Kingston - Post Report Question and Answers

How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Many things are terribly exorbitant. A small frozen turkey will cost at least $50USD, and it will likely show signs of having been thawed and refrozen. Fresh produce not grown in Jamaica will be exorbitant: a small bundle of asparagus can cost more than $20USD. I've heard the Cost of Living Allowance is reportedly based on prices from grocery stores in the zones that are off-limits. Prices at grocery stores where expats shop are exorbitant. - May 2022

Sometimes we run out of staples like potatoes, or tomatoes but usually most things are available somewhere. The cost of living is high even with the opportunity to claim back the Tax on Groceries (if you can navigate the system), and in my opinion, the COLA is not commensurate with the costs. Most people do not have the time or energy to venture to areas where are are advised not to go (for safety reasons), though I understand some send their helpers to do their shopping for them and I've heard the savings pay for the helpers wages. However, most people shop at the high-end grocery stores because they are safe and secure and the produce is usually mostly in date. - May 2022

Most groceries are available; however, some are very expensive. You will pay close to $20 for things like strawberries for example. It is very difficult to find nice looking fruit and vegetables, especially lettuce, jalapeños, and melons. It is difficult to find decent beef (with the exception of ground beef). Chicken is good. - Jan 2020

Almost everything here is 1.5 to 2 times more expensive. Local products are cheaper, however, quality is a mixed bag. A small jar of good peanut butter (not peanut sugar spread) or a bottle of olive oil can cost $8-9. - Aug 2018

Groceries and especially household goods can be shockingly expensive. Best strategy is to go to local markets (or get helper to if you have one) and avoid buying too many processed foods and household goods. - Jun 2018

Things are really, really expensive here. You can buy local products and brands to save money but most of the time the quality is not on par with US quality products. Most things are available but if you're looking for something very specific you might have to search several stores before you find it. - Mar 2017

twice to three times as expensive as the U.S. We have a low COLA so expect to spend about 40% of your income on groceries. - Apr 2016

In general, locally produced items are going to be cheap, but of lesser quality (except fruits and veggies). Items in the grocery stores that cater to expats are at least 30% more than in the U.S., if not more. You can purchase very good fruits and vegetables from vendors around or outside of the city for pennies on the dollar. If you have domestic help, then ask him/her to purchase fruits/veggies for you because they can get the local prices. - Dec 2014

Groceries are expensive. There is Loshusan, a more upscale supermarket. Megamart, where you will find better deals. And finally, Pricesmart which is like Costco. Pay to join and buy in bulk. - Oct 2014

Groceries are about twice the price of what you buy in the U.S. That being said, you can find just about anything you need. - Mar 2014

Expensive. Especially anything that's a cold-season veggie in the U.S. Pork and beef are very expensive compared to U.S. prices, and if you're in to sausage or smoked meats, the availability is very limited. Chicken is widely available and great, but also spendy in comparison to the U.S. Local vegetables (cabbage, carrot, 'Irish' potato, sweet potato, green beans, tomatoes when they're in season) are reasonably inexpensive. Fresh herbs are down-right cheap. Dairy -- milk, yogurt, cheese of all types -- is expensive. Fresh milk is about US$5 per half-gallon, UHT milk is US$2.75 per litre. Bring laundry detergent if you can, other cleaning products are fairly reasonable. - Dec 2013

Expensive. Almost twice as much as in the U.S., especially due to the 17.5% General Consumption Tax on everything. - Aug 2011

They are available, however, it'll be cheaper on your wallet if you can get items online. - Sep 2010

Groceries are high priced on some items such as produce. Same with household items. - Jul 2010

You can find everything here. Most things are imported from the US, so you will be able to find your favorite American product. The cost is more than in the USA. - May 2010

Buying typical American food will lead you to the poor house. Not only is the marked price of an item expensive, but also most imported items and non-essentials also attract a 16.75% tax. A gallon of ice cream cost 9$/gallon. However, most items are available, but brands may be unfamiliar to you, and you might only have a choice of 1 or 2 types of a particular item versus 5 or 6 in the States. There are two warehouse stores PriceSmart (like a Costco) and MegaMart that carry typical American items. PriceSmart has the best prices by far on the whole island. You can also purchase big screen tv's, diapers, and fresh baked bread under 1 roof. We have learned to purchase in season fruit/vegetables, to eat far less processed food and to eat locally available food. It has really been a better lifestyle as far as our health is concerned. And it is much cheaper as well. - Nov 2009

Groceries are very expensive. You will spend alot more than you would in the states and not get near the quality. Household supplies will be the same. Some things will not be available here. There are times when things will be completly unavailable. - Jan 2009

Expensive, a lot more than in the States. The best grocery store in the one in Soverien Center mall. - Jan 2009

Groceries, I have found most things to be available but extremely expensive. I was amazed when I first arrived as we were spending more than we did for food in DC. I have now however learned to buy local products for the items that I can, and buy fruit that is in season. I learned that its not like the U.S. when you get everything all year round, and things are seasonal. You also have to drive to two or three different places to shop. I arrive home exhausted after those trips. You may see something in the shops and when you return the following week, it's nowhere to be found. - May 2008

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