Most of us would probably agree with the adage ‘Australia, the lucky country’, but we might also be thinking ‘Australia, the expensive country’, when we count up the cost of day to day living! Making ends meet can be a constant struggle and depending on where you live in Australia can definitely make a difference to what’s left over in the pay packet when the essentials stuff has been accounted for.
Checking out our state’s capitals, they are a bit of a mixed bag. Darwin heads the list as most expensive city in Australia to live, due to its remote location, but Sydney is not far behind at number two. If you live in Perth you are hot on the heels of Sydney, not surprisingly, as Perth is not near anything really, so like Darwin, transport costs and location play a huge part in keeping the average cost of living high. Canberra sneaks in at number four, closely followed by Melbourne and Brisbane. Our city of churches, Adelaide, comes in at number seven with Hobart in Tasmania our cheapest city to reside.
But, what about the rest of the world? How do we compare?
If you have travelled overseas you will already know that your Aussie dollar can go a long way in some places? Bali, for example, can make you feel like a millionaire but head off to London and the balance changes pretty quickly. So, just how lucky are we in comparison to others places in the world, when it comes to our cost of living?
An immigrant from the UK would be a little shocked to find costs of some everyday ‘essentials’ like coffee, wine, clothing, shoes, rent, and public transport significantly more than back home. Depends on your definition of essential here, but some would also be thrilled to find the cost of a beer cheaper, not to mention, cold! Our fuel is also a bargain with prices in the UK up to 75% more per litre. A new car will cost you less in Australia and internet the opposite and almost double. All in all, Aussie’s on average, have around 36% more disposable income than our commonwealth friends in the UK.
Our cousins across the Tasman, in New Zealand also experience a much lower disposable income than Australians, around 48%. Much of this could be due to the fuel price, a hefty 25% more on average with the price of a medium size car around $1500 more also. The daily brew is on par with Australia but surprising, since the cost of milk per litre is about 40% more. Perhaps they drink more long black and espresso! Australia takes the prize of being more expensive for wine, beer, bottled water and public transport. If you thought it cost a premium to be ‘connected’ these days spare a thought for our Kiwi friends where the internet is 18% higher than here.
Living in the USA will find you around 23% better off on average. There is a great divide in the difference between the countries with everyday ongoing expenses like rent, clothing, shoes, fuel, public transport, even eating out all being from 30% to 120% cheaper. Even the cost of that medium size car will be around 15% cheaper in the States than in Australia.
Checking out one of our favourite holiday destinations, certainly for West Australians, Indonesia tells an entirely different story. Australians will live like royalty here. A shopping trip can become chauffer driven, if you want to hire a taxi for the day at $2.82 an hour just to wait while you browse, and public transport is a tenth of what we normally pay. Clothing is around half that of Australian prices on average, and groceries, rent and eating out up to 77% cheaper. Fuel in Indonesia costs around $0.64 per litre, a bargain you say? Unfortunately, the cost to purchase a car would be out of the reach of most Indonesians cost around 15% more with an average monthly disposable income less than 10% of the average Australian.
One item stands out in particular when comparing prices and cost of living around the world with Australia and that is the cost of a packet of cigarettes. Smokers will complain about the high taxes associated but the higher cost must contribute to the decline in the number of people using cigarettes, and can only be beneficial for everyone including our health system. Other countries are selling cigarettes for anything from $1.41 in Indonesia, $6.90 in the USA, even in the UK they are around 25% cheaper than Australia. Where is the incentive to quit if they cost less than a pack of postage stamps? Just one writers point of view!
The cost of living, though, is not the only reason we choose to live where we do. Our families, the climate, our jobs, all pay a part in this decision. If you are lucky enough to travel and experience other cultures and places around the world, there is still nothing better than coming home. I, for one, am proud to be Australian and grateful every day to live in this country.