There is one thing I’m absolutely useless in and that is keeping track of how much things cost. Raquel is my price checker when it comes food and most household items. The truth is I’m used to being an expat where most of expenses are paid for by my company that my brain automatically refuses to remember prices. However, I do think being on certain types of expat assignment doesn’t help this either. There are types of expat assignments? Oh yeah!
Expat assignments can be divided up into two types. The first being the type of assignment where you are sent to a ‘normal’ functioning country where you can live a normal life you would in a developed country. The second type is the one where you are sent to what your company classifies as a, pardon the French, sh#thole and you need to be paid more and receive as much benefits as possible to make you accept the assignment.
I have been on both types and it makes all the difference to the way your mind works. In Abu Dhabi, I had very little in the way of paid expenses by the company (apart from accommodation which they covered), which meant I needed to go to shops and yes suddenly you remember exchange rates and you start to realize how expensive things are.
From Abu Dhabi it went downhill. I got to Tripoli, where at least one of my meals was covered by the project canteen and the others covered by an allowance. As the money was an extra to my salary, I became lazy and didn’t think about prices when buying the basics to have at home.
The same can be said for Beira, where I was given an allowance for meals. My only concern was to ensure the allowance lasted until the end of the month which I always managed to do.
Here in Guinea, all my meals are provided at work and at our staff house which means I don’t even need to go out shopping… This is means after four months of checking how much things cost in London, my brain is going to revert expat mode.
However in Mozambique I discovered a great site which does cost of living comparisons between different cities. The data is used by the calculator is input by expats who live in the countries. I don’t know how accurate the calculator is, but I played around with it to find out how much cost of living has changed since moving from London. Click on each of the links below to find out how the comparison is measured.
And no, I still haven’t found out how much milk costs here! But I intend to put together a list of the cost of basic items when I get the chance to stop at a supermarket!