Living in Jamaica - general cost and currency?

by Dylan
( Ontario Canada)


Hey Wellesley

I have recently been to, and fallen in love with Jamaica.

Throughout my interactions with the amazing people of your island, I realized all the things I take for granted being a Canadian.

I was hoping you might help me with a few questions I was too embarrassed to ask while I was there.

At the resorts and tourist attractions, everyone uses the USD as currency, so my question is this; In the rest of Jamaica, do you live on the USD or the JMD?

What is minimum wage or average wage?
What is the cost of necessities on the island i.e. bread and milk and eggs?

From what I can gather, a days wage is about $80 JMD or $1 USD and that is roughly a loaf of bread, is this accurate?

I love your site, your people and your island. I hope to make it my home away from home some day.

Much respect!


ANSWER: January 16, 2010 by Wellesley Gayle

Hi Dylan,

I'll try, no problem.

You'll find that the resorts and attractions use USD, maybe they want to keep it simple and convenient, for the tourists- since most are from the US and perhaps because the USD is a universally accepted currency.

No doubt they are benefiting from the exchange rate conversion as well, as tourists are usually quoted a lower price
than the market exchange rate.

And yes, JMD is usually accepted at the resorts and attractions - if I go, I pay the local price.

By the way, I always encourage my site visitors to exchange some of their currency at a cambio.

Depending on what you'll be doing and where you are going, you'll find that it is quite handy to have both.

What is the cost of basic necessities?

Well, I can tell you that parity considered, it is usually a little cheaper to by basic items in JA vs the US; A loaf of bread in Jamaica, for example, is about 180JMD now (recently increased), that's about 2USD right?

Not sure if you can get a regular family sized loaf for that in the US.

A patty here is 70JMD or 0.78USD, much cheaper than the US, but that is still high for us, based on the our measly wages and high unemployment.

The minimum wage is currently 3700 per week, still a joke, although it was last increased in 2008 by 17%. Remember though that this is the lowest weekly wage that employers may legally pay employees.

I hope that help.

Read more visitor related informaion about the country in my Jamaica Travel Guide. Stay in touch.

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Comments for Living in Jamaica - general cost and currency?

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Oct 22, 2010
Life in Jamaica
by: Margaret Kidd

The minimum wage in Jamaica is currently JM$4070.00/5 day week. This is the lowest wage payable to a worker under the law.

This is only applicable to largely so called unskilled workers and labourers eg household helpers, gardeners etc.

Otherwise semi-educated Jamaicans earn very decent wages when compared to American wages.

The problem is our cost of living is very high eg Utilities , Motor vehicles, housing etc. This is where it becomes very difficult for the poor to survive.

The minimum wage is impossible to live on and the basic things we take for granted are impossible for the poor to enjoy. Basic ammenities.

Oct 22, 2010
by: Jamaica My Way

Dylan I'd like to know who told you a day's wage is $80 JMD????

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