The True Cost of Living On the North Coast

Having met many more people who inhabit the North Coast, I am starting to get a better understanding of what the differences are between the North and South in terms of economics and lifestyle. Of course I remember the times from when I lived here as a kid, but having come back over thirty years later, I see and understand more complex issues than I have ever had before. Mainly in terms of economics, there are huge differences between the business world of the Lower Mainland/Fraser valley, and here, in Terrace, BC. Attitudes over taxes and how money is transferred between hands, the differences are subtle, and almost indistinguishable, but they are there.

Cash rules here on the North Coast. For starters, there are many hold-outs as far as businesses using merchant’s accounts and Bank Cards, than there are further south. If you want to see a movie here, you need to bring cash at the local Movie Theatre. Sure, there is an ATM, but it charges a service fee of three dollars to withdraw twenty bucks, on your credit card. Most services have Point-to-Point card machines, but they lean towards good old cash. Smaller businesses have cleaver ways to pass those Credit Cards fees back to you, making a cash transaction more favourable. However, the larger Big Box Chains have no issues with Credit Cards.

Taxes and fees are something many here dread. When there is no way out of paying those parasitic fees, life seems to go on, people here seem to deal with it. However, if the opportunity presents itself, then just cash moves from one hand to another, you can bet that taxes are avoided. These transactions seem more prevalent than from my old neighbourhood in the South. From my personal experience, Banks are very particular about Bank Fees and Service Charges, so I have found, the less bank activity, the better off you are. Then there are Property Taxes, which are some of the lowest rates I have seen in British Columbia, but with no doubt, you can get a good conversation going on that topic alone.

My conclusion on the economics between the North Coast and South Coast are that the further North you go, especially out of the Lower Mainland, the cost of living drops lower. The primary two factors are taxes, and property values that make this difference. Gasoline and Auto Insurance are huge, in the Lower mainland; these fees drop significantly once you move to the North Coast. And yes, there is loud approval of Northern communities to see user-pay by regions, so the North is not paying for the South’s infrastructure needs. And then the biggest difference, real estate. There could never be more contrast between these two regions than the cost of a home. The cost of a home is generally a quarter to three-quarters cheaper on the North Coast than buying in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley area.

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