Young professionals annoyed by unaffordable housing

House with 'For Sale' sign
House with 'For Sale' sign (Photo credit: Kindel Media)

Numerous young professionals are complaining that the cost of housing in Jamaica, Kingston especially, is too expensive and does not correlate with their starting salaries as university graduates.

Twenty-five-year-old marketing assistant, Jheanell Thomas, has said that the experience of finding housing was draining because one-bedroom and studio apartments are expensive, ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. “Most of the places you also have to pay for electricity, water, and internet. On top of that, the more affordable places are located in very dangerous areas, and I mean who wants to live in a place where crime is high”, said Thomas. Along with the cost of these spaces, Thomas noted that the spaces were very small and resembled a small dorm room.

“I viewed a one bedroom in Havendale, 45k rent with no utilities included. The place was disgusting and old and not accessible to transportation,” said Thomas. Thomas also mentioned that her rent, along with utilities, is 50 per cent of her earnings.

Twenty-four-year-old  Zhara-Marie Henry had similar experiences with finding housing. She said the prices most apartments that she found were quoted in USD, and she did not get paid in USD. “Most of them are like US$800 dollars and these are studio apartments. In the places that are close to work, when you look for decent places, it was ridiculous prices,” said Henry. She stated when she found something in her budget, it was similar to a storeroom and was usually unkempt and unsanitary.

Additionally, Henry said she would not be able to afford her current apartment without having a second job. “Young professionals aren’t getting the proper pay, first of all, and the rent is more than our pay,” said Henry. Henry suggests that rent should cost about 30 per cent of the salary of a young professional. “But, in Kingston that’s very rare. I pay about 40 per cent of my income on rent. Without my other income sources I would die. It’s like you literally work to pay bills and eat likkle food”, said Henry.

These sentiments are common among recent university graduates. Kashielle Clarke said she had to search for housing for three months, in order to live in Kingston for her job. Notably, there were also numerous accounts of poor conditions for apartments that were affordable to these young professionals. There are multiple complaints of unpainted, poorly lit and unsanitary spaces. “I considered not taking the job because I didn’t have anywhere to live,” said Clarke.

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