According to Insuremytrip, Jamaica is the 8th best country in the world for digital nomads.
I find it odd that Jamaica is that well ranked as it is not one of the top digital nomads nor remote workers hubs.
Is it because it is a great place for those who wish to stay for the long term? Is it easy to settle there, as it can be in countries such as Mexico or other Caribbean islands?
Or is it because the internet network is so amazing that people working remotely all go to Jamaica?
Or is it that this ranking article was completely off?
Well, let’s find out together why Jamaica is such a great destination for digital nomads.
Internet speed in Jamaica for digital nomads
Internet Speed in Jamaica?
According to speedtest.net global index, Jamaica’s average download speed is 37.95Mbps while its average upload speed is 17.85Mbps.
This type of speed should be more than enough for most people working remotely including video editors, designers, and developers.
From most hotels you should get this type of internet connection. If the hotel you are staying in does not have a great internet setup you should be able to get a decent 4G coverage, according to this map from cellmapper.net:
Most of the inhabited parts of the island seem to be covered with 4g networks.
Here is another website showing a different map proving it.
Best mobile networks in Jamaica?
Digicel and Flow seem to be the two main mobile plans companies in Jamaica. According to gsma.com, the provider offering the largest coverage is Digicel.
With Flow, you will be able to get 35GB of data for about $33 (USD), while with Digicel you will get 12GB of data for about $20 (USD).
I would still go with Digicel, as their coverage seems to be more comprehensive. But if you plan to work remotely from the same place, and that place is well covered by Flow, you will save a lot of data by choosing Flow as your data provider.
Digital Nomad Visa Jamaica
US, Canada, UK, and Schengen citizens can travel to Jamaica, for at least a 30-day stay, with nothing more than a valid passport for six months minimum from the date of departure from Jamaica.
US citizens could stay up to 6 months. UK citizens could stay up to 90 days. For any other country just check this document, it contains all the information you will need.
Jamaica does not offer any kind of digital nomad visa. To work from Jamaica, a work permit will be required.
However, Jamaica allows Writers, journalists, broadcasters, sculptors and painters (excluding industrial painters) to stay for a period of 30 days in the country without a work permit (more information here).
If you are planning to visit Jamaica while running your business remotely, you should be fine, as long as you don’t overstay.
However, if you are employed by a company located in a foreign country, you will not be allowed to work remotely from Jamaica.
Any Digital Nomad Visa on its way?
Rumors are saying that the Jamaican government is planning to release a Visa which will allow digital nomads and remote workers to stay a while in Jamaica and work from there legally. However, so far, nothing has been confirmed.
This decision will likely be delayed anyway due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions. Speaking of which:
To board the flight that will bring you to Jamaica, you will need a travel authorization. Airline companies won’t let you in if you don’t have this document with you. This applies to nationals as well. To get the authorization, you will need to apply from this website.
At departure, you will need to present a negative Covid-19 PCR or Antigen test. The date of the test sample collection will need to be less than 3 days from the date of departure.
At arrival, you will have to take a new test, conducted by the Jamaican health services.
What is the average cost of living?
Based on the most accurate source of information for digital nomads which is Nomadlist, the cost of living in Kingston is about $2,000 per month, and in Montego Bay, it should be about $2,500 (USD).
On Booking.com, the cheapest hotel rooms for a 30-day stay start at about $1,000.
On Airbnb, the cheapest rental for a 30-day stay would start at about $300. Check out this hut made of recycled materials. Airbnb seems to be the best solution to find good deals for a long stay.
Food and drinks should be pretty cheap in most places. However, note that in areas where most of the tourists go the prices tend to increase by 30 to 40% (like anywhere else in the world).
If you are capable of living as the locals do, your average cost of living will be much lower than the $2,000 mark we took from Nomadlist.
Best spots to work from in Jamaica
Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica, and it is located in the eastern part of the island.
Kinston is also the cultural and economical heart of the island. This is where you will find most of the coworking spaces available in Jamaica.
Know for its natural harbour, the 7th biggest of the world, Kingston is probably one of the best beach-city in the world. Here are a few of the beach you could check:
- Lime Cay
- Hellshire Beach
- Fort Clarence
- Boardwalk Beach
- Gunboat Beach
- Bob Marley Beach
If you decide to stay in Kingston, you could eventually stay a bit outside of the city for a better view, in Saint Thomas Parish, and book this lovely room on Airbnb.
Otherwise, you could book this beachfront villa from booking.com.
There are tons of rooms, or entire appartments available in the city of Kingston. You should book in advance to make sure to benefit from the best deals.
Negril is a little town located on the western part of the island. Overthere, you will find long and white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and some of the most beautiful resorts.
Working from there won’t be a problem as the are is fully covered with 4G/LTE network.
Accomodation costs will be more expensive than in Kingston, however, if you book in advance you could still find places for less than USD 50 per night such as White Sands Negril hotel.
Montego Bay is a cruise destination, and kind of a luxury destination.
If you are planning to book a place to work from there, and your budget is around 50 USD per night, you won’t be able to find a beachfront hotel without booking in advance.
However, on Airbnb or Booking.com, you will find lots of decent places with great wifi.
There are two famous beaches there that you may want to see as they are absolutely beautiful.
- Doctor’s Cave Beach
- Walter Fletcher Beach
Port Antonio, the third biggest port of the island, should be a great place to work from for most digital nomads as it is safer than Kingston, cheaper than Montego Bay, and still very beautiful.
Just make sure to get the right data provider as FLOW’s signal appears to be a bit weak in the eastern part of the island.
For less than 50 USD per night, this is the type of view you could have from your home office.
Ochos Rios is located between Montego Bay and Port Antonio. As per Montego Bay, it is more like a luwury resort place. It won’t be easy to find a beach-front hotel or room without payign a high price.
You could eventually get a room with such a view from The Waves Resort for less than 50 USD per night.