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10 BEST Places to Live in Jamaica [Feb 2020]

Beaches, laid-back living, and a modern music scene that gave the world reggae and ska, Jamaica is a Caribbean crush for nomads with a love of tropical islands as much as culture.

Outside of its capital city, Jamaica is packed little towns… the problem is finding the one that’s right for you, which can be tricky!

That is why we have created this guide to the best places to live in Jamaica. At Nomads Nation we’re all about helping you find the best places to base yourself for remote work.

Let’s see what places will suit you the best on this Caribbean island…

Staying Safe in Jamaica

Unfortunately, Jamaica isn’t known as a particularly safe country. In fact, this island nation actually has one of the highest murder rates in the world – and tourists are sometimes the victim.

Currently, there is a State of Emergency because of violence in Western Jamaica, including Montego Bay and Negril. It’s in place till 13th August 2019. Definitely pay attention to the news and your government’s travel advice.

Because of the lack of safety, however, there are a ton of gated communities to live in.

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#1 Kingston

Kingston

Jamaica’s capital is a mountain-ringed metropolis with all the art, music, creativity and culture you could ask for.

Monthly cost of living in Kingston

$1214/ month 

cost of rent in Kingston

$393/month

Jamaica’s capital city is often overlooked by visitors who make a beeline straight for the beach, but this is the place to come for all things creative. It’s all about the music.¬†

In Kingston, you can spend nights with a sound system pumping out dope cuts of dub and reggae, and days dipping in out of the city’s restaurants and hanging out in malls.¬†New Kingston is probably the safest, secure and affordable place for you to base yourself in the capital.¬†

It’s less gritty than other parts of the city, meaning you won’t feel too out place going about your daily business here. Anywhere near the university area – a neighbourhood like Mona, say – is nice and safe, too.

Pros of Kingston

  • Great music scene
  • Amazing food to sample
  • Tons of stuff to do

Cons of Kingston

  • Lots of people
  • Socio-economic extremes
  • Reputation for violence

Like all good capital cities, Kingston isn’t short of green space – though you may be surprised to hear that. Parks and gardens abound here, like Emancipation Park, which is spread across several acres right in the heart of New Kingston; here you’ll see old timers playing dominoes and young professionals promenading with takeout coffee.

There’s also National Heroes Park. Established in 1783, this historic green space is set in Kingston’s downtown and is a good spot to learn a thing or two, with its many monuments dotting the pathways. Royal Hope Botanical Gardens comprises 200 acres of green space – bring snacks and picnic with a view of the Chinese Pavilion.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

The Hub Coworking Ltd is a central coworking space, it’s comfortable and welcoming to everybody. This smartly designed place even hosts small corporate events and functions.

#2 Montego Bay

Montego Bay

A popular destination for tourists wanting to soak up the sun and duty-free goods, Montego Bay is the scintillating second city of Jamaica.

Monthly cost of living in Montego Bay

$1332/ month 

cost of rent in Montego Bay

$498/month

Set on Jamaica’s northwest coast, Montego Bay is a magnet for tourists. Mobay, as it’s affectionately known by the locals, is the island’s second largest city.¬†

It’s renowned for top resorts, beautiful beaches and great golf. Of course, life in this portion of the country isn’t all holidaymakers. This is still an urban city with a lot to it.

Looking to live in Montego Bay? We would suggest Chatham Palms for its new build-style modern housing. But for something more affordable, widen your search to Montego West Village, a friendly, quiet place that’s part of a gated community.

Pros of Montego Bay

  • Great places to eat and drink
  • Not too much trouble being foreign here
  • Huge international airport

Cons of Montego Bay

  • One of the most expensive areas on the island
  • You'll need your own wheels to get around
  • Many, many tourists

There’s history to be found here. In downtown Montego Bay is the memorial of Sam Sharpe, one of Jamaica’s seven national heroes; he led the 1832 slave rebellion (the Christmas Rebellion).¬†

There’s also Fort Montego, built by the British to defend against pirates in 1700s. Soak up art and exhibitions at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.¬†The Hip Strip, as you might guess, is a pretty cool area with a ton of bars, restaurants and shops.¬†

Places to eat along here include The Pelican Grill, which has been serving up Jamaican classics for 50 years, and The Houseboat Grill for casual feasts on the water.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

The best place for you and your laptop here will be Montego Bay Coworking, which actually arrives in Autumn 2019. Until then, there’s always Starbucks.

#3 Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios is ideal for outdoors-loving nomads with its beaches and ample opportunity for escaping into nature.

Monthly cost of living in Ocho Rios

$930/ month 

cost of rent in
Ocho Rios

$512/month

Set on the north coast of the island, Ocho Rios (or Ochi) is supposedly close to the spot where Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica. Since then, it’s been host to all manner of visitors from a range of nations, from colonists, buccaneers and pirates to the modern day tourist.

Find a quiet spot to base yourself in the neighbourhood of Content Garden, which comes complete with a mix of local housing and apartment accommodation; the area near Turtle River is also a chilled spot, but a little closer to the action of the town’s main beach.

Pros of Ocho Rios

  • Lots of natural adventuring
  • Bars and restaurants to choose from
  • Life near the beach

Cons of Ocho Rios

  • Big cruise terminal for small town
  • Traffic can get pretty bad
  • A lot of resorts

The town isn’t as charming as it once was, but Ocho Rios is still a perfect jumping off point for exploring what the nearby nature has in store. Bordered by verdant, green hills, trekking through bamboo forests is certainly not out of the question here – nor is zip lining through the treetops!

The rivers in the area are beautifully gleaming and feature a ton of spots to cool off; notably, there’s the serene Blue Hole, a pool complete with cascading waterfall and hidden caves. There’s also rafting to be done on the White River, past dense forests and palm trees.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Need a place to work in Ocho Rios? Go to Island Coffees Bar, a rustic place to work with good free wi-fi, snacks, coffee and a cool environment to work in. Simply walk down the boardwalk and for a swim if you need a break.

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#4 Port Antonio

Port Antonio

A friendly town with a chilled vibe, keen foodies will be pleased to hear that Port Antonio town is the birthplace of jerk chicken.

Monthly cost of living in Port Antonio

$832/ month 

cost of rent in
Port Antonio

$289/month

Known as Portie by locals, Port Antonio is situated on Jamaica’s northeastern coast. This town will certainly score some points with history lovers as there are pretty Georgian buildings here, pointing back to Port Antonio’s colonial days when it was the terminus of a disused railway that linked it with Kingston, via Spanish Town.

If you are looking to live in Port Antonio, base yourself around East Harbour, where most of the action of the area happens; here is where you will find restaurants and cafes as well as churches and even some hostels (to tide you over until you find an apartment).

Pros of Port Antonio

  • Relaxed feeling
  • Cool architecture
  • Not too many tourists

Cons of Port Antonio

  • 3 hour taxi ride to the airport
  • Not many local places to eat/drink
  • Need your own transport

It’s not just about the centuries-old history at Port Antonio, however. It was a popular spot for the rich and famous of the early 20th century, attracting the likes of Bette Davis, Rudyard Kipling and Errol Flynn. You can see why: the beautiful, remote rustic feel of San San Beach is hard to not fall in love with.

As the tourists moved on to the other side of the island, towards the duty-free shopping of Montego Bay, Port Antonio returned to its former relaxed vibe. 

There are still some historic 5-star resorts that reflect the glamour of the past, but today it’s all about laid-back local life with its markets and food stalls by the port.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

For some wi-fi and a space to work, head to Kooyah Internet Cafe, or you could sit along the seafront at Sid’s Cafe soaking up the atmosphere.

#5 Negril

Negril

The calm waters, sandy beaches and lagoons of Negril make it a favourite with tourists, nomads and expats alike.

Monthly cost of living in Negril

$866/ month 

cost of rent
in Negril

$353/month

Situated on the western tip of Jamaica, Negril is where you will find the simply stunning Seven Mile Beach, a long stretch of sandy beach. 

Often cited as one of the best beaches in the world, it’s no surprise that people love it here: even fast-food companies like Burger King have moved in to capitalise on the beauty.

If you feel like living in amongst the conveniences of Negril, we suggest focusing your search on the Long Bay area. With smaller resorts and hotels, this area is not only more affordable but is also less busy than neighbouring Bloody Bay – and you’re still near all the action.

Pros of Negril

  • A literal ton of places to eat, drink and be merry
  • Plenty of outdoor stuff to do
  • Seven miles of beach!

Cons of Negril

  • Extremely touristy
  • A little bit soulless
  • Can be more expensive than other spots

There are famous spots to eat and drink in Negril, like Rick’s Bar, where patrons like to try out a spot of cliff diving. But if you want to head away from the hedonism and get off-grid, the surrounding area has many places to explore.

Nearby you can go rafting on Martha Brae River, or visit the Mayfields Falls to indulge in some further fast-flowing water action. 

You could also take up a spot of scuba diving in the crystal clear waters of the lagoon or simply get your snorkel on and see the coral open up under the shimmering sea.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Patsy’s Coffeeshop serves up a good cup of joe right next to the sea – and don’t worry, there’s wi-fi! On the sand itself is Beach Bunny Cafe Negril; made out of old shipping containers, this is a cool place to get some work done.

#6 Treasure Beach

Treasure Beach

The down-to-earth area of Treasure Beach is an idyllic beach retreat that’s becoming more and more bohemian.

Monthly cost of living in Treasure Beach

$914/ month 

cost of rent in Treasure Beach

$403/month

The beach at Treasure Beach itself, on Jamaica’s south coast, is a 6 miles long, which makes for plenty of room to find your own slice of sun, sea and sand.¬†

The town surrounding the beach is all about authentic living, with real, rustic hang-outs to chill at. All you need here is a swimsuit and some sunscreen.

There’s great accommodation available along the laid-back seafront in Frenchman’s Bay, where you will also find the town’s main cluster of restaurants and other handy amenities like ATMs. Apartments here are reasonably priced, too.

Pros of Treasure Beach

  • Unpretentious atmosphere
  • Soak up local life
  • Meet other travellers

Cons of Treasure Beach

  • Can feel a bit cut off
  • Not a lot of places with wi-fi
  • Beaches are the main entertainment

Join the scores of chilled out visitors who are flocking to the area to sit in one of the beachfront cafes and restaurants, sip on an ice-cold Red Stripe and zone out to the reggae beats. After a day at work, simply head to the beach for seafood and sunsets.

Treasure Beach also boasts a number of luxury spas, if you’ve got the money and feel like treating yourself one day! If you don’t, and you prefer your relaxation to be free, there are some wildly amazing deserted beaches in the vicinity, situated in the bays of Frenchman’s, Calabash, Great and Billy’s.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

If you want to tuck into an amazing breakfast before getting some work done then you should hit up the beachside Smurf’s Cafe – you will seriously be set up for the day.

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#7 Falmouth

Falmouth

Historic Falmouth has a ton of heritage buildings for the nomad who likes their base with a good architectural backdrop.

Monthly cost of living in Falmouth

$937/ month 

cost of rent in Falmouth

$352/month

Falmouth may be as famous as a cruise ship port as it is a historic town nowadays, but we like to think the history always wins. And there’s a lot of it to be found.¬†

Named after Falmouth in Cornwall, United Kingdom, Falmouth was a meticulously planned colonial settlement – this place even had piped water before New York City got it.

Granville is a good place to live in Falmouth. Set just outside of town itself, and first set up as a “free village” by emancipators, it’s a nice, local place to base yourself. Or you could go closer to the grid-system streets of the old town for a surprisingly affordable rate and location closer to places to eat and drink.

Pros of Falmouth

  • Lots of history to learn about
  • Georgian buildings look pretty
  • Bustling with local markets

Cons of Falmouth

  • Not many other foreigners to meet
  • Constant influx of cruise tourists
  • Not a lot of places to work

Awash with brightly coloured Georgian architecture in its central historic district, Falmouth has some out-of-town destinations that shed light on just why this place got so wealthy in the first place: plantations. 

The 18th-century Good Hope Estate is a plantation turned museum, which you can now visit to learn about the history of the area.

There’s also a more modern side to Falmouth; back in town, the newly constructed pier features a fair few upscale shopping opportunities. At the weekly market pick up local produce and crafts.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

With not a lot of places to work, we recommend setting up at somewhere like Rock Wharf along the waterfront. Friendly people, fresh food and the chance to have a beer when you’re done working.

#8 Hopewell

Hopewell - Wikimedia
Photo credit - Wikimedia

A small fishing village with a mix of locals and expats, it’s a good destination for a nomad looking for a truly quiet corner of Jamaica.

Monthly cost of living in Hopewell

$902/ month 

cost of rent in Hopewell

$376/month

With its smattering of small bed-and-breakfasts, Hopewell Рon the northwest coast of Jamaica in Hanover Parish Рis a decidedly chilled and local spot to base yourself. 

Not far to the west of Montego Bay, Hopewell is now home to a sizeable community of expats (mainly English and Americans) and we can totally see why.

For the nicest places to live in Hopewell, Orchard Housing Scheme may be a good option for you. A gated community, but still fairly affordable, this neighbourhood is close to things like churches, ATMs and places to eat and drink.

Pros of Hopewell

  • Other expats to meet
  • Genuine fishing village feel
  • Barely any tourists

Cons of Hopewell

  • Not much to do
  • There aren't many places to work
  • Could feel isolated

Hopewell isn’t just about the expat community though – thank goodness. There’s a thriving bunch of fisherman here who work in the water of Old Steamer Beach, named for the skeleton of an old steamer ship that ran aground here in 1887.

Whilst the beach is in walking distance of the main residential part of town, head south instead and you’ll find the Bamboo District.¬†

Named because it is where bamboo is commercially grown, this is a thick jungle area that the adventurous nomad will love exploring.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Because of its size, there aren’t a load of places to work, but you might want to set yourself up at Try A Ting, a local cafe. Alternatively, Lobster Trapp is a good one for afternoon work because of the great sunsets!

#9 Runaway Bay

Runaway Bay

A resort town with a gorgeous coral reef, Runaway Bay has some captivating sights for the nature-loving nomad.

Monthly cost of living in Runaway Bay

$890/ month 

cost of rent in Runaway Bay

$320/month

Runaway Bay is a beautiful spot. Set on the north coast of Jamaica, between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay – and complete with a stunner of beach that attracted the first resort developments in the 1960s – Runaway Bay certainly has a unique character and style about it; something that attracts expats to the hills overlooking the sea.

It may be a small town, but Runaway Bay has a decent residential area in the form of Belleair. Situated on a hillside, a lot of properties here have great views of the sea. If you prefer being by the sea, there are a few villas you could choose to stop in for the long-term.

Pros of Runaway Bay

  • Laid back place to live
  • Very nice beaches
  • Natural things to see and do

Cons of Runaway Bay

  • Feels a bit out of the way
  • Quite a few resorts
  • Not much to do

The coral reef just off the shore makes Runaway Bay a bit of a haven for divers who want to explore the depths. 

Don’t worry: if you’re not keen on going underwater, you can stay firmly above water at some nicely sheltered spots for swimming along Cardiff Hall Beach.

For more natural wonders, you can explore the Green Grotto Caves. This system of caverns is half a million years old and boasts its own intriguing underground lake as well as a load of stalagmite and stalactite formations.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Head to Flavours Beach Bar and Restaurant if you want to get some work done. Always playing some chill music and serving up good food, it’s the sort of place you can linger for a few hours and then take a swim once you’re done.

#10 Mandeville

Mandeville - Credit mandevillehoteljamaica.com
Photo credit - mandevillehoteljamaica.com

Mandeville is a different side to Jamaica for the nomad who wants to see something other than beaches and resorts.

Monthly cost of living in Mandeville

$620/ month 

cost of rent in Mandeville

$202/month

Mandeville began life in 1816 in the west central mountains of Jamaica. Its long history is pockmarked by a few firsts: one of the oldest hotels in the Caribbean, Mandeville Hotel, was founded in 1875 and the Caribbean’s first golf course, the Manchester Golf Course, dating back to 1868.

If you choose to live in Mandeville, you may want to consider living near Northern Caribbean University, near to Cedar Grove Estates. 

There’s a student community and a warm and welcoming atmosphere in the surrounding area. Other than that, living right in the middle of town means being close to amenities and public transport.

Pros of Mandeville

  • Very charming town
  • Quite a few places to eat and drink
  • Cooler than coastal areas

Cons of Mandeville

  • A little bit of crime
  • Can get a bit congested
  • No beaches

Mandeville is a charmer alright. It’s filled with beautiful 19th-century houses overflowing with flowers that make it feel somewhat like an English town.¬†

With a truly laid-back atmosphere, it’s pleasant to walk around – especially at the chilled Cecil Charlton Park; complete with statues, fountains and free wi-fi.

A local tip: head to Mrs. Carmen Stephenson’s Garden. She’s a local lady who offers tours around her garden, which is always bright with native Jamaican flowers and orchids.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Happily dotted with coffee shops and cafes, Mandeville is a good place for nomads. OMG Restaurant & Coffee Bar serves up tasty vegetarian food. Hashtag Everything Sweet is an ice cream cafe – delicious, in a word.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to live in all of Jamaica

We’ve come to the end of our guide to the best places to live in Jamaica and, wow – what a choice!

There truly are some amazing places to live in this Caribbean country. So many of them involve being near a beach (never a bad thing), but the thing is… what beach are you going to go for?

Maybe you’ll end up at the gorgeously long sands at Negril, the beautiful swimming spots of Runaway Bay, Port Antonio and its yesteryear glamour – or maybe you’ll go inland at Mandeville. You decide!

Have fun on your Caribbean adventure!

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Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -