As a property owner in both Canada and, for the last 8 years, Phoenix I am constantly comparing prices of goods and services. I was always struck by the Canadian news media’s rational as to why this car cost more in Canada and that stereo cost less in the US that I decided to do my own in-depth study to wade through the bullshit and truly establish where one would be better off; free health care vs. maintaining my lifestyle.
I am deliberately not going to analyze the political climate in each country and will only reference government actions or taxes when they directly impact the cost of goods or services in each country.
I want to use as many exact comparisons of purchases, travel and recreational lifestyle costs as possible that an average Canadian would make over a typical year. I will include a couple of one-time purchases such as electronics, appliances, automobile etc. to highlight differences.
For consistency all prices will be quoted are with taxes included, as of Jan 1st 2011 Ontario HST is 13% and is applied basically to all goods and services. Arizona State Tax varies by city between 0% and 9.3% depending on item, Arizona does not tax food purchased at retail outlets for home consumption however cities are allowed to tax food. The city of Phoenix charges 2%. There is no tax on services including shipping in Arizona. As New York State Tax for items purchased in Buffalo range from 7% to 8.75% with exemptions on food, prescription and OTC drugs.
The price difference will be BOLD to highlight the additional monies paid in Canada for the same item or services and in ITALICS if same item or service cost more in the U.S.
For the purposes of this study I will be as exact as possible comparing the two families, one living in North Toronto and one living in North Phoenix, each earning $55,000 annually. As the Canadian and U.S. Dollar was on par on January 1st this simplified the calculations. I am using a real world situation, married (non-working spouse) with one 18-year-old (non-rent paying) son – a familiar structure. using published 2010 tax calculations the Canadian family will pay $11,219.00 (Federal and Provincial) has $43,780.98 or $3,648.00 month after tax income. The American will pay $6,148.00 ($5,072.00 Federal and $1,076.00 State) and therefore has $48,852. or $4,071. 00 month in after tax income. A difference of $5,072.00 or $422.66 a month.
Both houses are approximately 2,500 sq. ft. located 40 km./30 mi. from the city center. 2010 Property Taxes in Canada $7,250.00 and $1,473.00 in Phoenix. Difference $5,777.00. Canadian property tax includes garbage and recycling – Phoenix is collected by the City and charged separately at $26.80 per month or $321.60 annual reducing the difference to $5,455.00
Both homes are insured with State Farm and are discounted based on the fact that automobile insurance is with same company. Home insurance in Canada is $79.77 per month, Phoenix is $29.33 per month – Net difference $50.44 per month $605.28 annual.
Both homes are both heated with natural gas and cooled with electric air conditioning, winter heating requirements in Canada should offset summer cooling in Arizona. Monthly utility bills average $200.00 in Canada and $100.00 in Phoenix. Net difference $1,200.00. Only main difference is that the Phoenix home is HOA controlled. The HOA maintains the public areas, pool, recreational facilities etc, cost is $55.00/month. As it is a part-time residence a company is retained to maintain the yard, plants, take in junk mail etc. the cost for these services is $45.00/month. This would not be required if I was living in Phoenix full-time so even with the addition of the HOA fees Total cost key-in-door Canada vs Phoenix is a net difference of $5,072. + $605.28 + $600.00 = Total $6,277.00 additional net disposable income in Phoenix.