Saturday, December 17, 2011

What things cost

Ex-pats in Germany like to talk about what's cheaper here and what's more expensive. Why do we do this? I am not sure. It's not like we can beat the system somehow and import what we want. And comparing costs doesn't mean we can change them... but in case you too are interested, here is my short list:

What is cheaper in Germany than in the U.S.
Foodwise - basically anything that is good for you is cheaper here
milk, cheese, sour cream, butter
fruits and vegetables
muesli (but not other cereals)
beer, wine (yes they are good for you)
getting places on planes and trains
rent (although it depends on what kind of deal you get)

What is more expensive in Germany than in the U.S.
canned soup
electricity and natural gas
fabric for sewing
bike tubes
running shoes
small appliances or anything electric
(It is possible that I have not yet found the best places to buy things for cheaper...)

Our expenses are really different here. At least until this blog starts bringing in big money, we are living off of one income plus the bit that I earn cover teaching. We don't have a car, car insurance, gas costs, car maintenance costs etc. We don't have a TV or a cable bill, but we do have a projector that hooks up to the laptop. Our rent is less than our mortgage was. We just have pre-pay cell phones because, as we realized when we got here, how many people are really going to call us anyway? We are still working off the first 30 euro credit we got with each phone. We have no microwave (mostly because I don't want to give up counter space) and no dryer for our clothes (no one here has one, that's something I do miss).

Our energy and water bill is funny - we pay a prorated amount every month and then at the end of the year they tally up what you actually used and either send you a refund or bill you for the difference. We take that as a challenge and throw on another sweater.

We can no longer steal wireless internet from the neighbors like we did in St Paul and had to buy our own.But our major new expense is all of the lavish travelling we plan to do. Brian has two weeks off at Christmas, a week in February, two weeks in April, and six weeks in the summer... You can go a lot of places in that amount of time!

The other difference is the way you pay for things here. People use cash a lot or bank cards, but credit cards are not accepted in many stores. Christmas shopping without a credit card is very different experience! There are also no checks. People just do bank transfers. Our rent, energy, and internet bills are debited from our account every month. If you need to pay a bill, you go online and type in the bank code and account number and do a transfer that way. It seemed odd at first to give our account number out but that's what people do here. Some companies even put it on their letterhead.

And look at me, comparing costs again. I guess it's interesting for a little while, even if it doesn't accomplish much.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.