Differences In The Arctic: Cost of Living

18 Sep

We have been here less than 24 hours and already the differences between life in southern Canada and in the Arctic are revealing themselves. The major one that I’ve noticed by now is that it is shocking how much basic things cost here compared to their costs in Toronto.

I’ve seen the statistics before: the ITK released a very helpful list in 2008 of what basics costs in various southern and northern communities (see page 10) and the disparities are astounding (Side note: the rest of the statistics in the report are more than worth reading – it may be eye opening for you). The average cost of living in the Arctic is estimated to be between two and three times greater than it is in southern Canada.

However, I must admit now that I’m here the statistics did not adequately convey just how expensive it is here. Beyond the cost of travel to the Arctic (and back) and lodging (which is always at a premium), basic costs that you may not give much thought to in the city are very differently priced here.

Consider this: Rankin Inlet is a very small place compared to Toronto, but we don’t know our way around yet. We have taken a taxi twice and each ride was approximately 5 minutes long. Each cost $15. Why? Fuel is expensive and must be imported – and yes, fuel is imported to Toronto as well, but with very different infrastructure and frequency.

Then, there’s the food. Take a look at our menu from last night:

Check out the prices. This is not just for tourists, either – this is how much it costs for local people to eat there. The Saturday special was a chili cheese burger, poutine and a slice of pie for $22.95.

We haven’t been to the grocery store yet, but when we do I will report back. I suspect the prices will be equivalent – our very nice flight attendants on the way up gave us a back of extra fruit because they can be so expensive. I’ll continue to report back as the week goes on.

Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator

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