I wanted to give you a sense of the cost of living in Hungary from the perspective of the grocery store aisle, so I pulled out the weekly ad circular from our nearby store, Spar (their catchy jingle, “Jó Hely, Jó ár, Jó döntés” — Good place, good price, good decision — plays frequently on the radio here at work). Before, I list some of the specials of the week, here are the relevant conversion factors:
- $1 (US) = 220 Forints (Hungary’s currency)
- 1 lb = 0.453 kg (kilograms)
- 1 gal = 3.78 L (liters)
- 1 L = 33.8 fl. oz. (which is a ridiculous unit if you think about it)
The currency takes a bit of getting used to, but if gets easier if you equate 1000 forints (HUF) as roughly $5.
Here are the sales on some staples from the past week (conversions to $ and recognizable quantities provided):
- Milk: 169 HUF for 1 L ($2.90/gallon)
- Cheep beer (not a recognizable brand): 166 HUF for 0.5 L can ($0.53 for 12 oz can) — and yes, Pennsylvanians, you can find a large selection of beer, wine, and spirits in the grocery store.
- White bread (from bakery): 219 HUF for 1 kg ($0.56 for a 20 oz loaf)
- Tomatoes (on vine): 570 HUF for 1 kg ($1.17 per lb)
- Bananas: 299 HUF for 1 kg ($0.62 per lb)
- Ground pork (beef is not very common): 849 HUF for 900 g ($1.94 per lb)
- Eggs: 399 HUF for 10 eggs ($2.18 dozen)
So, in general, food is pretty cheap — usually either close in price or substantially cheaper than we are used to. In general, these savings don’t seem to carry over into other goods such as clothes and household items. There it seems like prices are the same or sometimes even more expensive (I’m always surprised at how much shoes cost here).
Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, I don’t consider cheap beer to be a staple.