With the holiday season less than a month away, Bahamians are considering pinching their pennies in light of an increasingly high cost of living and no consideration of a wage increase in sight.
Jariska Woodside, 23, said that she feels it has become too expensive to live in The Bahamas.
“I feel like it’s only getting more expensive, but our salary does not increase,” she said.
“So, I feel like we have to cut back on certain necessities in order to get by in this country. So, I feel like it’s unfair. I wouldn’t mind if VAT went up [and] minimum wages went up as well to compensate.
“So, I feel like it’s a struggle, and Bahamians are just trying to find the cheapest way to live in this country, and I feel like that’s one of the main reasons why a lot of Bahamians move somewhere else after graduating.
“Other countries pay more, the cost of living may be high but you can get by because wages are higher.”
This Christmas, Woodside said that a lot of her family members are not going to get gifts.
She said, “There’s a meme going around that says, ‘This Christmas feels like it’s the thought that matters type of Christmas’, and that’s a whole mood for me. So, if I’m not making their gifts by hand, I’ll have to get them later.”
In August, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said that the government has not given any “detailed consideration” to increasing the minimum wage.
Turnquest added that while the government is aware of the public’s concerns over an increasing cost of living, that trend is now “evening out”.
Barry Wilmott, 53, said that while the cost of living has gone up, Bahamians need to learn to live on a budget.
“For me, I know that everything’s going sky high, and I know exactly how much I make on a monthly basis. So, I set a budget,” Wilmott said.
“You have to realize that you have to cut back on certain things. You cannot have everything that you want. Christmas time has become so commercialized and people believe that there are certain things that they should have for Christmas.
“There are a lot of ways that we as individuals can fight the cost of living. Again, I go back to say everything we see, we don’t have to have.
“We must also realize that this is a domino effect. People are without money. So, the crime rate may go up. So, even though the cost of living is going up, I believe we have a moral responsibility to curtail that by doing what we can to budget our money appropriately.”
Wilmott added that society tends to focus more on its wants rather than its needs, and while some price increases are necessary, business owners should also be mindful of the plight of their consumers.
“In addition to that, all of the food stores, I understand that they import a lot of stuff, but you have to realize that you don’t have to make 200 or 300 percent of everything that you import,” he said.
“You have to realize that we are Bahamians, and if you’re taking all of your money from one area, another area is going to be affected.”
In 2017, GoBankingRates reported that the cost of living in The Bahamas is 40 percent higher than in the United States.
In this study, The Bahamas also ranked fifth among 50 countries in the category of most expensive places to live when compared to New York City.
Portia Demeritte, 49, said she is considering moving out of the country as she believes that it is the only way to get by.
“I feel like the cost of living is getting worse. It’s very high,” she said.
“I don’t think we can make it in this country like that. Right now I’m trying to get out of this country because I can’t make it like this. It’s really bad. It’s terrible.
“I feel like before VAT came in we was doing well, but after VAT came in, it’s horrible.
“They haven’t raised minimum wages. So, if they keep going up and up how are we going to live? I’m trying to get out of here. Seriously, I want to leave my own country just to try to make it. This isn’t right man.”