind of get it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  • Vic says:

    Great article, keep up the good work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  • Erin says:

    I am still uber, mega proud of you for “living the dream” even if its a new, eyes-wide-open, bastardized version of the dream. Now you can experience the real way of life there not a vacationized version.

    Just don’t ask me for money! lol. Unless I am there visiting you and then you can act like most of the locals I have dealt with in JA and beg away!

    love ya!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  • JC says:

    LMAOOOOOO Erin!! You always make me laugh in some sick and twisted way!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • StewPeas says:

    JC, so that’s why you’ve seemed a little bit down lately. Well, a vacation in Canada sounds like just what you need. I’m looking forward to seeing what you decide to do when you come back.

    The part about your friends turning up and wanting you to hang out all day, kind of reminded me of why I’ve never made much of an effort to hang out with any of the JOW crew. I would not be on vacation, so it would be difficult for me to hang out with people who are.

    Anyway, enjoy your vacation :).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • JC says:

    That’s funny you said that about JOW people Stew, because now I could totally understand it and know what you mean. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ll be back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • Jamaipanese says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time an this post is the most powerful yet.

    Stay focused, learn from mistakes and go get ’em!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  • Seveen says:

    great post – keeping it real

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  • Angie says:

    Love your honesty! You know, I’m not sure if I could live there now (and we talk about it all the time) but I run my business totally online so if I couldn’t be guaranteed real good Internet access we wouldn’t be able to survive there financially.

    Interesting to hear your take on things. Such a great post. Looking forward to when you get back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  • JC says:

    Thanks for all your comments you guys! I’m flying home today and will be back with a vengeance!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Janet says:

    Leave your soft side in Canada and bring your tough side to Jamaica….when in Jamaica do as the Jamaicans do…..

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  • angela says:

    A lot of things that you and Janet said ring a bell. I have also noticed that when I visited my homeland after not going for years everyone was happy to see me. I went back the next year and it was if I lived there and I had to act as if I did. You will be fine. Just try to understand the culture and the people and you will finally find your grove and things will be much easier and your dream will be fulfilled.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  • Michie says:

    I have never read a more honest piece about my country. I feel you as I’m going through the same plus MORE at the same time. But I am determined to make it work and I refuse to let them break me. I was going to just send you a private email to encourage you but I decided it was important to write this post so others can see you have die-hard supporters who have never even met you and to testify you that you are been honest to the bone (actually I’m pretty sure you must be sparing more gory details or is it just that I put myself out there too much or maybe having relatives who also want to screw you big time adds another dimension). Keep going girl, and if we have to team up to conquer this country we will. I still believe, after visiting many other countries, that strip away the BS, it is still one of the loveliest places with many wonderful people on earth! My mission is to bring back some civility to the place I was born and lived for the first decade of my life. Remember this… “You Will Succeed” Lata! I’m heading back in June, so you will be able to say you have a another TRUE friend even though she is not yet a full-time resident. And maybe that’s the key, I’ve decided it’s too much for me to be full-time just yet. I honestly have to come back to Canada and regroup to have enough strength for JA. I also spent 2 straight months there and it almost killed me but I’m determined it will not conquer me. I will conquer it and live to tell about it. Oh, and by the way, the rum thing is wicked… I swear the heat increases your tolerance. Just a word a warning, now that you are back in Canada, my experience is that the tolerance resets to normal or even below normal levels when you are back here so one rum drink a week will have you flat on your back for a week! Trust me! I know of what I speak. 🙂

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  • liz says:

    JC – do you see how popular this blog post is? it’s because so many of can relate directly. and i’m with jamaipanese when he says this has been your most powerful blog post so far. i’ve been following it for about a year now & have enjoyed reading about your adventures across the island. and there is hardly anything that you have written about that i have not personally experienced – it’s uncanny to say the least. i admire your courage to make that move to a different country and a different way of life. and i admire you even more for being able to write so truthfully about your experience on the island without it sounding like you were ‘jamaica bashing” ! what you’re going through is typical – because that’s just life in the tropics mi dear. it’s good that you’re able to take a break and re group your thoughts and priorities – nothing wrong with that. but i feel pretty sure that whatever you do – it’s going to be one hell of an adventure and i for one plan to be there for the ride! walk good yah mi gyaal 😉

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  • JC says:

    Thanks for the comments Liz, this seems to be my most popular post next to the Spanish Town ghetto one. I guess if people are continuing with the ride I still have reason to write and make things work!
    One thing I think with people who try this and make the move is they aren’t honest about the real stories because it’s like they don’t want to admit it’s harder or worse than they thought. Why hide it? Why sugar coat it?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  • Di says:

    Wow. Today is the first that I have been on this blog and have found it truly fascinating, funny and moving. Currently going through similar things as I made the move from the UK in April. Reality is setting in for me to take a deep breath and get myself in gear. Keep on keeping on.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • JC says:

    Di! I’m glad you found my blog and you’re liking it. 🙂
    There seems to be a lot of us who have done this or want to do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • I think you have achieved quite alot,hang in there,and keep up the good work!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • sera says:

    You said in your 1st paragraph you are going back to Canada to see your son…how old is he? I have lived in JA on and off for over a year and my ONLY problem has been not having my 16 year old daughter living there with me. I do live with my partner – we rent an apartment in St Mary, I got used to the single TV chanel, cold water and power cuts lol When I finally move there for good – which will be November as I’m expecting a baby and she has to be raised in 1 place, we shall have cable and internet (we were waiting since Jan for flow to connect us)
    I just find Jamaica boring sometimes?? Lack of money, no car and nothing to do when it rains is difficult compared to UK where we have plenty. However having my OH there means we always find something to do.
    Hope everything works well for you

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • JC says:

    hi Sera. My son is 19 and lives on his own.

    I agree with you on the boredom thing, if you don’t want to spend a pile of money the only thing to do is stay home! I was fortunate to have great neighbors so it was never too boring but still different from Canada.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! Nervous and excited for my pending move, but your stories are helping make it a little easier. 🙂

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • JC says:

    Glad some of these stories help April. Looking forward to our chat and anything you want to know just ask! I fully support what you’re about to do!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Pon de Rock says:

    been going there for almost 10 years and I totally know what you are talking about. Take care and keep the good work going

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • lele says:

    Hello all of you Jamaica loving and living. Im was living in Ochi, had similar experiences, but always coming back. Now im moving back in march 2013, got my job there. If you there and wanna hang out,meet some new friend.. let me know, its always nice to have there somebody with same cultural backround;)

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Thanks for the comments Lele….good luck with your new job!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • julie says:

    Hi we are moving to Jamaica in November to a rented, furnished apartment in the Kingston area, can anyone recommend what essentials they would ship out if they were me ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Julie if you’re moving to Kingston there isn’t much they don’t have there. You can get everything you’d get back home so I wouldn’t worry too much about shipping unless you have personal items you can’t do without. MegaMart in Portmore is like an American Costco and has all the comforts of home there. I would say the only thing you can’t get in Jamaica is nice tapestries LOL.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • julie says:

    Hi Kristi, Thank you for your reply, the company are paying $1k USD for anything we want shipped, so is there anything particularly expensive like bedding towels crockery etc. We will be using some of that money towards the excess baggage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    It’s all relative. I brought my own sheets from home and luxury bath towels because I hate tapestries in Jamaica. They just don’t seem to be as good of quality in Jamaica. I also brought my coffee maker because I already had it, my Scentsy warmer (lol), some wall hangings, and that’s about it for personal stuff. I brought a HUGE bottle of Advil because at Walmart it’s just cheap. I think that’s about it though. I had my apartment before I moved there so it was pretty much set up already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • rachel says:

    Hi everyone. Im a single female looking at working and living in jamaica for 6 months next year. How difficult is it to get a job and a work permit in Jamaica? This is all new to me and any advise would be much appreciated. Thanks

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • rachel says:

    Can anyone tell me how difficult it is to get a work permit and job in Jamaica? Im a single English female and would like to work in jamaica for 6 months next year . Thank you

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Hey Rachel, you might want to take a look at my other site called http://www.MoveToJamaica.com for answers. Lots of info on there.
    It’s not easy to just “get a job” there. You should have self employment on your list because they hire Jamaicans before they hire foreigners. Go check out the link and see what others are saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Runako says:

    Hello All this is the most informative and interesting post on moving and living in Jamaica that I ever found. Nuff respect to Kristi for giving lots of unbias info. I am planning to move back to Jamaica as well but I have a question, is it better to just buy a house down there and not rent? that way I would not have to worry about the big bill of paying a monthly rent or mortgage. And now if I have no rent or mortgage to pay would it be easier for me to live down there? I have learned since coming to Canada to live over 23 years ago that you only work to pay bills bills and more bills…. And in Canada or anywhere in the world you live your mortgage or rent is your biggest bill. So let me know if I would be cruising to a easier better experience in Jamaica without that big bill over my head.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Marsha says:

    Hi. I visited Jam this year and fell in love with it. I want to move there and work there. Im Canadian. What steps should I take to make the move? Any good websites to contact?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    It’s hard to say Marsha, because I don’t know what your experience with the island is. And there’s just SOOOOOO much information to give.
    I highly DON’T recommend trying to move there after only one visit…..you didn’t see the real Jamaica. Also, you can’t just get a job there – you should have a SOLID business plan of your own.
    I would suggest reading the ebook I wrote about my experiences moving there – and I had been visiting for 8 years prior.
    Here’s a link to the ebook if you’re interested. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/111949

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Drazen says:

    Come overhere to Croatia ! Cheap, clean, nice sea, english speaking people. Internet speed fantastic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Thomas Avant says:

    Got to get to Jamaica…Mon!
    On SS retirement and so limited in USA. Interested in Rastifarian culture, cuisine (food), and mingling with locals, and relaxed coastal experience. This site is the best! Lay some wise-livable advice on me! Move to Jamaica!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Thanks so much for your comments Thomas! I’m glad you’re loving the site!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  • Candace says:

    Hello everyone I am very much interested in living in Jamaica and would love some help with the process

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Hi Candace, thanks for your comment. What exactly are you looking for help with? Moving to Jamaica is a broad topic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Max Rudolph says:

    We have been to Jamaica many, many times. And have always stayed at the Silver Sands outside of Duncans. We stay in a private villa staffed with a cook and maid. We treat them like they are family. I know the right people to get anything we want. Number one rule use USD for everything you buy. One year I took the maid into Falmouth and within ten minutes she had her own cell phone plus 100 minutes air time. Villas on the estate range from 400k on up. Why would you want to work or run your own business there? Jamaicans don’t like Canadians for reasons your not aware of. This is not a putdown on you. This is the way it is.
    I remember the first year we stayed in The Big J (1983) the exchange rate was $2.63 J for every US Dollar. Today it takes 120 J for every US Dollar. So don’t covert to J. The problem is your using the wrong currency to pay for services and other things. They don’t want Canadian Dollars ( worth about 84 J). Maybe its best to buy USD while in Canada. No Problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Thanks for your comments Max. I disagree on using USD. That might be alright if you stay in resort type areas but if you venture out into the really super local areas of Jamaica it’s not a good idea. I have never spent Canadian nor US dollars in Jamaica. I use the ATM machines to withdraw local currency. In Canada we have Scotiabank so for me to withdraw using my Scotiabank card there are no fees and I spend local. I also strongly disagree that Jamaicans dislike Canadians!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • Brenda says:

    Hi Kristi,

    I have been to Jamaica for the past 10 winters in a row and usually stay for 2 or 3 weeks at a time. I rent the same private Villa in Mo Bay while I am there and its a great place to have fun.
    I also love the island and would love to live there as well someday. 🙂 I have just started reading your blog and love it!
    I also don’t agree with Max and know how well I as a Canadian woman has been treated with nothing but dignity and respect any time I am there. Jamaican people love Canadians as we love them and we feel a deep respect for the Jamaican people!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Brian says:

    Hi, love reading all the valuable information you’ve shared! I went to Jamaica for the first time in December as I went to Kingston for a couple weeks and stayed near the Sovereign mall.. It was everything I had hoped for and more. The people were among the most joyous and upbeat people I’ve ever come across. I ate a ridiculous amount of fresh fruit everyday which had me feeling amazing! I enjoyed going around local “non-touristy” places and felt like I fit right in (but obviously don’t as I’m caucasian). Many voiced to me that I need to be careful when going around on my own. I’m very adventurous, confident, and like to believe I have strong street smarts, but still seems like good advice. I was able to have a couple good connections there take me out to some of the smaller local parties, so that was awesome.

    I actually went there to see if I want to move full-time, at least for awhile(6months – 2 years maybe). I do think there are certain restrictions or difficult things to overcome, which could be less/easier if I traveled somewhere else for this duration, but still think Jamaica’s calling me. One requirement I’d have to have is very reliable Internet, like no down time, since if I do move I’d be running some type of online business. It seems like there are places in Kingston that can offer this.. Anyways, thanks for your time sharing your perspectives!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Hi Brian! Thanks for commenting and that’s so awesome you got a chance to visit Jamaica and loved it! You’re brave deciding to move there after one visit but it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and a way to sustain yourself. You have a great attitude so I think you’ll be fine.

    Best of luck in your endeavors and ENJOY JAMAICA!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kelly says:

    Hello. I am going to Jamaica next year and will marry a Jamaican. I am a Filipino. We have a son. We will be living in Trelawny. I want to know how it is to live in Jamaica. Want to know about employment, business, health and education. Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kristi says:

    Hi Kelly, thanks for the comment. It is probably best if you ask your husband about those kinds of things. It’s a lot of information and I don’t know how to fill you in on all of that. But I’m sure he will steer you in the right direction. Good luck with your move!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Iam very happy to read all the comments about jamaica, my brithplace its nice to heard some good things about it,for a changed.I was very younge when i left jamaica,so i only remember the goodthing i grew up with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *