Budgeting and Moving Back
A successful Move Back to Jamaica requires a certain level of bi-lingual ability.
The most obvious requirement is the ability to speak both patois and English.
Not so obvious is the need to be able to speak the financial language of both Jamaica and the country of origin.
One of the most jarring changes that all returnees make is to have to think in both J$ as well as US$/ Ca$ or £. This means being able to remember to multiply or divide, and also to be able to do so with strange numbers such as 67 or 127. This can be quite taxing, especially as Jamaicans have a way of mixing J and US currencies in everyday speech, assuming that the listener can easily follow.
Moving Back to Jamaica does not, as as some assume, mean throwing all common-sense to the wind and burning the ships that brought you, severing all ties between oneself and the country that one is leaving.On the contrary, I found it much easier to move back with a DSL connection, Vonage, cable, MailPac and relatively cheap air fares. Someone Moving Back would do well to keep as many links as possible to the outside, and technology is making this easier to do than every before.
As the world flattens, according the Thomas Friedman, it is easier to do almost anything from anywhere.
Nevertheless, good old fashioned budgeting is critical in a successful Move Back to Jamaica.
Not only does keeping a budget help with the transition from one currency to another, someone moving home needs to track expenditures so that their habits can once again be aligned with their commitments.
For example, when living in New York, a visit to the beach each week is an expensive exercise that costs only gas money in Jamaica. A trip to go clothes shopping, on the other hand, in New York can easily cost half as much as it costs in Kingston, when searching for clothes of comparable quality.
Doing your own cleaning in Miami is a must. Doing it here in Jamaica is a rarity.
In the two years we have been back, the Jamaican dollar has depreciated from 62:1 to 68:1, further complicating matters. Also, we have seen a rise in food prices above inflation when, as far as we can tell, our eating habits have remained the same.
For someone returning to Jamaica, new buying habits have to be learned, as the consequences for one's habits become apparent.
A budget is the best reality check of all, and we use a very simple spreadsheet to tally up expenditures each month to compare them against our plan.
So far, we have developed a remarkable ability to surpass each budget that we have created... but at least we know that we're ebad!