Sunday, February 27, 2011

Groceries are expensive, but what isn't?

Of the things I am, price sensitive about groceries isn't really one of them. I note price when buying one-at-a-time items, like jeans, but when it comes to food, I sort of grab what I want, for the most part. I may notice that the fresh swordfish is $13 while the previously frozen is $7, and I may notice that my favorite apples are the priciest of the bunch, but often in these situations I treat myself to what I want, instead of what's cheap.

The result has been high bills. Last school year, there was a (ratherterrible) Shaw's in New Haven. I think the prices were low, because I don't recall having sticker shock at the checkout line. But that store folded. Now there's actually no supermarket in New Haven, as noted in this funny story in the Yale Daily News about another topic of interest, the possible opening of a Chipotle in New Haven. OMG I lurve Chipotle, y'all.

Anyway, now one must go to a neighboring town to get groceries; that probably sounds like an ordeal, especially if you're in a place like Texas, but in Connecticut towns seem to be very small areas of land, so it seems like you're in a new town every mile or two. My favorite grocery store is now Stop N Shop in Hamden. it has a great selection of just about everything I want. For example, today I'm making individuall portobello mushroom pizzas for an Oscar party, where the cap of the 'shroom is the crust. When I did this in Texas, I remember having difficulty finding 12 at one store; but that was no problem at my local Stop N Shop!

But I have also noticed that my grocery bills are out of this world. I can remember being a college student back in North Carolina, and feeling like I could buy basically anything I wanted, and I almost never paid over $100. These days, I almost never pay less than $200. Yesterday's bill was $227. Granted, a good portion of this consisted of party foods I won't be eating by myself. But that's still awfully high, especially considering there was no alcohol in my cart.

I'm sure these high bills are exacerbated by how infrequently I shop. But things aren't cheap in Connecticut. My two-bedroom apartment, for example, is $1,445/month. (I have a roommate.) Let's examine my previous rents for comparison:

-- One-bedroom apartment, sort of crappy but really not that bad, fireplace, w/d hookup, dishwasher, garbage disposal, balcony, $439/month.
-- Three-bedroom house (yes, house!), quite nice, big yard, fireplace, w/d hookup, dishwasher, garbage disposal, two full bathrooms, $975/month.
-- Two-bedroom apartment, very cheerful, carpetted, spacious and on the older side, no amenities, $595/month.
-- Odd arrangement where I rented a small garage apartment from a woman in her 80s, included cable, electricity and meals, $100/month.
-- Two-bedroom apartment down the street from Apartment #3, exact same floor plan and lack of amenities but a little crappier, with bad hardwood floors, $425/month.

-- Absolutely gorgeous one-bedroom apartment with high ceilings, fantastic appliances, French doors, amazing floors, historic built-in cabinets and great lighting, w/d (coin operated), garbage disposal, dishwasher. I loved it so much. $700/month at the beginning; got raised to $775 over time.
-- Sort of dumpy but neat two-story, one-bedroom townhouse, kind of tight on space, fireplace, laundry room on site, dishwasher, no garbage disposal, $700/month. 

-- Very nice and quite spacious two-bedroom apartment, renovated, coin-operated laundry in basement, no dishasher, fireplace or garbage disposal, heat included, was $1,415, raised to $1,445.

I guess "expensive" is all relative. I'm sure New Haven rents are a dream to someone coming from New York, or even San Francisco, Los Angeles or Boston. But for me, it's steep. Fortunately, what I'm spending isn't real money, right? It's fake loan money ... like Monopoly money that will never come back to haunt me ... 

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