Although Berlin is no exception to expensive cities in Germany. Places such as Frankfurt or Munich are cash demanding. Not to mention, how countries like Switzerland and Finland just would require pre-calculations when intending to go there for a visit.


Imagine yourself in a predicament. A financial one, caused by economic differences and less insight one can have on the literal meaning of how much a certain amount of money really weighs or is worth.

Sometimes it takes being in context to understand currencies. I still do not fully understand finances myself but, I found it interested to talk to a few people around me about finances and doing a few personal observations. Since the last 7 months in Germany, I have been doing a lot of comparison. From general things to basic essential things. I find it of course interesting too, to be exploring and attempting to comprehend what it means spending the money I earn as a volunteer.

One of my goals during my stay here has been to be financially conscious and smart. And that is, learning more than just that a euro is equal to 14 South African rand. But understanding a currency from a more practical perspective of how residents use it.

In this blog post, I compare and contrast what one can buy with one euro (1 €) in Germany, as compared to South Africa. This article focuses mainly on Germany alone, particularly as my current destination and a country I am exposed to as a volunteer. I am certain that examples I use here can either apply or not apply to other European countries. For instances, my argument or use of practical cases may not be applicable perhaps in Switzerland and Finland, as these two countries are examples of expensive countries. While, perhaps in Turkey and Greece may proof otherwise.

Although, I am also writing from a more exchange volunteer perspective, this article may come across as useful to students and young travellers.

South Africa currency

The South African currency, plural for Rand, is part of the common monetary currency between South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia. Its code: ZAR and sign: R, is from Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand (South African rand). To date, a rand when compared to a euro is equal to R 14 (fourteen Rand).

A comparison on what you can buy with 1 Euro and 14 Rand: Germany and South Africa

Firstly, in South Africa it seems that with 1 € which one can use it on valuable things like food, for instance. These may include taking a local taxi and buying bread. Or even buying a few fruits as a student to eat in between breaks or as snacks. Of course R 14 cannot change the world or even 1 euro for that matter, but I am extremely amazed how a euro can not literally be of help during any emergencies in Germany. Even tablets against headache are not at a cost less than a euro. This may be the case, but a few things that may such as Colgate toothpaste and DM branded lip balm are commonly cheaper than a euro at cosmetic store called DM and perhaps at the others too.

Looking into a store called Euroshop, selling different house hold utensils is definitely a place to get things at this cost or less. The question to ask, if things offered in this store are good quality?

The following list is also not limited. I have mainly focused on these items as the most pin-pointed things by people I was in conversations with.

Chewing gum, Chocolate, 3-4 Rolls, and a small bottle of water

Items you can buy in South Africa with 1 €/ R14

While in South Africa, 14 rand makes huge differences. It goes a long way. This amount of money can buy: a small bag of maize meal which can be cooked for one night for a family of 4 to 5 people. A bag of 4-6 potatoes or onions or even tomatoes at this price are possible to buy. The packaging of how much potatoes or any of these vegetables one can get depends of course of how big these vegetables are. But on a normal basis, it is possible to buy one of these options, often including something else.

14 rand for many commuters enables one to get to the city’s central business district (CBD), often taking an approximated 30 minutes from Soweto, the township I come from. Whereas in Germany, a less than 20 minutes trip would cost you a little above 1 euro. To about 1,80 €.

As a student, one can catch a snack in between like buying fruits at the costs of 2 rand each or so. It is even possible to catch one local taxi at 8 rand. Meaning one would need 1,30 € to and fro going somewhere locally. For example, going to a mall, a clinic or another neighbourhood.

Some of other essential things 1 € can buy in South Africa includes bread (white and brown bread), which in this case, brown bread turns to be cheaper than white bread with a difference of 1 rand or 50 cents. A bathing bar soap, a small box of powder soap and township fast food like kota. Which is almost a similar version of ”Döner” in Germany, which costs from at least 3 € (42 rand).

Besides food, I find it interesting also that my German volunteer friends during their time in South Africa embraced that fact that they could cut their hair in Kliptown at about R 10.

My chronicles have unfolded in this order: Exacted from my Facebook.

Some of the unfavourable things about living in Germany, Europe, is realising that although R14,57 cents which makes a complete difference in South Africa enabling one to buy a loaf of bread and tomatoes or even get a hair cut at a salon stand (mainly for guys), is not at all possible here. All this is not possible here. To get a hair cut costs at least 20-35 € (R 290- R 500) or more, 8 tomatoes at 2,40€ (basically 30 something rand) and bread that never costs anything to a euro. Although R 14 is equal to 1 euro, there is no so much that one can do here with a euro. Even coke “buddy” does not amount to this. Instead it is between 1,50 to 2 €. (20-30 rand).

Perhaps one can be able to spot items less than a euro but probably not during an emergency or even so, less important things like candy. Some of the things you can expect to pay incredibly for are:

*Monthly travel tickets which can amount to 105€ (R 1 531) in Frankfurt and around 57 € and 75 € in other places, which in my understanding seems to always surpass R 500.
*Maintaining dreadlocks here is like starving yourself all in the name of beauty. Attempting to get my hair done, ridiculous charged prices between 80€ to 200€ , 1 166 to 2 915 rand. Derived from the length, thickness and if you want to do get half or full the head done.

Just thinking out loud.