the north island report: expense check

One thing we had heard about Vancouver Island as compared to the mainland is that everything would be more expensive -- groceries, wine, personal care products, and so on. We've been looking at our receipts and discussing them (practically daily!) and we don't find this to be true.

I was also concerned about the quality of the supermarket, hoping moving to a small town where there is one supermarket would not mean a return to the crappy grocery stores we had in New York City. Now that I've been to the supermarket a few times, I'm actually pleased: it has a good selection and quality products. The building itself is a bit old and run-down (Save-On-Foods: please renovate!) but the store is actually quite good. That's a relief.

But simply put, groceries do not cost more than they did in the GTA, and many items are less expensive.

We knew that the nearest town with big-box stores is Campbell River, almost three hours away, and we were fine with that. The only thing I find challenging is housewares, things for which I would normally pop in to a Canadian Tire -- which are just the kind of things you need when you're settling in to a new place. There's a Home Hardware and an Ace Hardware in town, but for housewares, the selection is minimal and the prices are not good. We could save up a list for a trip to Campbell River, or shop online, or just settle for what's available. We'll probably do all three, depending on the item.

(I'm not complaining, by the way. The insane amount of shopping available in Mississauga is part of what I found unpleasant.)

Internet and cell phone both cost more here, because we used alternative providers. There are a few alternative providers on the Island, but only in the Victoria and Nanaimo areas. (Driving from Campbell River to Port Hardy, or between any of the other North Island towns, there is no coverage. No phone, no data.)

We haven't seen a utility ("hydro") bill yet, so I don't know how that compares.

Our rent is significantly less than what we were paying in Mississauga, or anything we could hope to find in the GTA. The difference may be made up by internet, phone, and utilities. We'll see.

Gasoline prices are slightly more than in the GTA, and significantly more than we saw as we drove through the prairies. We're very fortunate in that we will need very little gas, with Allan working at home, and my work -- and everything else in town -- five minutes away. When I travel to the other library branches, I'll be reimbursed by my employer, which is typical.

One thing I haven't mentioned is that I'm earning less. Think three tiers of professional staff: librarian, senior librarian, manager. As a senior librarian here, I'm earning what a librarian is paid in Mississauga. Managers in my current system are paid what senior librarians earn in my old system. Everything is one step back, so I've moved back to my old salary. This is not a big deal.

It will be interesting to see how things shake down.

Today: first day of work in my library! Reports to follow.

Little update: the Rexall across the street from the Save-On will be great for toiletries, personal care products, and prescriptions. I am pleased to see this.


Jim said...

How about personal health care? Is there a GP in Port Hardy, and does he/she have room for 2 more people?

laura k said...

There's a public health centre, and I believe all the doctors' offices are there: Port Hardy Primary Care Centre. We're lucky, Port Hardy is a hub for the North Island. I'm going to assume they can take two new patients!

Specialists are in Campbell River. That's where most people travel to for medical appointments.

Thanks for your question! I'll add this to a future post.

impudent strumpet said...

#LeastImportantThing: I'm curious why the insane amount of shopping available in Mississauga was something you found unpleasant.

I absolutely understand that you don't like shopping. I get it. I don't like shopping either.

But its availability doesn't make it mandatory - and makes things more convenient when you do have to go shopping.

Where does the unpleasantness come in?

laura k said...

Your #LeastImportantThing comments always help me articulate something better. Love it.

My dislike of all the stores is unrelated to my hatred of shopping. Strange, eh? :)

Mississauga is crowded -- congested -- overflowing -- with stores and with people shopping. All the stores are the same, the same stores repeated over and over and over in every neighbourhood, all selling the same things. The parking lots, the stores, the streets... are all full of people buying the same things from the same stores.

It feels like everyone is shopping all the time. You could put a roof over the entire sprawl to form the world's largest shopping mall.

The entire landscape is ugly concrete high rises and ugly townhomes and mcmansions that all look the same and stores that are all the same. More and more and more of it, seemingly endlessly repeating to the horizon.

It's consumer culture to the nth degree -- a world where shopping has replaced all other culture.

There actually is more to Mississauga than that. There are independent restaurants tucked away in strip malls, and lots of (hidden) parks and green space, and people creating art, and all the other things people do. But all that put together is a tiny drip in an ocean of shopping and sameness.