Calculating the cost of living in Bermuda

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  • Balancing expenses: Bermuda has been identified in a report as the most expensive place to live in the world. Columnist Martha Harris Myron wants readers help with a cost of living survey for the island

    Balancing expenses: Bermuda has been identified in a report as the most expensive place to live in the world. Columnist Martha Harris Myron wants readers help with a cost of living survey for the island


Bermuda is now officially the most expensive place on earth to live, according to a report in Britain’s Independent newspaper. The stunning picture of our beautiful shores that accompanied the article didn’t make us feel any better.

So, are your personal cost of living expenses out-of-control? No wonder if they are, and now we have confirmation of why.

Yes, we feel everything is expensive and getting more so. Referencing February’s Bermuda Consumer Price Index that states according to price movements a basket of goods costing $100 in April 2015, costs only $2 ($102) more in February 2017.

The CPI measures price movements. The mix of these consumer goods and services comprising the index are figuratively thought of as a “shopping basket.”

The Bermuda CPI is structured into nine expenditure groups or sectors:

• food

• rent

• clothing and footwear

• tobacco and liquor

• fuel and power

• transport and vehicles

• household goods, services, and communications

• education, recreation, entertainment and reading

• health and personal care

What I’d like to know from this report is what did things cost five years ago, ten years ago and so on. What has been the swing in prices since then?

If this report is incredulously hard to understand, it is because as the preparers are careful to point out, the CPI is not a cost-of-living index.

A cost-of-living index reflects the changes in buying or consumption patterns that consumers would ordinarily make to adjust to any change in the price of a good or service.

Even that explanation makes little sense when viewed from an individual perspective of anecdotal information from real people managing real budgets in Bermuda. Or, as people have said in frustration — including me: “Every time I look at buying something, I cringe as it is more money than the last time.”

Our original schedule called for the continuation of the Bermuda Retirement Planning Series with a focus on the nitty-gritty math of a couple of different ways to figure out what amount of savings will be needed.

What is in your basket, or better yet, what is left in your wallet?

The 64,000-dollar question, which by the way is nowhere near enough savings to get anyone through retirements, is: how can anyone figure out what will be needed in the future when we are not even sure how Bermuda residents, in general, are making ends meet day-to-day right now?

So, I’ve switched course here. It is time to come up with our own survey to find out just how households are managing their cost of living in the most expensive place on earth.

So, here is what I believe to be the first cost of living survey for Bermuda’s people.

Readers, will you please consider participating.

I will need and will greatly appreciate your feedback. Whether you are struggling to make ends meet, or still managing to get by, please consider answering the following questions. Your input of real current expense data that affects you and your family, personally.

Even if you don’t want to list your average cost of personal expenses, at least send me your comments on how you view trying to budget in Bermuda. Help me to help you with future topics such as retirement, budgeting and financial planning assistance through the Moneywise articles.

Disclosure: I do not provide general financial planning; and have no vested interest in using this information except for general information written for you.

This survey is for you — all of you, to provide a more realistic individual approach and commentary from you on the challenges of managing a budget in Bermuda.

Answers can be submitted in the following ways:

• online in an e-mail to me at martha.myron@gmail.com

• sent via text (1-603-717-1813)

• or dropped off at The Royal Gazette offices on Par-la-Ville Road in a plain, unmarked envelope.

No names, please. In any event, readers certainly know that your information is confidential and that I have never revealed any of my sources. Those concerned about privacy in e-mails can use Gmail, which is encrypted, or try others such as Rmail, Infoencrypt, etc.

Let’s say that you take a month to send in the survey. I will report the results in early June. The more of you that respond, with numbers and comments, or just comments, will make this survey a great communication vehicle for all of us.

A PDF file of the survey questions can be downloaded by clicking on the linked media section near the top of this article.

Here are the questions:

1. What is the size of your family? e.g. one person, two people, four people, etc.

2. Groceries. Average weekly cost of groceries? Comments? Challenges?

Has your grocery bill, for the same size family, risen in the last three months? Since a year ago? Kindly estimate in dollars by how much.

3. Rent per month. Has it increased and by how much?

What is the size of your apartment, e.g. one bedroom, two bedrooms.

4. Electricity. Average cost per month?

Has your electric bill increased in the last 12 months but your usage as stayed about the same?

5. Gas. Monthly cost for vehicles, whether car or bike.

Has the cost increased in the last year? By how much?

6. Mobile phone cost per month.

How many phones do you have in your household? Has the cost increased or decreased in the past year?

7. Cable and internet access: What is the average monthly cost? Has it increased, and since when?

8. Health insurance, medical and personal care average monthly costs. How many times have your premiums increased? Over what time frame? Do you have a large or small deductible?

9. Property taxes. Cost per year, have they increased or decreased?

10. Property insurance. What is the cost per year, and has it increased or decreased?

11. Tenant insurance. What is the cost per year, and has it increased or decreased?

12. Car, bike, boat registration per year. What is the cost per year, and has it increased or decreased?

13. Do you find your family out of budget at the end of month, and possibly struggling to make ends meet? Are you purchasing just the bare necessities now, more than you used to?

Any other comments. Please feel free to share them. And remember, no names please, and all survey replies are strictly confidential.

Links:

Bermuda most expensive place to live article: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/most-expensive-countries-to-live-in-a7591721.html.

Consumer Price Index: https://www.gov.bm/bermuda-business-statistics

E-mail encryption: https://www.howtogeek.com/135638/the-best-free-ways-to-send-encrypted-email-and-secure-messages/

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published Apr 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 14, 2017 at 11:22 pm)

Calculating the cost of living in Bermuda

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