One of the things I loved most about Jamaica was the people. Everyone was so open and so friendly! Upon our arrival, the resort provided a driver from the airport to our hotel. Our driver was very friendly and gave us a very interesting history lesson on Jamaica. This is one of the topics he discussed.
Housing in Jamaica
Our driver instructed us to look around at the hillside views along our drive. He told us to take notice of the homes on the hillsides and roadways. As we looked, we noticed all the homes were in various states of construction. As told by our guide, the reason is because the home loan interest rates in Jamaica are sky-high. Whereas the US currently has rates around 2-4%, the Jamaicans only have access to rates above 10%. So they invest-as-they-go into the construction of their homes. And these homes are not small shacks! They are all huge mansions. Our guide explained it this way:
“The people here in Jamaica usually acquire land in two ways. First, they inherit it. Second, if they don’t have family land, there are very inexpensive plots to purchase, around $500 each. They consider their homes their prized investments. We have large families here, but we are spread out all over the world. So the head of the family buys land and starts building a home, but they pay for it as it is done. So they build the bottom floor, then decorate it, then the next floor, etc. They live in the house while it is being constructed. It takes anywhere from 6-15 years to build this house. Meanwhile, their brothers, sisters, cousins, children, they all move all around the world. When they come to visit, they stay in this large house. When the family retires, they rent out floors in these homes to other people for income. It is a very large source of income here. So we build large houses which our family stay when they return and for income when we are too old to work. These are all owned by middle-class families. Would you believe that?”
Pictures of In-Progress Homes (people are living in these)
Although it may not look like it, there are people living in the bottom floors of these homes while the upper levels are being constructed. In several occasions we saw people sitting out on the lawn amidst the debris having bar-b-ques and entering or leaving to their cars.
Pictures of Completed (or Almost Completed) Homes
For the picture above, the driver said this one was complete, except for paint. It took 14 years to build.
This picture above is not great as all the pictures I took were from a moving vehicle!