Saturday, 3 October 2009

Prices Food, Rome

Helped out Will today with a survey of cost of living prices in Rome. We went to different stores to look at every day items of life and see how much they cost. Doing this in depth survey I realized how much more expensive life is here in Rome compared to back home. There is a huge difference, per example a 4 Kg IAMS bag of dog food is 24 Euros, cat food is double the price. Fruits and vegetables sell by the Kilo and there is nothing under 2.50 Euros, it seems to be the starting bottom price. Many other items like a bar of bath soap is around 4.50 euros, and the list goes on. I was really shocked. Now if you have food allergies to Gluten you need to buy bread or pasta that is gluten free then the cost really shoots up, ordinary wheat pasta a staple of life in Italy is very expensive. We have seen the cost of living in 24 months go up by 56% on everything. Given that the average salary is around 1100 euros per month you have to wonder how people manage. Rents are also expensive in the city and if you cannot afford it then a 3 hour commute in and out every day to work is your option. You can easily spend 70% of your monthly salary on rent, the rest goes to everything else. Electricity rates are so prohibitive that most people do not have air conditioning or clothes dryer or dish washers. People living in apartment blocs which is most everyone, will hang their clothes to dry on the small balcony or put them on a clothes rack in the dining room to dry. In the summer in 40c heat, you have to find ways to keep cool, in winter you keep only the room where you spend most of the day heated, the rest is kept cool at around 18C and you dress warmly.

What we also noticed is that contrary to what we would see back home where fruits and vegetables are graded in categories in the supermarket and you can pay a lot less for bruised or older fruits and vegetable, no such offer here, Italians look for freshness and quality when they shop and so merchants to not offer lower grades. We have also discovered that our Sri Lankan street vendor of fruits and vegetables is a lot more expensive than the supermarket but he does have nicer stuff. As for the butcher well you want to eat meat, may it be pork, beef, veal or sausages it is all very expensive. An example this weekend I wanted to make myself some chicken soup, so I went to see Armando our butcher, he is known by the nickname the Bulgari of Butchers in Rome, he is very expensive but all his meats are top no.1 quality, you never go wrong with him. So 2 chicken thighs and a piece of turkey meat 10 euros for basically a pound or half kilo. The soup was excellent by the way.

I also noticed that in Rome there are 3 types of shoppers based on the 3 times of day you might go out shopping. The first kind is the early morning shopper, 8:30 to 11:00 am, polite, courteous, mostly old ladies and gentlemen or people who are on vacation and have the time, it is a leisurely affair. The second kind, the 12:00 Noon to 13:30 just before lunch crowd is the aggressive get out of my way kind, rude, pushy, hey its lunch time, come on, get a move on. Not very pleasant. The final kind is the 16:00 to 19:30 end of day shoppers who are going home after work and forgot something, tired and bored, just want to get it done and go home, choice is not great and you take what is left. You also have the old lady who comes by around 5pm to talk with the owner of the little shop, just for a bit of conversation at the end of the afternoon, because it is a slow time of day and even if the merchants are busy with customers, they will chat, simply because it is the tradition. Of course the fresh goods markets and the fishmonger are only open until 13:30, in the late afternoon it is shops only who re-open after the lunch break at 16:00. On Saturday I usually try to go early, otherwise everyday a bit of shopping just before lunch or after work on the way home. But now that I am a regular custormer with the Butcher, I can place an order and pick it up later or the next day. Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up on 11 October so I will order turkey parts from Armando on Monday, the oven is not big enough for the whole bird.

Having said all this you have to remember that Italy is a member of the E.U. and NATO and one of the industrial powers, Italians do like other Europeans, they manage.

Exchange rate 1 euro = $1.55 Cdn.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a pretty simple guy,and tend to keep my needs on the spartan side.
    Still,It seems like even I have to keep finding ways to cut back..I have to wonder if this whole economic mess is ever going to bottom out.