I’ve had so many addresses in Kingston over the past 11 years. From upscale gated communities to borderline squatter settlements and I’ve learned a very crucial lesson. You can’t have it all. Renting a house or apartment in Jamaica should be a very carefully made decision. Location, price and amenities all matter but with each rental a sacrifice has to be made. The triangle below shows the 3 primary elements of a rental property; location, amenities and price.
Location refers to the proximity from frequently visited locations such as work or school. The location is critical as it will affect your commuting times and by extension the time you have to dedicate to other things. If you live close to work you may be able to sleep in later. You may easily travel from work to home during rush hour traffic and it’s usually a more relaxing experience. In fact you can even cook your lunch at home and save on purchasing food at work/school. Ideally, you want to live somewhere close to work. The location also impacts security as the nature of the neighborhood will determine the predictability of the community. Do they have frequent shootings? Bad roads? Is the area subject to flooding? These are all affected by the location.
Amenities refer to the features of the building. Is it modern? Does it include air conditioning and water heater? Is there a backup generator or a water tank? Is there access to high-speed internet? Does the roof leak? Is there mold? You will spend most of your time inside so the amenities must be to your satisfaction. This determines how comfortable you will consider your living experience.
Finally, the price! This is arguable the most important element to consider when renting. Often one is willing to overlook the other elements simply because the price is right. The price is also dictated by the amenities and the location. The price of housing close to schools, supermarkets, hospitals and other places of business are higher. So too are the prices for modern amenities.
Choosing the right place
In choosing the right place. Select the element of the 3 above, that you can most likely live without. If you want modern amenities in an area close to work and places of business, it will not be cheap. If you want an affordable house with modern amenities the location will be the sacrifice. If you want an excellent location close to work for a low price then forget about modern amenities. Let’s look at some examples. Here, work location is the University of the West Indies
House 1: location and price
The location was in the August Town area. The property was very affordable and very close to work. The sacrifice was however too significant. Poor internet, water issues, no heating or cooling, gunshot a beat, no designated parking, no privacy, property not maintained. Movements made.
House 2: Price and Amenities
The location was Kingston 19. There were much better provisions in terms of the amenities (still not ideal), there was an automatic gate, designated parking, large yard space, more so modern building and access to high-speed internet. That’s very important these days. However, If I didn’t leave for work by 630am however, I would be in traffic for over an hour. The last straw for me was when heading home from work and it took 3 hours to get home. This was during the time when constant spring road was under construction so it’s not that bad all the time. Later there was a break-in and theft so, movements made.
House 3: location and amenities
I decided to spend my money for my comfort! I moved to Mona. The location was perfect, the amenities appeared at first to be good, hot water, parking and water tank. That was as far as it goes but it was a welcomed improvement. I soon realized that given the price of the house was almost twice the cost of the 2 previously mentioned addresses COMBINED, there was no way to save towards homeownership. I simply couldn’t save. That’s when I realized I am making the wrong sacrifice. It was also disappointing when the age of the house started expressing itself in various ways. Leaking roof, defective pipes and drains, mold etc. so I was actually sacrificing 2 elements. Movements.
House 4: location, amenities and price
This can only be achieved through inherited ownership. Make the right sacrifice for you!
Finding the right place
There are several strategies that I use to find a place to rent. My top three sources right now are:
- Sunday Gleaner classifieds
The latter 2 usually have ads posted by real estate agents. You are more likely to contact the property owner using the Gleaner. Here is a pro strategy that I use: The Sunday Gleaner is usually available shortly after midnight by sellers at the intersection of Trafalgar road and Hope road next to the YMCA. Purchase the Gleaner there if you are in Kingston as soon as is possible (considering COVID-19). Circle the areas of interest and start making calls at sunrise. There is usually a viewing that same day. If for example, the viewing is 11 am, show up at 10:30 am with cash ready to seal the deal. The landlords usually don’t want to spend all day having viewings so you may be able to make a deal before others are even able to view. After losing a few deals I started doing this and it works like a charm.
Good luck renting!