This is a question that I've been asking myself ever since I moved here. I have to decide this week whether to stay in Milan for another year, and inevitably that brings lots of questions about the more distant future as well. And one of the things I need to consider is, how much am I actually paid?
In a world of sliding exchange rates (the euro is worth about 20 pence more than it was when I took this job) and rising prices, it's really hard to tell. Obviously, I know what my salary is in euros and what that equates to in pounds, but what really matters is, how much does that money buy in Italy compared to what my hypothetical UK salary would buy me there?
In an attempt to answer this question, I did something very geeky. I went to the supermarket last weekend, bought nine things that I needed, came home, looked up the prices of the equivalents in the UK on the Asda website and did some maths.
In Italy, my basket of shopping cost 11.97 euros. In the UK, it would have cost £9.64. The exchange rate at the time was £1=£1.07 euros, so the Italian shopping cost the equivalent of £10.69. I was shopping in a nicer supermarket than Asda, though, so my conclusion was that prices in the supermarkets are roughly the same in Italy and in the UK.
It was interesting, though, to see what was cheaper and what was more expensive. Wine is much cheaper in Italy. Deodorant is far more expensive. Strangely, so is cheese. Even fresh tomatoes are more expensive in Italy, although admittedly the fruit and vegetables at the market are much cheaper than in the supermarkets. It would seem that to get the best value from living here, you have to drink lots of wine. Oh well...