If there is one thing I have to get use to here is that I cannot go to y favorite stores to shop. Popping over to Target to get some essentials and holiday decor and then over to Old Navy to get basics for the boys is not the norm anymore. So living overseas, they have shops but not as convenient but that is where online shopping comes in. Online shopping is fun, especially when I am already familiar with the items I want to order it can be a bit dangerous! But all the more reason to save money while doing it!
Living overseas, I try and order things early. Items take longer to get here and I know that. So I plan things accordingly, with birthdays and the holidays in a few months, I want to make sure I have all that we need without stressing. Because stores here are not open on Christmas Eve, Easter, New Years and of course on Sundays, last minute shopping is not an option. That is something I really wish for the military that move to Europe, they need to know what is open on what days. So many times newcomers (not all those that I have encountered, I am talking about those who are NOT open to living overseas) get upset or overwhelmed because nothing is open. Europe take their day of rest seriously! Nothing is open on Sundays, except for the commissary and the PX, obviously, they are American establishments. New Year’s Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas and the day after Christmas, Easter and the day after, those days are closed! In the states, if you forgot something or just never got around to buying anything, you could pop over to the stores. Here, it’s not going to happen! Yes, in the States Christmas Day and Easter, a lot of places are closed.
Here in Europe, you find stores that are not in the US. H&M and Zara are in the states so I do not gravitate to them that much, but you have stores like Mango which is a Spanish company. Massimo Dutti (sp?) which is super expensive but the clothing are gorgeous! I will say H&M, their kids clothing is affordable and fits my kids well and if they get stained, I don’t feel bad because they do not cost that much. Shopping the local places is so much fun and and I love the local grocery stores! I mean yeah, I love going to buy groceries and the local Carrefour, Delhaize and Colruyt (Belgium’s version of Costco or BJ’s). I can get bottle of Veuve Cliquot far cheaper than back in the states, I do the conversion and yeah, I get a better deal. Carrefour has a special right now, 2 jars of Nutella for roughly $6 (converted) and get a free baguette! One jar at the Commissary, the small jar is $5.50. I can get two, of the medium size for the same price. Shopping here is an adventure and one that should be had! Just because I can’t go to Target, does not mean that I can’t do the same at Decathlon (like REI). Farmer Markets every saturday and buying bread at the bakery on saturdays has become the norm. I love the smell of the tomatoes and the whole grain rolls! Everything tastes better and more flavorful, it all so yummy!
Now I have become a huge online shopper while overseas and I always order from my favorite places Old Navy, J.Crew, Lands End and Amazon Prime! I trust them and since I use Ebates, I get cash back on my purchases, win-win. I have been able to order baby gifts for spouses within the unit, a new dog leash, books for the boys and of course clothing! The boys have been growing so I have had to order pants, lots and lots of pants! I trust these companies and they ship to APOs and I do not have to wait so long. Stella and Dot also ships to APOs, so I can get my sparkle whenever I need it. When ordering, I make sure that they ship USPS, when they ship UPS or FEDEx, it takes longer. It does not deter me from ordering!
Just because you live overseas, shopping can still be fun and necessary if you know where to go. It can be a fun and great learning experience. Seeing how people in other parts of the world shop and eat, is wonderful to see. I always carry a bag with me whenever I go grocery shopping. The mall here, is not that big, but good when you need a fix. It is all a part of the adventure, come along for it, you may want more of it!