Friday, November 10, 2006

Gotta Love Those Prices!

So, my brother-in-law had this interesting argument a few months back. He was complaining to me that things are much more expensive here than in the US. I conceded that American products are ridiculous, but most things are actually cheaper (just for comparison, in the US we spent about $150/week on food, now it's more like 210JD per week (north of $350)). So, then he said, no I mean things like fresh vegetables and fruits. I have to admit I was floored.

I resolved to get to the bottom of this once and for all. So, when we moved from Louisiana, cucumbers were typically about $1 for 2. That's right by the piece. The snapshot above (using my handy camera phone) is of the cucumbers I bought last week. They cost me just over $1.50. As you may notice, there are far more than two cucumbers...

Butterbean loves peppers, green, yellow, orange, red, etc. In fact, since we moved here, she also likes purple and white (I never even knew there WAS such a thing). So, in the US, I used to buy the colored peppers in bulk. They cost me $6 for 6 peppers. Last week, I spent about $10 on peppers. I got 6 red, 6 orange, 4 yellow, and 4 green. Clearly a better deal. Tomatoes are about the same. So, I wonder, where is he figuring the greater expense. The only thing I can figure is that, as a single guy he was used to buying only one or two of anything. And, here he was with his Dad buying enough for an army. That being the case, it would likely seem more expensive. For us, if we could just wean ourselves off of 3 things we'd cut our costs considerably. 1. Diet 7UP (I hate the water here, a sad fact), 2. Bisquick, and 3. Milk. The milk here comes in tiny packaging and is very costly.

Speaking of milk, I gather we drink a lot of milk in our house. A friend who moved shortly after us was telling me that for his family (2 adults, 2 kids about the same ages as ours), they go through 3 liters a week. I wish... For my brood (2 adults, 3 kids, 4.5 and 2.5), we go through 12-15 liters a week. Yep, that's right, 12-15 liters. Can you imagine? So, my fridge is full of milk all the time. I even buy boxes to sit outside the fridge so that we have enough... At any rate, just thought the price comparison was interesting. Any thoughts?

Happy shopping!


At 2:59 AM , Blogger Dave said...

I think both you and your brother-in-law have a point. Some things are much cheaper, such as items or services that are either native to Jordan or have been around for a while. Other things are still extremely expensive, especially new types of foods, imported items and electronics.

At 6:30 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Dave, that actually exactly what I told him. Anything imported is exhorbitant. However, vegetables like cucumbers are much cheaper. Now proof that things not native are beyond expensive can be found in the toaster. In the US, the mid-range model costs $6. Here, the cheapest you can get costs 25JD!

At 9:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought two medium sized, yes two, tomatoes for 3.49 last week at the grocery store. Never mind they were organic. But speaking of regular tomatoes, I can go to one store and they are 1.69/lb, then at the next store I go to they are priced .79 per pound. The price variations are huge between stores...but I would say that food is generally cheaper in Jordan. Falalel sandwich is 3.49 in the US. Shawerma is 3.99. I would say that soft drinks in Jordan are more expensive than here. The good thing in the US are sales. For example, gallon of milk. Regular price is 2.99. At the same store when it's on sale you can find it for 2.00 or even as low as 1.67. For a 12 pack Coke, the regular price at a large supermarket is 3.99, at the smaller drug stores like CVS they are 5.49. But on sale you can find them for 5 for $11 and you don't have to buy all 5 to get the discount. Additionally, there are always buy one get one free offers...and even more rare buy one get two free. The competiton between the stores is so fierce that you can afford to shop around and the locations are so close to one another that it is worthwhile to go to each one. Then don't get me started about coupons. The Sunday newspaper comes full of them and stores actually discount those items that have coupons so that you can sometimes get thing for pennies on the dollar or even free. Just last week I got a can of $3.29 regularly priced shaving cream for 29 cents. Savvy shoppers can definitely save a bundle.

At 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me about the toaster! I've been shopping for a toaster oven. In the US, it would be $20. Maybe $25. Here, they START at 70JD for a small one.

At 2:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

have you tried to factor in the average salary and the minimum wage?

At 4:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Electronics and American products are somewhat pricey here, because they're exports, I thought it was pretty obvious. In America, most home appliances and electronics are cheaper because they manufacter them, and because there's more competition.

In the developing world, vegetables and fruits, even staple products and services are usually cheaper than in industrial countries. The vegetables are cheaper, well because in Industrial countries, they're grown by big companies, but in Jordan, they're usually grown by small companies, or even individuals, so nobody actually controls the price. But in the West, such items prices are regulated by the manufacterurs. As for services, well, that's because labor in developing countries costs less than labor in Industrial countries.

It's best if you find a local or Arab substitute, as for the water, please don't tell me that you drink tap water? DON'T EVEN GO NEAR TAP WATER! Only use bottled water.

At 11:26 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Anonymous, definitely true. And I would SO believe 3.49 for 2 tomatoes in the US.

Rebecca, I've actually seen toaster ovens for as little as about 50JD, which factoring in the cost to get it here is about the same as in the US. However boring little toasters are literally 25JD.

Cheap for tourists, no question that the relative cost of goods, including fruits and vegetables is exhorbitant. But, frankly I also shop at the most expensive stores in town (catering to we Westerners). My FIL gets his fruits and veggies much cheaper at small veg shops. But no question, salaries make the relative cost terribly high.

Pheras, I think some products are expensive because they are exports and some because they know the market is foreigners and we're stuck paying it :) (Oh and I certainly don't blame them, it's all about supply and demand). Most of the appliances in the US are cheap specifically because they are NOT made in the US. The cheap products are usually out of the far east (China, Taiwan, etc.). However, the Chinese don't seem to be competing for the smaller markets. Oh, and no, clearly I don't drink the water... We have a filter system because I was going nuts trying to buy water. I only drink bottled water when out, but generally drink Diet 7.

At 5:00 AM , Blogger No_Angel said...

coming from a cooking student (not major but actually cooking since its a rarity ) i think over all cost per month jordan and the US is about the same.

the higher cost in the US is in the variety which i miss.

try to explain to someone here that there are over 20 types of tomatoes or potatoes and they look/taste different that why i think i pay the premium.

but when we say overall u have to factor in the electricity, phone, water(which rarely anyone in the US pays if they r renting) and then the daily usage of serves then you realize that its cheaper.

also look here
we are ranked higher than Dubai and boston to name a few so does that answer it ?

btw vegetables and fruits in the mid-west where alot cheaper than those prices i recall tomatoes was like $0.99/lb or something to that extent it wasnt per piece (tho the romane was tasteless )

At 1:15 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

no_angel, thanks for your comment and welcome! I guess that I wouldn't even begin to try and think about "overall costs" as I woudl imagien they could also extend to include gas to get to the store, bank fees for accounts used to purchase food, where will it ever end? But, I think that the relative cost of food to income in Jordan is clearly higher. The pure cost for me is also significantly higher in Jordan, but as I mentioned that has more to do with the type of things that I buy. I agree that in some areas you find much greater variety in the US, but then I never saw a white or purple pepper in the US, so... I DO miss Ranier cherries and cost effective berries...

As for the costliest cities, I found myself unable to believe this and went to have a closer look. Unfortunately, I'm unwilling to spend a few hundred dollars to satisfy my curiosity. However, what I could find on the website seems to say that the survey is focused on what comapnies will need to pay expats in specific cities. So, it factors in things like the cost of items to un-savvy, naive foreigners. I can see that Jordan might be expensive. But, I still find it impossible to imagine that it beats Dubai's thousands of dollars per month for acceptable housing. I also can't imagine how it could come out as more costly than ANY American city. I mean, where in the US could I find a very nice 4 bedroom rental for $8000/YEAR? I paid about that much for my 2 BR apartment. So, I take leave to doubt their numbers, but can't validate and so can't question too closely :). Oh, and when I had time to go to the local coop (in both IA and LA) veggies were MUCH cheaper. But for those of us with multiple kiddles and limited time, Winn-Dixie costs a small fortune. At any rate, I appreciate the survey, it was interesting and am gald that you're here and contributing.

At 8:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm so sorry I haven't been visiting your blog, it's absolutely my bad!
Thanks for your visit though

How is everything

I have to tell you I thought about this matter a couple of times when I was buying a "portion of cucumber" which was this gigantic cucumber cut in half and in a little Tesco plastic bag.

How does it taste?
How are tomatoes?
£0.69 for 6 tomatoes
and they're PLASTIC
God knows I buy the
African fairtrade ones,
God Forbid to buy
any cheaper local ones!

and many things that truly don't have a taste like those organic yummy vegetables of Jordan.
Tomatoes here are a disaster, they're so industrial and perfect, almost everone got the same size and when you slice them they slice perfectly! LOL

Cucumbers are HUGE
huuuuuge, I would use them for a weapon in case of Emergency! hehehe

Sorry for the long talking!


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