My 2 Cents on Getting Your Money’s Worth & Top Dollar
Ok, so I know I have said this time and time again but Canada is definitely one of the most expensive countries I have visited in along time. We are talking as expensive as Switzerland. It makes many cities in Europe feel cheaper in certain aspects.
Firstly, back to the title; “Loonie and Toonie” is a reference to the Canadian currency.
The $2 coin is referred to as a Toonie and the $1 coin referred to as a Loonie.
The Canadian 2 dollar coin, commonly called toonie
"Toonie" is a word combining the number "two" with the name of the loonie, Canada's one-dollar coin. It is occasionally spelled "twonie" or "twoonie", but Canadian newspapers and the Royal Canadian Mint use the "toonie" spelling.
The Canadian one dollar coin (commonly called Loonie) is a gold-coloured one-dollar coin introduced in 1987. It bears images of a common loon, a bird which is common and well known in Canada, on the reverse, and of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.
On top of that, The government announced it is eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system. In about six months the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing Canadian coppers. Thank goodness because all these coins are enough to literally break your wallet.
Food and entertainment over here is really pricy and cities like Vancouver are quickly becoming as expensive as big cities like New York and London.
Groceries and Dairy products are expensive. Not only will tourists go on and on about the exorbitant prices of these items but locals complain just as much.
One would imagine that your basic household items are reasonable but that is really not the case like I back home. Ironically, many organic locally produced brands even on the island of Vancouver are even more expensive than items from mainland BC or that have been shipped in or imported from afar, which makes little sense.
On top of that all prices are always given without the standard GST (Government Sales Tax) included which makes it really difficult to not only work out prices but to budget effectively.
On average every time I visit the Superstore (The Cheaper option), as Quality Foods and Safeway tend to be more expensive, I walk out having paid at least $30-$70 (R300-R700) for maybe 2 packets of basic groceries.
To give you an idea on some of the basic costs, see below:
Eggs: $3 / R30
Milk (1L): $3-$5 / R30-R45
Bread: $2-$5 / R20-R50 depending on the quality you want. Not that any “bread” here comes close to good German type bread.
Cheese: $6-$10 (R60-100)
Packet of Crisps: $3-$4 / R30-R40 (It is a treat and not something your grab in a rush)
Bacon: $8 / R80
Piece of Basic Steak: $3-7 / R30-R70
Roast Chicken: $9 / R90
4 Chicken Breasts: $12 / R120
Bag of 5 Apples/Pears: $3 / R25
Lettuce: $2 / R20
Tea: $8 / R80
Coffee: $9-$13 (R90-R130)
I love my meat but given the price of meat here, my diet is now primarily carb based and I couldn’t come up with enough options or dishes to make out of pasta, macaroni and of course the infinite choice and options when it comes to Asian Noodle boxes and packets of noodles. I miss good home cooked meat dishes and would kill for a lamb chop, Ribs and a good stew or Sirloin Steak.
If you eat out from a take-out type franchise like Wendy’s, SubWays, McDonalds, A&W you generally spend around $9-$12 (R90-R120) on a combo meal (fries/pop/burger). Eating out at a place like Pizza Hut or Boston Pizza will set you back even more. Pizza is like gold here.
You will spend around $10 (R100 for a slice of pizza), $15 (R150) for a small, $20 (Medium) and around $25 (R230) for a large pizza.
If you eat out at a diner, bar, basic restaurant you will spend a minimum of around $12-$16 (R120-R160) for a basic meal like a burger and fries, soup and sandwich combo, salad etc.
If you want to eat really good food and head out for high-quality meat and seafood you will be spending anything from $15-$28 (R150-R280) for a meal.
Add a couple of drinks to that, which generally comes in at around $4-$6 (R40-$60) for a Beer, $6-$9 (R60-R90) for a glass of wine, $6-$12 (R60-R120) for a long drink or mixed drink depending on the type of establishment. If you opt for a bottle of wine you are looking at anything from $16-$45 (R160-R145).
I night out at the movies will set you back around R200-R250. A movie ticket is around $9 (R90) unless you go on cheap Tuesday’s where it comes in half price. Then add the cola and popcorn combo for $10-$15 (R100-R150) depending on the size.
For those who have a coffee addiction and love to start their morning with a cup of caffeine will need to pay the price. Coffee here will set you back around $3-$4 (R30-R40) from a basic outlet. If you prefer you’re Starbucks and similar type outlets then you will have to pay around $4-$7 (R40-R70). Not the kind of fix I am prepared to pay every morning or a few times a day.
Then don’t forget you still need to add the tax and work in a tip for the server or barman which is generally expected and set at around %15 of the bill.
So if you are a family heading out for a simple meal or going out for a night on the town, you are likely to leave with a lighter wallet and wake up feeling a little more than just a headache… In fact you would have to spend quite some dollar to even get a headache.
Great Country and Great Cities but living here certainly comes at a hefty price.