|Your typical bar tab at the Anchor.|
|Breakfast at the Minneapolis cafe nearest my home there.|
The first photo is from a night out at the Anchor, and in Minneapolis any one of those things - a burger, a 34-ounce beer, or a double shot of Bushmill's - would easily run $13.50. The local diner nearest my longtime north Minneapolis abode will run $16 before a tip for breakfast and a coffee. Three blocks from my Superior home, Pizza Man has $5 breakfasts from Monday through Thursday. You can get steak and eggs for a fiver (MUCH BETTER steak and eggs than you'd think five bucks would bring) and that includes a bottomless cup of joe.
In fact, most restaurants around seem to have deals on various nights. Grizzly's has two-for-one burgers on occasion, so even though you won't get Anchor prices there, you can bring a friend and time it right to get the same effect. Keyport has incredibly cheap tacos on Monday night (my trivia team there consistently places a proud second). If one put these deals from bars and restaurants on a calendar, you could strategically eat and drink on the cheap on virtually every day of the month.
Here is my unofficial tally of what's generally cheaper and what is sometimes more expensive in Suptown vs. Minneapolis, with a bit of a culture shock at the end about one area that is so much better here...
Property taxes for the value of the home are generally higher on this side of the state line. But internet services have fewer taxes and fees added on. Taxes on a modest home could be as much as $100-200 per month higher here. That extra expense is largely offset by an internet bill that's roughly half of what I had in Minnesota.
Groceries are a bit cheaper overall, but some products at Super One are more pricy than at Cub Foods in Minneapolis. And there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason for which ones cost more. Cheese is definitely less expensive in Wisconsin (for the same brands available in MN) although I'd be offended if that WEREN'T the case.
On a side note, I've visited my family in Madison a few times, and reflexively I tell myself upon my return to stop and pick up some New Glarus beer, which was rather famously unavailable once you cross the St. Croix. And then I remember, "Oh, I can get this at three bars and two gas stations that are all within two blocks when I get home."
It's hard for me to say whether utilities are less expensive here. In Minneapolis I usually had roommates, so water and electricity were higher than what I have here. But on average I ran $50 for electricity, $30 for gas (and then sometimes as much as $200 per month in colder winter climes), and $110 for water/trash. With it all rolled into one, I'm seeing SWL&P tallies that are virtually identical to my costs back in the twin cities. With fewer people, I'd have to wager that these costs are a tad higher here.
But the biggest difference in how my money goes out the door has to be in regards to plumbing, electrical, or other contract work on my home here. In my previous life, I'd be looking at a service fee just to get someone to cross the threshold, then whatever parts and labor would be charged. Ok, that's the same here. However, when that money is due is a tremendous improvement. Minneapolis repairs usually end with the contractor writing up a bill right on site, and then rather pointedly not leaving your home until a check or credit card payment was in hand.
In Superior, most of the work that I've had done so far has 1) not required an up-front site visit fee, and 2) not been charged immediately after the service was performed. In fact, the common response isn't even to give me a bill that day. Instead what's happened is they go back to the office, write up the invoice, and it gets mailed out, sometimes weeks later. And the invoice then says I have up to 30 days to make a payment before a late fee is charged. That effectively means a home repair, even a very costly one, may not come due for as much as two months after the work is complete.
And that, my friends, is the biggest and most welcome change financially. How many people reading this have stressed over even calling someone to look at a problem at home, knowing that whether it would cost $150 or $1,150 that was going to mean other bills start going unpaid? I've been there more times than I care to admit. But here, even as I juggle repairs on a home where just about every square inch is going to need something, I haven't had to worry about how to make it all work.
I've had quite a bit of electrical, plumbing, and gas line work done in the last few months. And with the way the billing is so relaxed, it hasn't cut into my Spotted Cow or trivia night taco budget even once.