“Come on, Kathleen…US$25 a month for groceries? BALONEY!
“Please ask your editor if she misplaced a decimal point.
“Friends I e-mailed your recent article to responded with, yes, if you eat rats and snakes.
“But they have closed minds. If Nha Trang, Vietnam, is anything like Kuching, Malaysia, where we lived for nine months, it was great. But it was even greater when we landed in Tehran (project completed), where our skin was dry for the first time in nine months and we didn’t have to eat with one hand while slapping mosquitoes with the other.”
–Frank B., United States
Asia Correspondent Wendy Justice, who wrote the piece on costs of living in Nha Trang that you reference, replies:
“As I explained in my article, we eat almost all our meals out, so our grocery bill is very small. We buy coffee (US$2.75 for 500 grams), milk (I’d have to look it up), perhaps two dozen eggs per month (US$1.10 per dozen), bread (US25 cents per loaf or 10 cents for 1 baguette), a few light things to keep around the house (yogurt, crackers, tea).
“Again, other than that, we have our meals out–which is why the dining out figure in my budget is as high as it is (US$300). That’s breakfast out five to six days per week and dinner in restaurants seven days per week (about three days per week where locals eat and four days each week at more international places).
“Typical breakfast out, for two people, is less than US$4 (for baguette, eggs, coffee). Dinner at local-type places, for two, is around US$5 to US$6, including beverages. At Western-style restaurants, it’s closer to US$8 to US$12, depending on where we go and what we have to drink.
“So, again, as I detailed, the average for us has been right around US$300 per month in restaurants plus the US$25 in the grocery store. Yes, we eat meat. No, we do not eat rats and snakes! Most locals shop mainly at the local market, but they get better prices there than we do (because we’re foreigners). For us, it’s cheaper to shop at the supermarket.
“Bottom line, the cost of living in this part of the world is cheap by any standard. We are living what I would call an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Other foreigners live here for much less than we do and live well.
“I’m working on a follow-up article about why it is as inexpensive to live here as it is. There is a reason so many foreigners are relocating to Vietnam right now. It’s a haven, for example, for Australians who can’t afford to live in Australia on their social security incomes.
“By the way, the equivalent of baloney in Vietnam is hot dogs. Some are bright pink and taste…well…they’re not a staple for us…”