SweetSue looks like we arriving the same day!
Ready to show my offspring the world and we start with.......Jamaica!
Hi all - back finally. I got a detached retina requiring eye surgery and not allowed to read or use computer - but finally allowed to again. They inject a bubble in your eye to help hold the retina in place, but that means no flying for 6 weeks minimum. Also, first 5 days off work had to use my PTO that WAS going to use for vacation days in JA. Bottom line - JA trip off until probably Sept or so, when I earn another week's PTO. Oh well - that's life.
Bnewb, Rob, Sweetness, and others - I DO thank you for the perspective, truly. I'm glad my posts weren't being taken as offensive. I thought they were - and being replied to with criticism for my being cost-conscious - but reading other's takes on comments, must be just me. My frustration came from having several customs questions (long-term move related section of customs laws, not the vacationing tourist related) and not finding answers. No problem - everyting criss, mon!
So this is in the same spirit of just providing information. To those boardies who ARE cost conscious, almost to the point of being obsessive-compulsive (like me) - or those thinking about longer-term living, not a short vacation - the following is offered as my experience so far, unique as my situation is.
Just as background as to where I am coming from, all my life I have value-shopped - it's just my nature now. I grew up on a crop and dairy farm in Ohio - having to work hard to earn things starting with chores before/after school as early as I can remember. I paid my own way thru college (Mechanical Engineering) by using savings and co-op'ing. I subscribe to Consumer Reports to learn how to haggle better with salesmen and know what items are rated the best value. I read and listen on the radio to Clark Howard (the Consumer Warrior - "Save more, spend less, and avoid being ripped off") and Dave Ramsey ("how to get debt-free"). I setup web alerts to track airfares for several weeks before each trip. I even check 2 1-way airfares compared to Round-trip airfares. So for me, it's almost impossible to NOT compare prices and value, it's just second nature.
So all that are the reasons I have been so obsessed with comparing US-to-JA prices (and you're right, I'd probably be better off if I didn't). But the biggest is that like probably most of you preparing for vacation, I go shopping before every trip - usually several times. And the prices get ingrained because I am comparing between K-Mart, WalMart, Target, Sams Club, etc before I finally buy (maybe that's not as usual). So when I see the same items in JA the next week for so much more - it just blows my mind. And it does make me worry about plans to live there, albeit part-time. That's something I'll just have to work on.
Now, I DO realize that living there longer term, that would fade (hopefully) - and I would just get used to JA prices and comparing between THEIR stores. But even then, I will be retired doing snow-bird thing married to a Jamaican - 6 or so hot months in USA, 6 or so cold months in JA. Not living there full time and running a business like many of you where you forget the prices back home. So I will still have the "curse" of knowing what items could be bought for back in USA.
So being in the more unique position I am currently - planning marriage to a Jamaican and slowly building/stocking up a house there from A-Z over many vacations, and planning on living there half-time sometime down the the road - this is my experience so far. From batteries, to bath and kitchen items, to towels and bed linens, and especially small electronics, and everything in between - a cost-conscious to the point of almost being obsessive/compulsive shopper definitely notices the price differences. And I have to disagree and say it's not minimal - I've saved hundreds of dollars by bringing many of these things down. (NOTE: nothing remotely close to TVs - just things that few-weeks staying tourists bring all the time - especially those that are house renters). What I know I can't bring down I DO buy, or plan to buy, in JA - but it hurts knowing the price difference. I wish I were like many of you and COULD just get it out of my head. Granted - my experience is just stores in Negril to Sav areas (my fiance has lived in just Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth parishes - MoBay is not familiar to her, and so not to me either). So it sounds like we need to add a shopping day or two to MegaMart, ATL, and other places in MoBay, each trip.
Now you may think - well how does this guy enjoy spending money vacationing in Negril, then, if he's that cheap? I have just been talking about comparing prices and hating to pay MORE THAN NECESSARY - it's not that I don't mind spending. Jamaica is a great value for vacationing, comparitively (I'm learning that for living - just not so much). But if you've seen me and my now-fiance out and about on previous trips, you know I frequently bring her family/friends along on our excursions and days/nights out. Last St Patty's Day Pub Crawl was good example. And I bring down lots of OSU Buckeye clothing to give away - to friends new and old, her family, hotel staff - and especially for all their kids. (but I do buy it at the Dollar store - LOL)
Last edited by Ohio_Buckeye_1; 04-06-2012 at 05:23 PM.
Hey Buckeye - sent you a message. I still believe almost everything needed to live in JA can be bought in JA and most are similar pricing to US especially in Sav or other non-tourist areas. Over the years I have brought household goods w/me for long trips only to find them right at Hi Lo for cheaper than I paid in US. Dollar store and stuff like that are good for kid stuff so there are some exceptions but really most things I had to buy to set myself up household wise (and I like all the comforts tru mi) were affordable. Difference I noticed was the name of the brands but quality seemed similar too to what I have at home. I do like my special sharp kitchen knife, microfiber blanket and some fancy candles, stuff like that that I bring but the basics are right there and not higher in most cases. Just my experience. Plus often in JA prices can be negotiated - not the case in the States--gotta watch for sales.
I hope your eye heals up quick so you can get back down. Prayers for you and yours. Sweet
Preach Peace / Live Love / Blessed Be
Sounds like our backgrounds growing up in Ohio had many similarities. I had a lawn/snow business with a friend starting at the age of 12. I also worked hard for my money. I paid for my own car. I paid for my college. I also subscribed to Consumer Reports and read it religiously. I knew where all the outlet malls were located in Ohio and shopped at many of them. Heck, my girlfriend is from bargain shopping capital of Canada! But I think you are missing my point about how important it is to support the local economy of the country in which you are choosing to live.
Earlier you have made some harsh judgments about how the store, Courts as well as the Jamaican government are ripping off their own customers/citizens. You suggest that the customs duty should be avoided by being less than truthful to the customs agents when coming to the island. You make these claims and yet now state that neither you or your fiance are familiar with Montego Bay, which has more consumer choices than Negril and Sav La Mar combined. I would hazard to guess that you are not familiar with the least expensive shopping area on the island either, Kingston, which has more choices than Negril, Sav and MoBay combined.
I am not sure how you can possibly come to these conclusions when you are admittedly unaware as to what items are actually available on the island, or how cheaply they can be purchased. Some of the outlet malls I mentioned earlier were the same distance from Columbus as Kingston is to Negril. As it was for me then, for some items, the time/hassle/cost associated with getting there is worth the savings.
You are choosing to and suggesting for others to not support the local economy of Jamaica, a small developing island nation where you are building a home and are wanting to live half your future years. You say you want Jamaicans to have it easier and have more consumer choices. I do as well. But, in order for the necessary changes to take place, the local economy needs to grow. For you to choose to not support the local economy and to suggest for others to do the same is contrary to this goal. Rather than being a part of the solution, you are choosing to be a part of the problem.
This has nothing at all to do with the cost of products in the US. It does not have to do with being cost-conscious or being an obsessive/compulsive shopper, although if you are as obsessive as you claim, you should really be familiar with shopping in Montego Bay and Kingston.
The point I have been trying to make is that it is all about helping the local economy of the place you are choosing to build a home to grow and prosper.
And please dont think for one second that those of us who live here are not aware of the prices of items in our birth countries. I am not even sure why you would suggest that. Besides, there is this handy thing called the internet that lets you see prices from stores all over the world...
RealNegril.com - For the vacation that never ends!
Rob - I have been reading your comments on this subject and it has definitely affected what I do or do not bring down. Sure, I still throw in a few items that I would not have opportunity to find or buy on the island. Small gifts or certain toiletries I prefer. Those 3 jars of peanut butter I got for half price, ha ha. A really cute item for someone's new baby. Otherwise, I just bring a little more cash and I am trying to find the best places to shop in JA. I understand what OB is saying about Courts - I feel the same way about the places in NY that capitalize on the inability of the poor to save money or get credit. They end up paying 3 or more times as much the true cost of the item. It is not only in JA that the poor get taken advantage of. Plus, I am not totally pleased with the quality or price of certain items I have looked to buy in JA but I definitely understand the need to support the economy - if only because I care about people who live there.
Thanks for all you do as a source of solid information & reason.
Be Gentle, Be Thoughtful, Be Kind - For we may never pass this way again. One World, ONE LOVE
Very informative thread. This is making me consider what items I plan to bring with me next time I come. Last time I came I packed mosquito repellant, sunblock, toothpaste, etc. But this is making me consider staying in MoBay long enough to purchase these items. Question - I have sensitive skin and need serious sunblock that doesn't have a bunch of dye and perfume. I usually buy neutrogena or something comparable for sunblock. Are brands like that available at MegaMart?
Been through similar (though I was not expecting to be paid for the items) but I did not expect to have to pay duty. Some customs agents are reasonable but some are trying to squeeze $$ out of travelers and others are just plain NASTY!
Last edited by TBfan; 07-15-2012 at 05:13 PM.
I would not be worried about paying duty on mosquito repellent or sun screen. Unless you are carrying an unreasonable amount of it.