Shopping, and what you will never understand until you live overseas

When I first moved to New Zealand in 2007 I still remember how shocked I was at the price of consumer goods.  I was used to buying $2 contact lens solution and $5 bottles of vitamins at Target.  Well here in NZ, the cheapest contact lens solution is ~$12NZD, and I stopped taking vitamins because a small bottle of 30 was about $25NZD+.

Stuff here is really expensive.  So when I started visiting home (once a year or every couple of years) I would load up.  On everything.  Underwear.  Q-tips.  Contact lens solution.  Vitamins.  Clothes.  Every trip home became a shopping trip.  Parcels would start arriving and piling up at my parents house weeks before I would arrive.  My family thought I was crazy.

That was because a trip home to the USA was my once-a-year shopping trip.  And honestly, until you live overseas, you honestly don’t have a clue how cheap consumer goods are.  Especially clothes.

We don’t have target, gap, old navy, or h & m, or forever 21 or loft or madewell or or DSW or anything here in New ZealandI can’t just pop down to the mall and score some great top for $4 on clearance.  Glassons is as good as it gets.  And let’s be honest, forever 21 probably has better quality.


So yes, it is harder and a lot more expensive to look good when you don’t live in the USA.  Shopping is harder work here.  Have some idea of what you want?  Good luck finding it.  I tried to find a white button down blouse in town (a town of 100,000+ people) 6 months ago.  I couldn’t find one for less than $100.

Thus I implore you not to judge your ex-pat and foreign friends when they binge shop on their visits to the USA, because this is their annual or semi-annual shopping trip, and everything they buy will need to last until their next trip.  Because to be honest, if you’re reading this from the USA right now, you probably take the options and prices available to you for granted.


4 thoughts on “Shopping, and what you will never understand until you live overseas

  1. Oh I get it. I grew up in Cairo and back then all the middle class kids would go to Europe or Canada and bring back tons of stuff. This wasn’t because it was cheaper but because there were so many things you couldn’t get in the middle east. Even my Canadian family binge shop when they come to the US for a visit. Its so cheap here!

    • It’s something I totally have never fully appreciated until recently. LOL, I was discussing this with a co-worker yesterday and we decided that if you live in the USA, you have no excuse for ever dressing badly. 😀

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