How NOT to Save Money

How Not to Save Money #9: Finding a New, Amazing Grocery Store in Your Host City

October 17, 2016


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money at all.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when teaching abroad #9: Finding a New, Amazing Grocery Store in Your Host City

When you move abroad, the goal isn’t to recreate your exact life and lifestyle as you had in your home country. Check out the 10 Commandments of Relocated Overseas for more information about moving abroad.

International school teachers try their best to take in the local culture and local foods; it is a part of getting acclimated to their new setting.  On the other hand, it is important to “take a break” from that goal, and get some foods that remind you of home and your home culture.  In addition, having a wide variety of food choices while living abroad is also quite important.

One challenge of buying products in grocery stores in your host city is that you might not be able to read which food product is actually in the package/box. If you are not able to read in the local language there, it might be a challenge to even figure out which food products some items are. If you don’t know what it is, most of us wouldn’t necessary buy it.  Plus, if you are not able to read and understand all the ingredients of a product, then you probably won’t buy those ones either.

how not to save money

It is hard knowing exactly where to go grocery shopping during your first year of living in a new city. You tend to just go to the ones near to where you are living. Every once and awhile you might hear from a colleague of a new grocery store you should check out. Even if the grocery stores near to you are good (if you are lucky that is), it is still good to keep your ears open to what else is available in your host city.

Even after five years of living some place, things change and change fast sometimes. You can easily get into the routine of just going to the three stores around your home and be quite content with the food options those places have. But even the same chains of grocery stores in your host city can be very different from each other depending on their location (e.g. in a rich neighborhood vs. a non-rich neighborhood).

how not to save money

Recently, my partner and I were in a different location of our host city than we usually are when we were doing some grocery shopping. We went into this grocery store thinking that it would be quite similar to the same one we go to nearer to our home. But once we started looking around, this store had so many more products than we were used to!  Completely different products, more imported products, and brandnames (local and foreign) that we were used to buying but with many more varieties.

Of course, we got that awesome excitement feeling straightaway.  It’s that feeling of finding something new (and maybe familiar as well) while living abroad and the realization that there are many more options for groceries for you in your host city.

As you might have guessed, we filled up our grocery carts with many of these new products (well new products to us)…spending more money than our usual grocery store outings. Finding new food products, especially ones geared towards to the expats in that city, can definitely do some damage on your back account!

how not to save money

Finding a bunch of new products that you didn’t know existed in your host city can be one of the best feelings while living abroad. International school teachers definitely do their best to enjoy the local grocery stores and buying the local products (which can also be awesome and delicious) they sell in those stores, but mixing those products with some other ones that remind you of home or at least of a cuisine that is familiar to your palate, is also very desirable.  Just be careful though, because it can cost you a lot of money buying all these products you think you just “must have!”

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We have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of grocery stores in your host city.  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Locations in the city geared towards the expat lifestyle (grocery stores, bars, etc.). Here are a few examples of comments related to grocery stores:

“There are “Foreign Food Markets” in Itaewon where you can buy anything, literally ANYTHING you could find in an American grocery store. And if they don’t have it, typically they can order it for you. Of course these shops are more expensive. Local grocery stores are well stocked with a wide variety of foods. The local grocery store closest to our campus, Saruga, carries everything (slightly higher prices though) and even has a (perfectly legal) “Black Market” in the middle of it where you can buy all kinds of food imported from the US. The only things we ever buy at the Black Market stalls are things like chips or candy (for parties), and some seasonings or spices.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)83 Comments

“One grocery store that I like is called Pomme’s on Davie St. They have a lot of organic items and produce from all over the world including many items made locally.” – Vancouver International School (Greybrook Academy) (Vancouver, Canada)11 Comments

“There are a number of grocery stores in the area that have imported items from the US and UK. Lulu’s Hypermartket is great.” – Rowad Alkhaleej International School (Dammam) (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)69 Comments

“Oscar’s is a good grocery store in the area that caters to expats. You can get anything you need at the surrounding malls.” – The International School of Egypt (New Cairo City, Egypt)43 Comments