Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Note on the Yen Rate

The yen/dollar exchange rate has gotten increasingly sucky over the last two years that we've lived here. From what I've heard, a year before we arrived in Japan one could exchange a dollar for 120 yen. When we first arrived, the rate hovered at just about 100 yen to the U.S. dollar. As of today, a dollar will only buy you 80 yen. Not cool!

What does that mean? It means we're paying 20% more for everything we buy with yen than we were two years ago. It means our rent rate hasn't changed, yet it now "costs" $400 more a month to live in our house. It means I now do 90% of my grocery shopping at the commissary on base instead of 50/50 like I used to. It means we go out to eat less. It means the ridiculous costs of traveling in Japan are even more ridiculous (like $900 roundtrip for the two of us to take the 3 hour train ride down to Tokyo, for example. If anyone wonders why we don't take more fun weekend trips down to Tokyo when we're bored up here, that's why.)

Japan is already an expensive country, and a lame-o U.S. dollar doesn't help. I'm thankful we have the option of buying our food, gas, household goods and other day-to-day stuff on base with American money since I'm pretty sure we'd be broke if we had to buy all that stuff out in town.

We're crossing our fingers hoping the exchange rate will go back up soon!