Here’s an observation about Russia. It’s no secret that food is cheaper in Russia than in America, and I’ve been taking advantage of that. I tried looking deeper into this. At first, the cost of consumer goods perplexed me. Food, movie/opera tickets, transportation and basic necessities were relatively cheap, but clothing, electronics and especially cars were three times the price we saw in America.
Let’s place $1 to 30 rubles (although, the dollar seems be to going down nowadays):
- Commodity GoodMy Russian Town’s PriceRoll of bread$0.30 = 10 rubles (supermarket price, at bakery probably cheaper)Movie ticket$4.66 ($2.33) = 140 rubles (70 rubles on Weds)Ipod Shuffle$75 = 2250 rubles (It’s only $35 in US)Winter Coat$200-$500 = 6000 -15000 rubles (these aren’t fur coats)McDonald’s Cheeseburger$1.33 = 40 rublesFord 2008 Escape$36,000 = 99000 rubles (3x than in US)Shampoo$3 = 90 rublesBus ride$0.40 = 12 rubles (11 rubles for trolleybuses)Bowling w/ 6 people$3.33 per person/hr = 100 rubles
I’m not an economist, but here are some additional observations:
- Most status and brand name items are imported. The set original price is already expensive, but the shipping and transportation from the manufacturing country raises the price of these goods.
- Naturally, basic necessities should be accessible to the majority of citizens, so prices are lower. It’s more fair this way. Plus, goods like food can be produced locally, so they cost less.
- Clothing is overall expensive, because of it must be made to withstand Russian weather, and it’s also a status item.
The prices are pleasant for foreigners, who come from countries with a stronger spending power, but this doesn’t mean living in Russia is easy. I think Russian citizens have a more difficult life. Compared to America, the earning wages in Russia are lower for most professions. The average wage equals to $7,680 per year, with larger cities with higher average income. Even though cafes and restaurants are generally cheaper than where I used to live, people can’t survive by eating out every day. I noticed families often ate more at home, prepared their own meals, and cooking skill is heavily stressed for females.
Another thing I noticed is that Russians seem to be more comfortable with speaking about money. The question of “How much does that cost?” and “How much does your father/mother/you make?” is less intrusive as it would be in other cultures.
Perhaps this culture appreciates money more, because they know the meaning of hard labor behind it.