Practical Life in Kingston


Shopping in Kingston


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Cost of Living

Inflation trends

In the past 10 years between 2006 and 2014, annual average inflation was 10.46% (World Bank data). In The period, the high or worst year was 2008 when inflation was 22%; and the best year was 2012 when the rate was 7%. Since 2010, inflation is single digit or under 10% per year. The average inflation in Jamaica compares unfavourably with Latin America & the Caribbean, and for Caribbean-only states, where the rate was 4.39% and 3.17%, respectively. A big driver of inflation in Jamaica is energy cost (fossil fuel-based imports), and the pass thru from adjustments in the market determined exchange rate (JMD: USD). The fall in energy prices and increase in import substitution or domestic value added will contribute to stable and low inflation. Jamaicans substitute high cost with low price alternatives to beat the seasonality in food prices (e.g., callaloo can substitute cabbage when relative prices change)

Grocery basket

A basket of goods that could be of interest to the expatriate was used to compile a probable price list. Estimates are in JMD for retail prices during February 2016, do not include taxes (GCT) and are rounded up to nearest $50.

  • Milk $300 - 400/L
  • Local eggs $300 - 350/dozen
  • Butter (imported) $300 - 600/500 g
  • Bread $295/loaf
  • Spaghetti $50 - $500/500 g
  • Long grain white rice $100 - 350/500 g
  • Apples (local) $1.70/kg
  • Banana, ripe (local) $150 - 300/dozen
  • Oranges (local) $250 - 350/dozen
  • Lettuce (local, iceberg) $300 - 750 and (local, Romaine) $500 - 1100/kg
  • Tomatoes (local, salad) $300 - 700 and (local, plummy) 200 - 400/kg
  • Cucumber (local) $200 - 300/kg
  • Cauliflower (local) $450 - 950 and (imported) $450 -2250/kg
  • Broccoli, use estimate for cauliflower
  • Mince beef $700 - 750/kg
  • Chicken breasts $600 - 900/kg
  • Ground coffee $300 - $600/100 g
  • Bottled water (local) $100 - 300 and (imported) $250 - 600/1.5 L
  • Beer (local) $200 - 300/330 ml bottle
  • Wine (imported) $900 - $3000/750 ml bottle

Going out and shopping

A budget of JMD $1,240 or more can cover eating out for a meal and drink for two persons at a fast food restaurant, and one person at The fine dining restaurant. For a full meal, with wine, budget at least $2,100 per person.

Regular price ranges from JMD$1050 to $1350 for adults at the cinema. Bars generally do not charge cover fees in Jamaica. A drink out can use about $3,000 or more for two friends sharing a couple drinks each.

The public bus regular fares have a base rate of JMD$100 for adults and the tariff schedule can be viewed online. When travelling by bus in KMA or Montego Bay, get the JUTC smartcard - a convenient cashless way to pay your fare using a reusable card which can be recharged.

Shopping centres

The parish capital is where you find the mega shopping centres. KMA and Montego Bay would be the biggest of them all for consumer shopping but resort centres like Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Falmouth are not to be outdone. The major shopping centres in KMA are in places such as Half Way Tree, Liguanea, Cross Roads and Downtown Kingston. Shopping in Half Way Tree is a priority for the fashionistas. Some world renowned brands carry stores in these locations. The resort towns and Montego Bay is best for in-bond stores. The art-and-craft markets are a good option for indigenous items for souvenir collection. Most of the resorts offer complete family vacations within walking distance of downtown shopping and nightlife.

Grocery shops

For everyday living, you are not too far away from a grocery shop wherever you are in Jamaica. The parish capital is where you find the mega shopping centres. KMA and Montego Bay would be the biggest of them all for consumer shopping but resort centres like Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Falmouth are not to be outdone. Some world renowned brands carry stores in these locations. The resort towns and Montego Bay is best for in-bond stores. The art-and-craft markets are a good option for indigenous items for souvenir collection.

In the in-bonds, craft markets and resort towns generally, prices may be quoted in USD. They normally display what the f/x rate of the day is. In some cases in these shops, the local currency is slow to lose value (never mind the happenings on the spot market). You may notice too that the posted rate to buy is different from to sell, and that the USD is cheaper when buying goods than when the shopkeeper is converting your JMD to USD. At the cambio, you will probably get more JMD per USD.

By 10am, the stores are open for business. You can assume they close at 6pm but some of them remain open long after.

Visa and MasterCard are accepted for sure but traveller's cheque and other leading brands of credit cards can be used.

Parking can be an issue for shopping.

Update 15/03/2016



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