How Cross-border Shopping Can Save You Money

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Having moved to my current city of residence three years ago and being a border city I often wondered about prices of things on the other side of the border. When we first moved here none of my family had passports. We never needed them because we didn't leave the country and so for three years we lived here without crossing over. More recently in the last several months we attended a concert that was across the border and so had to get our passports to do so.

A few weeks after we returned from the concert we decided to cross over to go shopping. We purchased gas, groceries and some clothing and were extremely surprised and also somewhat annoyed. Here on the Canadian side many of the groceries cost twice as much money, the gas is quite a bit more and when we went to McDonald's we paid a third of what we normally do and had leftovers.

Things like milk was about $2.29 a gallon whereas on the Canadian side it was over $5. We purchased a large turkey was $10, granted it was on sale but on the Canadian side a turkey the same size is about $35. Other items we purchased such as cream cheese at $1.00, TV dinners at $0.88 and many others we paid 3 - 4 times as much on the Canadian side.

When we went to MacDonald's we realized Mcchicken burgers were $1.00 whereas on the Canadian side they were $4.19, salads were twice as much on the Canadian side. When we reached the gas station and did the math we realized that we were paying about two thirds of what we normally do. Funny since a vast majority of the oil/fuel os coming from Canada now being sold to us at a lower price than on our own side of the border.

This understanding made me realize that for the three years that we had not been crossing to save money we were really wasting it. Now as the Canadian dollar is slightly below the American dollar and will possibly go lower still back to where it used to be it may not be as tempting. Although to beat those prices it would still have a long way to fall before it would matter much.

I have taken steps to cushion my expenses in the case of the Canadian dollar falling. Purchasing gift cards that you can load and reload for where we eat, get gas and buy groceries. I also was paid in cash through my online business by many of my US customers and so I will hold unto those bills until the Canadian dollar falls and then use those.

So to anyone who lives in or close to a border city do yourself a big favor and check out the prices on the other side. You may be saving yourself a whole lot of money.

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Comments 21 comments

Rachel Richmond profile image

Rachel Richmond 4 years ago from California

I have to say Terrektwo that I have found price differences on many items just b/t California and Virginia. Example: the cost and quality of groceries. The variety is overwhelming here in California. If I go up the road 100 miles round trip - quality and price are an even bigger difference...so much lower. I second your opinion about ways to save and stretch funds. Happy shopping!


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Rachel Richmond - it's true when going the distance you can find better prices sometimes. Although I suppose it depends where you live!


CrystalSingleton profile image

CrystalSingleton 4 years ago from HBeach,Ca

We live in Cali and used to go to tijuana to shop for our clothes and blankets and shoes, here is the problem with that now- It costs more to exst in Mexico, because they will pull you over for no reason and insist you pay them, They will arrest you for getting lost, pulling over, using the restrooms, also, if you park across the border and walk over, your more than likely going to come back to a damaged car, either stripped or vandalized. It is a bummer, because i really enjoyed going there.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

CrystalSingleton - I understand, I had heard crime was a major problem in Mexico these days. I'm all for low price shopping but not when it means your safety and property is threatened.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I lived on the border of Mexico years ago. We would walk from our house. I saved a lot of money going to Mexico to shop. Now it is too dangerous to go there.

I also lived in a small town in the Nevada desert and we would go to the big city (Reno) to do our grocery shopping once a month. My sister and I would go together and come home with the station wagon stuffed. Once, we called her husband to come into town with the pickup and get two couches we had found at a yard sale. They were cheaper too. They looked like new and we got them for $100 pair. Covered in denim. She loved them.

Good hub and shopping around really works. Sometimes you can really save a lot of money that way.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Becky Katz - for sure, if you can't get it for a lower price where you are by all means go somewhere where you can. It sounds like you got some good deals indeed.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

i quite agree except for me that border is Mexico. Voting this Up and Interesting.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

Thanks for sharing this information; I had no idea that there was such a tremendous price spread between the two areas.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

alocsin - whatever works, works.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

DonnaCosmato - I was extremely surprised as well. I suppose supply and demand it much better on one side and for one reason or another not on the other side.


Hui (蕙) profile image

Hui (蕙) 4 years ago

Congratulations on your useful discovery. I like this topic about daily life, feels close and warm.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Hui (?) thanks I am alos glad I found it.


kenoscully profile image

kenoscully 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi terrektwo,

Great article. I am currently using the same method to try and save money on groceries. I live in Dublin, and travelling for 50 minutes to cross into Northern Ireland has worked out to save me approx. €50 a time, and that is even factoring in gas and any tolls that I have to pay.

It is incredible to think that just by travelling a little bit can save people so much money. I agree with you to get the word out there, and as such I am even planning to write a post myself on my own blog about this issue.

Happy new year and hope you save even more by using this method.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

kenoscully - glad it works for you and thanks for the vote up :)


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Great information. For us here in Latvia to save money lots of people go shopping in the markets in Lithuania and save lots of money.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I had no idea there was that much difference between the US and Canada..Could the reason be universal healthcare? Very interesting article..Thank you for sharing..


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

always exploring - yep there seems to be quite a difference. We do have free healthcare here but to be honest it isn't really very free. We still pay for drugs, crutches, hospitals rooms, even ambulance rides to the hospital. The only thing we don't pay for is actually seeing the doctor and to do that you often wait in a few different waiting rooms for 7 - 8 hours and once there they try to shove you out the door as fast as possible. You pretty much have to show up with a gunshot wound or something major to get anything done.


dishia profile image

dishia 4 years ago from nigeria/ rivers state

thanks for your wonderful discoveries. i admit your hub is very informative


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

dishia - no problem, if you dig it my job is done.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

That is interesting, the Canadian cost of living is much higher, but I did not see that reflected in wages and salaries to compensate. Here in Hawaii, things are god-awful expensive, but a half gallon of milk goes for about $3.29. Gas is at $4.20/gallon. We would have enjlyed that advantage if we had have stayed in the lower 48. But there are a few niceties here that make up for this inconvience, but there are days when I wonder. Most informative article, thanks Cred2

P.S. do you have an idea why the great difference in prices?


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Credence2 - Glad to bring the info forth. I think in our case it costs more on the Canadian side because a lot of the businesses that are supplying restaurants, grocery stores etc. are US companies and it costs them more to ship the goods across the border. That and they know they will get away with it. A lot of Canadians don't know how little you can pay just by crossing into the US side and buying there.

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