Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cost of Living in Venice

The dollar has hit an all time now costs me $1.44 for every euro I spend here. That adds up quickly and I can tell you that I am feeling the pinch in trying to keep my budget going. The only thing that is truly helping me at the moment is that I have yet to receive any utility bills. Once those hit (when they hit--who knows), then all bets are off--especially now that it is winter (ok, fall) and I have to use the gas heater/radiator. I have been told that gas costs 1 euro per unit!!!!!!!!!! Electricity is about 30 cents per unit, so you can only imagine how my heating bill will grow exponentially in no time at all.

But aside from the dollar and the cost of heating, there are other costs here in Venice that I dont have control over. For instance, there are different prices for consumers depending on whether or not you are a native or a tourist (or in my case, an expat). Yep, thats right. Of course, its not written anywhere and most tourists are clueless when it happens to them, but I have been here long enough to see it and experience it firsthand.

In fact, I frequent a restaurant here in town and have now ingratiated myself enough (because I dont know for what other reason I would have to give) to start receiving the Venetian price for my meals. Its a pretty significant difference. Last week when my brother was here, our bill was 42 euros for dinner but I only had to pay 30!

Once I was having a spritz with a Venetian and we were speaking in English. When the bill came, the bartender asked for 6 euros (which would be 3 for each drink). Spritzes usually cost about 2 at the most. When the Venetian heard this, there were words exchanged in the local dialect and we paid 3.60 euros!

And now, the city of Venice has decided to create a water bus route that is specifically for Venetians--tourists are not allowed on this bus. How they are ever going to police that is beyond me, but rumor has it, they will also be charged less than the rest of us. Of course, they already are. In general, a tourist pays 6 euros for a ticket that is good for one hour. Highway robbery if you ask me. But you can buy a 48 hour pass for 25 euros, therefore saving some money. Because I went through some hoops, I can buy a monthly pass for the water bus for 26 euros. It is my understanding that Venetians pay less than this for their pass (when they actually have a pass--many choose not to get it and are not bothered--the 'water bus police' tend to profile tourists).

Its a difficult system to 'work' because nothing is posted in plain view and there is a general malaise about adhering to or even knowing any laws/consumer rights. I try hard not to make too many sweeping generalizations, but its difficult to get around this one. Venetians have made a living out of ripping off tourists and that reputation is starting to precede them (although they will tell you that they are not raising the prices for tourists, but rather lowering them for Venetians!). But Venice is not what it once was and it will never be the same again. Unfortunately, it has reached the stage of being a floating hotel with endless gift shops. Those who are natives have to live with the demise of their beloved city, sitting by hopelessly as there really isnt anything they can do. And that, is the most expensive cost in this wonderful place.

No comments: