Price Match: Five things that are more expensive in Vancouver
I’ve been contributing to the Canadian economy for nearly three months now, so I can’t help but notice the often overwhelming price differences between products and services in the UK and Canada. This list of top five things that are more expensive in Vancouver is unfortunately somewhat longer than its coming-soon counterpart, but I thought I’d start with the bad news first:
To be fair I did have advance warning of the cost of toiletries before I left the UK, however the Recommended Retail Price of certain products was still a shock on arrival. On my first visit to Shoppers Drug Mart I clocked a pack of Neutrogena Facial Wipes for $9.99 (£6.36) which I know I can get for £4.07 in Boots. My £3 ($4.70) bottle of Herbal Essences shampoo/conditioner is $5.99 (£3.81) here, whilst my cheapo shower gel still set me back $1.99 (£1.26) rather than 59p (92c). And they don’t even have spray deodorant. On the plus side, drug stores always have some sort of sale running, so I make sure I stock up on my favourite products when they’re cheap to counterbalance the price increase.
Unfortunately I had no idea of the horrors that lay on the other side of the Safeway entrance doors when I undertook my first food shop. The number of pricing atrocities is far too high to list here, but items of note include a value tin of tomatoes for $2.29 (£1.45), own brand Shreddies for $4.99 (£3.17) and a bagged loaf of bread for $4 (£2.54). And that’s not including tax. The same three items in the UK would come in at 33p (51c), £1.30 ($2.04) and 47p (73c) respectively, saving me £5 on these three products alone. My Tesco food bill in the UK was on average £120 for two people for a fortnight of meals. The same shopping list in Vancouver runs to approximately $350, or a staggering £222! It’s no surprise that Vancouverites eat out a lot, it can be cheaper to go to a restaurant than to cook the same meal at home.
In the UK wellies are donned by farmers, festival goers and…well…farmers and festival goers. I left behind a multi-coloured polka dot pair from Brantano that I purchased for £12.99 which served me well for four summers at Reading and four winters walking the dogs in the mud. The wet climate in Vancouver has led to wellies (or ‘rain boots’) becoming more than just a necessary way of keeping your feet dry; they are a fashion statement, with a stylish price tag to match. I had been in Vancouver for two weeks before I realised that a) my Ugg boots were not going to get me through to summer and b) I was the only female on the high street who had only just figured this out. I refused to conform to the $200-a-pair Hunter trend, instead settling for a ‘bargain’ pair with peacock print and ribbons at a cost of $69 (£43!).
I know us Brits have a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being a bunch of alcoholics, and I get that our multi-purchase supermarket offers are largely to blame for this, but I don’t think this quite justifies the cost of alcohol in Vancouver. My favourite bottle of Blossom Hill White Zinfandel will cost me £4.50 in a supermarket the UK (or £4 if I get the 3 for £12 offer), whilst my friendly neighbourhood BC Liquor Store charges $12 (£7.60). It’s worse for the guys, as your average 6 pack of beer will set you back $15 (£9.55) as opposed to £4.50 ($7) back home. It’s a similar story in bars with your average cheap pint costing from $5 (£3.18)…and it’s not even a pint, it’s a 20oz ‘sleeve’ (don’t even get me started…). Canadians aren’t big cider drinkers, so it always bemuses me to see bars serve bottles of Strongbow for $7 (£4.50) when I used to buy 2 litres of the stuff for £2.50 ($3.90) in a corner shop. There is no such thing as cheap booze in Canada. It’s pointless fighting it, just embrace it, deal with it, and drink enough to stop caring.
Hi everyone, I have a confession to make: I’m a magazine addict. It’s not that I don’t like reading books (I’m an English Lit graduate), it’s just that magazines are much more conducive to my 45 minute commute. They’re easy to pick up, easy to put down, and they fold up nicely in my bag. Unfortunately they are also the quickest way to empty my purse, as even the cheapest, thinnest, trashiest magazines come at a premium in Vancouver. The lifestyle magazines are vaguely comparable, with Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Elle all weighing in at $4.99 (3.17), but the shock lies in the weekly gossip reads. In the UK I read Star (90p) every week without fail, and often treated myself to New (95p), Reveal (£1.50) and if I was really stretching myself, Heat (£1.65). Based on this logic, I expected to find a similar publication for around 70 cents to $1 in Vancouver. How wrong I was. In Touch is the cheapest I’ve found so far at $2.99 (£1.33) with US Weekly and People costing a whopping $4.99 (£3.17)! Quite the expensive addiction.
This brief list is just a taster of the price differences across the pond, and is based on average prices of products that I have bought. Needless to say, the cost of living in Vancouver is far, far higher than I expected (don’t be fooled by the far more reasonable monthly rent), something I could really have done with knowing before I arrived. As previously mentioned there will be a counterpart post (Five things that are cheaper in Vancouver) but I thought I’d deliver the bad news first.
To be continued…