Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Land of Gold

The wait for our stuff continues....and with a third boat apparently coming in to unload things on Thursday, I imagine it must be getting a bit busy down on the beach. So while the wait continues, I now present another Lesson of the North.

Some people have been wondering how much things cost up here. Well, here's a list of some recent purchases at the NorthMart. Take into account there is no territorial sales tax. And you get back pretty much all of the GST on your taxes. So it's basically tax free up here.

Brown sugar (1 kg) - $4.75
In-store bread - $6.89
Magazine - $4.50 (plus 50 cents for air frieght, so $5)
Premium Plus Crackers (225 g) - $3.89
Dare Coconut Cream cookies - $5.49
Doritos - $4.89
1 lb strawberries - $4.49
.180 kg Tomato - $1.26 ($6.99 kg)
Delissio Pizza - $12.99
2L Diet Pepsi - $4.49
Honeydew melon - $6.99
Old South Frozen OJ - $2.99
Orange - $1.65 ($4.99 kg)

Anyway, that should give you an idea. Roughly double what you would pay back in Newfoundland. On the bright side, most of the produce is considerably fresher and in better shape than what your would find back home. Remember, most of it is flown straight from Ottawa or Montreal, so it's pretty fresh. How that holds up later this winter we shall have to see. I expect to see a decrease in quality and availability.

As you can see, you can drop quite a chunk of change picking up groceries. Even picking up a few necessities can hit $50 in a hurry. The most I saw one woman spend in a shot so far is $400 for a mostly full cart. We also haven't been buying any meat yet because we brought up frozen chicken, ground beef and some roasts, so I can't really say what that costs.

But because of the expense, it feels like everybody up here as an Aerogold Visa. And when you think about it, they're easy to get. You need to make $35,000 a year to qualify. Most reasonably skilled jobs pay at least $40,000. So why not get one and rack up the points.

Because here is the other thing to consider...on Aerogold Visa, you can get a short haul flight for 15,000 points. Down south, no one uses points for those kinds of trips. That's a trip to Halifax or Montreal if you live in St. John's. Providing you book reasonably in advance, that three hours or less flight shouldn't cost more than $600 on the outside. Why use points on that when you can save them and go to Europe or something.

Up here, however, it's different. A short haul flight from here is basically to either Ottawa or Montreal. Again, it's about three hours. However, that quick little jaunt will cost anywhere from $1,100 to $1,500 (all taxes in) to get. So you can understand why about 70% of the people in Iqaluit seem like they have an Aerogold, how you can rack up the miles in a big hurry and how it's pretty useful if you want to make the occasional trip down south for a bit of warmth.


Anonymous said...

I hope this doesn't sound, location-ist, or something. But why do people live there?

A colleague of mine just got back from meetings there and he said, in a nutshell, houses cost a fortune and it's basically rock and mud.

Your blog collaborates this, and it does beg the question: Are the salaries that good?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I started out meaning to talk about Aerogold and got sidetracked.

Hubby and I had Aerogold cards for 8 years and managed to rack up 75,000 points. (That's also 8 years of $170.00 per year charges just to own the card.)

Aeroplan changes the rules every now and then. We found out about this new "Aeroplan Avenue" program, which is not nice. This program allows anyone who chooses it, access to a better seat selection and a free "meal". Sounds nice right? Instead of 25,000 points to go to Toronto, it's 35,000... but you do get that stale muffin for free.

But, there are fewer regular Aeroplan seats on the plane now. Some have been designated "Aeroplan Avenue". So if you need to go on points and the regular seats are gone, you'll have to spend the extra 10,000 points just to get on the plane. Looks like a bit of a grab to me.

We cancelled our cards when we heard about even more restrictions coming. So we hopped that aeroplan avenue flight to T.O.., and spent our 8 years of points in one fell swoop.

And that muffin? Hard as a rock.

Yes, Aerogold cards are great if you're doing a lot of traveling and can rack up the points that way. Or spending a lot at the safeway, which it looks like you may be doing!

towniebastard said...

Are the salaries that good? Pretty much.

I'm applying for about a half dozen government jobs right now. The low end is $60,000 a year, the high end is $72,000. Plus the northern allowance for Iqaluit is about $12,000 a year.

There are other incentives. I believe there are tax breaks when you're filing your income tax. Some jobs have subsidized housing (Cathy's does). In some positions they will cover your relocation expenses.

For a variety of weird circumstances, that didn't happen with us, but we can claim moving expenses on our income tax.

We anticipate saving, once I get a job, about $30,000 a year. That's after all expenses, contributions to RRSPs, a couple of trips, etc. That doesn't include the nice pensions if you work for the government.

There's more than one person who spends a few years up here, then heads back down south and buys a house and car outright.

As for the Visa, we know they're evil. The plan is to blow all the points on a trip to Australia in about four years. And fly first class (the hell with it, if you're going to be in the air for 30 hours, you might as well be comfortable). Once you fly first class, they tend to find you a seat.

Anonymous said...

Well, I can't save $300 a year, so good on ya!

Liam O'Brien said...

I have always been very interested in the history of the North. . . esp the various expeditions that went that way. Craig, admit it, you're just trying to get closer to Bob Bartlett... or waiting for a chance to find more bones of the Franklin or Greely expeditions!