Food Shopping in Gütersloh

When I go food shopping in Gütersloh, I am always trying to compare it with shopping from my past. Is this a good price? Is this cheaper or more expensive? What is the converted price?

Numbeo is not only the world’s largest cost of living indicator, it is also a crowd-sourced global database indicator of quality-of-life rankings. They rated the North Rhine-Westphalia district in which Gütersloh exists as one of the best places to live in Germany. This might be a guess as to the prices of food shopping in Gütersloh.

Some Recent Shopping

Following is a list of some miscellaneous items I have purchased in the last two months. The prices have been converted to the US Dollar and the Imperial Measurement System (pounds, ounces).

Milk                                1.01 (quart) (2.11 lbs.)
Chips *                            2.11 (5.3 oz.)
Colgate toothpaste        1.26 (2.25 oz.)
Coffee beans*                10.10 (8.8 oz.)
Spaghetti sauce             2.65-4.46 (12 oz.)
Cheese                            3.64-4.81 (1 lb.)
Oranges                          2.96-3.42 (bag of 8)
12 Eggs                           3.73 (farm stand)
          Way up from early 2023 when $1.74
Mayonnaise                   2.33 (15 oz)
Peanut butter                 2.24 (12.3 oz) 

Zucchini                         2.43 (2 med. size)
Oats*                              1.26-5.31 (1.65 lbs.)
Mushrooms                    1.79 (carton of large)
Frozen pizza                   2.33 (medium size)
Blueberries                     4.24 (small tray)
Tuna fish                        1.79 (1.89 oz)
Ice cream                        2.32 (1.2 lbs.)
Salt                                   .84 (1.25 lbs.)
Pepper                            2.54 (1.6 oz)
Soap                                  .79 (bar) (3.5 oz.)
Bread                              1.69 (loaf 2.5 lbs.)

I have been confined to shopping in a medium-sized market a few blocks from where I’m living, plus some vegetable and fruit shopping at the local Farmers’ Market. My shop primarily has small sizes of items and a somewhat limited variety. There must be larger supermarkets in Gütersloh, but there are none I can reach by foot. Expatica (an online platform serving expats and the international community) suggests that staple foods in Germany are not too expensive in these larger stores, such as Aldi and Lidl.

Shopping in Germany

One procedure in Germany, and some other countries, is that you must weigh your own individual fruits and vegetables. Mostly you do this on scales in those departments. Here plastic bags are available for these items. Glass and plastic bottles have a refund price and most stores have machines to receive these returns. Each is processed and a total receipt spits out for your use in the store (or to request cash).

Further research indicates that a single person in Germany should be paying about $160.00 – $213.00 a month for the cost of food shopping in Gütersloh. These figures strike me as low, at least compared with the United States. I don’t know if inflation has anything to do with it, but in Germany the August inflation was 9.08 versus the March rate of 21.2.

I have not eaten out in restaurants much, but my perusal of their posted menus strikes me that their prices are high. I generally prefer to cook for myself. However, a cup of coffee and a pastry is about $4.25 and up. Ethnic foods are generally scarce and many expats visit various shops for supplies to cook their own meals. Another alternative readily available to expats is to order online.

Shopping carts are usually plentiful at all grocery stores. They use the system of unlocking them with a coin and then after shopping re-inserting the metal plug to get your coin refunded. Shopping bags can be purchased, but people take their own bags with them. Even at my smaller store, checking out is a bit of a pain. I feel that I am rushed when trying to pack my bag and deal with paying for my goods. It’s especially hard when I’m still learning one coin from another.

Sunday Shopping

There is one guarantee with food shopping in Gütersloh and Germany in general. You cannot shop on Sundays as stores, with a few exceptions, are closed. This was a federal law until 2006 when the individual states were allowed to set their own hours, Monday through Saturday (24/6- a new phrase for many of us). Only two states are still following the federal directive with more limited hours.

Cash is still king, though some of the larger stores do accept credit cards. The sales tax in Germany is 19%, though for food it is 7%. These taxes will show on your receipt, but the price you see when shopping or reading a menu is the final amount you will pay. The VAT tax on large items for non-EU residents can be waived. However, it is not easy to make this happen. Forms must be filled out at the time of purchase, and proof must be given that the item will be leaving the EU within three months.

Food shopping in Gütersloh is primarily like food shopping in most Western grocery stores. Prices are another matter. How do you compare the prices listed above with your own experiences where you live? I welcome your comments.

Fact: Online purchasing is shaping shopping in Germany like elsewhere
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Gütersloh is a Green City

Gütersloh is a green city. It is often called the green city on the Dalke River. The adjective green is aptly applied to the city for a number of reasons. These include the many parks and green spaces in and around the city, an impressive 100-year-old botanical garden, and the many biking and walking trails throughout the city. Added to these is the fact that the city is a fair-trade city.

Gütersloh Coat of Arms

The wavy bars symbolize the city resting between the Ems, Dalke, and Lutter Rivers. The wheel stands for the Flywheel of a spinning wheel representing the fine yarn spinning mill that used to be based in Gütersloh.

Visiting Mohns Park

Entrance to Mohns Park

About two blocks down the street from me is Mohns Park, created in 1937. I spent the first two nights after my arrival here attending a rock concert and a movie in German in this park. The park has a large amphitheater seating 1,100 people. It was constructed in 1949 from 50,000 meters of rubble left from the heavy bombing the city received in World War II.

The park is named for Friederike Mohn(1859–1946), a bookseller at what is now the largest media company in the world (Bertelsmann). The park is very much a family park, crowded on Sundays with people of all ages. There is a special emphasis on children with an adventure playground area containing a tube slide and ropeway, a water-and-mud playground, large sandbox, and various playground equipment. Especially popular is a large paddling pool.

Mohns Park is not only for Strolling

Mohns Park Amphitheater

Facilities for adults are not overlooked in this park either. Beside the large amphitheater and its events, there is a concession stand for food and drinks, a miniature golf course (for all ages), and many sports fields including hockey in the winter. Even a delightful stroll under the many old trees offers a cool environment on a hot day.

The city also has four swimming pools, inside and out. The outdoor pool is Olympic size with diving boards. The indoor pool also offers a sauna and steam room. I have visited the park several times, but I have not yet gotten to the swimming pools.

Sports in Gütersloh

With all of this green space, it should come as no surprise that Gütersloh is a sports city. At last count, there were 96 sports clubs with 25,000 members, 24 sports fields, and 39 sports halls and arenas. There are three nature preserves accounting for a little of 2.5% of the town’s acreage.

The use of bicycles is very prevalent seen by the large number of persons riding on the bike lanes. These lanes are usually alongside the walkways in a different color brick. It is essential that pedestrians not step into these lanes as bikes are steadily flying by. Gütersloh is on the R1 European Cycle Route which connects Boulogne-sur-Mer in France with Saint Petersburg in Russia.

The reputation that Gütersloh is a green city is well deserved and celebrated.  

Fact: Gütersloh was first mentioned in 1184 in a document from the Bishop of Osnabrück
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My Introduction to Germany

I have arrived and find my introduction to Germany to be both entertaining and challenging. The city of Gütersloh is quite upscale. I love the clean, varied residential areas. What I’ve seen so far is a combination of post-war housing and more contemporary homes. As would be expected, the older buildings are in the center of the town.  

Cultural Activities  

In my first week, I went to a film in German, attended a rock concert, went to a jazz concert, and was introduced to televised rugby games. The film and concerts are free each week during the summer into September, underwritten by the city and/or businesses. What a pleasant way to spend late afternoons.  

Gütersloh buildings surrounding the Martin Luther Church –

My hosts are still here. Now that their kids have moved out, they are making their three-story house into rooms and an apartment. The apartment has taken them much longer to build that they expected. They will probably leave about the time you read this and I will be on my own. They are very lovely people and it has been a joy to live in a family situation after so many years. The husband, Henry, is a rugby referee and player, so we have watched several games, a sport which is new to me.  

New Challenges  

My introduction to Germany has also pushed me into the 21st Century. The home I’m staying in for the next 2-1/2 months is for me high tech. I have had to learn how to operate a Krups coffee machine, not the kind with the small packets of ground coffee, but an installation with built in water supply and bean grinder. I think I have mastered this.  

Gütersloh Historic Water Tower

Then there is the fancy microwave and oven. They require choosing time and temperature and figuring out many buttons to push depending on what you are heating/baking. I think I have this down. At least, I can heat porridge (oatmeal) in the morning. I did bake a loaf of banana bread last Saturday. Veronica, the wife, has been coaching me so I’ll be able to operate the home after they leave.  

As if those were not enough, my introduction to Germany has meant trying to fathom a large-screen television. I have not had a television since 2006. The challenges have been to get all the right buttons pushed to get basic channels. I have yet to learn how to go beyond those to get the myriad of channels possible. Henry set some of this up for me. Since my German is almost not existent, I want to have some English-language news and programs to watch. There’s nothing like challenges to keep me young.  

Going to Town  

Gütersloh Germany

I’ve been into the town square a few of times, but I need to get back there again to discover the stores and restaurants. I hope to take some pictures. The second time I went in, I got lost coming back. I had to ask several people how to get home. I discovered that all the younger people could answer me in English while the older people could not. On top of that barrier, I was caught in a pretty dreadful rain storm with branches falling (I pulled one out of the street so cars wouldn’t have to drive around it). I was totally soaked by the time I did get home. It took two days to dry out my shoes.  

I think I’m really going to like living in Gütersloh. When it isn’t raining (which has been a daily occurrence), there are a lot of paths, bike ways, and sidewalks to discover. I also have a wonderful home in which to spend my time. I’ll keep you posted.  

Fact: Gütersloh developed in the 19th century around the textile and meat-processing industries
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There but for the Grace of God Go I

I have arrived in Gütersloh, Germany but not without the help of many. I frequently remind myself “There but for the grace of God go I”. I have not been averse to go up to people and ask if they speak English. Fortunately, 99% have said yes and been happy to help me.  

Travel Pains

Veerhoffhaus, built in 1649 –

My traveling was horrendous. I had to go through five airports (2 in Ecuador and 1 each in Bogota, Paris, and Hannover (Germany) on four planes for two days, with 19 hours of layoTravel Painvers. Seven and eight-hour layovers are really boring. If one could travel from major hub to major hub, it probably would be much better.  

My second airport did not seem to know how to book me all the way to Germany. They flagged me for some reason, and twice I had to explain why I was traveling, how long I was staying, and show that I had an onward flight. I don’t know why they were so skeptical about me. I managed to overcome the challenges without telling them what I would be doing. Some countries consider my venture to be employment and they would require a work visa.  

The People I Met

I’m still living out of a backpack along with a computer bag. The only good part of flying is I have no luggage to check. In the end, I found train travel to be superior to air travel. But it was meeting very nice people along the way who saved each day.  

Old Church Square –

I had an interesing conversation with a young woman from Cuenca (where I lived) who was a native of New Zealand but a world traveler.Then I met a man from Toronto of Sri Lanken ancestry. He liked guessing games and guessed me to be 57 years old!! I guessed him to be 45, but he told me he was 27 (oops). I have trouble guessing ages.

A Cancelled Train

The third day, I went to get my train and found that it had been cancelled for that day only. One other person had arrived to get the train, so I asked him if he could help me, as I needed to get to a second train station. He turned out to work in the travel industry and knew all the ropes. He invited me to join him in a taxi ride to the second station.  

He helped me buy a ticket in a kiosk and got me to the train I needed (he then went off to get his train). Once on the train, I saw it pass through some towns and I got concerned that I was on an express train which wouldn’t stop in Gütersloh. A couple of young guys assured me that the train would stop where I needed to get off.  

Martin Luther Church, Gütersloh

“There but for the grace of God go I” sure proved to turn this trip from what might have been a real nightmare into a success. Thank God for good people.  

Fact: Gütersloh has approximately 10,000 Arameans, the largest number of Arameans of any other towns in Germany
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