One of the most common questions I hear when people from anywhere but here find out where I live, aside from “Are you crazy?” is “How much do you spend on groceries/gas/hydro/etc.?”
I thought I’d share a few examples of our cost of living, as they come up.
The average total individual income in my town, according to a community profile released by the municipality this year, is $43,761. The average family income is $101,431. I can assure you we are nowhere near that level.
That being said, we don’t really want for groceries and usually just buy what we need, regardless of what’s on sale, or we’d have a house stocked with college student staples. I’m a believer in spending extra to eat real food, despite the fact that local and organic is near impossible to achieve at our local grocery store.
It’s funny because it’s all relative– compared to my family and friends in Southern Ontario, I’m spending a disturbing amount of money just on living. But, we head to the little city nearby to shop because it’s cheaper, and I know they complain about prices, too. Matt’s family comes down here from up North to shop because the groceries are cheaper, meanwhile, I’ve had friends in Thunder Bay complain that food is just too expensive. I know full well that people further North than us have it much, much worse, but it doesn’t make it any easier for us to swallow.
I spend, out of my bank account alone, several hundred dollars on groceries every month. Aside from rent (and oil last winter, in our terrible old house), it is the number one biggest expense we have.
I joke that I can’t get out of the grocery store without spending at least $20 and for the most part, it’s true. When we’re buying everything for a meal, it’s usually over $50. One time Matt bought the ingredients for two medium-sized homemade pizzas and wound up cursing because it would have been far, far cheaper to order out and have them delivered.
On Tuesday, I dropped by the store on my way home from work to buy potatoes for supper. We also needed kitty litter, some sandwich items for lunches during the week, and fruit so I could stop coveting Matt’s ice cream sandwich stash.
This is all run-of-the-mill non-organic food. For those who can’t read the photo, I bought:
- Kitty litter (4kg) bag – $4.89
- Head of red lettuce – $1.29
- six pitas – $1.99
- small bag of red potatoes – $4.29
- deli turkey – $6.39
- bananas (1.05 kg) – $1.83
- grapes (.87 kg) – $8.03
- blueberries (11 oz.) – $2.99 ($4.29 regular)
- raspberries (6 oz.) – $1.99 ($3.09 regular)
- strawberries (16 oz.) – $3.49
So, with HST included, I spent a grand total of $38.82 on ten items. I’ve honestly lost track of what normal prices for groceries are, but as an experiment, I decided to check out the online flyer for the Loblaws right near my sister’s house in Ottawa.
If she went there to buy some of the same things I did, she could get two pounds of blueberries for $5.99, grapes for $2.49 a pound (way cheaper than my grapes), and two pounds of strawberries for $5, just as examples.
Spending $20 to $40 just on a quick jaunt to the store after work certainly adds up, and the ever-so-often cupboard and fridge re-stocks we do are that much more expensive. We haven’t had to do that recently, but I’ll share the cost next time.
What would you pay for similar groceries? Do ours seem expensive or am I off base? Are there any other Northern costs of living you’re curious about?