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!


Stefanie K. said...

Wow, that's crazy how quickly the exchange rate can change!! I'm glad you have the base option, but of course that doesn't help for things like travel and trying to experience Japanese culture off base. Is there any indication it might start to swing the other way? Nutty!!

Pete 'n Stephy said...

for realsies! damn yen rate! you have no idea how bad I want to go see snow monkeys in nagano, but it would cost a butt load!

Angie said...

omg! that is just crazy!!!
i hope things change soon :/

LizzyB said...

I feel ya. Dan refuses to transfer money to me until the Euro goes UP again. We are living in 2 different countries, making 2 different currencies, with 2 different banks/accounts. Crazy! I really hope it gets better for you guys though. I know you are feeling claustrophobic being confined to military shopping!

StumpyG said...

Yeah, it's super lame.

Stef- I have no clue if it'll swing either way. I know less than nothing about this kind of market economy stuff. I hope so!!

Steph- YEAH omg, me too!! It would be so cool if you could just up and go to all these cool places without having to think about selling your organs or something to get there.

Liz- Your guys' situation is crazy. At least Dan gets paid in Euros... I never thought about that! And yeah, military shopping is... limiting. :P

Thanks Angie, me too!

Philly Girl Abroad said...

Beautiful photos! Good luck with the poor exchange rate. It's the dirty underside to living abroad.

Anonymous said...

Japan is sooo awesome. I *might* be going there next year. That is, if the world doesn't end or something. Anyways, I hope the currency changes by that time, because of all the awesome Japanese street styles(Goth Loli!). And the foooooood, ahhhhh!!

13th Seal said...

The change is all for the better.