This is something I had to think about as I was planning on moving here 4 years ago, and I imagined that things were very inexpensive. After all, the cost of living must be low since so many people are living off of less than a dollar a day, right?
I've come to realize that people will survive. It's in our nature. There are so many people in Kenya struggling to survive that they are willing to work for very little pay; however, food, clothing, housing, etc... is actually quite expensive. (Kind of like in the middle ages before the plague when there was a feudal system in England. After the plague killed one third of the population, the system failed because there were no 'laborers.' Noble Farm owners had to harvest their own crops, etc.. and when they did find someone willing to help, they were so needed, they were able to demand higher wages and still get the job. The nobles got poorer, and the peasants and farmers got richer equalizing the gap between the two. I'm not saying we should have a plague, just an observation.)
Let's look at a common household item such as a dozen eggs. Here in Kenya, one dozen eggs costs $1.38. Now, if I am getting paid less than a dollar a day, that means a tray of eggs costs MORE than a full days wages. I think, if I'm not mistaken because I haven't lived in the USA for years now, one dozen eggs is LESS there. Am I right? Feel free to comment and let me know, but if eggs cost more there, you can then think of how much you make in ONE day and then imagine paying THAT for a dozen eggs.
Since you are checking the price of eggs for me, you may now be asking, what kind of eggs? But here in Kenya, we only have 2 choices: fertile or not. They are very tiny eggs, too, not the jumbo ones we see in the USA. In fact, often times, we put 2 Kenyan eggs when using a USA recipe that calls for only one.
Another common household item is Milk. One Gallon of pasteurized milk in Kenya is $4. (Again, remember people live on less than $1 a day). Chicken is a common food, and a decent size whole chicken costs $6.15. Margarine is $3.31, and cheese is OUTRAGOUS here. I bought a small block of cheddar for $5.86. Gasoline of course was up to $6.48 per gallon just a few days ago.
Of course, I'm not even going to tell you how much a box of imported cereal costs! Ok, I will... $10! That's right, I said $10 for a box of Kellogg's anything. (Note: cereal is one of my favorite foods, and I haven't eaten any in YEARS).
Needless to say, my idea that we can just live on very little when we moved here was quite wrong.
Co-founder of A Future and a Hope; home for orphaned girls in Kenya, East Africa