COMMUNITY LIVING IN JAMAICA
What exactly does that title mean - ‘community living’? In Jamaica today, community living is just another catch phrase for being resident within a ‘gated community’. Gated communities are thriving, not only in Kingston but throughout the island and are surely today’s prime real estate in Jamaica. Drive around any of the upscale residential areas of
Kingston: Norbrook, Liguanea (especially Millsborough Avenue, Paddington Terrace) Russell Heights, Long Lane, Old Stony Hill Road and the roads leading off and a proliferation of well-established gated communities and many others in various stages of completion can be seen. Gated communities got their start in the 70’s and have flourished ever since.
So, it’s safe to assume that developers would not be building these enclaves at such a rate if they were not in such demand. A recent visit to a development in progress in Millsborough Avenue and interview with developer, Michael Millwood. Mr. Millwood is building 18 spacious homes where, not long ago, there was only one large, single residence. He said that nearly all of the homes under construction had been sold already and from his years of experience in constructing such communities, this is and has been the norm. The homes are often sold well before they are finished. Corporations buy them not only as sound investments but as suitable residences for their top management and in particular, for expatriate residents in
Jamaica who come to fulfill 2 or 3 year contracts and sometimes, opt to make their home in Jamaica even when their contract is finished. Of course, Jamaicans want to own their own home as well and the trend is, to make it one within a gated community – their current popularity knows no bounds!
The big attraction for homeowners to live in and form part of, a gated community is security. The ready-made, built-in security is a huge pull for the homeowner. The idea of entering and leaving one’s place of abode without any fear of being held up either at the gate or possibly alighting from one’s vehicle or even at the front door, cannot be emphasised enough and this goes for Jamaicans and ex-pats alike. As well, those dwelling within feel they can rest assured that the constant monitoring of all those who enter and depart the community is another reason to feel safe, secure and at peace.
So although outsiders might think that their absolute privacy may be compromised in such a setting, insiders benefit from ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their property with all the security they need in place and this factor alone acts like a magnet; to be part of such a community in a country like Jamaica which does have a serious crime problem.
Security is the most salient factor in the Jamaica’s ever expanding gated communities but it’s not the only plus. There are other features of the gated community which are attractive – the maintenance of the grounds and the privacy when one enters one’s own home. There is usually communal land within the community as well for entertainment purposes, often with a well-kept swimming pool. The houses (and apartments) themselves may sometimes look fairly small from the outside but inside they are remarkably spacious and well laid out.
Homes in such developments are not cheap, however, and can cost anywhere from J$15-30 million plus depending greatly on the size and location of the community.
It’s safe to assume that these properties will certainly continue to appreciate as, even the most casual observer cannot fail to notice the speed at which these developments are springing up in Jamaica. Their popularity does not look like diminishing any time soon and, the gated community under construction visited recently was the fourth such development in Millsborough Avenue.