Moved from Montserrat, W.I | By Dr. Tiffannie Skerritt Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS)
How do I weigh the Jamaican dollar and ensure I get value for money?
It can be very tempting at first glance of the exchange rate to consider yourself “Real rich” if coming from a country where your currency ranks higher than the Jamaican dollar. What can be helpful is setting a monthly and semester budget in your currency, based on the money you have for the term/ year of school. Having done that, you can do the conversion to Jamaican dollars (JMD) and determine what your daily expenditure should look like. After your first month or two of living in Jamaica, you can better estimate these monthly expenses.
You may find that because of cost of living in Jamaica, in some aspects you may be able to save more. My budget usually included certain one-off costs like dorm rent, which were paid over once for the semester versus monthly costs like savings, groceries, transport, leisure activities and self-care.
Where should I buy produce/groceries?
Jamaica boasts an abundance of local fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meats of high quality that can be purchased at farmers’ markets or supermarkets. There are a host of supermarkets that offer retail and wholesale products for local and imported items in the urban area to suit your needs. You may find the supermarket prices for local produce higher than the street markets, but bear in mind that this covers the convenience of being more centrally located, safer to access as well as coverage of cost of value-added processes like packaging etc. The choice is ultimately yours.
How do I get around safely?
If you opt to live in the capital, you can get around using public transportation or private charter companies. The licensed taxis are easy to identify as they have red plates and can be caught at designated taxi stands or road stops while the government-run bus service JUTC, is a cheap, safe and reliable means of getting around. Avoid taking rides from non-marked, non-red plate vehicles.
For those preferring a pick up right at their door with direct transfer to their destination, several chartered taxi services exist. Companies like Knutsford Express and JUTA, facilitate transfer between parishes for those interested in site seeing and visiting the far ends of the island.
Hey! Nia here speaking. I think Tiffannie is a really awesome person. Following her these last couple of years, made me really want to study in Jamaica. You can check out her instagram @tiffannie.skerritt for more cool content on island life on Jamaica and Montserrat.
Part 1 of this series is up right now! Go check it out!
Stevikha Foster is a 4th year student currently studying this course at this campus. She gives a thorough breakdown of what to expect for the first three years of the course.