Mental Math

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First Grocery Haul @ Trader Joe’s

The first few days in Philly went by in a whirl of errands – setting up our bank accounts, selecting the best mobile plans, buying a mattress. The weather on the day we arrived was sunny (though the next four days of drizzling rain showed that it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia), and the low humidity makes walking a breeze.

The people here are pretty friendly, and getting smiles and greetings of ‘How are you doing today?’  from everyone from the doorman to the cashier takes some getting used to.

Unfortunately, tipping also takes some getting used to. Confession: I didn’t tip the mattress delivery guys from Mattress Factory; sorry mattress guys! I wasn’t thinking. Hubby told me to wrap my mind around the idea that everything we buy has the hidden cost of a tip. I’m too Chinese to give tips without a pang and not Chinese enough to not feel bad about not giving any. Give me service tax any day.

I’m too Chinese to give tips without a pang and not Chinese enough to not feel bad about not giving any

Shopping here has me doing a lot of mental math. With the exchange rate being what it is (1 USD = 4.04 MYR), buying a 80$ top that’s 60% off has me running this calculation through my head: [80$ – (8×6)] x 4 = RM128. A day of clothes shopping and grocery store browsing (hello, Trader Joe’s) has me forming the general conclusion that clothes cost about the same as they do at home, while produce and prepackaged food cost maybe RM2-3 cheaper per item.

Eating out here is expensive. Restaurants which are supposed to be on the cheaper end here still have you forking out about 12$/meal, which gives you some insight into why microwave meals and fast food has so much appeal here. Hubby and I had a happy rummage in TJ’s 4$ microwave meal (for 2 pax!) section.

I can’t wait for my kitchen to equipped. Our apartment is unfurnished, so I’ve been having a great time shopping for cookware on Amazon. Until the cookware arrives, it’s going to be eating out and microwave meals for us (ka-ching ka-ching!).

Cost-calculating aside, I really like it here. I thought I’d be dealing with homesickness for at least a month, but instead I’ve found a bunch of things that had me saying ‘I love America!’:

  1. Amazon Prime Free Two-Day/Same Day Shipping
  2. 2 pints of Ben & Jerry’s cost 6$
  3. The Apple Store gave me a brand new phone when they couldn’t fix the screen of my old one
  4. Everyone speaks English
  5. T-Mobile’s ‘Binge On’ offering that lets you stream unlimited Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, etc. without taking a byte of your data

Have a great day, guys! And remember:

There’s ARFI.

Jenna

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