Who are you?
My name is Debbie, and I am from Canada. I am a retired customs/immigration officer.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Jamaica in 2017. I moved to Ocho Rios, St. Ann Parish, because of the warm weather and the close proximity to the beaches and rivers.
What challenges did you face during the move?
None. I rent a small house, and it is furnished.
Did you need to obtain a visa, residency permit or work permit?
I became a permanent resident as a retiree.
What was the process like?
It was simple. The only hiccup is that on their government webpage, where they ask for your birth certificate, they don’t indicate the ‘long form’ certificate, which lists your parents’ names and the hospital you were born in. The majority of Canadians have a birth certificate that is about the size of a credit card.
How does the cost of living compare with your previous country?
Rentals are cheaper, depending where you choose to live. My first rental was 45,000 JMD a month, but it was not in a gated community. Lesson learned. I now pay 65,000 in a beautiful gated community in St. Mary Parish.
Is it easy to open and use an account with a local bank?
Not at all. They want a letter from a JP who has known you for five years. Tough when you’ve only been here, for example, for three years. Then they want a letter from OUR and HEART – I have no clue who they are and why they need it, amongst a hundred other things. I am with Scotiabank in Ontario, Canada and tried to open an account at Scotiabank Jamaica, because all my info was already there, but this was to no avail. I just gave up on the idea.
How did you find somewhere to live?
By word of mouth and Googling rentals in Jamaica, then choosing the parish I wanted to live in.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Not that I have seen.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Extremely congenial. The men are more assertive, as they assume, as a single white woman, we are here for one reason only. Need I say more? We are not all looking for what the men have to offer.
What do you like about life where you are?
For the most part, the people are nice, the beaches are clean, and the rivers are cool and refreshing. It is easy to get around, although I do drive.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Being Caucasian and being overcharged at the market and at bars where prices aren’t listed, etc. I also didn’t like taking a taxi (prior to buying my small vehicle) and being overcharged.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The brazenness/rudeness of people who just push you out of the way when you are in line at the bank to get ahead of you. Also, when talking to a sales lady in a shop, the next woman or man will just cut in front of you and demand what they are seeking from the same sales lady, leaving you in the dust.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Take it one day at a time and don’t expect the calibre of service here that we get at home. Life is a slower pace here and learning to relax is the best advice I can give.
What are your plans for the future?
Living life as I am here on the island, making new friends, enjoying the restaurants, and watching the beautiful sunsets.