To partake you will need a) a foreign country, and b) another country (for scale). Let's play!
Part One: What Seems Surprisingly Expensive Here?
- Grocery stores. A dollar an apple, really? To any San Francisco resident, complaining about Whole Foods and Mollie Stone's being expensive sounds like complaining about the rain being wet, but it's still startling just how much more costly these stores are compared with the higher-end UK equivalents such as Waitrose or M&S. It's especially confusing to encounter higher-than-expected prices in Safeway, although admittedly this perception might be due to their long-defunct UK incarnation as a decidedly 'budget' supermarket. Exhibit A: my friends' so-bad-it-must-be-true tale of purchasing a larger-than-average tomato from Mollie Stone's, which was rung through the register at a princely $12 dollars. That's right, c.£7: for one tomato.
- Mobile phone contracts. This is one of the aspects of US living that I - somewhat foolishly - assumed would be ridiculously cheap. Not so, fact fans! Verizon's basic Talk and Text plan giving me just 450 inclusive minutes would set me back $60 - and that's before adding any kind of web plan, which starts at $30 for smartphones. So that's easily $90 (£55) a month - for a pretty bog-standard contract. Come back O2 - all is forgiven!
- Home entertainment packages. The only impressive thing about our UK package was the undeniably remarkable way in which Virgin Media conspired to raise our bill by roughly 20% every single month. But at least they didn't charge me $99 (£60) for TV, internet and phone, which is what Comcast's pricing system begins at here. So, no TV and no landline for Chez Teacup, which is why you will not be able to a) talk to me about last night's television or b) actually talk to me.
|But imagine the salad|
Part Two: What Doesn't?
|MUNI > Tube|
- Public transport. At $2 a journey - of any length and with unlimited transfers within 90 minutes - getting around this city via bus and underground is thoroughly affordable. I cringe to imagine what any American visitor to London thinks upon seeing the cost of a Tube Day Pass for the first time.
- Taxis. A four-minute cab ride home from the Castro Theatre costs the same as two taking the bus. Although this may be the reason why a high percentage of taxi drivers seem thoroughly unhappy with their lot, and don't accept credit cards (despite the lettering on the side of their vehicles proclaiming they're happy to.)
- Er, sparkling wine in restaurants and bars. Unless I've had the continual fortune to frequent particularly reasonable places, choosing fizz is a weirdly reasonable way to go and can be your wallet's saviour in one of those 'oh God we misjudged this one' bars. (A curious note: regardless of what you order, be it cava or prosecco, your server - and your bill - will call it 'champagne'. It does not mean you actually ordered champagne, so you can take your heart out of your mouth.)
Ah, there's nothing like dissecting the relative cost of things to make you feel about fifty years older than you are. So, what surprisingly expensive and/or cheap stuff have you noticed on your travels?