Cost of Living in Australia

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

costoflivingAUSTRALIAAustralia has some of the least expensive cities in the world. The economy is somewhat influenced by Western culture but the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) when it comes to the purchasing power of the country is higher compared to the United Kingdom.

In the United Nations Human Development Index in 2006, Australia made third place while also making sixth place in The Economist 2005 quality-of-life index. In the meantime, economists are foreseeing an upcoming crisis due to the poor performance of GDP. It has increased by 7% and has the fourth biggest deficit in terms of current accounts.

However, due to other areas that Australia has been excelling very much in recent years, foreign debt is still significantly low and the economic state is generally as stable as it can get. Thus the cost of living in the country is still dependent on the individual’s circumstances and lifestyle. As reported last June 7 2009 in the Australia Expat Forum:

Food prices are running at 2.5 x UK cost of goods ( logistical costs / population density cited as reason why ?? )
Wine / Beer & Spirit prices ( retail ) currently running at up to 300 %
!

Some of the notable cities that boast quality living and expenses are Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. All of Australia’s major cities made it in the top 30 best places for expatriates. In Western Australia, the cost of living is even lower. Migrants can expect nothing less when it comes to rent space, transportation, education, commodities and leisure.

Compared to any other place in the United Kingdom, all of the cities and provinces in Australia significantly offer much cheaper living conditions not to mention the added financial and educational benefits provided to every citizen. In 2004, the World Competitiveness Yearbook remarked that Australia is the third best worldwide country when it comes to low cost of living.

Food and Drinks Cost in Australia

An average family of four would expect to spend around 500 euro every month for food and drinks. Usual meats in Australia are either lamb or beef which is acquired and processed locally. Fish is generally cheap but cities located near the sea and ocean will charge more for their catch.

Fruits and vegetables are very easy to come by. Milk and beef are probably the cheapest commodities in the country since there are virtually several hundreds of cow ranches located throughout the country. Australian wine is also very affordable and water is fresh, clean and free. One of the biggest industries in Australia is their alcoholic beverage industry, owing to the penchant for wine and merriment at any time of the day.

What would cost more are imported products like cereals, biscuits, beer and imported fish. Australia is widely popular for exporting milk, beef for world-famous steaks and some exotic products like kangaroo meat and King Island cheeses.  New South Wales offers rock oysters and Illabo milk-fed lamb, Victoria offers Meredith lamb and Gippsland beef, South Australia is known for its scallops and tuna while Queensland has great fruits like Bowen mangoes and papaya that are commonly exported. Other exotic food products are crocodile, shark, ostrich and emu meat. Everything that is acquired locally is very affordable.

Clothing and Accessories Cost in Australia

Locally made Australian clothes and items are cheap while imported ones are expensive. Citizens equally wear traditional and modern fashion wear. People can find several products available, especially clothes made from local Chinese material.  A lot of the preferred cut and color of Australian clothes today stemmed from Chinese culture brought by early migrants during the 1800s. Silk, chiffon and velvet are some examples that are still used to make shawls and coats. In terms of local accessories, there are several cheap items in flea shops and bazaars like bead necklaces and bracelets as well as wooden earrings and anklets that all have aboriginal roots.

Australia also doesn’t lag behind when it comes to modern fashion. Although the locals typically prefer a more casual appearance, several designers can be found in most of the major cities. Victoria is still considered as the most fashionable place in Australia. The clothes and accessories designed by local designers are expensive since most are created for exportation purposes. The products are still made available to locals if they want to and can be purchased after fashion festivals and publicized catwalk shows. The Australian fashion industry is doing very well which is why the country is known worldwide for textile and ingenious creation of design. As posted on Australia Expat Forum last January 24, 2009, the average costs for casual clothes are as follows:

Clothes

– Mens business suit – $600
– Mens business shirt – $80
– Mens business shoes – $120

– Surfy brand TShirt = $50
– Surfy brand boardshorts = $90

– Pair of “surfy thongs” (flip/flops) = $20
– Pair of “Bonds” underwear = $14
– Pair of running/gym shoes – Asics/****/Reebok etc = $100-300

Housing Costs in Australia

Australia is in need of more immigrants, and this is the reason why there are several housing options available for everyone’s comfort and preferences. People can choose from single room apartments to small houses with yard space to huge areas or condominiums downtown. Most Australians prefer having a house and lot in suburban neighborhoods.

Land is very much in excess in comparison with the actual number of residents in any given state. Housing in major cities will generally cost more compared to living out in the province and farmlands. On average, a family of four will spend around 400 euro every month for rental or mortgage. If you are in the hunt for a house and lot, here are the latest price figures from the major cities are indicated below:

  • Sydney $528,500 (£215,400)
  • Melbourne $398,200 (£162,300)
  • Brisbane $388,200 (£158,200)
  • Adelaide $355,800 (£144,800)
  • Canberra $488,800 (£199,000)
  • Perth $503,300 (£205,200)
  • Darwin $421,000 (£171,700)
  • Hobart $258,000 (£105,200)

Utilities are very affordable and some states provide free clean water to residents. A typical family will have a bill of around 100 euro every month for electricity and water consumption. Generally, middle class citizens get to buy their own house and lot after eight years. Giving an initial deposit and applying for a bank loan is common practice. Renting apartments and condominiums are not common practice compared to the United Kingdom. Public housing is also offered for lower class citizens. Part of their income automatically goes to rent.

Services Costs in Australia

The Australian government gives national health policies to all citizens and immigrants. Health services are subsidized and all medical services, pharmaceuticals and health institutions are provided financial assistance. Almost 10% of the country’s per capita GDP goes to the health sector. Technology and professional training is generally up to date.

Australia also gives importance to education and every individual up to 17 years of age is ordered to stay in school. Public schools are free with additional allowances provided to students. The costs are partly or wholly subsidized by the government. Students can also opt to study in private institutions and universities provided that they pay back their tuition once they start working.

Employment Costs in Australia

At present, Australia is in great need of health care professionals especially nurses. Other jobs available for expatriates are positions in the fields of information technology, pharmaceuticals, accounting, education, domestic travel and transportation as well as marketing. Tourism and export are the two main things that comprise the bulk of the nation’s finances. The taxing scheme in Australia makes high-income earners pay over 45% of their income as tax.  Over ten million people in Australia are employed with the unemployment rate at 5.8% as of 2009.

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