What’s Happened to the Australian Cost of Living?

I recently returned to the UK to visit family and whilst there, I was taken aback by how much the cost of living there has changed since I last visited in 2008 and, whilst the exchange rate was favourable (at the time 2 AU$ to 1GBP), it seemed to me that the cost of everyday shopping was far cheaper than here (with a few exceptions such as Petrol/Diesel).

It’s been my belief that Australia’s cost of living has been steadily on the rise for several years now. It seems to me that Cyclones and Oil prices raise costs, but prices never seem to reduce again once their impact on production & distribution has subsided. Coles & Woolworths have long been in my sights as taking advantage of  us, but it’s only since experiencing the reductions in the cost of living in the UK that I thought I’d run a little non-too-scientific check for myself.

Having been to do some shopping in Aldi today, I jumped online with my receipt and checked a few of the items I’d purchased against other Australian stores and two of the main UK equivilants as follows:

What I found is presented in the table below:

UK Vs. Australia Grocery Price Comparison

UK Vs. Australia Grocery Price Comparison 05/09/10

Whislt this is only a snapshot across some of the more common items I purchased today, I believe it provides a reasonable cross section of items that many Australian families would purchase. As can be seen, Aldi came out far cheaper than its Australian competitors. What is perhaps more surprising is how well the UK Supermarkets compared at today’s exchange rate. It seems my long-standing argument with my English family that Australia’s cost of living is so much better that the UK’s may be in doubt.

Funnily enough, I emailed my (then) Federal Liberal MP Michael Johnson last time I returned from the UK saying that I couldn’t understand why prices here were continuing to rise whilst those in the UK were falling dramatically. His response was along the lines of ‘what did I expect when we live in a country of such vast distances and small population’. At the time I thought he was clearly out of touch as prices here had been so much cheaper that the UK (and to his being uninterested in my whinging)…but now I really want to know why we are paying so much more than the UK? I haven’t heard any Politicians raising teh topic and suspect that they really wouldn’t want it raised either.

What do you think?

  • Are prices in Australia getting ridiculously expensive?
  • Surely it can’t all be because of the stronger $?
  • What can our political leaders do about it…if anything?
  • What can we do about it?
  • Do you really care?

Looking forward to hearing your thought. In the meantime, have fun!

About jrbsays

Just a regular married father of three type of guy. Writer of Haiku, founder of www.DementiaJourneys.com and other bits and other bobs.
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3 Responses to What’s Happened to the Australian Cost of Living?

  1. Wayne says:

    An interesting post, J. I certainly care but i’m not sure how we compare to be honest as I haven’t been OS for years… though i’m aware our own prices have been steadily increasing. I’d be curious to know how the U.K basic wage compares to Australia. U.S prices are also lower than ours but their basic wage is much lower than Australia’s. I believe the U.S minimum hourly rate is only 7.25 compared to our $15. Our average wage is about $900.

    Here are a few interesting lists that both have Oz as #2 in terms of standard of living (cost of living factored in).

    http://thewondrous.com/list-of-top-20-countries-with-best-quality-of-life/ (published 2010)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index (published 2007)

  2. mighty G says:

    Mmm, cost of living… the rental market is shooting up because pple aren’t buying houses for some reason economic that goes over my head; I really don’t know how people on low incomes are managing with families or old people on pensions. My car isn’t worth anything except to me. Ugly but goes well. Still it’s amazing how many on the road are the price of a house downpayment & all on credit.

    Renting is a lifestyle choice for many, but there are upsides and downsides to that. I see the capital cities are expensive for housing but why Darwin? Why mining towns in far western Oz? Why Adelaide – my apols to dwellers there — looks like councils are not releasing land, so pple are in a stranglehold. Food? I appreciated the Aldi/Coles/Woolworths comparisons, thanks JRB. Problem with Aldi is it’s like shopping in the outback. You don’t have much choice and sometimes something you like isn’t there again. I shop for taste & don’t eat heaps but it’s the rent that kills & haven’t had luck with housemates, so there’s another lifestyle choice.

    Maybe it’s time to grow veges & such — am not a great consumer because pragmatic. Mainly have bought art materials & paint which is a luxury. And a computer. The price of these things seems stable enough. Canberra which used to be a student-friendly town rentwise, but it’s high now though I’d enjoy the demographic more.

    Maybe flux (and the only upward gravity on earth: money) is affected more immediately now. Wow San, only 5 years ago the states paid $5 an hour. And no national health. I hope Obama gets credit for change there.

  3. jrbsays says:

    Thanks for your comments guys.

    Sainter, I found some Salary comparisons here:
    UK Vs Aus – http://www.bobinoz.com/blog/2667/cost-of-living-in-australia-wages-compared/
    And World listings here – http://www.worldsalaries.org/

    I’ve generally felt that in Australia, workers to middle management are paid better than average, but senior staff are not paid as well…however, some of the data above may contradict this.

    Mighty G – funnily enough I started a veggie patch a few months ago, but I suspect it’ll struggle to feed the family much, but it makes me feel good in many ways (surprisingly for me)
    I agree with what you say about Aldis, but we save a lot of money there by getting core goods each week, but we find ourselves heading to other places for several items…which I guess takes away the idea of shopping in a ‘supermarket’…not necessarily a bad thing perhaps.

    Overall, I still believe Australia offers one of the best ‘quality of lives’. But I’m seeing more evidence that we are paying more and more for it and, to date, people don’t seem to be noticing or doing much about it?

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