Road To Negril

Part 1 - Finding a place in Paradise

I started on the road to Negril many years ago. In this case I'm referring to the notion of buying an apartment to spend the winter months in. Ask any of my friends and I'm sure they will tell you I've been keen on living somewhere in the Caribbean for decades. There is a special draw to the islands if you don't like cold weather and live in Ohio - which describes my wife and I to a tee.

The road to Negril was not straight forward. We investigated several other islands before deciding on Jamaica. But once Jamaica was selected there was really only choice - Negril. The logic was quite simple - size. Having visited most of the Caribbean Islands either by cruise ship or directly we heard a common theme amongst those that lived there - rock fever they called it. That is when you've been on the island too long. You've explored every nook and cranny, wandered all the places to wander, and are now bored with the place. Incredible as it may sound to someone from the winter cold lands, that was something we heard on almost all the islands. I say almost. There was an exception - Jamaica.

So why was Jamaica special in that regard? Size. Most islands can be traversed in a matter of a few hours. And that may include stopping someplace. Jamaica is big. To drive all the way around the island without stopping would require almost thirty hours. And that doesn't include any of the interior which is a fascinating collection of ecological systems. To explore Jamaica can take a lifetime. Or as one long time resident told me - you can't learn everything there is to know about Jamaica.

After years of checking out islands we decided Jamaica was the best choice. The next question was where on the island to look and that proved to be a rather simple choice. For someone wanting plenty of sunshine and the beckoning seas just footsteps away the best place is Negril's long bay or Seven Mile Beach as it is known.

Located on the western end of Jamaica and far away from the main cities, Negril is a tourist town that draws millions of people from the cold lands every year. The Seven Mile Beach is full of resorts, hotels, restaurants, and night clubs. The music is vibrant and the people full of joy. This is a vacation center.

Of course, a vacation center with plenty of hotels and resorts does present a problem if you are looking for a place to buy. Corporations own the resorts and operate them as "all inclusive" vacation destinations, no chance of owning one of those except as a time share at best. There are some smaller hotels that operate as a condo type association (known as a strata in Jamaica) however many are time share based. You can only stay a little while. The rest of the time your place is rented out and you get a split of the income. All the other properties for sale are located away from the beach areas, in residential neighborhoods.

None the less, we decided to pursue the idea and contacted a local real estate agent in Montego Bay. Now, those in the States are used to real estate agents working a certain way. If you want to sell your house or condo you contract a real estate agent to list the property. The listing is shared amongst all real estate agents and they pre-agree to split the commission when the sale is completed. That is NOT the way real estate agents work in Jamaica. Instead they represent only those properties they have listed. There is no combined multiple listing service. They simply don't know what else might be for sale unless they notice a sign. This really increases the challenge of finding a suitable location.

So let me rewind a bit and tell you how fate played a role too. My wife has been a travel agent for the past decade. She enjoys international business and helping people put together dream vacations. As such she frequently attends seminars and presentations by various vacation vendors. A few years back she was at a large seminar hosted by numerous vendors. There was a raffle and her ticket won the grand prize. Three free nights at an all inclusive on the beach in Negril. We decided to extend that stay by staying in Montego Bay and up the road in the cliffs near Negril. With our rental car we explored several different locations so my wife could view them as a travel agent. However the one that we found interesting for our own purposes was the one she had won in the raffle - Point Village.

Point Village is part of Ruttland Point on Seven Mile beach. Ruttland Point separates Long Bay Beach and Bloody Bay Beach and has a small island just off shore known as Booby Cay. The resort, operated as an all inclusive, was actually a pool of rooms owned by various investors and companies and operated as a hotel. The remainder of the condo units were privately owned and either occupied by the owners or renters. In fact, so me of the local resorts own or rent units in Point Village for their senior staff to live in while working in Negril. That is different.

We asked the real estate agent to keep his eyes open for any opportunities in Point Village and it did not take long for him to find one. So we returned to Jamaica and checked it out. Unfortunately the unit he had found was not what we wanted. It was way too close to the action (one of the resort operated bars). We wanted something a bit more quiet yet not too far from the water. Since one cannot just fly in to Jamaica for a few days we had decided to spend the week and ask around. It did not take long before we learned of other units for sale at Point Village. And sure enough, there was one that was perfect for what we sought. Not too far from the beach, ocean view, and yet in a quieter area. Within the month we had made an offer and it was accepted. The key was to ask around. We found the location we liked, just needed to find what was available.

We were well on the road to Negril.

Next - how to buy a place in Jamaica