We've all felt it. The desire to walk out the door, get on a plane and move to a tropical island to spend our days walking on sandy beaches, climbing waterfalls, biting into a fresh mango picked right off the tree and swimming in crystal clear water. Jamaica's chill vibe, mouth-watering food, wicked parties and other mystic appealing features (wink wink) would make anyone think that moving to paradise is a no-brainer.
Believe it or not quite a few resident islanders are those from other countries who simply picked up and decided to adopt the 'Jewel of the Caribbean' as their new home. Many have never left. Here are just a few ways you can join the ones who figured out how to embrace the island life and make it their own.
Volunteer for a Year
Can't quite commit to a year? There are opportunities from 7 days to spending the Christmas season on the island, where you get to interact with locals in a real way with programmes such as Musicians Without Borders in Trenchtown, operating in one of the iconic birthplaces of the reggae music of Bob Marley and the Wailers. There are more traditional programmes that have been around for a long time such as the internationally recognized Peace Corps and other individual projects that will have you teaching kindergarten, coaching sports, building homes and otherwise contributing to enhancing your life and the lives of others.
*Always do your research to ensure any programme you sign up with is reputable and has safety measures and assurances in place
Study the Island Life
With University campuses across the island why not spend a year studying in Jamaica? There is even the possibility of not having to take a break from your chosen degree as the tertiary level programmes on the island are quite comprehensive, including study internship opportunities in fields as varied as Dentistry and Marine Biology, which of course offers you the best argument to give anyone who thinks running away to live on an island could be considered 'irresponsible'.
(We know better though don't we?).
Help Others Find Their Zen
Are you a yoga teacher or dance instructor? Why not help yourself while helping others find their inner peace or express their natural creative spirit. With yoga retreats occurring year round in Jamaica as well as yoga centres dotting the island, you could experience a new part of the country every other week. Best of all, you're almost guaranteed to find yourself in the most stunning scenic spots the island has to offer from yoga at sunrise or sunset on the 7 mile beach in Negril to overlooking the city of Kingston from the cool verandah of Strawberry Hill Hotel. Many hotels now offer yoga, so who knows, with the right paperwork you could be saying Namaste every day on any one of the beautiful properties on the island.
Get a Job
Yes, you can join the ever growing community of expats that live, work and play all year round in their new home. From Negril in the west to the pulsating capital city of Kingston, citizens of countries like England, Ireland, Spain, Germany, the USA, Canada, Nigeria, China and so many more can be found behind counters and in offices during the week and hanging out on the postcard worthy beaches on the weekends along with all the locals. You can try for a job on the island with a local company or the easier route is to work for a company in your own country which does postings for job positions on the island. Some may be permanent moves while others are contractual. The transition will be easier and you'll have logistical support along with the potential to pack up and move elsewhere to continue exploring the world if you ever get sick of living in paradise.(inconceivable, we know!)
Retire to the Tropics
For many retirees who have spent their working days in places like England or the USA, savings can stretch a long way in Jamaica due to the favorable exchange rate. People who have income from a pension or investment or who have means of financial support can also apply for residency status and US citizens can spend up to 6 months in Jamaica, which makes it the perfect spot for a second home. Live half the year or all year round in paradise at only a portion of the cost of back home.
So, whether you've been to Jamaica before on vacation and liked what you saw and want to discover more or you're an adventure seeking soul ready for the next exploratory chapter of your life's journey, consider running away to an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
Jamaica awaits you.