980 City Costs

Tom and Jess compare cost of living in various cities around the world.


Tom: Jess, I love hearing you talk about the different cities, you've been working in. Were they all very expensive places to live?

Jess: No, they weren't all expensive. The first city I lived in when I moved away from Britain was Budapest in Hungary, and when I lived there it was before Hungary had joined the Euro, so the currency was still the Hungarian forint and most things were really cheap compared to Britain.

There were things that were expensive there, I think especially for tourists or for people who the taxi drivers perceived as being tourists. After I had lived there for awhile kind of knew how much certain journeys should cost and I was very surprised at how often the taxi drivers would double that as soon as they realized I wasn't Hungarian, but overall Budapest was a cheap city. I'm not sure if that's the case now. It uses the Euro, but then it was cheap and very good fun. After Budapest, I went to Madrid, and that was a bit more expensive than Budapest, definitely. Rent was certainly more expensive and a large proportion on my monthly salary went on rent but other things like eating out, supermarket shopping, clothes shopping, they were still quite a lot of choices that wasn't too expensive. The high street shops were about the same price as in Britain, but eating out there was cheap. Again, beauty services in Madrid - haircuts - I think they must be expensive all over the world cause they were really expensive in Madrid as well.

So, you've told me about Tokyo and Bangkok, where else have you lived Tom?

Tom: I had a short contract working in North Africa in Tripoli in Libya and rent was taken care of and I almost paid nothing while I was there and I was able to send seventy or eighty percent of my salary home to England to my savings account. Travel around Tripoli by these little minivans was a quarter of a dinar and food was a little bit more expensive but I could live on a very small amount of money each month and of course tripoli is right on the Mediterranean so on my days off I could go to the beach very easily. The weather was always fantastic. It was an interesting place to live and the currency in Libya are these beautiful huge bank notes that you have to fold several times to put into your wallet. It was a really satisfying to have a fist full of those in your pocket.

Jess: Oh, it sounds fantastic. I'd love to go there.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson



The taxi drivers perceived them to be tourists.

When you perceive something, it means you think something is true even though you do not have all the facts or information. Notice the following:

  1. Women are often perceived to be more caring parents than men.
  2. We all perceived him to be happy, but he was actually quite sad.

the case


Budapest was cheap, but I’m not sure if that’s the case now.

In the previous sentence, the word 'case' means situation. It is often used with the word ‘not’. Notice the following:

  1. My class was good today, but that wasn't the case yesterday.
  2. People think I’m rich, but that’s just not the case.

high street shops


The high street shops cost the same in Paris as they do in Britain.

A high street shop is a store usually located in a more expensive part of town. Notice the following:

  1. She is quite rich so he can afford to shop at high street shops.
  2. I can only afford to window shop at the high street shops.

take care of


My rent was taken care of by the school.

In the previous example, the verb 'take care of' means the rent was paid by the school. When you take care of something, it means you finish some action that needs to be done. Notice the following:

  1. The clean up after the party was taken care of by Joe.
  2. I can’t pick the kids up from school today. Can you take care of it?

fist full


I had a fist full of money.

A fist is when you make a ball with your hand. Boxers fight with their fists. Here, it just means you have a hand full of some items, such as money, paper, etc. Here though, it also means the person had extra money to spend.  Notice the following:

  1. My favorite Clint Eastwood movie is a Fist Full of Dollars.
  2. The child stood there looking happy with a fist full of candy.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
perceived • the case • high street
took care of• fist full
  1. The thief had a of my jewelry, but still gave me an innocent look.
  2. My boss the hotel and the flight, but I had to pay for my food.
  3. He was hoping for some time alone with her, but that wasn't .
  4. I never go to the shops because I know that I can't buy anything.
  5. The whole world her as confident, but she was terribly insecure.