So the decision has been made. Do you feel butterflies in your stomach?
I don’t know how one can explain the feeling – to be honest, I was quite apprehensive. We had 2 little girls and nothing felt sure except this decision. But it’s been a beautiful journey so far, I’ll tell you that. Details of that story will come another day!
Besides gearing up for this new chapter of talabeh life, one can’t avoid dealing with the mundane materialistic issues of this world. Hey, it’s normal.
So what do you bring? What do you leave?
First things first, if you can, it’s nice to be able to come to Qom for ziyarat and get a feel for the environment and culture. I know that helped us a lot.
Now for the lists:
(3,500 tomans equals $1; 3.5 tomans means 3,500, 600 tomans means 600,000, etc.
Please note prices/conversions are in USD and up to date as of this post. Check the conversion rate for any updated change as it tends to fluctuate.)
If you’re like me and bringing children with you to Qom, a few key points:
- Kids clothes – are not so great. And if you want good quality, you’re going to pay for it. You’ll find good stuff but mostly in boutique-type stores. (Ex: 13-15 tomans, or around $5 for one pair of cotton infant pants) Pack up to a year’s worth of clothes, and take growth spurts into consideration.
- Kids toys/books – you aren’t going to find lots of English children’s books. Bring them with you. Good quality toys aren’t cheap. I wouldn’t bring everything, but pack those favorite toys, sets of blocks, stuffed animals, etc. It helps kids feel a bit at home seeing their things.
- Infant gear – don’t bring it all. Space is usually limited, so if you’re going to use something for only 2-3 months and then be forced to store it, don’t bring it. Usually there’s someone who has what you need that you can borrow from, or maybe a relative can take something back with them.
- A good stroller – is essential. Often you’re not going over paved roads, but instead rocks, pebbles and gravel. Get one that is strong and can withstand the bang-ups of travel.
- Kids essentials – like cups, plates, feeding chairs, etc. Don’t bring a suitcase full, but if they work and you know your kid will use them, bring them. You don’t want to be looking around Qom for a replacement sippy cup.
Now for the list of things not to forget:
- Medicines – while you can find pretty much everything you need, pack those specific medications that you are used to, and have tried
- Special spice mixes (ethnic)
- Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips – if you’re a baker, stock up on these because you can’t find them here.
- Special baking pans/dishes
- Utensils that have served you well and are good quality
- Silicone baking mats
- Maple syrup (it’s not found here, although a few sisters have been successful in mixing up a very delicious substitute)
- Special drink mixes/fruit snacks/ cereal powders that you and your family prefer
I asked a few friends who recently moved, and they helped me gather some recent costs of general household items –
- Vacuum (Samsung brand, 300 tomans, or $88) Prices ranged from 250-600 tomans
- Fridge (Samsung brand, 2.6 million tomans, or around $700) Iranian brands also ranged from 1.6 million tomans and up
- Oven (Iranian Snowa brand, 1.3 million tomans or around $380)
- Washing machine (front loader, a little over 1.3 million tomans or around $400)
So the other common things you’ll be looking for are:
- Armoires/dressers/chest of drawers
- Study table
- Dining table
- Dishes, pots, pans
- Small kitchen appliances
Since many of us are only living here temporarily, you, or someone you know, will often run into a fellow talabeh who is moving back home and needs to sell their things.
Divar.ir is also a Craigslist-type site of locals selling their things. It’s in Farsi, though.
Speaking from experience, I wouldn’t dwell too much on making the perfect house. As long as it works, inshallah it will serve your needs.
You can find almost everything here that you need for your everyday life – from cereal to cocoa powder, sandwich bread to chicken nuggets, frozen veggies to frozen French fries. You can also find foreign brands here but naturally, you will pay the price.
Cost of common grocery/household items:
(3,500 tomans equals $1; 3.5 means 3,500)
- Loaf of bread – 3.5 t
- Cheese slices (pack of 8) – 4.5 t
- 1 liter of milk – 2.5 t
- Jar of jelly – 5 t
- Cream of cheese – 4.4 t
- 250 g of butter – 5 t
- Kilo of eggs – 4-5 t
- Kilo of cut chicken – 5 t
- Kilo of ground meat – 20-24 t
- Laundry detergent – (small) 5 t
- Toilet paper (4 rolls) – 3.5 – 4 t
- Paper towels (2 rolls) – 4 t
A good rule of thumb is to pack those things that are important/special (i.e. a quilt made by your mom), and those things you can’t find here. Don’t pack your whole house. It’s wise to fill your precious luggage space with those things you won’t find readily here, or that cost significantly more.
Once you finally come and start settling down, you’ll get a feel for what you don’t need to worry about, and those essentials you’ll be telling your mom to bring when she visits.