Last Sunday, when I stopped in Cleveland on my way back to Buffalo from Ann Arbor, I was helping one of my old friends do some grocery shopping. I found myself envious of the prices for branded pop; normal price $3.33 for a 12-pack, on sale for $2.50. That pricing really isn't out of the ordinary for Coke or Pepsi 12-packs in most parts of the United States. However, in the Buffalo area, the story is much different.
Yup, that's $6 for a 12-pack of Pepsi. That's a normal price for any branded 12-pack of pop in the Buffalo area. The sale price is $4.50, or 35% higher than the normal, non-sale price of a 12-pack in Cleveland.
On top of that, there's a 5 cent/can deposit and 8.75% Erie County sales tax. If there wasn't a sale, I'd be shelling out $7.11 for a 12-pack. If the obesity tax goes into effect, I'll be paying $8.19.
Pepsi and Coke have always been very expensive in Buffalo, and I have no idea why. I remember when I got my first planning job, 2,000 miles away, cans of Pepsi and Coke at the grocery store were priced about 40% lower than back home.
Another thing that's crazy expensive in Buffalo: motel and hotel rooms.
$157 for a night at the Super 8? Welcome to Buffalo.
Budget lodging, like a Red Roof Inn, Motel 6, Days Inn or Super 8, costs about the same as a Marriott or Sheraton in any other Rust Belt city. Full-service hotels often have rates approaching Chicago Loop to Manhattan levels.
Buffalo's not exactly a major tourist destination or business center. It's the dominant academic center for upstate New York and the Lake Erie region, a cross-border shopping destination for middle-class Torontonians, and there's a very prominent cancer hospital, but that's about it. The place isn't a place where one might see many high-level businesspeople with unlimited expense accounts. C'mon, it's Buffalo, for cryin' out loud!
So, what things are inexplicably expensive where you live, but reasonably priced elsewhere? Let's not include real estate.