Is Japan a really expensive place? At first glance(and what the internet tells us) it’s frickin’ expensive to live out there. But why listen to a bunch of bloggers(like on this site) who may or may not know what they are talking about. Instead… online publication, ET Today, has introduced the concept of the convenience store index. Keep reading to find out how you can use this insanely easy barometer to decide whether you should feel rich or poor.
Without making this into an economic discussion, as long as your shit isn’t expensive, then the citizens in your country can afford it. However, seems as Japan has never received the memo. When you begin stacking products from convenience stores side by side(7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart etc), you start to realize how much spending power your paycheck will actually carry you. But hey, try telling the landlords of San Francisco that.
According to Japan’s Ministry of Labor, workers’ monthly average salary in 2013 is ¥ 314,150(around 94000 NT Taiwanese dollars and about $2608 USD). Japan has increased its minimum wage due to the wide perception that the cost of living in Japan is so high. Well, it turns out that if we were to measure Japanese consumer purchasing power based on common convenience store items, Japan is a cheaper place to live than Taiwan. Absolutely shocking, but here’s the tale of the tape.
Bottled Green Tea
Japanese price: 125 Yen
Taiwanese price: 25 NT
In terms of percentage of wages, that comes out to .04% of Japanese wages but a whopping .07% of Taiwanese monthly wages! Wait, it gets even more surprising…
Good Ole’ Coca Cola
Japanese price: 150 yen or .05% of monthly wage Taiwanese price: 25 NT or .07% of monthly wage
McDonald’s Big Mac
Japan: 650 yen or about 0.2% of the Japanese average monthly wage Taiwan: 102 NT or roughly 0.28% of the monthly wage
Japan: 1 pound of pork sets you back 800 yen or around 0.26% of the average monthly wage Taiwan: 1 pound of pig meat goes for 120 NT or 0.33% and so on down the line from beer to all sorts of food items. Although, I do question the sanity of buying raw meat at a convenience store for the same reason why you shouldn’t be eating gas station sushi.
It appears that, based on wages alone, Taiwan is the more expensive place to live. This convenience story inflation or purchasing power measurement system is just one way to compare purchasing power. Indeed, the most famous of all purchasing power metrics in wide use in popular culture is the Big Mac Index. Different countries’ purchasing power is measured based on how long you have to work to afford a Big Mac based on the prevailing restaurant prices in your country. This is a powerful metric of comparative inflation rates, wage levels, and purchasing power. Whether you are measuring purchasing power based on what you can pick up at a convenience store or based on how affordable a Big Mac is, purchasing power is definitely a key economic measure worth keeping an eye on. With that said, we are heading out to McDonald’s to buy a shitload of Big Macs so we can feel insanely rich.