Most of us have major plans for retirement, and for many, that includes a new place to call home. Maybe you think you have that destination locked in place or a vague idea of the kind of climate and location you are looking for, but nothing is set in stone.
It is easy to understand why a Jamaican retirement would be attractive to many people, including locals and overseas investors. Anyone who has enjoyed Jamaica’s beaches, lush greenery, and beautiful weather can see the appeal of living out their golden years in this country.
There is no denying that Jamaica lacks many of the amenities and resources of a more developed country like Spain or Switzerland. However, the affordability of Jamaica makes it a popular spot for retirees.
In most cases, you should be able to retire comfortably in Jamaica for far less than in the United States. This is due largely in part to the affordable real estate prices. While you can certainly find multi-million-dollar homes in some parts of Jamaica for example, in Montego Bay or Mandeville, property is more affordable than in the United States or other overseas countries.
President of the Pension Industry Association of Jamaica (PIAJ), Sanya Goffe, explains that retirement planning is necessary to ensure persons can meet their financial goals allowing them to retire in the countries of their choice. “The PIAJ continues to advocate for Jamaicans to start saving as early as they start working so that they have the best chance of meeting their financial retirement goals, including the ability to retire where they please,” she shared.
According to Nevin Nish, Qualifying Director/Real Estate Broker at Keller Williams Jamaica, Jamaica is a brand, and what we see is a manifestation of the love for our culture, sports, music, and other intellectual capabilities.
“People are looking for somewhere they can relax. They are looking for a break. What has helped Jamaica a lot is the strong financial and economic advances that have been consistent over the years that successive governments have been putting in place. What this has done is that it has given Jamaica economic favourability, as a country ready to do business, with a lot of foreign direct investments,” Nish said.
“So, we sell the sun, beach, sand, people, culture, food, and atmosphere. Jamaica may not be considered a first-world country, but you get the natural unpolluted experiences people seek. Yes, they are looking for safety and security and accessibility, but they also want to explore the natural elements of the country,” he added.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that in the next five years, the US population over 60 years old will be approximately 54 million, of which 0.3 per cent (162,000) will elect to live abroad as there is an insufficient variety of living options available for them. Added to this reality are the cold winters, high costs of living, and high health-care costs, which are also pushing this segment to seek other retirement options outside of the United States.
Retirement communities provide plenty of economic spin-off opportunities, and a constant flow of foreign exchange through the creation of jobs, the fixed acquisition costs of housing, and the steady flow of additional tourists who visit their elderly loved ones.
There is also the direct benefit of these retirees investing in community projects as well as six main sectors of the Jamaican economy being positively impacted; namely, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, tourism, financial services, and health care.
Depending on their preferences, Nish said many local and international persons are looking for different housing accommodations based on their retirement needs and affordability.
“You will find that people want a bungalow or a standalone unit. You have places right across Jamaica that retirees choose especially those properties with spaces. There are also those persons that prefer the assisted type of living for example condos or gated complexes. These are not huge developments, but they offer a sense of community. Many people also like to retire in the hills overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea, while others like to be closer to the water,” Nish said.
Nish indicated that whilst persons in Jamaica seek retirement opportunities locally, about 80 per cent of the retirement market are overseas clients.
“There are strong market centres that have good Jamaican influences. Some persons have no connection to Jamaica but are keen on understanding the developments in Jamaica and the opportunities that are here. Investors, including the Chinese, Germans, Russians, North Americans, and Canadians, come organised, and they are buying and building in Jamaica. Brand Jamaica is definitely a goldmine,” Nish said
According to estimates, the cost of living in Jamaica is about 25 per cent lower than in the United States, while Jamaican rent is about two or two per cent less expensive than American rent. An individual might require little under US $700 per month to live well in Jamaica, not including rent or mortgage.
When you decide to retire in Jamaica, Nish advised that persons who want to buy properties in Jamaica, especially civil servants and persons from overseas interested in investing in Jamaica, should pay keen attention to the development of the road infrastructure in the country.
“Anywhere you see the roads are being developed, just look at those communities. Those communities that are affected positively will be opened up. So, the South Coast is going to be opened up, that highway that will end in Black River, and the other leg of the highway coming through Montego Bay and ending mid-Westmoreland, will open up even more development opportunities for the country. Also, the road network currently being developed in St. Thomas will bring major development for these communities, including those in Portland. Development has already begun along these corridors,” Nish said.
Already, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica, which share Jamaica’s tropical climate conditions, are all developing a range of retirement housing products, with the average cost being US$35,000 per annum. According to the US Department of State, more than 20,000 US expatriates live in Costa Rica, many of whom are retirees.
Trelawny, Hanover, and St Ann are best suited for these so-called retirement villages, and other options can be added for retirees looking for rest and relaxation with their pensions and other healthcare benefits.
Real estate developments such as Richmond Estates in St Ann point to this market’s potential.
In the end, it comes down to making emotional and financial decisions. Whether you think you know or need help deciding, these retirement planning and lifestyle experts have a few tips on arriving at your decision for where to retire while factoring everything from the cost of living to local nightlife.