|SA's high cost of living: don't be fooled by official figures|
|Thursday, 05 May 2011|
Complaining about the high cost of living is becoming a national pastime. And when living in New York has become cheaper than the Boland, it would seem people have good reason to moan.
Andre Shearer, the SA-born CEO of Cape Classics (the biggest importer of SA wine into the US) has lived between New York and Somerset West for many years.
Until recently, he owned a five- bedroom house on a two-acre plot in the village of Katonah, an hour’s train ride from New York city. He now owns a similar-sized property in Somerset West, an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
“Lately, it has started to shock me just how expensive the SA half of my equation is becoming,” says Shearer.
A good espresso at a popular coffee shop in Stellenbosch recently cost him R16. A great espresso at his favourite coffee shop in New York (RBC on Worth Street) is about $2,25 (R15,30 at prevailing exchange rates). This is based on a strong rand exchange rate of R6,80/US$. The dollar is at its weakest level against major currencies in three years.
Since the cost of labour, rent and real estate is so much higher in New York, the fact that a great coffee in one of the world’s most expensive cities costs the same as in a Boland town seems unreasonable. That local consumers don’t blink at these prices shows that South Africans have become used to paying top dollar.
A four-course set menu (a prix- fixe meal) at a superb Stellenbosch restaurant recently set Shearer back R600/person, excluding wine. Including a good bottle of wine, mineral water and a gratuity, the bill for two was R1800. This equates to about $130/person which, according to Shearer, is almost the same as New York prices.
If you dine at New York’s famous Restaurant Daniel, a three- course prix-fixe meal would be $105. After a good bottle of wine and the gratuity, the bill would run to about $145/person.
He also notes that a BMW 328i that has been manufactured in SA costs about $34600 (R235280) when purchased in New York. However, a BMW 320i purchased in SA would cost about R336801 — 43% more, and for a lower-specification model......
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