A common question, which we've alluded to and spoken about previously, is the cost of things. We are of course still learning the answer to this question. I think the answer is that some things are more expensive, some things less, and ultimately the determination of whether you require more or less money to live here than somewhere like Boston will come down to many choices, like whether you're happy eating at the hawker center or will require more Western fare, whether you want to always be in an air-conditioned room, or if you can learn to live at a slightly higher temperature with the windows open, a breeze blowing through, and a fan pointed at you.

Well, I decided to take some notes for myself, and potentially others, regarding the cost of things at the grocery. I thought this would be a good first step, walking through a grocery store, pen and pad in hand, having already eaten, and just compare prices. Unfortunately I didn't think to do the same thing in a grocery in Boston for direct comparison, but I'm guessing our readers will have some feeling for whether these items sound expensive or cheap.

At the outset it is important for the American reader to consider the exchange rate. I have a feeling, perhaps unfounded as yet, that when people say some things are expensive here, there is a failure to calculate for exchange rate. For other things even after calculating exchange it is clear that the cost is higher here. As of this writing, you'll get about 1.46 Singapore dollars for every US dollar. This will of course become much less important to me when I begin to earn Singapore dollars.

Okay, so here is a list of some things that I came across in the grocery, along with prices in SGD, pictures and commentary where appropriate. Additionally, this is one grocery store, vivomart, at vivocity. I don't have a good feel yet for whether these prices are high compared to some smaller groceries, or in comparison to Cold Storage or NTUC FairPrice (other common groceries), so mileage may vary.

A couple examples:
Peanut Butter:
Jif, 18 oz (510g) creamy: $7.23
Highway creamy (made in Singapore): $3.99

Okay, here is a case where you look and see $7 and think 'wow, peanut butter is expensive here'. But it is Jif, imported from the U.S., and after taking into account exchange rate, it's closer to $5-- still I'm guessing more expensive than your average 18 oz peanut butter container, but maybe not so much as to label ridiculous. I included the locally made peanut butter because it is of course significantly cheaper, at $4, which is $2.75 USD. I can't say if this peanut butter is any good, because I haven't tried it, but I'm sure I will if the Jif costs $7 SGD everywhere.

Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough, 1 pint: $22.90
yep, that one's definitely expensive. the grocery store ice cream seems to all be, and of course B&J is on the high end.

1% Farmhouse 2L Milk: $5.95
250g mainland 18 month aged cheddar: $6.60
same stuff, but organic: $10.90
125g australian gold brie: $5.88
we tried the brie previously, it was good stuff.

Tropicana 64 oz. OJ: $8.90
Marigold peel fresh O.J. 64 oz. : $3.85

Doritos 7 oz nacho or cool ranch: $2.95
5oz terra blues (organic potato chips): $6.22
1.74 oz peanut M&M's: $1.50
Snickers bar: $1.50

Barilla farfalle (best kind of pasta) 500g: $4.60
Arrighi (from Italy) 500g farfalle: $2.25
Bertolli 24oz tomato and basil pasta sauce: $6.57
Leggo napoletana sauce (I think it was from Italy): $3.20
- we tried the Leggo. I thought it was okay. Alli thought a little Chef Boyardee.

Lots of greens I don't really know too much about, but all of which look good, just spinach/kale/something type greens that could easily be sauteed, added to soup, etc.:
from Malaysia:
Sio Peck Chye, 220g: $1.30
Chye Sim, 220g: $0.99
Kow Peck Chye, 350g: $1.00
Yumai Chye, 220g: $1.00
Kow Kee Chye, 242g: $1.20
Kai Lan, 220g: $0.95

Phuay Leng, 200g, from China: $0.99

Bean sprouts, 100g: $0.10
Thai Baby asparagus... about 1.5 servings: $1.00

Enoki mushrooms, 400g: $0.99
Sweet corn from Malaysia, looked decent, 2 for $2.50
Tomatoes (not best, but maybe okay), 100g: $0.11
Cherry-grape tomatoes (looked yum), 350g: $2.00

Australian broccoli, 100g: $0.85

Aloha bananas, 100g: $0.13
Pineapple, not sure weight, but on the smaller side: $2.80
Mangosteen, 100g: $0.22
Driscoll's raspberries, 6oz: $8.50
Blueberries, 4oz: $2.90

Shiitake mushrooms (China), 200g: $1.55

Previously frozen chicken breast, 100g: $0.69
(lots of the meats are previously frozen, and are thawed, with labels informing you to use within 2 days, and NOT to refreeze).

Australian beef ribeye (didn't seem to be previously frozen?), 100g: $4.39
ground beef, definitely previously frozen, 100g: $1.25

whole fishes:
Red tilapia, 100g: $0.52
yellow tail, 100g: $0.85
tuna, 100g: $0.65
grey prawn (shrimp), 100g: $0.69
seabass, 100g: $1.09
red snapper, 100g: $0.85

fish fillets:
sting ray fillets, 100g: $0.95
salmon, 100g: $2.29

sea cucumber, 100g: $1.55

Rice. A million kinds. many different prices. See photo. There was at least one more display with an equal quantity of different kinds as seen in this photo:

Soy sauce. a whole wall. Do not know where I will start on that wall.

olive oil:
Basso 3L: $46.88
Pilippo Berio, 2L: $31.30
Carapelli, 1L: $20

Heinz 20oz ketchup: $4.19

Self-raising flour (that's what it says), 1kg: $2.95Please take time to notice what the super-lite flour is recommended for.

1kg coarse sugar (many varieties of coarseness of sugar): $1.40

Kellogg's frosties (called this, but Tony is on the package, so I think they are Frosted Flakes), 300g: $4.39

Arabica coffee beans, 1kg whole: $27.90

Alcohol: alcohol in singapore is subject to a government tax, based on percentage alcohol and volume. Example- $7 on each liter of 10% alcohol wine. So it's hard to find a bottle of wine under $15, because that's really an $8 (5.5 USD) bottle of wine. Just an unfortunate part of singapore.

Tiger beer (the cheap stuff) 6 pk : $14.95
Heineken 6pk : $18.85
Note: Do NOT buy the Guinness foreign extra stout. It's 8% alcohol, made in Singapore, and is a disgrace to the label it wears.

Yellow tail shiraz: $23
Pearly Bay Cab Sauvignon/Shiraz blend: $15.90

I purchased the pearly bay. it was actually drinkable. We tried another of the cheap ones last week which was cough syrup with a fancy label. You're probably safer in the $25 range.

Colgate max cavity protection 175g: $2.70
Gillette 7 oz shave gel: $8.25
Note: smallest deodorant section I'd ever seen, nothing I recognized. Maybe I missed it? maybe you have to go to a drugstore?
Dove soap, 3 bars, couldn't figure out size, but they looked a little small: $3.50

Kleenex 3-ply toilet paper, 10 rolls, 2400 sheets: $7.45
Scott extra 2-ply toilet paper, 20 rolls, 3600 sheets: $6.95

Scott's 6-pk kitchen paper towels (no info on ply, sheets): $4.45

A5 ring notebook, maybe 150 sheets, for taking these notes: $2.99

Okay, well there is a surface scan of what you might pay for a few items at the grocery. Some clearly expensive, others such as the greens seem very reasonable, and some other things where we'll have to test out brands we're not familiar with. At this stage, I don't feel that the prices are crazy, so long as you pay attention to them and don't grab all American brands. I reserve the right to wholly change this opinion after we have lived here for 2 years.