Jamaica Cost of Living: A Calculated Guide

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Calculating the Cost of Living Jamaica | TVJ Smile Jamaica’ by Television Jamaica

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Jamaica ranks 9th in Caribbean Latin America for high cost of living; factors include housing, transportation, food, education, and healthcare; challenges faced with food security; Ministry of Labor addresses wage disparities; need for human capital development and better education; budgeting is important; Scientific Research Council supports small businesses.

Key Insights

  • Jamaica ranks 9th out of 33 countries in the Caribbean Latin American region in terms of the high cost of living.
  • The cost of living includes expenses like housing, transportation, food, utilities, education, and healthcare.
  • In Jamaica, transportation accounts for about 12.8% of expenses, housing also 12.8%, and food around 40%.
  • The average American earns around $100 US per week, with a significant portion of income going towards lunch expenses.
  • Factors that influence the cost of living in Jamaica include car loans, mortgages, utilities, internet, gas, self-care expenses, children's school fees, and insurance costs.
  • Other costs include clothing, personal grooming, and phone bills.
  • Jamaica faces challenges related to food security due to fluctuating weather conditions impacting agricultural crops.
  • The Ministry of Labor is responsible for addressing the wage disparities and bargaining strategies to ensure fair compensation for workers.
  • 60% of the working population in Jamaica has no qualifications, highlighting the need to invest in human capital development and provide better education and qualifications.
  • Budgeting is essential to manage expenses and live within one's means.
  • The video also mentions the Scientific Research Council and its role in supporting small businesses.
  • Please note that the text has been provided as is and may not represent the complete and accurate content of the video.

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9th out of 33 countries in the Caribbean Latin American region as it relates to the high cost of living.

How much does it really cost the average person per month to live in Jamaica? Well, here to help break down the numbers are economist Dr. Andre Horton and executive financial advisor Wendy Wallace.

Good morning, guys.

Good morning.

Let’s get into it. We’ll talk about the cost of living. What are we really talking about?

When I talk about the cost of living, you’re really looking at the monthly basket that people purchase, right? And then you put each month together against an annual basket. You’re looking at housing, looking at clothing, looking at transportation, and looking at food, and looking at utilities, looking at education. I’m looking at healthcare and so on and so forth. In statistics, what I call a consumer price index. Food makes up about 40%, transportation about 12.8%, housing also 12.8%, and then the other items are scattered about, but those are the bulk of the expenses for the average person. And for a particular survey where we ranked ninth in terms of high cost of living, those are the things that were really considered, yeah, man.

Those are the things that are considered when you look at day-to-day living expenditure on transportation. People going to work, coming home from work. The average American earns, say, $100 US per week, which is about fifteen thousand dollars, right? And when I think about purchasing lunch for the week, the average person per day spends like a thousand dollars per loan. So that’s right, seven thousand right there. Half of the salary received goes on lunch. That’s a starting figure, by the way, that hundred US, that weekly wage of no.

What we do, we look at the average income, and we look at people at different income thresholds. So it’s 70% of the population earning less than 1.5 million a year. So when I look at it that way, when I break it down, bring it down to the nitty-gritty, it works out to about $100 US per week, okay?

$16,000 per week. So what are the factors that generally influence the cost of living?

Well, I have to beg to differ because when I did my list, I never know that it was so expensive to live, like, for regular persons. Because when you look at, let me tell you now, we look at also a car loan. They pay between 70 to 130. So now I’m talking about bare minimum. I’m not talking about people paying 200 thousand for a car loan. I’m talking about bare minimum. Like, 10-year, 11, if you’re talking about a mortgage, you’re going from about mortgage and rent about 60 to 150 thousand. Sometimes talking about a single person or a sick person, a child that is being mischievous. When I look at what utilities, JPS is between 8 and 20 thousand, water 5,000 to 10,000, internet 8,000 to 13,000, gas 30,000 to 50,000 per month. I’m giving a monthly cost gross to between 50 to 100 and it’s bare minimum, you know, I’m barely living in a tin shack that’s too small. I’m not to mention self-care. You just saw what they look like earlier. No, you’re just like 10,000, 15. Oh, they have to deal with. No, you go yet. It goes up to 70,000. Yes, I don’t have 5,000. It goes up to 10. So that’s a regular, regular, regular like in a regular pedicure or manicure. Lunch, like you said, between 20,000 to 30,000. That is a folder, that a plus. You don’t factor in if you have children going to school and taking the transportation like they’re on a bus system. If you’re paying prep school school fees, so cost of living is really very honest. It’s just bare, bare minimum, not to mention insurance. Some on time because it’s a must-have insurance for critical illness or if we have a pair, your car maintenance, just washing your cars. Our $1,500 a wash every week is about 5 to 15,000. Phone bill, 5,000 to 20,000. If you use a prepaid bill, it still adds up. So when they did something you did something that I encourage everybody to do because this you never hit me until I put pen to paper and that’s what she literally did, like many of us. You know every month, you get paid and you just try to pay the bills and you travel, and then one month I said, “No, one of them just top in something.” And then we realize that even some work where me I do, me subsides the job, alright, and I’m subsiding the workplace more than me earn from them. So those are some of the things that, but when they just read our, not even to mention persons who are looking after their aging parents, right? Don’t you talk about that? You don’t put health issues because the average person might pay up or between 300 to 500 clothes. I remember this is after tax, so then.

So there are two questions I have. One, what recommendations can you make for a government to drive down the cost of living? That’s one question. But I think let’s put it more on us as individuals. What can we do to kind of manage our cost of living? I mean, are there some tips that you can provide?

From a government standpoint, we have to approach it as a multifaceted problem. Food, as I told you before, makes up about 40% of the budget, but not just agricultural food. Also, other types of processed food, etc., etc. But what we’ve realized is that because agricultural food is the primary product, the high cost of agricultural crops feed into the cost of other products that are made from the primary product. And Jamaica has been impacted by floods sometimes, and then when it’s not flood, it’s drought. So we have never been able to find that happy medium. So I think a significant portion of the budget needs to be spent on how we, one, build a catchment and store water, and two, and then how we redistribute water across the different agricultural parishes and generally addressing food security. Yes, because when you look at it, we won’t be able to produce all the food that we need, right? We’ll have to import some, but what is important is that we are producing something that is of value, that we can export, and that is the nature of the Jamaican economy. What we have been doing is that we have been producing goods that don’t fetch a real economic scale, and we cannot really export it in order to buy.

Andre, yes, how does something like the Ministry of Labor, or rather, no, no, the Ministry of Labor, okay, because sometimes when I meet the average Jamaican and they say, “Boy, my salary now make it,” you know, I mean, make yet, and when I ask the company, them say, “They’re not have it for pay,” but then when the year-end figures are posted on the stock exchange information, you see companies making 200% profit, 100% profit, while telling the worker that, “Well, we don’t have it to pay you.” Where does the Ministry of Labor come in to say, “Put it there have to be a bargaining strategy?”

Most companies are attracted to Jamaica because of the cost of our labor, I must say, yes. It’s cheaper relative to many of our trading partners, cheaper relative to many countries close to us. I think that we now have to look at the low-wage, low-tech economy that we have and begin to realize that no, we have to begin to increase the ability of our people to earn more income. Let me tell you something, 60% of our working population has no qualifications, 60. I mean, so what I mean is that if you have no qualification, it means you’re not going to earn, and I’m talking about meaningful, not just the CXC. So you need the qualifications and to go up the ladder, and a diploma, associate degree, the higher the chance of you getting a better income. And that is what we need to look at, how do we build our human capital? Because there are countries in the world who pride themselves in providing high human capital to the job market. But what we, we are still not so willing to pay people because they may have the qualifications, but one in front of the work. I have to talk the truth in a job, people who don’t have the qualifications cause they can do the job, because we don’t want to pay. And I’m wondering at what point does somebody step in and say, “The people of Jamaica, the hard-working people need to be compensated for what they do.” Wow, we could talk.

Yeah, but we’ve got to go, but sure. Let me just, one minute, to tell you that right now, I have people who budget because sometimes we spend money on things to be honest, it is sorry for some process, it’s really not enough. Really just, and they’re not living above their means, they’re living within their means. They’re living below them, and it is really, it’s really a stretch. But budgeting is that thing that can really actually help you to kind of mitigate what is supposed to come. So I do sometimes help a lot of price that do their budget, and I hold them accountable to

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Calculating the Cost of Living Jamaica | TVJ Smile Jamaica’ by Television Jamaica