Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Things Cost

Before we even came, we discovered in our reading that Norway is the most expensive European country to live in. Once you get over the sticker shock and stop trying to convert everything to US dollars, it's not so bad. But, to give you a feel for the prices, here are some of the things we have bought in our time here.

I should note that food is taxed at 14%, but the tax is included in the list price. Non-food items are taxed at 25%, and again the tax is included in the prices you see. Kr is the Norwegian Kroner. Norway is not a full member of the European Union and does not use the Euro. The current exchange rate is arount 6 Kr per US Dollar.

Train ticket (one way) to nearest city (one stop from our station): 40 Kr adult, 20 Kr child under 15. This is equal to around $6.50 adult, or $3.33 child. Paul rides every day, so he bought a 30 day pass, which is cheaper if you ride often [**update: turns out I was looking at the tickets that included a bus transfer. The plain, one-way train ticket is 30 Kr adult, 15 Kr child]

Milk: 1.5 liter is 20 Kr, equals $3.33 for about 1 1/2 quart (Skim milk is even more expensive, so we have been drinking 1.5 %, much less of it!)

Apples: 10 Kr per Kg, about $0.83 per pound

Bananas: 14 Kr per Kg, about $1.17 per pound

Bread: 5-30 Kr per loaf (very big variety of bread!), which is from less than a dollar (US) to around $5 per loaf

Eggs: 39 Kr per dozen, about $6.50 US

Peanut Butter: 350g for 22 Kr (a smallish, but not tiny jar--about 12 oz), about $3.66 US

Chicken breasts: (boneless, skinless--it's hard to find anything else) 98.9/Kg, about $8.24 per pound

We bought a couple of books from the bookstore at the mall last weekend. A typical “pocket” paperback (not the larger trade paperback) was 99 Kr, or $16.50 US

Large pizza at the local pizzeria averages 240 Kr, or $40 US (we don’t eat out much, but then neither do the Norwegians)

Yummy buns with chocolate chips bought at the 7-11: 3 for 15 Kr, about $2.50 (or 83 cents each)

So, some things are much more, some about the same. The McDonald’s here doesn’t have a “Dollar Menu,” they have a special menu with items at 10 Kr, 20 Kr and 30 Kr, I’ll let you do the math!

Our Norwegian neighbors talk about how expensive things are as well, particularly food and electricity. One neighbor told me that every couple of months she goes to Sweden (about 1 1/2 hours away) to a shopping area just over the border. She can get meat and packaged items (like drink boxes, for example), for much cheaper there.

I have to admit, the quality of the food seems pretty good. However, we have found that much of the meat has salt added (even the ground beef has salt added). Also, it is difficult to find packaging in larger quantities for larger families. We are an anomaly here with our five children. Still, we are learning to be frugal and to enjoy the simpler things (like picnic lunches when we are out sightseeing). It's all an 'investment' in our cultural education as a family!

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