Sunday, September 24, 2006

The cost of living

First of all... good luck Waukee Warriors - it's
homecoming week! To our Waukee we'll loyal be...

I have had a lot of people ask me about adjusting to
New Zealand from the US. I am quite honest to say
that there are not many big differences between here
and there. On a day-to-day basis, the city, and the
people in it, look just the same as you could find
anywhere in the US. I would, though, like to begin to
share some of the little differences, that trick me up
each day, starting with the cost of living.

When I came to NZ, I was prepared for things to be
more expensive. Most of the country's products are
imported from elsewhere. That, along with the
exchange rate (1 US dollar = 1.6 NZ dollars), makes
the cost of everything automatically higher. When I
want to really think about the cost of something, I
subtract a third of it to get the US equivalent, but
it doesn't seem to help the price actually go down...

I am speechless at the cost of groceries. My three
favorite examples are eggs, milk, and Coke.
I have been bragging about, how at home, a dozen eggs
will run you roughly $.78. Here, a dozen eggs will
run you $3 and up, depending on the size, and whether
the eggs are free range, at which point they will cost
$7 and up. For 12 eggs. At first, I was really dumb,
and thought, oh, yeah, all of that stuff comes from
somewhere else (which was my automatic reaction to the
price of everything here). Then, I realized that this
country is full of farms that have chickens that
produce eggs. So I just don't understand. Even
converted to US dollars, that's still $2 for the
cheapest dozen eggs. And even more weird - they don't
refrigerate eggs. In the stores or at home. Unless
you're Wendy, who refuses to leave the eggs out.
Milk is no better. 2 litres of fat-free milk runs me
NZ$4 each time at the store. Now, a gallon ( for you
math fans), is about 3.3 litres, and will cost about
US$2.50 at HyVee. So, if I convert the litres to
gallons, a gallon of fat-free milk in NZ would cost
about NZ$6. I am pretty sure there are plenty of
dairy farms around here as well, probably next to all
of the chicken farms, and I hope the farmers and their
families are living well. And at least New Zealanders
agree that milk is best when refrigerated.
Lastly, you'll all be happy to know that I no longer
drink pop. Because a 12-pack costs NZ$11 or more.
And that's not 3 for $11, like at Fareway. Oh,
blessed Fareway.

I didn't bring sneakers with me when I came, as I
didn't want to waste the space in my suitcase, and
just thought I'd buy them here. Shoes ARE imported,
and I haven't found a good pair for less than NZ$250.
Luckily, my WONDERFUL mother has offered to send mine
from home. Which should only cost about ten bucks.

Lastly, gas is going down here as well, and at first
glance to the American eye, the price would SEEM
reasonable, at NZ$1.50. Except that instead of getting
that deal for a gallon, that's the price per litre.
So, as an example to the cost, my VW Beetle had a 13
gallon tank. This would roughly translate to 43
litres. You do the math for a full fill up at the
petrol station. I have seen very few SUVs, and I
haven't wondered why.

In short, send cash soon.

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