Friday, 5 December 2008

money money money

As Bosnia is a cash based economy, and you must pay all bills, rent and pretty much everything by cash, the beginning of each month is usually spent taking large amounts of money out of the ATMs. It does, however, focus the mind on what we are spending our money on and allows us an easy comparison for costs in the UK and costs in Bosnia.

Life in Bosnia is cheap, but not as cheap as you might think. Unsurprisingly rent is much cheaper than in the UK. Our 3 bed terraced house in the UK is let for £1250 a month. Here we have a house with sitting room, playroom, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms and garden all for 900KM a month (about £400). This is not particularly cheap for Bosnia, some friends think that we could have had a better deal, but it isn't ridiculous silly internationals rates either. Telephone bills are much reduced now we have Skype which allows us to call the UK for 1p a minute. Utilities are about the same as in the UK, but you can't pay over the Internet so we wait for all the bills to come in before making a trip to the bank to pay the lot in cash all at once, crying as we count out each individual note. Despite stats citing the Bosnian average wage to be something in the region of 700KM (£325)per month, I couldn't find a reliable cleaner for less than 200KM (£80) a month for 6 hours a week, but she does do all our ironing, a novel experience for most of our clothes.

Day to day living is also not as cheap as you might think. Anything produced locally is good value, but anything that is imported costs about the same as it does in the UK, the high import duties taking their toll. Fresh food is definitely cheaper; with local shops on every corner selling the best and freshest produce, we tend to buy what we need when we need it, which also means much less waste.

The biggest difference is nursery fees. I have just paid the fees for the boys this morning, the monthly cost for one for up to 5 hours every day is 85KM (£40). At my old nursery that would have paid for one day. Admittedly their old nursery had a staff to child ratio of 2:8 as opposed to 2:20 which may have added to their costs.

Then there are the costs that we just didn't have in the UK. We now have a monthly budget for Jessie's vets bills which were covered by pet insurance before. We also need to have a comprehensive health cover plan which wasn't necessary in the UK (God bless the NHS). Storage costs for the stuff we left behind are astronomical. No, overall, I think that if cutting living costs was a primary motivator for our move we would have been disappointed.

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