Here’s the math on why you should (or shouldn’t) drive to Bellingham for gas

Yesterday we shared the news that gas prices broke the $1.50/litre mark in Vancouver, giving us the distinction of having the most expensive gas in all of North America.

Nobody likes to pay more for anything, especially in the housing crunch we’re in right now where the City is telling us that they consider $1,750 to be “affordable” rent for a one bedroom apartment.

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vancouver gas prices
Vancouverites filling up got a shock Wednesday morning as the price of gas hit $1.50. - Dan Toulgoet

It’s an age-old tradition for people in the Lower Mainland to travel to Blaine and Bellingham, just across the border, to fill up on “cheap” gas. As long as that’s been going there have been people saying that you’ll burn more gas getting there and back than you’ll end up saving.

That’s not true.

According to GasBuddy.com, the lowest gas price in Bellingham today is $2.71USD/gallon. Let’s call the average $2.80USD to be fair.

gas bellingham
Source: Screengrab/GasBuddy

That amounts to $3.63 in Canadian currency per gallon, or 96 cents per litre. That’s 54 Canadian cents per litre less than what gas costs in Vancouver.

If you’ve got a 50 litre tank like I have, you’d save $27 Canadian dollars filling it up at a Bellingham pump.

However if your vehicle gets 10l/100km gas mileage it’ll cost you $14.78 Canadian to drive the 154km from downtown Vancouver to the Arco at 1197 Slater Rd in Bellingham, and back. In the end you’ll wind up saving a grand total of $12.22.

As I type this, Google Maps is telling me it would take 1 hour and 9 minutes to drive to that Bellingham Arco. That’s not counting the minimum half hour wait at the border. So let’s say you drove there, fuelled up, then immediately turned around and drove back. Let’s call it three hours.

How much is your time worth? More than $4.07 per hour? If not, head to Bellingham for “cheap” gas.

Or better yet, make a day trip down there. Head to the mall, drive the coastline and check out the antique shops, stop at Trader Joe’s, and as a byproduct of a fun road trip you can stop for gas and get a price break. A straight shot there and back might not be worth it, but an adventure could be.

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