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Cost of Living in the Far North

I read this article, and I was shocked to learn just how expensive food is in Nunavut. About three times the cost of what I’d expect to pay in Toronto.

I had a thought of ‘what can they expect,’ as everything has to be flown in since very little can be grown there. Some places have subsidies and/or higher wages to balance these expenses, but in a way (devil’s advocate) why should I make heaps more money working at a Tim Horton’s in Iqaluit than at one in Winnipeg? Clearly I need to learn more about economic theory. And it feels ironic writing this from Australia where food (and everything) is far more expensive than Canada, and wages are similarly high ($15.51/hr for adults [ref]) but as I understand it, their mining-led economy is booming so the money is flowing.

A Redditor replied to the link, opening a discussion worth reading in his/her first paragraph about the rights of Native Canadians. I don’t want to presume enough to offer an opinion here.

Back to the original purpose of the post, I wonder what should be done: Reduce food prices, raise wages, lower taxes or otherwise subsidize, or try to grow food in the region. That last one is at least worth considering, because remote greenhouses would tackle the problem at its source, and could be economically feasible. (Maybe?)
And I’ve heard before the concept of an urban greenhouse, to reduce the distance from field to market to plate in a world that cares (or should care) about carbon footprints.

Also why I don’t pick up dimes off the ground

xkcd comic 951

This reminded me of this earlier post, being another way how people think they’re saving money when they’re not. (from


Ever wondered what your time is worth?  If you’re shopping for a product online, and you spend 3 hours online and save $20, was that really worth all that effort?  I’m not even 100% sure it’s worth it (from an economics standpoint) if the item is relatively cheap (it seems less useful if you’re buying a car*, but is it?)

Anyhow, it makes more sense to think of your time as valued at your salary.  If you make $20/hr, and you have work to do, any time spent saving money had better save you money at a higher rate.  Taking three hours for $20 just wouldn’t be worth it.

If you’re just a busy person (with activities & tasks other than work), and free time is hard to come by, then it makes sense to value your time similarly.  Think of it from this perspective: If you have work, taking your kids to soccer practice, your own social life, and necessary time to eat and relax, then if you can save yourself 3 hours of free time for only $20, wouldn’t you take that deal?

This doesn’t mean I’m advocating buying from the first place you find something, but if it doesn’t look promising after half an hour, the possible savings had better be worth it.

* we’re assuming identical products, so this isn’t the best example.  Just saying I’m aware.