What an Expat thinks about Moving to Jamaica

Interview with an Expat

Where are you from?

My parents are from Sierra Leone. I’ve only been there once, but I grew up in New York.

Oh wow! What made you decide to move to Jamaica instead of Sierra Leone?

I’d been coming to Jamaica for a couple of years previously. I finally moved to Jamaica in 2014 at the age of 27. I’ll be 32 on 27th March.

That’s amazing! And happy birthday in advance! That’s younger than a lot of people who choose to return home.

My Dad’s niece she’s around 60, told me not to go to Jamaica.

And you still went?

Yeah! I’m not the typical American who wants to stay in America.

Ironically, when I was moving I researched and there was no information! That’s why I think what ExpatJA do is so amazing!

I was researching from the black perspective, because my experience is going to be different to a white person’s. Some black people want to live above their means, I’m not “stoosh”. I want to be regular, like going to the market. Most people that had moved to Jamaica that I found in Expat groups, were white and living in nice neighbourhoods and paying high rent. I didn’t want to live like that, I wanted to integrate with the locals and pay normal rent. I wanted to live in Jamaica and really experience Jamaica. I know ExpatJA assists with both lifestyle’s and that’s what’s really great, you don’t just cater for the rich!

I admire that! Thank you very much. What is your profession?

I worked in Social Services, helping those with developmental disabilities. Jamaica does not have the structure to deal with this and I didn’t know what I was going to do for work. I couldn’t bring my skills with me, my dad’s niece didn’t even want to help! My passion is travelling and I went to culinary school, that’s how I eventually found my Jamaican calling.

What does your husband do for work? You met him in Jamaica didn’t you?

He’s an accountant. We got married after a year of knowing each other. To some people in Jamaica the dating scene can be treacherous, but I consider myself a first generation African. I know all about marriage for papers. I always warn other women, no matter where you are do not date men you have to take care of.

A lot of people need to know how to move to Jamaica successfully, that’s why I love the concept of ExpatJA. If you go onto forums, there’s a lot of negative comments.

Isn’t that the truth! I found that to be the case on ExpatJA’s Facebook. How do you feel about this?

As black people, we should move to black countries.

I’ve been in Jamaica for four years now. It’s not all roses. My first year, I had my phone stolen. Not because it’s Jamaica, but because I didn’t listen and I wouldn’t have done this in New York either. It could have happened to me anywhere. Since the incident, I have never felt afraid in Jamaica. Just like New York there are some areas you do not venture into, the same in Jamaica. Even during the State of Emergency, I was like really?! I come from a bad neighbourhood in New York, so this was nothing.

I don’t like the way they treat the Jamaican citizens, but that is another story.

State of Emergency. I take it you live in Montego Bay?

Yes. Not my favourite place, but it’s convenient. My favourite place is St Ann.

St Ann is beautiful. The North Coast is a favourite for Returning Residents. Tell me about your business, what is it called?

Open Road Travel Agency. We (me and my close friend, also an expat) specialise in travel to Jamaica. We also organise travel to the rest of the Caribbean, USA, Mexico and of course Hawaii.

Very cool! So if someone wanted to book a holiday with you, how would they contact you?

They can email me at susannah@openroadtravelagency.com. I also have a Google number 267 209 0642. We have Facebook and Instagram, our handle is openroadtravelagency. Our company is based in the US, but we operate out of Jamaica.

Thank you very much. What do you do for fun?

Movies! My husbands a homebody. One of my passions is cooking, so I’ll create a meal. We go to St Ann for the weekend and stay with my husbands family. I also have an adventurous side, I like zip lining. I like bowling too, I was very excited when this came to Jamaica.

Sounds fun. What is the average day in your life?

At around 9 or 10, I start my business stuff like checking emails. I go to school online too.

Oh really! What are you studying?

International Business. In fact moving to Jamaica, really helped me complete my goals. I am so appreciative of this experience. It really helped me forget a lot of pain in America and the pressure of making money. I feel more at peace. I don’t think that I would have my own business if I was still in the US.

That’s really beautiful. What would you tell people, especially young people who want to move to Jamaica?

Don’t listen to negative people, whether family or friends.

Find your opportunity.

Live like a Jamaican, whether rich or poor. Don’t come to Jamaica with the country you came from mindset. Sometimes things take time. Just be patient. You may have to wait.

Surround yourself with good people, just like you would in your home country. Don’t just stick to expats!

Every country has both good and bad, use your judgement. Learn how things run. I don’t like saying “in Jamaica”, things happen anywhere.

I learnt how to travel. Learn how to travel. If you know how much things are because you travelled, then no one can try and trick you.

And lastly come to Jamaica with an open mind!

Thank you so much for your time. If you would like to know more about moving to Jamaica, please contact ExpatJA

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