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Thread: "We're getting ripped off!" Things that are inexplicably expensive in your city

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    "We're getting ripped off!" Things that are inexplicably expensive in your city

    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.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Thats pretty muchn the same price for a 12 pack where I live. Am I getting ripped off??? !!!!
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Gas is always much more expensive in Northern Illinois than it is pretty much anywhere else it seems, other than maybe CA and NY. You go to Indiana or Missouri and the prices drop like 30 cents.

    Would also have to say taxes are higher here than most other places, especially in C(r)ook County.

    Housing too, but mainly in Chicago and the suburbs. And that's only by Midwest standards. Go out into the exurbs or Rockford or DeKalb though, and you can find some great deals.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    Gas is always much more expensive in Northern Illinois than it is pretty much anywhere else it seems, other than maybe CA and NY. You go to Indiana or Missouri and the prices drop like 30 cents.

    Would also have to say taxes are higher here than most other places, especially in C(r)ook County.

    Housing too, but mainly in Chicago and the suburbs. And that's only by Midwest standards. Go out into the exurbs or Rockford or DeKalb though, and you can find some great deals.
    I was coming back from Wisconsin a few weeks ago and noticed that the gas stations seemed to be on the Illinois side of the state line. Of course the really big stations are right over the border in Indiana. Can't recall seeing stations that big anywhere else. Lots of smoke shops too, since Cook County/Chicago has something like a $2.50 per pack tax. Fireworks stands as well, but that's just because they are illegal in Illinois.

    Cook County also has something like an extra 2% tax on soft drinks and a flat rate of 5 cents per bottle of water tax. Extra tax on alcohol too.

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    $72.50/month for a student bus pass... $95.50 for a regular adult bus pass.


    Rip off.

    Students are the future of our countries yet we pay double what seniors doo... bullshit

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cantoffie View post
    $72.50/month for a student bus pass... $95.50 for a regular adult bus pass.


    Rip off.

    Students are the future of our countries yet we pay double what seniors doo... bullshit
    Chicago has you beat. Seniors ride free on CTA, Metra (commuter rail and PACE (suburban bus).

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I honestly don't know of anything more expensive in the Austin area than elsewhere... at least not significantly. Housing is more expensive than just about anywhere within a 1,000-mile radius, but compared to the coasts, it's nothing. Same thing with utilities and health care costs. Of course, those are also major things. Small things like certain grocery products, cigarrettes, etc., I don't know. It all seems the same as other parts of the country I've visited, again outside the coasts, Chicago, and parts of the mountain west.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    In NJ....

    Soda...same kind of pricing. In SC it's 3/$10 sometimes 4/$10 for a 12 pack.

    Cheap hotel rooms are about $100 and you wouldn't want to stay there.

    NJ Transit train fares....they ditched the off peak round trip fare so now it costs $25 for me to go to NYC and back, there's no youth discount either (way to support youth ridership!). Add the kid and I am out $50 just to get to and from NYC. A student monthly pass is $269 and takes a mountain of paperwork and a visit to a staffed train station.

    NJ Turnpike tolls....they just went up 25%. From Exit 9 to Exit 16E to go see my friend costs $5 each way now. Garden State Parkway is $1.50 through each main toll plaza and 50 cents on the roads with paid exits.

    Property tax....yeah not going to go there.

    Rent....$1045 for a 35 year old 1 bedroom apartment, no public transportation access, heat and hot water included.

    Ciggies are about $7.50 a pack now.

    Gas is cheap and I don't have to pump it myself
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Smokes are now around 9 to 10 dollars in this money hungry state of NY which is why I go to the reservation where they are 4 to 5 a pack for premium. Won't matter much soon as i am growing the tomacco in my backyard. Probably will save some for the hookah and roll some cigars. If I was to roll cigarettes from the stuff I process it would come out to around $0.50 a pack.

    Gas is higher here too for some unknown reason the local politicians can't seem to answer (even when they order a federal probe).

    What is the deal with tomato prices (maybe its a nationwide thing)? The prices for just a thing of grape tomatoes was almost 4 dollars when I was in the store the other day. Glad I got a ton beginning to ripen out back.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Bank overdraft fees.

    Credit card late fees.

    College textbooks. (My daughter paid $330 for two cheap, flimsy paperbacks and a little TV remote looking thingy that textbook publishers sell along with course material.)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    We pay about $2,500/year property taxes on our $135,000 house. BUT, I can't complain too much because both my wife and I are funded by taxes unlike my friends in Phoenix area who all lost their jobs because there are no property taxes to support them through the downturn.

    Gas is always about 15 cents higher here than everywhere else. You can find cheap housing for about $75,000 but the jump to the next better tier of housing is all the way to $125,000. Anything brand new is the same price as the metro areas. I don't smoke but cigarettes are about $5.50/pack (they just went up $1), average rent for a 2 bedroom apt is about $625. Name-brand 12 packs are about $4.99 or you can buy the store brand 4/$10. Groceries are more expensive here than the larger cities but my research has shown me the less affluent a community is the more groceries cost because the residents don't have the means or knowledge to comparison shop with other stores. It's Walmart or the the regional chain, period, so they have no reason to lower prices.

    It's funny to me as someone who grew up in a larger town how the people who grew up here will complain about the high cost of restaurants and "they" are just "ripping us off". We'll go out to eat and with drinks it will be under $35. In the metro, with drinks, it is always closer to $50.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Oh to be stuck in the middle of the great state of CA:

    Gas. This ranges from the lowely valley (always cheapest) to the bay area (always highest). Since i live in the tourisy coast, i always pay 10 to 20 cents higher than the Valley. The Average cost of Gas today in the US is 2.78. Tack on 40 cents, that's our average.

    Cigs. These aren't cheap. Cost you around 5 to 6 dollars a pack.

    Housing. Let's talk housing. Our medianhousing price for a home. Clocks in at a whopping $560,000. Yes, you read that right. Even with the downturn.

    Rent. Ummm do we even want to go there? For my crampped 2 bedroom: $1500 a month. Yes, i realize that is more than most of your mortages. My lease is up in Spring 2010. We want a 3 bedroom. Asking prices? $1800 to 2100 a month. See above.

    Sales Tax: 9.75%. Oh yes, i take it in the rear when i plan on buying a car.

    Vehicle Licensing Fee. Some states have it, some don't. Cali. Try this one on for size. It is based on the value of your car and when you bought it. My 2004 Nissan has a VLF of 130 a year. It is going down, but not soon enough. The 1999 Saturn. $72 a year. Plus i pay a $40 bi-yearly smog fee. yay!


    Hotel. Care to visit? Your rooms will typically cost anywhere from $80 to $150, depending on the season and weekend.

    Need cheap stuff at the big box? Nice try. Nearest Wal-Mart is 14 miles away down the coast. Need a target? A whopping 30 miles away. We have no big box shopping for general merchandise. Shocking for a town of 45,000.

    Property taxes. If you bought your house in 1972 or earlier, man you are on easy street. Bought afterwards? Your hosed. Bought in the boom? Your screwed.

    The cost to live in "god's country"
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Oh to be stuck in the middle of the great state of CA:

    Sales Tax: 9.75%. Oh yes, i take it in the rear when i plan on buying a car.

    Vehicle Licensing Fee. Some states have it, some don't. Cali. Try this one on for size. It is based on the value of your car and when you bought it. My 2004 Nissan has a VLF of 130 a year. It is going down, but not soon enough. The 1999 Saturn. $72 a year. Plus i pay a $40 bi-yearly smog fee. yay!
    That's weird you have sales tax on cars - we don't, regardless of the purchase price. Imagine if they did that for rentals and houses!!

    I'm surprised your VLF are so cheap for CA. Here in the Midwest my 8 year-old SUV is $150 (the cheapest amount for any SUV of any age) and my 3 year old car is $250. The $400 bill in August is always a surprise I don't like getting.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post

    I'm surprised your VLF are so cheap for CA. Here in the Midwest my 8 year-old SUV is $150 (the cheapest amount for any SUV of any age) and my 3 year old car is $250. The $400 bill in August is always a surprise I don't like getting.
    Oh trust me. when i first bought my car, my VLF was $450. Then the "governator" came to office and slashed the VLF. I ended up with a rebate of $270. The legislature is proposing an increase of the VLF yet again, and plus there is a ballot initiative to increase the VLF by $15 in order to pay for OEM of state parks (which i will gladly vote for since in return, all residents whom come to the parks with current "tags" will get park access for free rather than paying the typical day use fee).

    Off-topic:
    As for the tax on cars. That is Cities/Counties bread and butter when it comes to revenue in this state. Hence the move to the "automall" format in the late 1990's. It was a sales tax drive. Munis fight hard for the car dealerships due to the tax windfall.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Hotel. Care to visit? Your rooms will typically cost anywhere from $80 to $150, depending on the season and weekend.
    I was in SF for business back in March of this year - stayed downtown - the room was $166/night (fed per diem rate - would have been higher if it was a tourist visit) plus all the taxes and fees...and parking at the hotel was $40/day.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

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    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    A gallon of milk can be as high as $7.99

    And something I always find amazing... 1 mango can sometimes cost $4-$5 at the supermarket but if you walk outside they are falling off trees and rotting on the ground everywhere. Unfortunately, those trees are on private property and the owners are never pleased when they find someone eyeballing their fruit.

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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    A gallon of milk can be as high as $7.99

    And something I always find amazing... 1 mango can sometimes cost $4-$5 at the supermarket but if you walk outside they are falling off trees and rotting on the ground everywhere. Unfortunately, those trees are on private property and the owners are never pleased when they find someone eyeballing their fruit.
    "Git oaf my mango farm!!!"

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    A gallon of milk can be as high as $7.99

    And something I always find amazing... 1 mango can sometimes cost $4-$5 at the supermarket but if you walk outside they are falling off trees and rotting on the ground everywhere. Unfortunately, those trees are on private property and the owners are never pleased when they find someone eyeballing their fruit.
    Are there no dairy farms in Hawaii?

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I have always heard that buying a 4x4 full size pickup is cheaper in Texas than in Colorado, at least they'll cut more off the price. I have known many folks to go down there to buy.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    I have always heard that buying a 4x4 full size pickup is cheaper in Texas than in Colorado, at least they'll cut more off the price. I have known many folks to go down there to buy.
    Based on my interactions with folks, Coloradans seem to have a particular place of disdain for Texans in a similar way that people in Washington state have for Californians. So you're saying that Coloradans will come down to Texas to take advantage of it's economics, but will razz/hate us Texans when we move up there? That sucks.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I live on an island so we have something we call "the island contingency" which ranges from 10% to 40% higher than off-island

  22. #22
    My neighborhood in Boston:

    Rents $2000 or more for a two bedroom apartment.
    Condos about $350 to $700 thousand for two bedrooms
    Property taxes about $2800/year for a $700,000 condo
    Milk is $1.79 for a quart of nonfat
    Beer in a bar is $4 domestic, $5 import

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Off-topic:


    Based on my interactions with folks, Coloradans seem to have a particular place of disdain for Texans in a similar way that people in Washington state have for Californians. So you're saying that Coloradans will come down to Texas to take advantage of it's economics, but will razz/hate us Texans when we move up there? That sucks.
    Off-topic:
    Although I am only a vacationing Coloradoian - I often find it funny how much natives hate Texas. Although I can under their disdain for those with huge SUVs and Semi Trucks that drive through the small towns, I am not sure I fully understand why they care. When I worked in the Gunnison area for a summer, I learned quite a bit about how bad of tippers Texans were, how ugly they were, and how much they wanted the environment to die. Kinda odd really.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  24. #24
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    Off-topic:
    I learned how ugly they were
    I hope you mean ugly personalities (!!) because every Texan I've ever seen is a skinny and tan blond. I'm sure there are more out there but the several times I've been to the Dallas area, whoa!!!
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  25. #25
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I hope you mean ugly personalities (!!) because every Texan I've ever seen is a skinny and tan blond. I'm sure there are more out there but the several times I've been to the Dallas area, whoa!!!
    Personally, I don't have anything against Texans... it was those with whom I worked with. And they meant ugly old Texas men. Rough and tumble. I thought they were nice....
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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