Living as a young adult in Jamaica - The Massive Jamaica

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Living in Jamaica: What I Wish They Told Me

One thing I can say for sure since I’ve started having responsibilities is that living in Jamaica is no walk in the park. Adulthood really is the worst hood.

I couldn’t wait to be an ‘adult’. I was counting down the days when I could ‘live my best life’, make my own rules and decisions and spend my own money. I’m not sure if the realist in me was on vacation, but I dreamt up a pretty bizarre fantasy of how my adult life would be. 

I don’t think I’ve had a ruder awakening than adulthood gave me. I don’t remember setting this alarm, but it woke me up and wouldn’t stop ringing. 

Bottom line is adulting really isn’t the flex I thought it would be. Especially being a young adult. I mean, I saw older adults having a hard time. I’m not sure why I thought I’d be much different, much less better. 

Maybe I ignored the red flags. But, there are things that I think if someone sat me down and explained to me, I would’ve never subscribed to adulthood daily. I mean, there are many things stopping me from living that ‘best life’ I was talking about. But, there are some that really stand out.

I wish I knew how expensive living in Jamaica really was 

Paylab Jamaica says that Jamaicans under 24 years make on median JM$91,000 monthly. 

If we’re being realistic, even if I was 100% convinced by this number, this is not enough to comfortably survive in any Jamaican economy in the last 5 years. But, we’ll still use this number to do a few calculations. 

Let’s use the JM$91K to cover basic expenses as a young adult in Jamaica like rent, utilities, food and transportation. And let’s start with your rent, because you need somewhere to live. So, say your rent is JM$40K monthly. You have JM$51K to cover food, utilities, and transportation. Utilities like electricity, internet, water and your cell phone could run you at least JM$25K if you conserve. Groceries could be another JM$25K. So far you have 1K to spare.

I’m sorry to break it to you but, based on the median salary, you’re already broke. And you haven’t included transportation yet. How will you get to work?

What if you have a car? How do you pay your car note? How do you pay off student loans? What about self-care expenses? What about leisure? Are you telling me that at 21 years old all I do is work? I can’t go and catch a movie or go for a drink? I can’t even afford skin care products?

Some young adults have the luxury of parental support, and it’s a blessing. But the reality is that some don’t. Even those who do are having a hard time navigating adulthood. So, imagine the young people thrown into the deep end of adulthood with no life jacket.

Personally, my immersion into adulthood and the expenses that come with it wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be. I’ve been one of the fortunate people that have a great support system from my parents. But, with car notes, gas expenses, car maintenance, leisure and self-care expenses, it’s been pricey. So, kudos to those who’ve been living in Jamaica on their own steam.  

There’s always so much to do and so little time 

Another thing about adulting that has me against the ropes is time.

Some days time’s moving too fast and others time’s literally moving at snail pace. And please know there’ll be no warning of either, so the fluctuation is never fun. Between school, work, errands and other responsibilities, who even has time to breathe?

School asks a lot of you, work asks for a lot and other responsibilities exist, so we have to use our time very wisely. If we don’t, we’ll get caught playing catch up, which then throws you off balance for weeks. Meeting deadlines, submitting assignments, paying the bills, going to the supermarket, getting the car to the front-end man, chores and self-care. It literally feels like there’s not enough time to do anything when we really need to.

Most of us have a set schedule of work even if you’re working remotely. And some of us go to school during or after. So we feel too drained to do anything else after work. Especially with curfews and restrictions during this pandemic, things we wanted to do outside of work and school seem virtually impossible.  

Time management is a gift. I envy those who have it. 

I’m still working on being good at this time management thing. But it feels like everything is being thrown at me all at once. So, sometimes I get stuck trying to make music out of madness. It usually works out in my favour, but I’m still left exhausted 95% of the time.

Living in Jamaica as a young adult is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. But, like most things in life, we have to do it and do our best at it.

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