Friday, November 01, 2013

3-Star Living

Last night I was out at one of the 5-star hotels catching up with a couple who were visiting Qatar that I hadn't seen in years (no, it was not a Halloween party, no costumes). It was pleasant sitting at the lounge chatting with people. Since I was driving I passed on the wine and fancy cocktails that everyone was drinking and only had a diet coke. Unless the law has changed in the last few years I believe the drinking and driving limit in Qatar is 0.00, if you drive after having even one drink you could be in big trouble. It's highly unlikely I'd be caught -- the police almost never do drinking and driving road checks, but I'm not going to jeopardize my job and living in Qatar for a glass of wine.

So when it was time for the bill I braced myself for what I knew was going to be a ridiculous charge for a soda and looked at the bill. Sure enough, QAR 30 (~$8.25) for one Diet Coke. I usually pay less than that for an entire dinner at the restaurants in the city. Oh well, the evening was about meeting friends and having a nice time.

I honestly don't understand why many people in Qatar frequently eat and drink at these 5-star hotels and pay those exorbitant prices. As far as I'm concerned once in a blue moon is fine when you want to treat yourself to something nice but many people are in these places two or three times a week, or more. *Shrug*, it’s their money I suppose. When laborers and other low-paid workers hear about the prices at these hotels they are absolutely dumbfounded. QAR 30 would be a day's wage for many of them, and you can buy a soda at a store for QAR 1.5.

I suppose many people would consider me cheap. That's fine, because I consider myself cheap. I just don't like paying lots of money for things that I know I can get for much less. I don't enjoy paying ridiculous prices for things. Some people ask me why I don't pay for business class tickets when I go to Canada and it's because, to me, paying an extra $3,000-4,000 so that I am in a more comfortable seat for 16 hours is just not worth it to me. There are much better things that could be done with that money, like giving it to my niece and nephew’s education fund.

Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, lots of Canadians that I know are like this. Perhaps it's a legacy of decades of the Canadian dollar being much less than the US dollar, making everything in the world seem expensive to us. I dunno.

However, for the record, I may be cheap but I'm not what I call “damn cheap”. What's the difference? “Damn cheap” is when someone is so cheap people go, “Damn, that guy is cheap!” essentially miserly. There is a difference. I like to travel, I eat out all the time, I have a cleaner who comes by once every couple of weeks, I treat friends to dinners, I enjoy having cappuccinos and lattes. I just don't drive a fancy car, live in expensive neighborhoods, or fly first class and stay in top hotels. I’m a 3-star guy and proud of it!

Cheap, not damn cheap.


pavan karthik said...

absolutely right. i completely agree with you.
There are so many good things that we could do with that money. I have read most of your posts and being new to DOha, its exremely helpful. Cheers and keep it going.

Anonymous said...

HI Skeptic,
I enjoyed reading your post on Doha News. And all in all your right. knew there was a BUT!
But you are a man. And sadly to say that makes this lifestyle choice much easier. I'm a woman and unfortunately I have to say I couldn't choose this life style. Imagine sitting all by myself in the friendly local neighbourhood diner...just try to picture it. It wouldn't work because women don't do that here and there are not enough women who would choose to join me.
So enjoy it while it lasts and I will envy you every bit of it.

Anonymous said...

So much respect to you for leading a simple life. Why pay 120 QAR for a chicken shish tawooq in the 5 stars when you can get it for 25 QAR at Turkey Central restaurant.

Glen McKay said...

Thanks everyone, I'm glad you liked the article. When dohanews asked me to write an article based on this "3-star" post I wasn't sure how that would work out.

You're right anonymous, as a man I can live differently than a single woman could, and I won't pretend I understand what it might be like for women here.

That said the article was actually more about how some people expect me to live lavishly because I make a good income. Unfortunately it appears some have taken the view the article is more about how living 5-star is somehow wrong. As far as I'm concerned if you can afford it do whatever you like, it's your money, just stop thinking it's so odd that I don't spend lots of money just because others do.

Glen McKay said...

Oh, and because someone on Dohanews asked, I drive a 1.3L 2006 Honda City

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn, when I read your article in dohanews I had the impression that you were "damn cheap", however, the original article in your blog is much better and I understand your point of view.
I strongly believe that life has to have a balance and saving money all your life for a retirement that might not even come is very sad, but living your life always on the edge and full of debt is neither ideal.
We all should be able to live according to our income and treating us well is also part of our self esteem, that's why I disagree with your article.

Glen McKay said...

Thanks for your comment.

Ultimately though many people took my Dohanews article as "spending is bad" but that wasn't the message in the article. Unfortunately it appears enough people missed the thesis that it appears I need to improve on how I write things.

The point was not that people with money shouldn't spend it if they want. The point was that some people expect that if one makes decent money that they should be buying flashy cars and fancy clothes. Many people have asked me "Why are you still driving that Honda City? You can afford to get a loan for a (Mercedes/BMW/Porsche/Land Cruiser)". That's the part I find odd -- that some people expect everyone to spend money on luxuries if they have money.