Canadian/American economics and prices

Since I can’t afford an airplane, I window shop. One thing I’ve noticed is that Canadian sellers typically ask 50% to 100% more for their planes than American (U.S., for the pedants) sellers do. Locally, I see Canadians stocking up on milk (I’ve seen up to 20 gallons at a time) and dairy products. I understand there’s a quota system up there, so their milk costs twice as much as ours. Fuel prices are much lower in the States, of course; but I’m not sure that’s a fair inclusion since fuel taxes are lower here. In short, I’ve noticed things that are much cheaper here than in Canada.

Why is that? For a long time, the Canadian dollar was about 60¢ US. At that exchange rate, Canadian prices seem reasonable. Now that we’re at parity (currently 91¢ US vs. $1 CDN), not so much. How did Canada fare in the Great Recession? The U.S. economy crashed. European economies were hurt. Were Canadians hurt so bad?

Now, this thread was prompted by airplane prices. It’s really about the cost of things in Canada vs. the cost of things in the U.S. But I’ll use an airplane as an example. A 1970 Cessna 172 with basic instruments in Quebec is currently on offer for US$56,200. A 1976 172 in Colorado with a similar number of hours asks US$29,900, and a 1971 model with similar airframe hours is US$36,900. The Canadian plane does have fresh paint and fewer hours on the overhaul, but ‘You never get the money back that you put in.’ There are many factors that go into the ‘value’ of a plane, and you can’t really compare them like you do cars. Nevertheless, every Canadian price I’ve seen for an airplane is much higher than the U.S. price for a comparable one.

Is everything (except healthcare :stuck_out_tongue: ) just more expensive in Canada?

Yep! It sure is! Pretty well across the goddamn board!

Thanks for the links!

(Personally, I welcome our friends coming down to bolster our economy! :slight_smile: )

From the third link:

I don’t know what dealer he went to, but Toyota of Seattle has always done right by me. I just had service, and they called to suggest I could wait 5,000 miles before replacing my tires. More than once, they’ve comped me 100% for not finishing the routine maintenance on time.

From the second link:

I actually considered that, but didn’t put it in the OP.

From the first link:

That makes a lot of sense; not only for retail goods, but also aircraft that are typically kept for many years and may have been bought when the exchange rate was not in Canada’s favour.

I still tell people about the time I was going through Boise in the early 1980’s. I had a Honda Civic and the front driver’s side wheel was throbbing at progressively lower speeds - down to 60mph. Stopped at Les Schwab Tires. For $140 total, they replaced the tie rod arm, aligned all four tires, and sold me a used rim. On a Saturday, at 3PM, they had the part delivered.

I compared that to Canada, where you’d be lucky in Toronto to find an open parts counter at a Honda Dealer on Saturday, especially after noon. Toronto was over 3 million people at the time, Boise was what, about 250,000?

This was the essential difference; the USA seems to be more intensely business-like and competitive. Plus, with 10 times the population, there are more big businesses. You have competitors to Wal-mart. We are just starting to get Target. More stores, more variety in the stores, more willingness to be open and ready for business later.

The border, the difficulties bringing things across (either way) and the differences in packaging rules limit the ability for various businesses to expand into Canada.

But yes, prices and service are far better in the USA. I had the need to have my BMW serviced in Minneapolis a few years ago. I drove up 10AM on a Saturday, they changed the wheel bearing under warranty in 3 hours. My dealer at home has no mechanics in on weekends.

It is frustrating. Groceries seem to be similarly priced, but bigger ticket items are often much, much lower cost in the US. It’s usually worth it to buy a vehicle in the US if you want to go through the trouble, and things like tires and bikes are usually 60% to 70% of what it would cost here. Even paying duty, it’s still cheaper. I have a good, recent example for fuel. My husband is just getting back from a trip to Moab. They drove, and they did the trip in a big diesel truck. To fill it here in Calgary is about $150. In the US, about $80. Even with the exchange rate, much cheaper.

That’s why many of us have PO boxes just across the border, or make trips down on a regular basis for big ticket items.

Just leave us some milk and toilet paper. :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

I moved to Northwest Montana from California about 5 years ago and one of the first things I noticed was the flood of Canadian ‘tourists’ during the summer months. Given that the mountains, lakes and rivers are pretty much the same north and south of the border I realized that there had to be something more to it. When I learned how much cheaper *everything was here compared to Canada it all became clear. They drive hundred of miles to hit our Costco and Walmart and stock up for a month on everything they can fit into their trucks and SUV’s.

Keep in mind that not only do things cost a lot less, but we don’t have any sales tax let alone a VAT tax.

What I can’t figure out is how Canadians that live in say Quebec can afford to live there. Do they make twice as much as we do in the US?

*there may be something cheaper in Canada than in the US, but I have yet to find out what it is.

When I wrote Quebec I meant to put Montreal… or someplace else far away from the US/Canadian border.

Montreal is less than 2 hours away from Burlington, VT. Are you thinking of the Gaspe peninsula or something?

Of course, before the EU, and to some extent still, we Europeans were well used to finding stuff in other countries cheaper than at home. A well remembered example was when my daughter did an exchange visit with a French girl - She took a shopping list of everyday childrens clothes to France, and came back with a case full of CDs (remember them?) and other electronic gadgets.

There were companies which purchased cars in Belgium and converted them to RHD with a saving of 10% or more. Fuel over the channel was always cheaper than here due to our high taxes.

One constant complaint here is that goods which are commonly available, often cost the same number of GBPs here as Dollars in the USA.

My bad. I thought it was way up there. Are there any major cities in Canada more than a few hours from the US border?

Of the top of my head, I would guess the farthest would be Edmonton. It’s probably about 6 or 7 hours to the border.

My favourite price disparity is Chicken McNuggets. The last time I bought some, I paid $4.69 for 6 nuggets. In the U.S., you can buy 20 for $5! (at least some of the time)

Just for the record, milk and gas are both special cases - dairy production is strictly regulated (and seemingly politically untouchable), and gasoline taxes are much higher here than south of the border.

Calgary is three hours south of Edmonton. So, Calgary. It’s about two and a half to three hours to the boarder.

Most of the major centers in south B.C. are within a couple of hours, if that.

Edit: Totally misread that question and reply. Sorry! And I’d agree.

It’s not that uncommon for dealerships in the US to have no mechanics on weekends. I’ve encountered at least three or four dealerships with no service on weekends, have to make an appointment a week in advance, drop off the car at 7 am and pick up no later than 5 ,etc . I bought my first new car from one of them and learned to check service hours before buying.

I’d agree that Edmonton is about 6 or 7 hours to the US border:

Edmonton-Calgary: 3 hours on Alberta 2.
Calgary-Lethbridge: 2 hours on Alberta 2 and 3 (but the Nobleford/Granum shortcut takes 10 minutes off).
Lethbridge-Coutts AB/Sweetgrass MT crossing: 1 hour on Alberta 4.

Then, factor in the Deerfoot traffic delays through Calgary, and the fact that the route goes through on city streets in (i.e. does not bypass) the city of Lethbridge, and I can see 7 hours, easy.

The short answer is that Canada’s economy suffered on account of our largest export market(s) going through a recession. There was some “last in, first out” rhetoric on the part of some politicians a few years ago, but I don’t know whether that was borne out.

Plus once you do hit the border, you’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s another 2 hours south to Great Falls, which is the nearest US town that has a Wal-Mart and a Costco and all that.