Pricing in Africa
(with fond memories of my
time spent in Pricing at OC!)
It's so hard to explain the difference in cost of living here vs. the US. I thought I'd make a list of common items with their local prices so you can compare. The money here is called cfa - Central Francs Afrique? All of the French-speaking West African countries use it. Checks and credit cards are rarely used. Everything (refrigerators, airplane tickets, ...) is purchased in cash.
Currently there are about 700cfa to a US dollar. The smallest coin I ever receive is 5cfa (less than 1cent). The largest bill is 10,000cfa ($14.29). When you are going to spend lots of money, you end up carrying a huge wad of bills with you since 10,000cfa is as high as they go! If you really want to test out your budgeting skills, remember I earn about 200cfa (137,000cfa) each month! And I'm "middle class!"
In general, it seems to me that "necessities" - food and African clothing - are cheap. But "luxuries" - anything from toilet paper to computers - are expensive, especially given the income level. The other funny thing is the small amounts you can purchase - 1 cigarette, 1 stick of gum, 1/4 cup cooking oil, 2 cups laundry detergent, etc... You realize that people really earn, shop, eat, and live day-to-day.
Hope that gives you some insight into life and money here in Cote d'Ivoire!