Friday, August 20, 2010

Cost of Living

So I got asked by a reader to do a quick price check on grocery staples, and because this is me, I couldn’t help myself but to go a bit further than necessary. I even went through the meat section (eew). The things I do for my fans. Not sure how this compares where you live, but it seems high to us. Obviously, we can buy non-name brands and save some $ (and do), but for blog purposes I used brand names most would be familiar with to make comparing prices easier.

There are 3 major grocery stores here – Rams, IGA (Valu-mart), and Best Buy. IGA is usually the most expensive, but when they have sales for their card holders (like us), they usually outprice the other 2 stores. Best Buy has a pretty good selection and better prices (being near a couple of universities), but is a bit far for us (although they just opened a branch closer, and we will take advantage of that now). Rams is an older store and has a more limited selection, but is close-by and is usually cheaper than IGA. IGA is newer, smells good, and I like it better.

I liked it better until I checked what we paid for sliced deli cheese the last time we were there. They don’t have prices on anything in the deli section, so we just order and head to the register. I checked the price last night and choked when I saw that the provolone cheese cost us $26.10EC/lb, about $9.78US/lb, with the White American Cheese even more obnoxious at $30.75EC/lb or $11.52US/lb. Ouch! Luckily we only ordered ½ pound of each. We will definitely be trying Best Buy next time (Rams doesn’t have cheese in their deli section).

What we’re paying for soda is outrageous, and my island source tells me it’s cheaper to buy it at the gas stations. Veggies are cheaper if you establish relationships with the local farmers selling their produce in downtown Basseterre (repeat business will go a long way to establishing beneficial relationships for both parties). The key is to find someone friendly and willing to give you a deal. We’re going to work on it. The shops for tourists will actually have better prices for suntan lotion. Booze are cheaper in Port Zante. Imported iceberg lettuce is $6.99EC in the grocery store but as cheap as $3.50EC from the local farmers. Maybe someone should pay me to price comparison shop…

So for anyone curious about how much things cost here, here’s a cross section of prices – at least as of today (20 August 2010):

We will be comparison shopping a bit more now, that I can tell you. It was certainly an interesting exercise. Hrmph. Sometimes it’s just better not to know, don’t you think?