My home island Jamaica has a fair number of ex-pats or potential ex-pats who want to know the cost of living in Jamaica. It is something that isn’t always readily available through a quick google search and even might be lacking. You can ask around, but answers are likely to based on perspective. It’s also very easy for Jamaicans abroad to not realize how truly inflated the cost of living is. This blog post is intended to provide a good measure of the cost of living in Jamaica for a family of three.
These figures may be extended a little bit without too much consequence for a second child. The date on this post is May 2021, so if you happen to read this at a later stage, consider changes in inflation, political changes and other economic variants.
The cost of living in Jamaica has always been high, but the pandemic has seen the heights of inflation where certain amenities are concerned as one can imagine.In this post, we’ll cover the cost of food, housing, bills, education and some leisure activities. In the name of a universal currencies, I’ll post figure in Jamaican Dollars and the US dollar equivalent.
For context, the cost of living in Jamaica and everywhere else is relative to your lifestyle, preferences and circumstances. You will find that individual’s expenses vary greatly, as does salary and expenditure.
Cost of Living in Jamaica 2021
** As you can imagine, these figures aren’t scientifically averaged or anything like on other Google sites offering up data on what the cost of living in Jamaica might be based on information put in by random people. They are simply plucked from my everyday experiences as a local resident.
Figures are plucked from knowledge, actual receipts, in the ground research, etc. Figured may be rounded to the nearest hundred or thousand. In USD, the difference amounts to less than $10 in most instances.
I will share this article from the perspective of a family of three living in Kingston.
The cost of food in Jamaica is much like everything else. It comes down to preference. Preference in cost, brand, quality, taste and where you prefer to shop. For example, some persons will shop various items at the store (supermarket), fruits and vegetables at the market and a ‘meat shop’ for meats. This method is useful for finding the best, most fresh produce, more variety and better prices.
However, others like myself consider shopping at multiple locations a hassle and strain on time. We are convenience shoppers and simply get everything in the store, unless forced to look elsewhere by a lack of availability.
For that reason, here are some common food products and their costs.
Common Grocery Item prices From Actual Grocery Receipt
- A loaf of bread J$405
- 1L of full cream ilk J$344.69
- A whole chicken (Approximately 4 lbs) J$1259.04
- A typical box lunch J$750-J$950
- A combo meal at a fast food restaurant J$980
- Dinner for two at a nice restaurant J$7000
- A dozen eggs J$412.50
- A mid-range bottle of red wine J$2081.71
Utilities for family of three
- Electricity J$5000
- Water J$3000
- Cable + Internet (Basic Packages) J$8500
Urban Housing (Kingston & St. Andrew)
Let’s start with the most concerning and most expensive item on a monthly budget. Firstly though, housing prices in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city is absolutely bonkers and continues to escalate beyond reason. To provide an example, I live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.
When we moved on, it was priced very fairly on the market. A steal, but fair. We’ve lived here for four years, and since then, the cost of renting a unit like ours increased by nearly 300%. Yep, that’s what I said, the market price for housing in Kingston increased by at least 300% in four years.
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Medium-Low Cost Area Housing
Still what you pay depends significantly on your lifestyle. For a high-end lifestyle, rent for a one bedroom apartment is can run as high as US$5000 (of course that can go higher) for a luxury apartment with just two or three bedrooms. Additionally, higher-end apartments tend to be listed in USD rather than JMD.
A one-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city centre range between J$50,000 (US$320) and J$70,000 (US$450). These areas have addresses such as Kingston 19, 20, etc. In the city centre (Kingston 5-10) a one-bedroom apartment ranges from J$80,000-J$130,000(US$517-US$840)
A fairly priced two-bedroom apartment in the corporate area is somewhere between J$150,000 (US$980) and J$220,000 (US$1420). The further away you move from city centres, the more it decreases.
However, with that decrease comes a decrease in the quality of the housing and its environs.
In comparison, many professionals working in Kingston take refuge in finding housing in the neighbouring parish of St. Catherine in residential areas closer to towns, the same two-bedroom apartment or even a house will run you about J$70,000 and J$150,000 can get you houses for rent with as many as five bedrooms.
Buying is brutal. That’s a topic for another day.
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Public transport is available practically everywhere. In Jamaica, public transportation is provided in the form of we route taxis, buses (JUTC, Coasters), Taxi Companies (like On Time, City Guide, El Shaddai) and in the more western parishes, bike taxis which are more common with tourists and more recently Uber.
On a typical short route, the fare is about J$100 (US$0.65). A little longer and it may go up to as much as J$300. A bus ride from Montego Bay St. James is about J$1000 (US$6.46).
A taxi ride from pick up to drop off from one of the companies in the corporate area is about J$600 within the area.
I hope this post is useful for accurate and accurate information for 2021 coat of living in Jamaica. Let me know in the comments if you found the post helpful!
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Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle2 years ago
Whenever I think about the housing market in Jamaica, I want to cry. Buying a home in a nice neighbourhood with 3 bedrooms and adequate yard space for a small backyard garden just seems so elusive. Great post Shan, but fix the price of a whole chicken. That must’ve been a typo, but everything else looks painfully accurate (painful because we have to pay it).