“I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need.” So go the lyrics to Aloe Blacc’s 2010 hit I Need a Dollar. To many, Blacc’s dream was a simple one, although maybe a little unrealistic. After all, who could possibly survive on just a dollar? Almost a decade after the song was released, living off a dollar seems more impossible than ever before. Coming off a worldwide economic recovery, virtually everything has risen in price, with manufacturers and retailers apparently learning nothing from the Great Depression 2.0.
Although it isn’t possible to live off a dollar, having an extra $1 in your wallet or bank account can make your life significantly more enjoyable. It sounds crazy, I know, but bear with me. The world is full of bargains to keep you warm and fed without draining your bank account, you just have to know where to shop. In this article, we’re going to be looking at what a single US dollar will get you in countries across the globe so you don’t have to keep writing those traveler’s checks everywhere you go.
Pay attention, Mr. Blacc, because here are 15 things $1 will buy across the world.
15. Pizza (America)
Sure, pizza is technically Italian, but over the past couple of decades, it has become synonymous with the United States of America. Within America. There is no state more famous for its pizza than New York and within New York, there is nowhere more famous for its pizza than Manhattan.
Pizzerias are scattered throughout Manhattan and appear almost as frequently as Starbucks and comedy open mic nights. Most of them sell pizza by the slice for as low as $1. These $1 pizza slices aren’t the most delicious thing you’ll ever eat, but they’re inexpensive and filling, so at least you won’t go hungry. They are especially prevalent in Greenwich Village, where they are often sold alongside $2 cans of beer, so you should be able to get fat and hammered for less than $20.
14. 4 Lbs Of Potatoes (Russia)
The potato is one of those foods that transcends international barriers. It is a traditional food in dozens of countries throughout the world, but perhaps nowhere more so than in Russia. Throughout the centuries, Russians have turned to potatoes in times of famine and war to stay alive and today no Russian meal feels complete unless it is accompanied by a healthy dollop of mash, whether it’s being eaten by a peasant or a king (not that Russia has a king). In fact, in 2016, Russia exported a record-breaking 230 tons of potatoes. In some parts of the world, a pound of potatoes can set you back as much as $5, but take a trip to Moscow and you can expect to find four times that amount for $4 less.
13. Snickers (Japan)
When something is made available for $1, it’s generally seen as a bargain. On occasion, however, $1 can feel like a bit of a rip-off. When you visit Japan, for example, you can expect to drop significant cash to enjoy the tastes of home.
Japan is famous for its wonderful, wacky, and oftentimes straight-up weird cuisine. Some traditional Japanese favorites include eel, octopus, and even scorpion, so many westerners who visit the country are understandably reluctant to try the nation’s delicacies. Crafty Japanese shop owners are aware that tourists generally don’t eat the country’s outrageous foods and so they overcharge for virtually every imported snack. Something as simple as a Snickers candy bar can set you back $1 in Japan, so it’s anybody’s guess what you’d end up paying for a good old fashioned hot dog and a slice of apple pie.
12. Momo Dumplings (Nepal)
Even the biggest foodie can be forgiven for not having heard of momo. This is a type of dumpling that is native to South Asia and is primarily consumed in places like Tibet and Nepal. It’s pretty popular and, like most types of dumpling, it is generally purchased in bulk and eaten as a starter course or as a snack between meals. Most people who eat momo dumplings regularly consume them alongside a variety of sauces to make them go down easier. In many ways, the momo dumpling is a sort of South Asian chicken nugget, except a batch of ten momo dumplings of will cost you less than a box of six chicken nuggets. Throughout South Asia, but particularly in Nepal, a plate of ten momo dumplings can be purchased for as little as $1. Sometimes even less.
11. Cigar (Ireland)
Cigars are generally seen as a luxury only society’s highest rollers can afford. While it is true that a humidor full of quality cigars will set you back quite a bit, the residents of Ireland can enjoy somewhat decent cigars without feeling it in their wallets when the rent is due at the end of the month.
You see, there are certain liquor stores in the Republic of Ireland that sell their regular customers individual cigars taken out of factory-sealed packages at $1 a pop. These cigars are pretty unimpressive and have the same dimensions as the common cigarette, but they are a popular choice among older smokers and teenagers who want to celebrate like the people do on television. It’s important to remember that the stores that sell these cigars are technically breaking the law as they are not intended for individual resale, but hey, what fun is a cigar if it’s legal?
10. Baguette (France)
Go to any grocery story literally anywhere not in France and you can expect to find a variety of freshly baked baguettes for under a dollar. Take your search for a baguette to France, however, and you had better be prepared to drop some serious cash (comparatively, at least).
France is famous for its cuisine, but there is no food more synonymous with the City of Lights than the baguette. Every year, millions of people visit Paris and France with the goal of – among other things – eating a genuine French baguette. Because of this, many French bakeries and supermarkets overcharge for their goods. Stores that cater to locals and natives tend to have much lower prices, but if you don’t find one of them you can expect to pay $1 for what is little more than a slice of bread.
9. Foot Massage (Philippines)
Unlike most of the other items to be featured on this list, this entry is not something that you can consume, which is a shame if you’re a foodie. On the bright side, this proves that you can have both food and leisure without having to drain your bank account while abroad.
When traversing the Philippines, be sure to keep your eye out for budget massage parlors. Now, these massage parlors are totally above board and won’t offer you that thing you’re thinking of right now, but they can promise a half hour deep foot massage for a fraction of most other massage parlors in the world. For just $1, you can have a Filipino masseuse rub your feet until you are tickled into sheer ecstasy. For an extra dollar, you’ll be able to get a shoulder and back rub as well.
8. Chipsi Mayai (Tanzania)
When people talk about the great cuisines of the world, the food of Africa is very rarely brought into the conversation. This can probably be traced back to the various charitable organizations dedicated to helping starving children in Africa. Although they mean well and no doubt serve a necessary function, the long-standing mainstream presence of those charities and their television commercials mean that we often forget certain parts of Africa have a thriving food scene. Take Tanzania, for example. Visit there and you can enjoy chipsi mayai for just $1.
Chipsi mayai is a traditional Tanzanian food that translates literally to “chips and eggs”. It’s essentially a potato omelet and requires very little time or effort to prepare, which has made it a favorite of Tanzania natives and tourists alike. Many charity workers in Tanzania villages eat chipsi mayai a couple of times a week as it allows them to keep a full belly on minimal income.
7. Lettuce (Canada)
Canada is generally seen as America’s more laid back cousin. Yet despite its reputation, living in Canada can get pretty freaking expensive. The high price of electronics and food in Canada can’t be traced back to any one thing, but a major factor is that the fall of the Canadian dollar has led to a rise in the cost of imported goods.
In Canada, over 80% of fruit and vegetables come from outside the country, which means 80% of fruit and vegetables lining the shelves of Canadian supermarkets are far more expensive than they should be. Something as simple as a head of lettuce will set you back $1, so you may have to consider taking out a second mortgage if you feel like celebrating your arrival in Canada with a salad.
6. Bubur Ayam
Indonesian cuisine has been dividing foodies for decades. Some can’t get enough of it and often plan trips to Indonesia just so they can experience the real thing. Others just can’t stomach it, generally blaming their disdain for Indonesian food on the many spices used in even the simplest of recipes. However, even they must admit that bubur ayam has a certain charm.
Unlike most Indonesian food, bubur ayam is not particularly spicy. It is essentially a rice congee that uses shredded chicken as the main ingredient. Because of its relatively tame use of spices, bubur ayam is often eaten as a breakfast meal or as a midnight snack. Its popularity can also be traced back to its wide availability and the low price that it generally goes for. If you get up early enough while visiting Indonesia, you should be able to find a pretty mean bubur ayam for just $1.
5. Coffee (America)
Just like pizza, coffee was once primarily associated with Italy before America came along, Americanized it, and started selling it for a ridiculously low price. Gas stations all over America have been offering $1 cups of coffee for decades now, which actually come in at about $26 less than your typical cup of coffee from Starbucks. It should be pointed out that the low price is usually reflective of the coffee’s low quality, so you should probably avoid any $1 cups of coffee if you are a coffee aficionado. Then again, coffee aficionados aren’t exactly the kind of people that these $1 cups of coffee are marketed towards. Most of these gas stations cater primarily to truckers who are in desperate need of coffee to keep them going and don’t particularly care how it tastes.
4. Toilet Roll (United Kingdom)
If you’ve ever visited the United Kingdom, you’ve probably heard of Poundland. If you haven’t been to the United Kingdom, Poundland is exactly what it sounds like. It’s basically a shop where everything costs a pound/dollar. It’s actually a pretty good pricing system if you’re looking for something that’s traditionally expensive, but it’s a real pain in the neck when you need something that would cost you only a couple of cents somewhere else.
Recently, Poundland released a novelty roll of bathroom tissue emblazoned with the Poundland logo and the words “bog roll”, which is British talk for toilet paper. This single roll of toilet paper will set you back $1 and will more than likely tear mid-use, so you might want to set a couple of dollars aside for gloves and soap.
3. Kurtoskalacs (Hungary)
If you’re a fan of pastries – and you probably are because who isn’t a fan of pastries? – you’re going to want to take a trip to Hungary to get yourself a kurtoskalacs. A kurtoskalacs, for those who have never heard of it, is a kind of spit cake made primarily from flour, milk, butter, sugar, and eggs. It is generally flavored with things like syrup and cinnamon once it has been baked, so all in all it’s relatively inexpensive to produce.
Kurtoskalacs actually started out as a festive treat specific to Hungarian-specific areas of Romania, but over the decades it has managed to transcend season and location. It is has become a staple of bakeries and street vendors in Hungary itself and is generally sold for just $1.
2. Beer (Ireland)
When people think of Ireland, they almost always think of alcohol. For whatever reason, the country has developed a reputation for being one of drunkards. The stereotype of the perpetually drunk Irishman, while admittedly pretty funny, isn’t all that accurate. In fact, a study carried out in June of 2017 found that the current generation of young Irish people have the lowest rate of alcohol consumption than any other in the nation’s history.
That being said, it is possible to get absolutely hammered in the Republic of Ireland if you know the right place to shop. Budget supermarket Lidl has long been known for its cheap alcohol, most notably its Excelsior brand lager, which can be purchased for just $1 a can. It tastes pretty disgusting, but if you’re the kind of person who drinks just to get drunk that probably won’t be a deal-breaker for you.
1. A Full Meal (India)
For natives of India, earning a decent living is a bit of a challenge because there are so many people fighting for so few jobs and so many areas of the country are so shockingly underdeveloped. However, an expatriate arriving in the country with a couple of thousand saved away in their bank account can expect to live out the rest of their days in the kind of luxury our western world grants only to millionaires and billionaires.
In India, you can enjoy a full traditional Indian meal of rice, naan bread, meat, and a whole lot of sauces for just $1. You can even wash it down with a glass of water or a cup of tea and still have enough money left to tip the waiter rather generously!
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